Graves, Mass

   A major question for modern Russian society has been the resting place for the victims of Joseph Stalin. Mass graves are to be found at Kuropaty in Belarus and Bykivnia near Kiev, as well as in western Siberia, Karelia, and at Kommunarka near Moscow—to name only a few. A mass grave site at Butovo in Moscow, now a Russian Orthodox Church property, holds more than 20,000 bodies of men and women shot in 1937 and 1938. Still, most of the mass graves remain unknown and perhaps unknowable, as the KGB destroyed records that could implicate surviving officials, but human rights group persist in documenting the extent of the Soviet holocaust. As late as September 2002, the Russian human rights group Memorial discovered a mass grave near St. Petersburg where as many as 30,000 people are interred.
   Mass graves exist at many former forced labor camps. Hundreds of thousands perished from cold and overwork as well as execution. According to gulag records, for example, 600,000 prisoners perished in labor camps during World War II. Yet camp records are at best sketchy and incomplete. Another problem facing the history of the Soviet terror are the graves of those murdered by the security service without any trial or judicial process. In 1939 Kira Kulik, the wife of Marshal Kulik, was abducted by the NKVD, held at Lubyanka, and then shot without interrogation or trial. Her crime was to have been Stalin’s lover. She is but one of a host of people whose fate and final resting place needs documentation.
   See also Yezhovshchina.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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