Burial Grounds of the Great Terror | Russia's Necropolis of Terror and the Gulag

Burial Grounds of the Great Terror

“No less than 686,350 people were shot” in the USSR, their bodies buried and subsequently concealed, during the Great Terror (1937-1938), note Krivenko and Prudovsky in their April 2021 study of the “national” operations of the NKVD. Where are their graves? Today many such burial grounds are known, they write, and are mentioned in Tomasz Kizny’s Great Terror, 1937-1938 (2013) book and on this website “Russia’s Necropolis”. They are the most frequent location, it may be added, for regular yearly acts of commemoration (marked [C] in the entry title).

Some are located in the former Soviet Union: Kuropaty near Minsk, Bykovnya near Kiev, and Zhanalyk near Almaty (Kazakhstan). Figures from Krivenko and Prudovsky’s study show that 458,984 were arrested and shot in Russia during the Great Terror. “Russia’s Necropolis” lists no less than 153 such formerly concealed burial grounds or commemorative sites where the remains of the executed were reburied. Yet across the former USSR, Krivenko and Prudovsky estimate, a third to one half of all the burial grounds of the Great Terror remain undiscovered, a quarter of a century later.

These are some of the most important burial grounds included in “Russia’s Necropolis”.

Central Russia

Butovo [C] near Moscow; Mednoe [C] near Tver; Katyn [C] near Smolensk; the Tesnitsky Woods [C] near Tula;

Selifontovo [C] near Yaroslavl; and Dubovka [C] near Voronezh.

Northwest Russia

Levashovo [C] in St Petersburg; Sandarmokh [C] and Krasny Bor [C] in Karelia; and Nizhny Chov [C] near Syktyvkar (Komi).


The Golden Hill memorial cemetery [C] near Chelyabinsk; and the memorial complex at the 12th kilometre [C] near Yekaterinburg.


Zauralnaya Roshcha [C] in Orenburg and the Epiphany Spring near Saransk (Mordovia).


Yagunovka near Kemerovo; Kashtak and Kolpashevsky Yar in the Tomsk Region; and Pivovarikha [C] near Irkutsk.

Far East

Nikolayevsk-na-Amure [C] (Khabarovsk Region) and Verkhny Armudan [C] (Sakhalin).

Burial Grounds of the Great Terror