Olonets cemetery [C] Reburial of the executed | Russia's Necropolis of Terror and the Gulag

Olonets cemetery [C] Reburial of the executed



Date of burial
1937-1938 [1995]
Show Map
Republic of Karelia, Olonetsky district, Olonets
Access outside a populated area
Private or specialised transport
On foot
2 kms from Olonets; accessible by road
Visiting Hours or Restrictions
Visiting hours
Accessible when cemetery is open
Type of burial
Secret interment of executed
Current use
Ceremonial events
Presence of memorials, etc.
Protected status
Not protected
Фотография 2014 года. Источник: Архив НИЦ «Мемориал»
Фотография 2014 года. Источник: Архив НИЦ «Мемориал»

The church of the “Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God” stands on Mariam Island, where the River Megrega flows into the Olonka River. During the Great Terror (1937-1938) those sentenced to death by extrajudicial bodies in Olonets were executed and also buried there. The exact number of victims is unknown. There is information that about 160 individuals were shot in Olonets between 8 September 1937 and 17 October 1938; the names of 146 are known. Old inhabitants recall that the church was closed in the early 1930s and stood empty until the NKVD blocked access to the island in 1937-1938.

In the 1950s when the building was adapted to serve as a museum many human remains were found under the floor. Some of them were thrown into the river. In 1992 the church was given to the Russian Orthodox Church. During renovation work the incumbent Father Victor (Kolesnikov) found skulls with bullet holes. By summer 1995 the gathered remains were preserved in the church. On 11 July 1995 they were reburied according to Orthodox rites in the town’s Kunelitskoe Cemetery. A wooden cross with a name board was erected on the grave.

On 28 May 2008, thanks to the efforts of Olonets residents, a pillar was installed at the site with inscriptions in the Russian and Karelian languages:

“In memory of the victims of political repression in the 1930s / The sky and earth remember, so does the Karelian nation.

Mustau mua dai taivas, dai karjalan rahvas Tädä vahingua-vaivastu… / Here lie buried remains from the Smolensk church, 11 July 1995”

Books of Remembrance

The Commemorative Lists of Karelia, 1937-1938, compiled by Ivan Chukhin & Yury Dmitriev (2002, 1,087 pp) contain 14,038 biographical entries. The online Memorial database shows that 11,275 were shot and 1,958 sent to the camps, almost all during the Great Terror.

The copy of the lists held at the Russian National Library in St Petersburg names 158 who were shot near the village of Olonets.

DateNature of ceremoniesOrganiser or responsible personParticipantsFrequency
30 October
Solemn ceremonies to mark Remembrance Day for the Victims of Political Repression
Olonets district commission for Restoring the Rights of Rehabilitated Victims of Political Repression
Relatives of the victims, district officials, clergy, local residents
Annual Event
Commemorative Services
Several times a year
Nature of area requiring preservation
State of burialsAreaBoundariesOther sites in same area
The reburial is well preserved
5 sq m
Marked by a stone border
Church of the Dormition (a site of regional importance)
Administrative responsibility and ownership, informal responsibility for the site
On land under the control of the Olonetsky district administration
Sources and bibliography

[ original texts and hyperlinks ]

“A memorial to the victims of Stalinist repression has opened in Karelia”, Novaya gazeta, 27 May 2008

M. Sizov, “Mariam Island”, Vera (Syktyvkar), 1999, No 239

Materials of an RIC Memorial expedition – archive of the Memorial Research and Information Centre (St Petersburg)