“Return of the Names” at Solovetsky Stone on Lyubyanka Square. HRO.org reports

posted 2 Nov 2015, 09:26 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Nov 2015, 09:34 ]
29 October 2015

Source: HRO.org
On 29th October 2015, from 10am till 10pm, on the eve of Remembrance Day for the victims of political repression at Solovetsky Stone on Moscow’s Lubyanka Square, for the ninth time the ceremony “Return of the Names” took place, organised by International Memorial Society.

Members of the public took turns to announce the names of those shot in Moscow during the years of Stalinist repressions. On the piece of paper which each brought to the microphone were written the name, surname, age, profession and date of execution…..

The reading began with lines by Varlam Shalamov who himself went through the through the mill of the Great Terror.

The former federal ombudsman for human rights, Vladimir Lukin opened the event.

In addition, the start of the ceremony on Lubyanka Square by the Solovetsky Stone was attended by the chair of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, and the ambassadors of France, Great Britain and the USA.

People had already started to gather at the Solovetsky Stone from 10 am. Many were carrying flowers and portraits of relatives who had suffered repression. Memorial members distributed a sheet of paper to each with the names of terror victims and memorial candles. 

This is not an official ceremony. This is a very personal story for each person. A few chose sheets with the names of their relatives. At the microphone they added: “my father”, “my grandma”, “my great grandfather”. In a few words they related the fate of their own family: a father was shot; a mother perished in the camps; a daughter was sent off to an orphanage for children of “enemies of the people.”

Some added: “Eternal rest” or “We won’t forget or forgive”. Some could not contain their tears.

К концу дня здесь будут тысячи свечей, а Соловецкий камень будет утопать в цветах. Но, как и в прошлые годы, назвать имена всех расстрелянных не успеют. По данным Международного "Мемориала", всего за годы Большого террора в Москве были расстреляны более 40 тысяч человек.

In spite of the cold and windy weather, many came along with small children, even though they had to stand in a queue for the microphone for more than half an hour. After reading a few names each one placed at the base of the Solovetsky Stone a lighted candle in memory.

At the stands placed in the square there was an exhibition on display, “The Topography of the Great Terror” which described the places in Moscow of the imprisonment, execution and burial of political prisoners. It was also possible to find out more information about the project “Last address” in which ordinary people, in their own homes and in different cities, install plaques in memory of those for whom this address was their final one, marking the building from which a person was taken away to be put behind bars, and never returned.

By the end of the day here there will be thousands of candles and Solovetsky Stone will be drowned in flowers. But, just as in previous years, there will not be enough time to name all those who were executed. According to data from International Memorial Society, during the years of the Great Terror more than 40,000 people were shot in Moscow. 

Translated by Frances Robson