Medvedev Forest massacre

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The Medvedev Forest massacre was a mass execution in the Soviet Union carried out by the NKVD on September 11, 1941. Barely three months after the German invasion of the Soviet Union, 157 political prisoners incarcerated at Oryol Prison were executed in Medvedev Forest, just outside Oryol, by personal order of Joseph Stalin.[1] Among the victims were Christian Rakovsky, Sergei Efron, Olga Kameneva, Garegin Apresov, Maria Spiridonova and Dmitry Pletnyov (a famous doctor who had been sentenced to 25 years in the fabricated trial).[2] In 1941, the Oryol Prison contained some five thousand political prisoners. This execution was one of the many massacres of prisoners committed by the NKVD in 1941.

On 5 September 1941, NKVD composed on the order of Lavrentiy Beria a list of 170 Oryol prisoners to be executed, Beria claimed they formed the "more angry part of the prisoners" and that they "performed defeatist agitation and attempted to organize escapes with the aim of renewing underground activities". The list was sent to Stalin, who approved it. On 8 September, Vasiliy Ulrikh (as chairman of the collegium), Dmitri Kandybin and Vasiliy Bukanov, without any litigation and without any kind of investigation, sentenced 161 persons to death. By the time of the execution, some in the list had died or being transferred; some had been released. Boris Borovich, who had been de jure vindicated but had been kept imprisoned for unknown reasons, was nevertheless executed. Many of the executioned prisoners were foreign citizens, among them Fritz Noether, the liberation of whom even Albert Einstein had demanded.


  1. ^ Michael Parrish, "Chapter 3 The Orel Massacres, the Killings of Senior Military Officers" in The Lesser Terror: Soviet State Security, 1939-1953, pp. 69-109
  2. ^ Alexander Rabinowitch, Maria Spiridonova's "Last Testament", Russian Review, Vol. 54, No. 3 (Jul., 1995), pp. 424-446

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