The Great Terror in Karelia

On 31 July 1937 NKVD head Yezhov’s Secret Order 00447 (“the Kulak operation”) allocated the Karelian troika a quota of 300 to be shot and 700 sent to the camps. This marked the beginning of the Great Terror.

By the end of the Terror in November 1938 at least 10,779 people had been shot and buried in Karelia. (This total does not include the 1,111 prisoners from Solovki, shot at Sandarmokh between 27 October and 4 November 1937.) A further 1,410 were sent to the camps.

The victims faced no trial but were sentenced in their absence by extrajudicial bodies in Karelia (troika) and Moscow (dvoika). Execution quotas were handed down for Belbaltlag prisoners in August and October 1937. Four times between August 1937 and April 1938 the quota for the civilian population and forced settlers in Karelia was raised at the request of the local troika, adding a further 2,300 executions to the total.

Only an examination of the calendar of events, month by month, can explain the impact of the escalating toll of arbitrary arrests and executions on a traumatised and terrified population.