Chervyen massacre

Chervyen massacre (Lithuanian: Červenės žudynės; Polish: Droga śmierci Mińsk-Czerwień) was one of the NKVD prisoner massacres. More than 1,000 political prisoners from Lithuania, Poland and Belarus were executed by the NKVD near Chervyen (present-day Belarus) on 25–27 June 1941.

Polish and Lithuanian ambassadors in Belarus commemorating the 80th anniversary of the massacre in 2021[1]

BackgroundEdit

At the outbreak of the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, NKVD and NKGB hastily organized evacuation of numerous political prisoners into the interior of the Soviet Union. In many instances, instead of evacuating, NKVD carried out mass executions. Some of the evacuated prisoners, including about a hundred Lithuanians from Kaunas Prison,[2] were gathered at the Pishchalauski Castle in Minsk which already housed a number of Polish prisoners, members of the Union of Armed Struggle.

MassacreEdit

On 24 June, 15 Lithuanians who had received death sentences before the evacuation were executed (among them was Steponas Rusteika [lt], Lithuanian Minister of the Interior in 1929–1934). On 25 June, about 2,000 prisoners were marched on foot by troops from the 42nd NKVD brigade to Chervyen.[2] Along the way, about 500 prisoners were executed for failing to keep up.[3] A Soviet report claimed that 209 prisoners were shot due to confusion and a German air attack.[4]

On 26 June, the remaining prisoners were placed in the Chervyen prison. A few criminal prisoners were released when they volunteered for the Red Army.[3] On 27 June, Belarusian NKVD received a telegram from Mikhail Ivanovich Nikolsky [ru], head of the NKVD prison department in Moscow, ordering to leave 400 prisoners in Chervyen and execute the rest.[3] Since prisoner files were destroyed by German bombardment in Minsk, the guards made their selection of 400–750 prisoners almost randomly.[3] On the night from 26 to 27 June, the selected prisoners were marched from Chervyen towards Babruysk. Initially, the NKVD soldiers shot those prisoners that lagged behind. Then, by a forest about 1.5–2 kilometres (0.93–1.24 mi) from Chervyen, NKVD organized the mass execution. Of Lithuanian prisoners, about 40 survived.[2]

In total, about 200 prisoners escaped.[5]

CommemorationEdit

The first commemoration of the massacre occurred in July 1990 when Lithuanian activists erected a wayside shrine and Belarusians a memorial cross.[6]

Memoirs by survivorsEdit

Lithuanian memoirsEdit

  • Čerškus, Leonas. "Lietuvos kario atsiminimai" (in Lithuanian). Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  • Končius, Ignas (1993). Kelionė į Červenę ir atgal (PDF) (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Viliaus Užtupo leidykla "Vilius". ISBN 9986-425-00-X.
  • Petruitis, Jonas (1990). Kaip jie mus sušaudė (PDF) (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Periodika. OCLC 55796150. (originally published in 1942, second edition in 1944, republished in 1952 and 2003; Italian translation published in 1948 and 1968)
  • Tumas, Juozas (1990). Kelias i Červenę. Atsiminimai (PDF) (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Poligrafija. OCLC 225488434. (originally published in 1957 in magazine Karys)

Polish memoirEdit

  • Stankiewicz-Januszczak, Joanna (1999). Marsz śmierci. Ewakuacja więźniów z Mińska do Czerwieni 24–27 czerwca 1941 r (in Polish). Warszawa: Oficyna Wydawnicza Volumen i Rada Ochrony Pamięci Walk i Męczeństwa. ISBN 83-7233-192-8.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Upamiętnienie więźniów rozstrzelanych przez NKWD" (in Polish). Gov.pl. June 14, 2021. Retrieved January 7, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "Politinių kalinių žudynės Červenėje" (PDF). Atmintinos datos (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras. 17 June 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Anušauskas, Arvydas (1996). Lietuvių tautos sovietinis naikinimas 1940–1958 metais (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Mintis. pp. 118–121. ISBN 5-417-00713-7.
  4. ^ Parrish, Michael (1996). The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939-1953. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 48. ISBN 0-275-95113-8.
  5. ^ Lietuvos Respublikos Seimo kanceliarijos Parlamentarizmo istorijos ir atminimo įamžinimo skyrius. "Červenės žudynės" (in Lithuanian). Lietuvos Respublikos Seimo kanceliarija. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  6. ^ Stungurys, Stasys (1990). "Šiurpi klajonė: Červenės tragediją prisimenant". Pozicija (in Lithuanian). 48. Retrieved 19 August 2018.

Coordinates: 53°41′16″N 28°28′20″E / 53.68778°N 28.47222°E / 53.68778; 28.47222