Martyrs Remembered

Byelorussians commemorate 70th anniversary of holocaust ordered by Stalin


Byelorussians are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the holocaust ordered by Stalin at the Gulag (the Russian concentration camps), which took the lives of 800,000 Catholics, many of whom were martyrs.

Between August of 1937 and December of 1938, some 10,000 people were killed in Byelorussia. On the night of October 29 of that same year more than 100 people were killed by the NKVD, the secret service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In order to commemorate these dates, Greek Catholics in the country organized a pilgrimage on July 15 to the town of Polatsk.  On that occasion, the apostolic visitator of the Greek Catholic Church of Byelorussia, Archimandrite Sergius Gajek, said of the victims of the genocide, “We desire to pray for eternal rest for their souls and for us the grace to be courageous witnesses of the Risen Christ in Byelorussia.”

Likewise, last August 26 the Apostolic Administrator of Minsk, Archbishop Anton Dziemianka offered a Mass for the repose of the souls of the victims.  On October 28 Protestant churches in the country held a Day of Repentance for the crimes of Communism, with many Catholics and Orthodox participating as well.

In addition, some Greek Catholic priests celebrated a Mass on October 29 in
Kurapaty, Minsk, where more than 50,000 people murdered in the Gulag are buried.  Hundreds also participated in a pilgrimage through the streets of the city.  The commemorations are expected to continue throughout the next several days.