Thursday, July 22, 2010

Jig-saw pieces

It is not surprising to anyone who has the slightest knowledge of twentieth century that there shouldbe mass-graves in Russia (and other ex-Soviet republics) that date back to the Bolshevik days. But each one is like a piece of a jig-saw puzzle. Therefore the uncovery of six mass graves with the remains of over eighty bodies clearly from the very early Soviet period is interesting but not surprising. Many people were executed summarily in those years and it is next to impossible to identify the particular victims in these graves.

One would prefer to see less slip-shod writing in the Daily Telegraph but that is past hoping for. The Red Terror (why the quotation marks in the article - is it something anyone has any doubts about?) did not start after the Russian Civil War but immediately after the Bolshevik coup in November 1917. It continued throughout the Civil War and outlasted the latter.

Nor is it exactly true that the Romanov family is buried in the Cathedral. The Tsars from Peter I to Alexander III (with the exception of Peter II) are buried there together with their spouses. Even Mariya Feodorovna, Alexander III's widow, has now been re-buried there. Other members of the family are buried in a separater mausoleum. This, however, is a detail though easily verified.

It is true that the fortress has been a museum for many decades and, together with the sandy beach under it, is a popular tourist destination. It seems entirely reasonable that the mass graves should now become part of the museum. They could become very popular with people who might like to know a little more about their country's history.

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