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The Secrets of
Levashovo’s Dead

In the 1930s, the Soviet Union led a campaign of extreme political repression called The Great Purge. Anyone perceived as associating with the enemy––farmers, businessmen, clergymen, but also political figures and party members, members of the Red Army, and the intelligentsia––were imprisoned or executed.

Many of the bodies were transported at night and buried in secret mass graves that were guarded by the KGB. One of the largest of these sites was the abandoned estate of Count Levashovo, a wasteland north of Saint Petersburg. For 50 years, it remained closed to the public.

Levashovo Cemetery was revealed in 1989 as part of the country’s rehabilitation process. Though the full list of victims of The Great Purge remains incomplete, the organization Memorial, has been helping families find information about their loved ones by compiling a database of over a million people confirmed dead or missing.

Today, thousands of gravestones have been placed at Levashovo Cemetery. It is estimated that 20,000 people are buried there. These photos are just a few of the many faces adorning the tombs throughout the cemetery, weathered by wind and sun and rain. Similar mass burial sites are thought to exist throughout the country, but their locations are still unknown.


Karl Ozol, 42 years old
Nationality: Latvian
Profession: Fireman
Date of arrest: December 25, 1937
Charge: Article No. 58. Espionage. Damage of transport, communication, water supply, warehouses, and other buildings or state and communal property with counter-revolutionary purpose. Anti-Soviet and counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation
Condemnation: January 12, 1938
Sentence: Execution
Date of execution: January 18, 1938
Date of rehabilitation: September 29, 1956


Anna Kolupaeva, 33 years old
Nationality: Russian
Profession: Schedule clerk
Date of arrest: September 28, 1937
Charge: Article No. 58. Espionage
Condemnation: December 2, 1937
Sentence: Execution
Date of execution: December 8, 1937


Aron Yashkevitch, 27 years old
Nationality: Jew
Profession: Electrical engineer
Date of arrest: October 20, 1937
Charge: Article No. 58. Treason
Condemnation: December 15, 1937
Sentence: Execution
Date of execution: December 20, 1937


Veniamin Baraden, 46 years old
Nationality: Russian
Profession: Legal adviser
Date of arrest: October 26, 1937
Charge: Article No. 58. Anti-Soviet and counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation
Condemnation: November 25, 1937
Sentence: Execution
Date of execution: December 3, 1937


Nikolay Makarov, 44 years old
Nationality: Russian
Profession: Secretary of Communist Party of the Arctic Institute
Date of arrest: July 16, 1937
Charge: Article No. 58. Espionage.
Condemnation: January 10, 1938
Sentence: Execution
Date of execution: January 15, 1938


Eduard Yanit, 61 years old
Nationality: Latvian
Profession: Miller
Date of arrest: December 3, 1937.
Charge: Article No. 58. Espionage, Anti-Soviet and counter-revolutionary propaganda and agitation
Condemnation: January 11, 1938
Sentence: Execution
Date of execution: January 18, 1938


Herbert Hesse, 40 years old
Nationality: German
Profession: Assistant of Scientific Institute of Communication
Date of arrest: February 25, 1938
Charge: Article No. 58. Espionage
Condemnation: June 13, 1938
Sentence: Execution
Date of execution: June 28, 1938

Svetlana Bulatova
Svetlana Bulatova is a documentary photographer from St. Petersburg who focuses on long-term documentary projects that cover humanistic issues.
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