The Gory 1937
27 January, 2011
The Gory 1937

The worst part of the whole process was the fact that the misfortunes did not stop there. Very often, the entire family used to be responsible for the ‘crimes’ of one individual. Professor Simon Maskharashvili has more.
GJ – The year of 1937 is the goriest and the most repulsive   period in the history of the Soviet Union. The wave of overwhelming repressions had swept the country right from the very first days of its existence and continued all the way until its disintegration, but in 1937 millions of Soviet citizens were executed or exiled. Most of them were punished without the court ruling.
SM – The trials of the apprehended people were held by the all-union Soviet Supreme Court as well as the supreme courts of the republics, but also, the so called Troikas (triumvirates) - the word has been used to describe the supreme officials of Communist states, consisting of the party leader, head of government, and head of state; the term became notorious in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist era: troikas replaced the normal legal system for quick prosecution of dissidents or anybody accused of political crimes. For example, in 1937 the Supreme Court of Georgia held only three trials which would handle the cases of about 60 people whereas the troikas had prosecuted the repressed 13 thousand persons. My paternal great-grandfather Galaktyon Maskharashvili was one of the accused persons who were executed in 1937. Based on the trial documentation which I keep in my archives (and that is the material officially published in the newspapers), I can describe for you the way the ‘culprits’ were punished. There were four other people who were prosecuted together with my great-grandpa. They were: brother of the great Georgian theatrical director Sandro Akhmeteli David, poet Gyorgy Leonidze’s brother Levan, famous composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze’s father Tedo and professor Ilia Jandieri. Out of those five persons, four were repressed by the troika without any court trial. Nobody knows what they said during their prosecution except those who were present there and later executed. The ruling in their case was achieved in the absence of defense. They were given no chance of self-defense or appeal.
GJ – But the worst part of the whole process was the fact that the misfortunes did not stop there. Very often, the entire family used to be responsible for the ‘crimes’ of one individual.
SM – Yes

indeed! For example, following the execution of David Akhmeteli, his brother Sandro and their cousins Simon and Stephaneh were executed too.
GJ – Practically the entire family was murdered . . . 
SM – Families, sometimes all the relatives having the same family name used to be annihilated. I am not arguing the fact that my grandfather’s dad Galaktyon Maskharashvili was the enemy of the Soviet regime. When in 1934 Kirov was assassinated, he commented openly like this: ‘The more the better’. I know for sure that when Abel Enukidze came to Tbilisi, he and Galaktyon Maskharashvili met. Hence, Galaktyon was informed first-hand about the Kremlin goings-on. Galaktyon Maskharashvili was the godfather of Stalin’s first wife Ekaterine Svanidze, and he never liked Stalin too much. 
GJ – He certainly had reasons for the hatred . . .
SM – In this particular situation, the government involved the persons into the same case with which my great-grandfather had nothing to do. The only survivor of the prosecution later stated that he was coerced to recognize his fault at the publicly held trial in presence of journalists. He said indeed that he was in close touch with the rest of the group which had perpetrated crimes against the Soviet regime. After the court trial all of them were executed except that one man. When Galaktyon Maskharashvili, sentenced to death penalty, was dragged down the stairs, he was shouting loudly: ‘Folks, never believe the Bolsheviks!’ The tragedy of his family did not end with his execution. His death had not stopped the machine of repression. His son became a refuge of the woods where he was hiding for years. Other children were compelled to leave the town to live somewhere else.