85 years ago, on the night of 29-30 October 1937, Stalin’s executioners shot 108 Belarusian poets, novelists, translators, critics, state figures and scientists in the Kurapaty area near Minsk. The ruthless eradication of the Belarusian intellectual elite, who were declared “enemies of the people”, lasted from 1929 to 1938. It affected more than 500 prominent cultural figures. More than 100,000 people were forced into exile, executed or sent to Gulag camps.
Every year, Belarusians organize events commemorating the people who died on that day and reading the works by the killed poets. These gatherings have been forbidden in Belarus since 2020: after all, the Lukashenko regime still incarcerates political prisoners in the same prison. But worldwide, the Belarusian diaspora has held events in 20 countries to pay tribute to the outstanding creators whose salvaged works remain a lasting legacy. The map of the events on a dedicated website listed 39 venues from Canada to Israel. “Their desire for creative freedom, their free and adventurous spirit, poetic experiments and lust for life continue to inspire us today,” write the website creators.