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21.05.2000 | Ovsienko, Kyiv

These horrible words: Solovki, Sandormokh& V.

   

In early 30 sUkraine, weakened by the famine and repressions, already lay under Stalin. s high boots. It was the time to cut off her head. Having inspired Kirov. s assassination of 1 December 1934, Stalin personally prepared, and the legislative power approved the edict . On the procedure of preparation and execution of cases about terrorist acts. . According to this procedure, the investigation had to last not more than 10 days. The trial had to be performed without advocates, prosecutors and the accused; the verdict might not be cancelled and a victim might not be mercied. The verdict had to be executed without delay.

It was in the spirit of the teachings of Lenin, who said: . Be relentless, shoot, shoot them, asking nobody and without idiotic red tape!. . On 4 December the newspaper . Pravda. informed the Soviet people about unclosing the first batch of terrorists. At once the corresponding agencies started arrests of intelligentsia, in particular, of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, which, according to Stalin, . had not to be trusted. . The first death verdicts were pronounced and executed already in December. Among the suffered were many members of the . Ukrainization. movement. Its naive supporters dared to imagine a Ukrainian version of communism, for which they went to . Ukrainize. Solovki.

The Solovki Isles are situated in the White Sea and have the area of 300 square kilometers. In ancient time the islands were uninhabited, only pagans had their temples there and sailed now and then to hold their rites. In 1429 two monks of the Vallaam monastery, Savvatiy and German, came there for . noiseless life. . When Savvatiy died, another monk, Zosima, came to the Isles. In the 16 thcentury a monastery appeared. Now the Solovki district is a part of Archangel oblast. The nearest railway station is Kem, sixty kilometers by sea westwards.

For the first time I saw Solovki at midnight of 6 August 1999. The white walls of the Annunciation church and Transfiguration cathedral shone above the surface of the White Sea as a lighthouse and were seen at 20 kilometers. The citadel with bulky towers and walls made of granite boulders (12 meters high and 6 meters thick) hung over the Prosperity haven. The citadel was built in the end of the 16 thcentury under Father Superior Philip Kolychev. Later he became the Moscow Metropolitan, and later he was suffocated by Maluta Skuratov, the main henchman and hangman of Ivan the Terrible. The citadel and the churches were erected by monks, who sought and found there pacification of the sprit in serving God. There, in the North, where tundra meets taiga, they created life, grew orchards, bred domestic animals and bees, caught fish, extracted seal fat, painted icons, connected scores of lakes with channels, erected the dam between Solovetsky island and Great Muxalma island, built a large water mill and in the very beginning of 20 thcentury they built the hydroelectric station, perhaps, the first in Russia.

Vague rumors about the holy life of monks in Solovki came to Ukraine. But there was another rumor that Solovki was also the place of incarceration of heretics and state criminals. As the latter, Petro Kalnyshevskiy, the last headmen of Zaporozhye Sich, suffered: Catherine the Great destroyed Zaporozhye Sich in 1775 and sent Petro to Solovki. Now excursions are led to a hole in the citadel wall, which leads to chieftain Petro. s cell. I squeezed into the cell, it is rather spacious, but the inmate was not permitted out even to relieve himself. When the new czar Aleksander I, 25 years later, released the 110-year-old chieftain, he became blind. He remained here as a monk and died in two years. There are many tombs in the churchyard and one of them marks the grave of Petro Kalnyshevskiy, but excursion guides do not know which.

For 200 years of existence of the monastery prison 350 people were incarcerated there. In 1903 the monks asked to close the prison on order not to contaminate the holy place. The request was satisfied.

The Soviet power was less tolerant: during 19 years, from 1920 to 1939, more than 100 thousand were squeezed through Solovki, and nobody lived up to 101-year age . half of them died here. Among them were scores of thousands of Ukrainian peasants, from the total number of 1.2 million repressed as kulaks.

Every Ukrainian knows this horrible word . Solovki. , as everyone, who had the ill luck to be a Soviet citizen. Two years ago another horrible word . Sandormokh. rooted in the memory.

First of all the Soviet power disbanded monks and organized a sovkhozin the monastery. In the morning of 26 May 1923 a fire burst out in the citadel and devoured the work of many generations of monks. Nikola and Assumption churches burned down together with the archives and library. Anarchists, Mensheviks, esers, White Guard officers . the first incarcerated enemies of the Soviet power, all tried to extinguish the fire.

By the end of 1923 Solovki counted 2.5 thousand convicts, five years later . 22 thousand. Every building on Solovetsky island was made a prison. The Ascension church was made a lockup, from which nobody walked out . their dead bodies were carried. On the remote island Unzerskiy, in the Calvary-Crucifixion cloister, Bolsheviks organized the concentration camp of the same name. They also built a special prison for political prisoners in Isakovo. Here, in 1926, for the refusal to obey the new regime, the guards shot down political prisoners. This fact became known in the West. In 1939 the convicts were ordered to erect a three-storied prison, but it remained unpopulated . the WW2 began, and the convicts were driven to the continent.

By late 20s on Solovki, in contrast to other concentration camps, the political prisoners had some special status. Up to 1926 they were not forced to work and the food was acceptable. Later the special status was cancelled. The political prisoners felled the forest, and worked within the camp (to show them what is what the authorities detained about a hundred of monks). If the work was lacking, they were forced to carry water from one ice-hole to another. In 1926 part of the prisoners from Solovki were transferred to the continent to provide timber for export. The convicts were divided into companies according to their political . origin. (Mensheviks, Trotskyists, terrorists and the like). But then the barracks of different companies were not isolated from each other, and the existence was bearable. A journal was published, since in the 30s there were enough incarcerated writers; this journal was received by the libraries of the country; a theater was organized and Les Kurbas staged his plays there. In 1937 the liberal times ended, and the GULAG epoch began.

On 2 June of this notorious year the Ezhov purge broke out. It concerned the people at large and in the penitentiaries. This day the Political bureau of the party approved the document . On anti-Soviet elements. . Secretaries of party organizations of all ranks were ordered to examine all . kulaksand convicts. , who had returned from exiles and concentration camps, to select the most dangerous of them, to arrest and execute them. The campaign had to be carried, neglecting the usual judicial procedure, by troikas. . The Central Committee of the Party orders to send the composition of the troikasto the Central Committee within five days and to determine the number of persons, who must be shot and who must be exiled. (cited after the book: Ivan Chukhin . Karelia . 37: Ideology and practice of the terror. , Petrozavodsk, 1999, p.17).

The operation began by the order of NKVD No. 00447 on 5 August 1937 and had to be completed during 4 months (actually, it was terminated by the decision of the Political bureau of 15 November 1938). The plans of the repressions for I and II categories were sent down. The I category was shooting, II was exile; the ratio of the planned numbers was 3:1, respectively. The grass-root organizations reported that they over-fulfilled the plans, especially as to I category, and asked to increase the quotas.

The troikasjudged all categories of the population. Besides . kulaksand convicts. the repressions were expanded on . rebels. , . clerics. , . spies. , . Trotskyists. , . saboteurs. , . nationalists. and so forth.

Not to be accused of . nationalism. , I would quote the data for Karelia from the above-referred book:

. From 8605 repressed citizens of Karelia only 1215 (about 14%) were incarcerated. The initial . plan. for the republic was 3700 (2800 of the I category and 900 of II). The plan was over-fulfilled, and the ration of the categories was changed. It was not 3:1, as planned by the Political bureau, but 9:1. Finns and Karels were exterminated most energetically: among the executed they made about 90%, whereas their proportion in the population was 1/3 . (loc. cit. p.22).

. The people to be repressed were selected as follows. The people in charge took a list of the inhabitants of a settlement or the list of the employees of an enterprise. All people with names ending in . ski. were apppointed Polish spies, with names ending in . nen. became Finnish spies, people with German-sounding names were appointed German spies. NKVD-men with fancy found even Japanese spies. Anyone, who had been abroad or had there relatives and acquaintances was doomed. All former functionaries of the czarist power were arrested. In villages they found terrorists, saboteurs and members of the wide-spread network of rebels. The head of the Karelia NKVD Matuzenko (later he was shot down, of course) bragged at the XIV Party Conference: . Today on the territory of Karelia only one orthodox priest remained, and that happened because he has a gout and cannot walk. All other popsare finished (laughter in the hall). (loc. cit. p.40).

Further Ivan Chukhin studies the composition of the troikasin Karelia. A typical troikaconsisted of the secretary of the district party committee, the head of the district executive committee and the local head of the NKVD. All of then were occupants, quite illiterate (it is instructive to read their hand-written verdicts!) bolsheviks. Very few of them were Finns and Karels.

As the result we have now the trampled Karelia, where only the Russian language can be heard, and side by side the blossoming Finland that managed to defend from the Russian bolshevik plague. Likewise, we have Ukraine, trampled physically and spiritually, where the remaining Ukrainians feel themselves rather uncomfortably.

Let us recollect that the NKVD (with changing names) in Ukraine was headed by non-Ukrainians: Vsevolod Balytskiy, Israel Leplevsky, Amayak Kobulov, Aleksandr Uspenskiy, Ivan Serov (all of them except the last were shot down). The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine was consequentially headed by Lazar Kaganovich, Pavlo Postyshev, Stanislav Kosior, Nikita Khrushchov.

In 1935 40% of the NKVD of the Ukrainian republic were Jews. In 1940 only 4% of them remained. They also were executed. The repressions concerned all the peoples that had the ill luck to live in the Russian empire with the new title of the USSR. Yet, nobody remembers about a single . Russian bourgeois nationalist. who stayed in concentration camp; as to . Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists. , they were the most numerous group in every political concentration camp, starting from the 30s and ending in the 80s.

Tell me, if in Karelia or in Ukraine they had their own, even the worst power, will it exterminate their own people so relentlessly? In order to make the enslaved people to be obedient and regard their . elder brother. with awe, the occupants deliberately, and in the Soviet times very energetically, carried out the Satan selection: they obliterated the most educated, able, productive part of the native population, leaving for propagation the worst. Besides, the authorities practiced additional populating: only in 1934 in the famine-cleaned villages of East Ukraine 240 thousand families were brought from Russia. In this way our leaders created . a new historical community . the Soviet people. . Thus, we have now a . population that does not speak any language and does not belong to any culture. . About one hundred peoples entirely disappeared during the Soviet rule: according to the census of 1926 there were above 200 peoples and nationalities in the USSR . the census of 1959 reported 101 peoples.

The first wave of prisoners in Solovki had moderate terms of incarceration: 5 . 10 years. Many of them had had communist illusions before, but after the prison they could become dangerous for the power. So, instead of releasing them in August 1937 it was decided to purge the concentration camps. New cases were started, mainly based on the information from stool-pigeons or on the characteristics from the administration. Many got longer terms, many got death sentences. In Solovki all the characteristics were signed by warden Eichmans. One gloomy October evening of 1937 in all . companies. guards called out many names. During two hours 1116 convicts were loaded on a barge. Mostly they were intelligentsia of all nationalities of the USSR. Ukraine was represented best of all: 176 convicts. Later nobody saw them. It rumored that they were taken to Kem transportation camp, where all their civil clothing was confiscated . in exchange they were given convicts. uniform without buttons and belts. It also rumored that they were drowned in the White Sea. The romor appeared incorrect, after all. Two years ago . Memorial. from St. Petersburg found the place where all this group had been shot down: Sandormokh, 19 kilometers from the railway station . Medvezhya gora. .

Later the corresponding document was found in Archangel Directorate of the FSS. It looks as follows:

Verdict date Minutes No. Execution date Convicted Executed
9 October 81 27 October 209 208
9 October 82 2 November 182 180
9 October 83 3 November 266 265
10 October 84 4 November 249 248
14 October 85 1 November 210 210
Total     1116 1111


Five verdicts were not executed, since one convict died and four others were sent to other concentration camps.

The executor of these verdicts was captain Matveyev, who was specially sent from Leningrad NKVD. His name was found accidentally in 1996 in a file with a criminal case of 1938 where Matveyev was reproached for exceeding his authority during an execution near Medvezhyegorsk. From this file it became known that convicts from Kem were transported by smaller parties to the prison of Belbalt camp in Medvezhyegorsk.

In the above-placed table there is a gap of executions between 27 October and 1 November, after this the executions occurred every day. The gap is due to an attempt of escape. After 27 October the transportation procedure was perfected: the convicts were stripped to underwear and tied in pairs.

Most of the Ukrainians were shot down on 2 November. One may fancy historian Matvey Yavorskiy tied with writer Miroslav Irchan, professor of philology, poet Mykola Zerov with the writer Mykhaylo Kozoriz, producer Les Kurbas with play-writer Mykola Kulish& This day the Minister of Education in the government of independent Ukraine Anton Krushelnitskiy was shot down, together with his sons Ostap (24-year-old) and Bogdan (31-year-old); the Minister of Finances of the Ukrainian Socialist Republic Mykhaylo Poloz, writers Oleksa Slisarenko, Valeryan Polishchuk, Pavlo Filipovich, Grygory Epic, Mykhaylo Yalovoy were shot down. They were young and middle-aged, they could have created remarkable spiritual treasures for their people, possessing which we would have reached the level of other civilized nations. Some of the victims could live even to our days. Mere presence of such people in a society improves the latter. But an illiterate butcher Matveyev, a brutal executor of the will of the communist power, changed the course of the Ukrainian history.

To protect myself from accusations in nationalism, I must recognize that outstanding people of many other nationalities ended their life in Sandormokh. Among them were a Russian A.Bobrishchev-Pushkin (the advocate of Beylis and Purishkevich), the creator of the USSR hydro meteorological service, a Dane A. Vangengeim, a Moscow literary critic N.N. Durnovo, a founder of the Udmurt literature Kuzebay Gerd, Belorussion minister F. Volinets, the Tartar public figure I. Firdevs, the head of Moscow gypsies G. Stanesko, Georgian princes N. Eristov and Ya. Andronnikov, the professor of communist party history, a Jew, Pinhus Gluzman, a Cherkes writer prince H. Abukov, a Korean public figure Tai Do, orthodox bishops Aleksiy (of Voronezh), Damian (of Kursk), Nikolay (of Tambov), Petro (of Samara), the leader of Soviet Baptists V. Kolesnikov, a Vatican legate P. Weigel, sent to the USSR to check the rumors of prosecutions of believers& One may fancy the latter, numb and frost-bitten, in underwear, driven barefooted to the grave, he perhaps understood that he got to the Satan. s czardom.

Two assistants put a condemned on his knees on the edge of the grave and captain Matveyev shot at the back of the head. the assistants threw the corpse to the pit. When the pit was filled, the dead bodies were covered with quicklime and then with earth. There are about 150 graves with dimensions 4x4x2 in Sandormokh. The described shooting was one of several. All in all 5 . 6 thousand were slaughtered.

And captain Matveyev was awarded with the order of Red Star and died in his bed in Leningrad in 1974.

On 27 October 1997 under the initiative of St. Petersburg . Memorial. supported by V.N. Stepanov, the head of Karelia government, the Memory Day was carried out in Sandormokh. Ukrainians also took part. Evgen Sverstiuk brought the wooden cross carved by Mykola Malyshko. Ivan Drach delivered a speech, the kobza player Mykola Litvin sang Ukrainian songs, a Ukrainian priest Pavlo Bokhniak served the office for the dead. In the press and on TV a number of articles appeared. The Security Service of Ukraine jointly with the Institute of Ukrainian archeography published three volumes of documents . The last address: 60 thanniversary of the Solovki tragedy. (Publishing house . Sfera. , vol. 1, 1997, vol. 2, 1998, vol. 3, 1999). Ukraine learned still another black page of her history.

This year the St. Petersburg . Memorial. held the Memory day on 5 August in Sandormokh. Members of governments of the CIS countries and foreign diplomats were invited. No members of the governments came, but the consuls of Germany and Poland in St. Petersburg were present. About 30 offsprings of the executed came. The Ukrainians brought a handful of Ukrainian soil from under Shevchenko. s memorial in Kyiv. We brought a little icon of Christ the Saviour, we tied a towel with the Ukrainian knitted pattern to the cross and put out national flag.

Since then, on 5 August, the Day of starting Ezhovshchina,people with gather under the memorial with the inscription: . People, do not kill each other!. .

The memorial meeting will be held for the offsprings of the executed.

For those, who feel themselves humane.

For those, who is going to restore the Russian communist empire and who already threaten us with new Solovki.
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