A sad loss. For years the historian Mikhail ROGACHOV studied the history of the Gulag in the Komi Republic (Northwest Russia) and was compiler, author and editor of the Pokayanie Fund’s Book of Remembrance, Repentance: The Komi Republic’s Martyrology of the Victims of Mass Political Repression.
The only one of its kind in Russia, the museum in Palochka village in the north of the Tomsk Region opened this August. It is devoted to the memory of over 7,000 forced settlers from southern Siberia who died there in 1931-1933. Partly funded with grants from the presidential administration, it faced fears of closure recently until a crowdfunding campaign raised enough to pay for its prohibitive heating costs.
From mass burials to a museum
In 2018 two local women Irina Yanchenko and Gulnara Koryagina found mass burials of so-called “special” settlers on the outskirts of the village (population 297 in 2017). Archival documents revealed that in 1931 “kulaks” had been brought there on barges down the River Ob from the Altai Regionto the south. Two years later only 700 of the 7,800 settlers remained alive: the rest had died from the backbreaking work, from starvation and sickness.
Yury DMITRIEV’s friend and colleague describes recent acquisitions by his Centre and work on the forthcoming second volume of Sandarmokh, a Place of Remembrance, that incorporates Dmitriev’s extensive research on those forcibly deported with their families to Karelia in the early 1930s:
Since the late 1980s volunteers all over Russia and other former Soviet republics have compiled lists naming the men and women arrested, imprisoned and shot during Stalin’s time, and published regional Books of Remembrance about them.
Working with Ivan Chukhin, Yury DMITRIEV compiled such a volume for Karelia. Published in 2002, it contains over 14,000 names.
“By 10 February, the prosecution planned, the final words by both sides would have come to an end and a verdict would be delivered,” says Anatoly RAZUMOV, a friend of Yury Dmitriev’s and a member of St Petersburg’s Human Rights Council. “However, the defence had prepared two speakers for that day.