Butovo Shooting Range Memorial

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Butovo Shooting Range Memorial

Butovo, Moscow Oblast, Russia
Memorials 30 added (3% photographed)

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Located in the town of Butovo, 15 miles south of Moscow, this secluded six-acre compound once belonged to the Soviet security forces (the NKVD and later the KGB) and was used as a private firing range. For 14 months between 1937 and 1938 - the darkest period of Stalin's political purges - it was a secret killing field for those condemned as enemies of the state. A recorded 20,765 men and women were brought here at night from the nearby Sukhanovo Prison, executed with pistols or machine guns, and buried in trenches. Butovo's bloodiest single day was February 28, 1938, when 562 people were shot. The victims of Butovo include Archbishop Serafim, the Metropolitan of Leningrad; nearly 1000 Russian Orthodox priests and monks; former silent film star Marija Leiko; avant-garde artists Alexander Drevin and Gustav Klutsis; and ordinary workers of 60 nationalities, including nine Americans. This is also where Hungarian communist leader Bela Kun is alleged to have met his death. After World War II, an apple orchard and strawberry patches were planted over the dead; it was said that the fruit grew unusually large here. What took place at the site, unnamed in official documents except as a "special zone", was hidden from the public for decades. With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church pressured the new government to reveal the history of the Butovo Shooting Range; they met with little cooperation until they were finally granted the property in 1995. Subsequent investigations uncovered 13 mass graves and enough documentary evidence to fill eight Books of Remembrance. The ROC has since canonized the clerics killed at Butovo and erected the Church of the New Martyrs on the grounds, along with a smaller wooden chapel near the entrance gate and several crosses. Russian President (and former KGB agent) Vladimir Putin visited the site in October 2007. Critics have argued that the memorials place too much emphasis on Stalin's oppression of the ROC when most of those murdered here were laymen, though there is a museum which displays haunting NKVD mugshots and artifacts of a broad spectrum of victims. (Text by Bobb Edwards)


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GPS Coordinates: 55.5332640, 37.5954950

  • Added: 10 Apr 2009
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2300950