Actually, it happened between late night of October 29 and early morning of October 30. 100 Belarusian men of light and leading: writers, artists, scientists, engineers, officials, were shot dead n the vaults of the internal NKVD prison “Amerykanka”. However, the innocence of these people was admitted later even by the Soviet courts.
But how could so many people have been killed in a small Amerykanka within just several hours?
"Is it a record? In the autumn of 1937 they could execute 200 or 250 people within a single night," says researcher of the Stalinist repressions Lieanid Marakou.
"One should not forget that the building of the NKVD of the Byelorussian SSR had — and still has as the KGB is currently residing in the building — a multi-storey basement.
The victims were tortured. Some of them could not walk, so they were dragged to the shooting room. The bodies were loaded on trucks. It wasn't like Vasil Bykau described in his Yellow Sand when five people were brought to the execution site by a lorry. Minsk’s 1930s trucks were as saddled as spaceships: they rammed 50 corpses in one and carried to bury outside the city.
People were not buried in the Chaliuskincau Park in 1937. The park had been constructed there since early 1930s and then turned into a popular night recreation area. Only Loshyca and Kurapaty fit for this. My relatives lived near Loshyca at those times. They tell the executed were brought there."
"'Lawful' mass executions started right in 1937," Lieanid Marakou says.
"During the civil war of 1920s people were also executed, but with no mere 'formalities.'
"What happened to the executioners? Some committed suicides. Many executioners killed themselves after the death of Stalin. There were some of such incidents in the NKVD headquarters in Minsk...”
Leanid Marakou's uncle, poet Valieryj Marakou, was among the executed on the night of October 29. However, the relatives weren't told the truth.
"It all was top secret. No one had learned anything for 20 year. My granny (the mother of the executed poet) was bringing parcels in 1938 and in 1939. She baked pancakes, bought some butter and took them to the prison. And the parcels were accepted..."
The father of the poet Dzmitry Marakou didn’t escape the prison.
"My grandfather was captured in 1935," Lieanid Marakou tells. "He was sentenced to five years, but spent 12 in prison. His only salvation in the prison camp in Shakhty was his excellent draughts skills: he taught the kids of prison administration how to play the draughts.
"He wasn’t paid a pension as he was a former prisoner. But my grandmother was paid a benefit for the death of the son since 1960s: 30 rubles per month...
"I wonder how they managed to conceal the millions of execute," Lieanid Marakou says.
"I was 5 and I remember the rehabilitation certificate: a half A4 sheet. There wasn't any excuse, but only written: ‘rehabilitated’. Rehabilitated... and what? Where is the man?"
Lieanid Marakou is sure that the memorials reminding about the executions of innocent people will appear sometime in Loshyca and Kurapaty.