Half those shot in 1937-1938 …

lie buried at Sandarmokh?

During the Great Terror almost 11,000 men and women were executed in Karelia. In his database Yury DMITRIEV followed NKVD reports and noted that during those months the death sentence was carried out 4,975 times “at the Medvezhya gora rail station”.

Sandarmokh monument as originally designed with Guardian Angel

This is not surprising. The headquarters of the enormous Belbaltlag camp complex, created to build and maintain the White Sea Canal, was located nearby in what became the town of Medvezhegorsk. It seems quite probable that the Sandarmokh Clearing, as it is known today, was used as a killing field for Belbaltlag and its prisoners before the Great Terror.

There is one report of the execution of five people on 11 August 1937 10 kms in the other direction from Medvezhegorsk. Perhaps this happened once only; perhaps there was another killing field in regular use near the “Medvezhya gora rail station”.

Ever since Sandarmokh was discovered in 1997, the physical evidence has always indicated that many more were shot and buried there than the 1,111 prisoners from Solovki (who are not included, incidentally, in the Karelian Book of Remembrance compiled by Chukhin and Dmitriev).

Drawing on Yury DMITRIEV’s database and certain other sources we reach a total of at least 6,067 for those shot and buried at Sandarmokh:

Belbaltlag prisoners, pre-1937: numbers unknown

The Great Terror (Aug 1937-Nov 1938):

  • Belbaltlag prisoners: 1,988
  • Prisoners from Solovki: 1,111
  • Free inhabitants of Karelia: 2,344
  • Forced settlers: 624

TOTAL: 6,067

How many lie buried at Sandarmokh? [R]