Shot, Imprisoned, Deported, Recaptured | Russia's Necropolis of Terror and the Gulag

Shot, Imprisoned, Deported, Recaptured

The fate of eight men and their families described below illustrate the ordeals suffered by many in the 1930s, beginning with the forced collectivisation of agriculture.

The following details are drawn from online databases, compiled by Memorial and the Open List. They rely on information gathered and published in regional Books of Remembrance during the past 30 years. The Books themselves are principally made up of information culled from dry and bureaucratic official sources. And yet these brief summaries of what went on during the 1930s are shocking and offer glimpses of human suffering on a vast scale.


1. Andrian M. Avdeyenko, an independent peasant farmer was shot in 1931, aged 29. He was born and worked in Yedogon, a village of over one thousand inhabitants in eastern Siberia. Arrested in April 1930, he was charged with “armed uprising” and “the organisation of counter-revolutionary activities” (Article 58:2 & 11) and sentenced to death by the OGPU troika. on 22 January 1931 He was shot and buried in Irkutsk.

2. Daniil A. Yepifantsev (1889-1933) joined the collective farm (kolkhoz) in his native village, but was arrested in 1932 and shot in Tomsk the next year, leaving behind a 41-year-old wife and seven children aged 2-17. He was accused of “the organisation of counter-revolutionary activities” and “counter-revolutionary sabotage” (58:11 & 14).


3. Luka S. Ryabikov was a Red Partisan during the Civil War but in 1931 he was “dekulakized” and sentenced by the Special OGPU Troika of West Siberia to five years in a concentration camp, as Soviet forced labour institutions were then known, for “counter-revolutionary activities” (58:11). His wife Alexandra and seven children, aged between 4 and 16, for some reason escaped deportation. A native of the Krasnoyarsk Region, Ryabikov was sent first to Siblag and then to the White Sea Canal where he died of exhaustion in April 1933, aged 50.

4. Blacksmith Vasily M. Pakhomov was arrested late in 1929 in Aksubayevo, a small town in Tatarstan. Accused of “anti-kolkhoz activity, as a member of a kulak group” (58:11), he was sentenced to five years in the camps but died aged 30 the following June in Syktyvkar in transit to the Far North. Two years later his mother Maria, wife Alexandra and their two sons and daughter, aged 5-13, were themselves “dekulakized” and deported from Tatarstan.


5. Mikhail Ye. Ryzhkov was, like Avdeyenko, an independent peasant farmer (yedinolichnik). He lived in the Krasnoyarsk Region where he was arrested as a “kulak” or rich peasant in February 1930. He and his family of six – wife Varvara, four children aged 9-19 and his daughter-in-law Alexandra – were deported to a special settlement in the Tomsk Region. Ryzhkov died in 1949, aged 74.

In certain regions, the fate of deported “kulak” families has been preserved in more detail. 6. Ivan F. and Dorothea K. Berger, father and mother of a family from the Saratov Region were, like a number of fellow Soviet Germans, “dekulakized” in 1930 and sent to the Vokvad special settlement in Komi (northwest Russia). They were accompanied by their four children, two married sons and two daughters, and by four granddaughters.

While Dorothea (1872-1949) and Ivan (1870-1947) survived the long journey and change of circumstances, their son Johann’s little daughters, Yekaterina, Maria and Frieda all died in 1930, as did their daughter-in-law Alvina (aged 24). The grandchildren were buried in the graveyard at Vokvad. Between 1932 and 1951 seven more children were born to the Berger sons in Vokvad.


Some, like 7. Sergei D. Anisiferov and his wife Matryona, escaped “dekulakization” and survived on the run for a number of years. Anisiferov (1872-1937) was due to be dekulakized in 1930 but he and his wife Matryona (1875-1938) went into hiding. Listed as illiterate, they were both then in their fifties. Caught later, they were sent to a special settlement from which Sergei also fled. Anisiferov was finally caught and shot in Kansk in 1937. His wife Matryona was sent to a corrective-labour camp for eight years, where she died of dysentery in 1938. (Anisiferov’s younger brother Ivan was expelled from his home district in 1931 with his wife and four children; arrested in 1938, he was shot later that year in Kansk.)

8. Andrei А. Ovchinnikov (1895-1938) was dekulakized in 1931 and sent with his brother Daniil’s family from the Altai Region (krai) to the Kosikha special settlement in the Tomsk Region. All the men were picked up again in 1937. Andrei was given 10 years in the camps and died of pellagra in January 1938 in Taishetlag. Brother Daniil (1892-1937) was shot at Kolpashevo; as was their Uncle Ivan.

JC (October 2023)

Shot, Imprisoned, Deported, Recaptured