Mass murder of Czechoslovakians during Terror in the Zhytomyr region


Czech historian Mechislav Borak has found documents indicating that in 1937-1938 the Soviet punitive bodies executed more than 400 Czechs and Slovaks. The largest number of victims was in Zhytomyr where there was a big Czech community.

According to Mr Borak who worked in the Ukrainian archives, on 28 September 1938 seventy seven Czechoslovakians were shot and killed, including the well-known military figure Vilem Lobkovych and the no-less renowned polar explorer Jan Brzezina. It is thanks to Mechislav Borak’s research that a number of Czech families have learned what happened to their relatives.  Yevzhen Topinka from Lviv finally discovered that his grandfather was murdered by Stalin’s NKVD in Zhytomyr, that he did not die after the War in Siberia as he had been told by Soviet and Ukrainian bodies.

In Zhytomyr the Czech historian found a mass grave of his countrymen which, in order to conceal the crime, had at one stage been covered with concrete. The discoveries made by Mechislav Borak and his colleagues have resulted in the documentary film just presented entitled “Executions kept secret”. On the eve of the presentation of the film, its scriptwriter Lenka Polakova said that Ukrainian officials had not been particularly enthusiastic to cooperate with the authors of the film.

Mykola Shatilov

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