Kommunarka Mass Execution Memorial


Kommunarka Mass Execution Memorial Famous memorial

Death unknown
Memorial Site* Kommunarka, Moscow Oblast, Russia

* A structure erected in honor of someone whose remains lie elsewhere.

Memorial ID 87227246 View Source

Russian Memorial Site. A closely guarded secret for over 50 years, this compound 2.5 miles south of Moscow was once an execution site for victims of Josef Stalin's political purges. An estimated 16,000 people were shot and buried in mass graves here between September 2, 1937 and October 16, 1941. It was established as a state-owned farm in 1925 and later became the country residence of Genrikh Yagoda, commissar of the Soviet security service (the NKVD). Yagoda was arrested in April 1937, and his successor Nikolai Yezhov confiscated the property to serve as a "special zone" for the liquidation of those condemned as enemies of the state. Unlike the NKVD's more notorious killing field at Butovo, Kommunarka was primarily reserved for politicians, army officers, and bureaucrats who were purged in Stalin's ruthless quest to solidify his dictatorship. All were tried at Moscow's Military Collegium and brought here for execution the same day. Many secret policemen met the same fate as the security forces underwent three power shifts in two years (Lavrenty Beria replaced Yezhov in 1938). The victims included Central Committee stalwart Nikolai Bukharin and onetime Soviet Premier Alexei Rykov; leaders of Soviet Republics; "Old Bolsheviks" (pre-revolutionary party members) who were embarrassingly immune to Stalin's personality cult; former Trotsky supporters; and authors Boris Pilnyak, Vladimir Kirshon, and Alexander Tarasov-Rodionov. In 1941 the entire executive branches of the Mongolian and Latvian governments were put to death at Kommunarka, as were several Red Army generals for failing to halt Hitler's invasion of the USSR. Sporadic killings may have continued until 1950. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Memorial, an historical and civil rights society, and the Russian Orthodox Church pressured the new government to reveal the history of Kommunarka and other Stalin-era mass gravesites. In 1999 Russia's Federal Security Service sold the property to the ROC, which consecrated a Church of the Holy New Martyrs there in 2007, but much remains to be documented. Some sources claim the death toll at Kommunarka could be as high as 30,000, though to date only 5000 victims have been identified by name.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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