Cover Osteuropa 6-8/2022

In Osteuropa 6-8/2022

When the Graves Speak
Sandarmokh – Memorial for Victims of Colonial Violence

Sergej Lebedev

Deutsche Fassung


Russia’s crimes in Ukraine in 2022 continue a long history of imperial violence. In Russia, the only visible cultural sign of past crimes against the Ukrainian nation lies in the Karelian forest of Sandarmokh. There, in 1937, the Soviet secret service shot thousands of people, including some 300 Ukrainian writers and artists, together with members of the cultural elite of many other peoples. Like no other place, Sandarmokh reveals the colonial dimension of the crimes. It is the arcanum of an empire, a repository for memory to be destroyed. The man who discovered it, Gulag researcher and Karelian section director of the human rights organization Memorial, Yurii Dmitriev, was arrested after the first attack on Ukraine in 2014 and, on the basis of scurrilous charges, sentenced to 15 years in prison.

(Osteuropa 6-8/2022, pp. 117–134)