Red dots

A city map scattered with over 10,000 red dots: the Spatial distribution of executions in Stalin’s Moscow, a ‘database of purges of Moscow residents in 1930s-50s’ taken from data provided by The Memorial Society. Linked via an article by Daniel Sandford via the BBC News magazine, ‘In Moscow, history is everywhere’:

In my flat – Flat 7 at Number 9 – lived two brothers. Olimpiy Kvitkin was killed in 1937 and his younger brother Aristarch in 1939.

It turns out that Olimpiy Kvitkin was a rather important person. Born into an aristocratic and military family, he became a life-long socialist and revolutionary. After studying mathematics at the Sorbonne University in Paris, he became one of Stalin’s leading statisticians. He was the man in charge of the 1937 census, an ambitious attempt to count everyone in the Soviet Union.

That was where his troubles began. Because Stalin had announced in 1934 that the population was 168 million and growing fast but, when the returns came in from the 1937 census, it was clear that the population was just 162 million – six million fewer than Stalin had announced just three years earlier.

It did not mean Stalin was wrong, though he might have been out of date. It meant that the sheer, unimaginable scale of the millions of deaths from the man-made famines of the 1930s was starting to show up in the official statistics. By far the largest numbers died in Ukraine, in what is known as the Holodomor – the extermination by hunger.

This entry was posted in history. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Red dots

  1. Pingback: A database of purges « Moai Unibrow

Leave a Reply