Victims of Soviet Repressions Memorial
|Status of the proposal|
The Wikimedia Foundation's mission is to "empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally." To date, this has been accomplished mostly through projects emphasizing factual descriptions of events or phenomena. This is essential, but it is also insufficient. Especially in fields such as history, to obtain a complete understanding of the impact of an event requires understanding what it did to individuals directly—and sometimes indirectly—affected by it.
Understanding the destructive effects of the most vile, most tyrannical, most despotic, most murderous, and most capricious regime in human history necessitates putting a "human face" on its victims. Their names, their lives, their families, are all important information. The Wikimedia Foundation has so far not done much in the way of presenting this "other side" of knowledge; this is an opportunity to rectify that, and in so doing fulfill its mission statement more completely than ever before.
The most obvious source of victims is the GULAG, but it is most certainly not the only one. For one, not all victims ever served time there. Many were shot summarily, died during interrogation (either directly from beatings or through the physiological and psychological effects of just being held at, say, Butyrki or Lefortovo), or were sentenced to the system but died en route; there was also the labor camp system (including such notorious places as Solovetsky and Kolyma) that existed before the GULAG. Great Terror victims, purged Generals, White Sea Canal workers, White Army soldiers, even the Tsar's family would also merit inclusion.
It wouldn't just include those killed as a result of "judicial" proceedings (whether explicitly sentenced to death or not), either. While Zinoviev and Kamenev are perhaps appropriate names for the memorial (though this is debatable since they were somewhat complicit in the repressions themselves), so is Kirov (the same caveat applies, however).
And it doesn't even have to be those killed by the Soviet regime. Solzhenitsyn himself—who outlived the Soviet state by nearly 20 years—belongs here, as do all those others who managed to survive their sentences. Intellectuals silenced, artists denied a showcase, scientists officially discredited (the opponents of Lysenko's "teachings" were many), all warrant a place here.
Finally, it doesn't have to be those directly affected, either. The families of those sentenced all suffered just as much from the repressions, and deserve mention.
An initial source of names and, in many cases, basic biographical information, would likely be the classic definitive works on the subject by such individuals as Solzhenitsyn, Applebaum, and Conquest. From there, members of the public could also submit their own names, and once the research is done to verify them they too could be added. It is conceivable that we could engage in our own research too, if we could attract someone with access to, for instance, NKVD archives.
Legal problems with publishing, at a bare minimum, the names of victims are probably nil--especially for names already printed in the major works on the subjects. Furthermore, most of those who would be considered for listing are deceased or are likely to be so within the next few years, so presentation of more detailed biographical information is also unlikely to be a major problem; for those cases where someone objects, it is trivial to remove and oversight the offending edits.
- Victims of Soviet Repressions Memorial
- sovietvictims.org (calling the domain "wikivictims" or somesuch just seems inappropriate in this case)