One place where those shot during the Great Terror in the prisons of Saransk were buried was the ravine in the southwest part of the city, not far from the Epiphany Spring. Subsequently the area was planted with trees.
Since 1998 there have been systematic efforts to identify where those executed were buried. Old inhabitants of the city have been questioned, in particular the former lorry driver who in 1937-1938 was responsible for transporting the bodies. In 2004 the “Explorer” association for the military-patriotic education of the young, led by N.A. Kruchinkin, found seven burial trenches. Rough estimates suggest that each contained the remains of between 80 and 100 people. The Saransk prosecutor’s office took part in a partial exhumation of the remains. The exact number of victims was not established; lists of those shot are not available.
The explorers tidied up the area of burials and in 2005 placed there a memorial stone which reads, “Burials of the victims of repression in the 1930s. Bow before their remains. May they be remembered for ever”. Soon a wooden commemorative cross was erected there, and a board has been attached to it, bearing the names of eleven priests and lay people who were shot on 9-10 August 1937. Official ceremonies do not take place at the memorial area.
On 23 May 2016, thanks to an initiative by senior officers of the Mordovian Republic Internal Affairs department a memorial was unveiled over the burials with the following text on a marble plaque: “Here lie the victims of political repression in the 1930s”. Law-enforcement officers presume that among the “Enemies of the People” shot and buried here was Walter Vand (Waldschmidt), the first director of the NKVD in the Mordovian ASSR. His is the only name etched on the monument.
Remembrance: Victims of Political Repression in the Republic of Mordovia (2 vols. 2000 & 2004) includes 13,900 biographical entries on those shot or sent to the camps.
|State of burials
|Other sites in same area
have not survived
The Epiphany (Bogoyavlensky) Spring, a natural monument of regional significance
“School lessons about the ‘history of political repression and opposition to a lack of freedom’,” Based on the work of Mordovia’s teachers, Issue 2, Saransk, 2007
O. Voronina, “The victims of the Red Terror have been found”, Stolitsa-S (Saransk), 16 September 2004