On 19 August 2019, when the barbarous excavations of the Military History Society were well under way, a large group of students from the Moscow International Film School arrived at Sandormokh. They brought with them 16 unique plaques they had made themselves, listing those shot and buried there, from first Solovki transport and the prisoners of the White Sea-Baltic camp complex.
The students attached the plaques to the stakes, read aloud from the biography of these victims, and cleared up the rubbish from around the immediate area. This was part of their compulsory educational programme.
The visit to Sandormokh was captured on video. The film is very moving. Young people who live in the megapolis are visiting the memorial complex at Sandorkokkh for the first time. They are a little shocked by what they have seen, and by the sounds and sights of the ongoing excavations by the Russian Military History Society. They stumble over terms and abbreviations that are all too well known the older generation:
- NKVD LR = the Leningrad Region NKVD;
- KASSR = the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic;
- CLC = Corrective-Labour Camp;
- “Special Board”,
- captain of State Security,
- “Sentenced in absentia, once again, by the decision of the Troika”.
It’s curious to watch the effort these young boys and girls make to pronounce such unfamiliar, not entirely comprehensible words as they gaze at their smartphones and note, with surprised and serious faces, where the next self-tapping screw affixes the plaque to the stake. The plaque they made a few days ago in Moscow, when they knew nothing about the person named there.
Now this name is attached to the stake, where he or she was executed, and a private, personal memory of that individual has been created – something so needed by the hundreds who lay slain in this place.