Today I went on a pretty enlightening field trip to the Butovo Shooting Range and… damn.
About 20760 people were killed here between August 1937 and October 1938 after the infamous NKVD Order No. 00447. Among the victims were a 13-year-old boy, about 1500 disabled people (they “weren’t useful” in prisons because they couldn’t work), heroes of war, innocent priests and many, many more.
It really says a lot about the past of this country considering this started before the horrors of Nazi Germany took place across Europe. There were no national differences, there were no impartial courts. The NKVD (read: Stalin) aimed to repress (read: destroy) representatives of certain classes. They weren’t killed for their actions, they were, much like the victims of Nazism, killed for what they were.
It’s great to visit these places (though I am in a bit of a depression right now) because this is a painful but ultimately healing wake-up call in this agitated modern era. The measures of “preventive terror” justified by the NKVD leaders (destroying certain social classes before they could think of starting a revolution); Beria drinking vodka and stuffing his face while overlooking the place of mass murders; forged documents to ward off the relatives of the victims… all of this unveils the true face of the Soviet society in the mid-1930s — 1950s and gives those living here today a lesson in morality.
This terror should never be forgotten, and it should never be repeated again.