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A. I. Barysheva . The Island of Death

Memorial Search

Dear Editorial Staff!

You are attending to a very good and useful, but also rather difficult task: the search for people who innocently perished in the time of Stalin and their rehabilitation, the restoration of their good and respectable reputation. In our country there are millions of them. Where they died, what kind of a death they died, where their ashes lie, all this is not known to their relatives and those close to them.

Most of them were shot, tormented in the camps of the Far North and many starved to death.

The Island of Death is giving evidence of this thesis. It is situated in the Tomsk region, Alexandrovsk district, and there is the village of Nazino, not far from the Island of Nazino. This island was called the Island of Nazino in earlier times, but as of 1930, it was named the Island of Death. Even the bargemen who are navigating on the river Ob call it this name.

In the years 1929 and 1930 tug boats used to tow three to four barges at the time across the river. They were used to transport kulaks from Russia, the Ukraine, Belorussia, from all corners of the country.

The prisons were jam-packed with people (children, women, old people, men), and on the barges the people were standing tightly packed in upright position. Then they made them change places, for below deck they would suffocate and outside on deck either the sun was burning them or they were caressed by bad weather.

Thus, the grain-growers and plowmen, our breadwinners, went away into internal exile. They wore shabby clothes: armiaks (peasant's coats of heavy cloth), linen skirts, bast shoes ...

A scene of horror.

Many died on the way: Whenever the steamship moored at the riverbank, they took the dead bodies out and buried them in great haste ...

Once, they carried away people to the Island of Nazino, among them members of the intelligentsia, of the working class, farmers and criminals. They were taken to this godforsaken island, which was covered with purple willows. There was no place to live at all, and they were simply left behind in order to starve to death ...

A few times, observed by guards, a boat with rye flour came to the island. The sentries were afraid of the hungry people and, for that reason, would not allow the boat to approach too close to the riverbank. The flour sacks were thrown into the water, and the completely weakened and exhausted people tore them out, immediately dug a little hollow right at the riverbank, poured a handful of flour into it, dissolved it in water and gulped it down ...

However, this kind of attendance did not do for all of them; only those who were yet strong enough managed to get a share. The unfortunate exiles died under the open sky, surrounded by the waters of the river Ob, without housing, without food.

The majority were women. Many of them thought of running away. The men broke off twigs and branches from the bushes and weaved little rafts, hoping to be able to use them for crossing the river and reach the opposite riverbank; but the rafts were too thin, too weak for the planned load, and sank ...

A few managed to swim across the river and hide away.

Once, in 1949, my husband was on a detached duty in Kolpashevo. There he was given the book The Island of Death. It had been published illegally. Having read it to the end, he was unable to to sleep anymore. This book was a hint after all that someone had escaped, survived and was now able to tell the whole story.

I think one should communicate about this in the Tomsk regional newspaper, in order to try to find this book.

The people would like to know why this humiliation, without any trial or investigation, had been organized on the back of the Soviet people???

As of the 1930s this island is also called the Island of Death. In confirmation of these terrible facts I quote an article written by Vladimir Sapozhnikov dated the 24th of August 1988, published in the Literary Newspaper under the headline And who is guilty, after all? This newspaper was edited on the 16th of November 1988, an article by Ivan Uksusov& Section 58 for 58 books with autogrammes.

Well, such dreadful things are going on in our country, with the best of the best of all people ...

As long as there will be people who lived in the Alexandrovsk district during the 1930s we have to hurry and not lose any more time to question the last remaining witnesses of the past tragedy on the river Ob, on the Island of Death.

I am somehow recalling how, early in the 1960s, a girl pioneer from Moscow was asking the following question to the editorial staff of the newspaper Pioneer Truth:

But why is the island (in the Tomsk region) called Island of Death? The reply came by return, in a few words only, because even the adults did not know the backgrounds.

Stalin, the hangman, destroyed the prime of our lives: the Lenin Guards, the farmers, the working class, and the intelligentsia...

Isn't Stalins place, isnt Vyshinskiys place right by the Kremlin Wall, at the Holy of Holies ???

One should take their dead bodies out and destroy them, just as in the movie The Confession ...

Dear Editorial Staff!

Thank you very much for all your efforts, but this generous work is necessary for our fatherland to be done, for humanitys sake.

I am deeply bowing in front of you.

I wish you success in the detection of the Stalinist crimes.

Yours very truly

A. Barysheva