The formation and motives of persecution of the political opposition during Stalinism is the focus of the international summer camp in Kommunarka near Moscow. Work at a small memorial dedicated to the murdered victims of Stalism will honor the memory of these victims.
Kommunarka is a small settlement in the Moscow area, about one hour by bus from Moscow. On the initiative of Felix Dserschinski a sovkhoz was founded there in 1925. The settlement became known because G. Jagoda, the head of the Soviet secret police NKWD had a summer house there. In 1937/1938 Kommunarka the site of mass shootings during the great purges. The remains of up to 14.000 people are buried in mass graves. Past autumn a memorial was erected listing 5000 known names of victims. In 1999 the premises were returned to the orthodox church, which built a church on the site and also uses Jagoda's fromer summer house.
Public interest in Kommunarka as a memorial site to stalinist repression is on the rise in recent years. Different approaches to commemoration sparked controversies there, as some of the perpetrators were later also killed there. Until today there is no museum on the memorial site and excavations and research work continue in order to determine the exact number of victims buried in Kommunarka.
The summer camp will support the work on preserving the small memorial grounds. Volunteers will have the opportunity to help with clearing work at this overgrown site. Perhaps the summer camp will also help out practically in supporting the ongoing research on site. The thematical focus will be on stalinist repression in Moscow and especially Kommunarka. Our partner organization Memorial, since many years engaged in accounting for past repression, will provide us with a profound framework and programme for learning. At the end of the summer camp we plan to meet some of those involved in the ongoing debate on commemoration in Kommunarka: family members of victims, church groups, historians, museum educators and others. Thus participants will have the opportunity to get a profound idea of modern Russian culture of remembering this period.