A former KGB cemetery was found in Lviv near Topolna Street. Human remains most probably belong to prisoners of Lviv Transit Prison #25, where the “Territory of Terror” Memorial Museum will be located. After exhumation, which has already started, skeletal remains will be reburied according to Christian tradition in Lychakiv cemetery.
In September last year a “discovery” was made by an owner of the territory and he was the one to inform the administration of the “Territory of Terror” Museum. A public utility company “Dolya”, that specializes in searching for burials of participants of national liberation movement, victims of wars, deportations, and political repressions, after receiving a request from the Museum started primary research and approved the fact that there are burials on the premises of a former Transit prison. In May this year the work was recommenced and four rows of burials were found.
The imprisoned from all over Western Ukraine were brought to Transit prison. Usually these were people connected with national liberation movement, families of the insurgent, and also prisoners of war. They were kept there during a period of time that ranged from a week to a year.
“Transit prison had been functioning in Lviv in 1944-1955. Conditions were horrible: insanitary, poor diet, tortures. Those who died were secretly transported during the night and buried. We’ve heard that there might be such kind of cemetery, but now we’ve found it”, commented Taras Choliy, director of the Museum.
Researches approved that remains belong to people from the prison hospital. Remains of 15 adults and 27 children were found. Children were 3-10 months old, one child was approximately 9 years old. Prisoners were buried not in coffins, but in wooden boxes. Two adults and three babies could be buried in one such “casket”. Two elderly nuns were buried in a separate box.
The majority of skeletons belong to women and little children due to their inability to adjust to horrible conditions in the prison.
“We can state that people from the prison hospital were brought here, because we found an ampul near one of the deceased. And trepanation of the scalp means that there was a cross-section”, said Volodymyr Kharchuk, a manager of the excavation.
Researchers think that the scale of the burial could be much bigger.
“This is the territory of a former special NKVD cemetery where prisoners were buried. Not far from here another research was conducted in the 2000s, and remains of victims from Lviv Transit Prison #25 were also found there. That’s why we have reasons to say that this is one complex”, commented Svyatoslav Sheremeta, director of a public utility company “Dolya”.
Administration of the “Territory of Terror” Museum hopes to inquire the surnames of the buried. Little metal plates with personal numbers of prisoners that still might be found in the burial could help identify the victims. As Taras Choliy mentioned, the lists of prisoners might be also found in the hospital book in the Ministry of Inner Affairs Archive, because after the death everybody had to undergo medical expertise.