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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jewish Victims of Stalinism

A group of members of the S. Petersburg Jewish community participated in an event to pay tribute to Jewish victims of Stalinism, during which they laid a wreath at the foot of the 'Levashovskaya Pustosh' monument, the site of a secret burial ground that was initially used in 1937, the 20th anniversary of the October Revolution, when the Soviet Politburo ordered a broad campaign against political criminals, including many religious persons.

At the gathering, flowers were laid at the mass graves of those executed under the Soviet regime, where stands a monument created by a fellow community member, sculptor Eduard Zaretsky. Leaders and members of the city's Jewish community laid wreaths at the monument to the Jewish victims. There were many elderly congregants present, many remembering well those terrifying years, after which the Chairman of the local 'Chevra Kadisha' Yan Flyashnik recited a prayer in the memory of those lost to Stalinism.

This commemorative ceremony took place following the annual memorial event arranged by the 'Memorial' Society. That meeting began with a minute of silence, followed by solemn speeches by Vladimir Shnitke, the Chairman of the S. Petersburg branch of the organization, as well as numerous city officials, civic leaders, historians and politicians. Wreathes were laid on the bank of the river beside a local prison.

Beginning on August 5th, 1937 and within a three-month period, officials ordered the death of 4,000 persons and the imprisonment of 10,000 others. Religious Jews, priests, and persons with non-proletarian origins were arrested based on trumped-up charges, subsequently sentenced using falsified confessions given under torture. Discovered in 1988, this burial place was named as a memorial site, with monuments being erected at the initiative of local national communities and Diaspora. In 1991, October 30th was officially declared to be the "Day of Memory of Victims of Political Repressions". Since that time, the 'Levashovskaya Pustosh' Memorial is regularly visited by many people.


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