Search billions of records on

Victims of political terror in the USSR

To preserve the memory of the victims of repression and to restore the history of the people and their families, a memorial society began work in 1998 on the creation of the united data base, compiling the information from diaries and books already printed or prepared in different regions of the former USSR.

The early result of this work was released in a 2004 album, “Victims of Political Terror in the USSR”, listing more than 1,300,000 names of victims of repression of 62 regions of Russia. This publication became the basis of the lists posted on the adjoining site. These lists include only a very small part of the total number of victims of terror, not more than 10-12%.

In spite of the enormous changes which occurred in recent years in all countries in the territory of the former USSR, the problem of the perpetuation of the memory of the victims of state terror remains unresolved. Hundred of thousands of people in the different regions of the former USSR want to learn about the fate of relatives. The study of Soviet state terror is as yet far from completed; the following are the basic categories of the victims:

1- People arrested on political charges by national security (VCHK, NKVD, MGB, KGB) and sentenced to capital punishment or confinement in the camps and prisons. According to preliminary estimations, during the period from 1921 through 1985, 5 to 5.5 million people fall into this category.

2- Peasants arrested on political charges and administratively sent from the place of residence in the course of the campaign for the “destruction of the kulaks as a class”. For the years 1930 - 1933, according to different estimations, 3 to 4.5 million people left their native villages. Some of them were arrested and sentenced to shooting or to the inclusion into the camps. 1.8 million became “special-settlers” in the uninhabited regions of the European north, Urals, Siberia and Kazakhstan. The rest were deprived of their properties and resettled. The consequence of Stalin’s agrarian policy resulted in mass hunger in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan that took the lives of 6 - 7 million people. Neither the persons who died as a result of collectivization nor those who died from hunger were formally considered victims of repressions and their memories are not included in the books.

3- Peoples wholly deported from the places of traditional settling into Siberia, Central Asia and Kazakhstan. These administrative deportations were routine during the war, in 1941 - 1945 they preventively evicted those believed to be potential accomplices of the enemy (Koreans, Germans, Greeks, Hungarians, Italians, Rumanians), others they charged with the collaboration with the Germans during the occupation. The total number of those mobilized into the “working army” stretched to 2.5 million people. There are almost no books of memory dedicated to the deported national groups. It is estimated that 905,000 ethnic Germans were deported in 1941 - 1942.

Besides these indisputable victims of political terror, whose names perhaps sooner or later will prove to be on the pages of the books of memory, there were a million additional people arrested for the insignificant “criminal” crimes and disciplinary offenses. They are not traditionally considered the victims of political repressions, although many repressive campaigns, which were carried out by the forces of the police, had clearly political background. Many were convicted for the disturbance of the regime, for vagabondage, for arbitrary withdrawal from the place of work, absence from work without leave, breach of discipline and arbitrary withdrawal of students from the factory and railroad schools, desertion from the military enterprises, et al. Punishment in this case, as a rule, was not too heavy. It is difficult to calculate the number of people given these “soft” punishments: from 1941 through 1956 estimated to be not less than 36.2 million people, of them 1.1 million for truancies! It is obvious that the central objective of these punitive measures was not to punish the concrete crime, but to extend the system of forced labor and rigid disciplinary control far beyond the boundaries of camps and special-settings, in the terminology of the authority itself this was meant “to establish solid state order”).

The colossal scales of repressions make work on the creation of the books of memory extremely labor-consuming and slow. Additional difficulties appear as a result of the carelessness of the boundaries of concept itself “political repressions” and, therefore, erased lawful qualification of the actual incidents. The braking factor is the absence (or inaccessibility) of many documentary sources necessary to explain the fate of victims of repression.