BUTOVO. EXECUTION AND BURIAL SITE, MOSCOW
The village of Butovo. Is located 27 kilometres south of Moscow and near the Podolsk Highway. The area is surrounded by a high wooden fence with barbed wire. A new large white stone church is built outside the memorial area.
BUTOVO: FROM A LANDLORD’S ESTATE TO STALIN’S MASS GRAVES
Butovo was a former estate south of Moscow taken over by the secret police after the revolution and used as an agricultural colony, shooting range and site for executions and mass graves. The executions took place here from 1935 to 1953, but mostly in the years of Stalin’s Great Terror in 1937 and 1938. Butovo Shooting Range is known as Moscow’s main killing field and, among religious people as Russia’s Golgatha. The Great Terror were planned and directed by Stalin himself and the KGB head, Yetzov. The objective was to put an end “once and for all” to “enemies of the people”.
From the archives of the KBG it can be seen that at least 20,761 people were killed and buried here, perhaps far more. The enemies of the people included independent farmers (kulaks), political opponents, alleged followers of the Tsarist regime (named “former people”), Communists with different political views to Stalin (“opponents”), wives and families of “enemies of the people”, priests and other religious practitioners as well as foreigners from no less than 60 countries (potential spies). Poles, Balts and Germans constituted the majority of foreigners. Many of them came to Russia to study and support the Communist regime. The foreigners were shot without trial. An American victim had brought his family to Russia “to educate his sons as Communists”. The families of foreign people received false death certificates from the Soviet embassies with false dates and reasons for death, such as “TB of the lungs”.
Those convicted were transported by night from central Moscow in food vans marked MEAT. The executions and burials took place through the night. A rare eyewitness from the KGB, a former commandant of Butovo, has reported how they were gathered together in a stone building from where the executioners took them one by one to the edge of the grave and killed them by a shot in the nape of the neck. At dawn a bulldozer would cover the bodies. The executioners had free access to vodka as well as eau-de-cologne to remove the spell of blood and gunpowder. The executioners came from the KGB in Moscow. They all received service medals such as the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of the Red Star as well as high pensions.
The 16 months of Stalin’s Great Terror accounted for at least 700,000 death sentences. Approximately one million people were sentenced to 10 years in a GULAG camp.