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In the early days of the national renaissance in 1989 a branch of the �Memorial� Society was formed in association with the �Rukh� cultural and scholarly society in Ivano-Frankivsk. Its goal was to investigate Stalinist crimes in our land. Tentative, fragmentary eyewitness testimonies indicated that the secret of one of the greatest crimes in the Carpathian region of Ukraine was hidden in the soil of Dem'ianiv Laz. Intensive searches began in opposition to a commission full of privileged bureaucrats, which was attached to the oblast committee and had been formed on instructions from Moscow to investigate Stalinist crimes. Dozens of eyewitnesses were found. But how could the burial places be found in the tidy field of Dem'ianiv Laz? For in order to sweep away the traces of their crime, the Soviet and Communist Party leadership in the oblast had dispatched powerful bulldozers to change the lay of the land in Dem'ianiv Laz to an unrecognizable degree.
The forensic medical experts deter-mined that the victims of the NKVD found in Dem'ianiv Laz had been subjected to inhuman tortures. Most of them died as a result of gunshot wounds to the head. Victims were generally shot in the back of the head, and not just once�
Number of
entry
gunshot
injuries
to sculls
Number of
sculls
% Total
number
of injuries
one injury 349 66,6 349
two 61 11,6 122
three 13 2,5 39
four 5 1,0 20
five 2 0,4 10
six 2 0,4 12
total 402 82,5 552
Age Burial Total Gender
first second third number % male female
under 20 years 11 14 3 28 5,3 21 7
21-30 54 52 19 125 23,8 78 47
31-40 44 45 24 113 21,6 81 32
41-50 44 40 29 113 21,6 77 36
51-60 20 10 18 57 10,9 44 13
60 and older 6 9 6 21 4,0 16 5
undetermined 33 25 9 67 12,8 42 25
total 212 204 108 524 100,0 359 165
Age and number of victims found in separate burial places.
The forensic medical experts who worked on the excavations.
  1. Levytsky, Omelian Romanovych. Years of experience: 14. Forensic Medical Examiner's Office, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast.
  2. Talanov, Mykola Stepanovych. Years of experience: 9. Forensic Medical Examiner's Office, Zaporizhia oblast.
  3. Pavlov, Serhii Mykhailovych. Years of experience: 7. Forensic Medical Exami-ner's Office, Mykolaiv oblast.
  4. Melnychuk, Vasyl Vasylovych. Years of experience: 1. Forensic Medical Examiner's Office, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast.
  5. Zolotarov, Oleksandr Davydovych. Years of experience: 22. Forensic Medical Examiner's Office, Odesa oblast.
  6. Skichko, Volodymyr Heorhiievych. Years of experience: 24. Forensic Medical Examiner's Office, Kyiv oblast.
The supervisor of excavations was Roman Krutsyk, the head of the �Memo-rial� Society branch. Senior investigator M. Danyliv of the oblast branch of the Prosecutor's Office was in charge of investigations.
EYEWITNESSES ACCUSE
�All those who were going to the forest for wood heard shots. Everywhere at the edges of the forest stood guards, who were not allowing anyone in to go in. They were bringing people who had been shot in Stanyslaviv prison to those unfortunates who had been shot in the forest. In the morning on the road leading to the forest our peasants saw fresh blood. Blood was dripping from the cars that were transporting the bodies of the dead �People said that the condemned are forced to dig their own common graves��
(From the testimony of Hryhorii Fedyk).
�A tractor hummed for three days, and they were shooting people to its sound. They were also bringing prisoners who had been shot in Stanyslaviv prison to the forest. My house stands on the edge near the road to Dem'ianiv Laz. That's why every morning I would see the entire narrow road sprinkled with blood��
(From the testimony of Bohdan Vintoniak).
�During the German occupation we learned that there were so-me graves in the forest. The newspaper published [an announce-ment] about this, and we, children, were the first to run and see what they were digging up there. I will never forget it as long as I live! The first to be dug up was a woman with a child in her arms. Even in death she seemed to be pressing the infant to her breasts��
(From the testimony of Olha Bihun).
��It was approximately July 4 or 5. My brother and I ran to the prison�In the courtyard of the prison we approached an excavated pit. In the pit lay human corpses� Then my brother and I ran to look through the prison cells. In one of the cells there was a lot of blood. There were still a few corpses propped up against the wall. When we ran to the second cell, people said that it was a torture chamber. On a little table beside the wall lay some kinds of instruments. People said they were instruments of torture, but I did not look at them closely. There was blood on the walls of the cell. There was a metal container resembling a pail. When I looked inside, I saw eyes and ears�I didn't go to any more cells, because the air was very thick, and it was impossible to breathe. When I went into the courtyard, beneath a covering there were already a few corpses that had been removed from the pit. My brother and I looked at the corpses, because we were looking for our father. I saw that one victim had two nails hammered up his nose; another had been scalped. One woman's breasts had been cut off; another woman's stomach had been ripped open, and the fetus was lying on her breasts. People called my brother and me over to one of the corpses and said that it was our father. This corpse had no eyes, and the nose had been cut off. Some corpses were all black. People said that those victims had been electrocuted��
(From the testimony of Onufrii Boiko).
��Near one woman I saw a dead child that had probably been born in prison. All the corpses were naked and brown for some reason, they were probably electrocuted, at any rate this is what the adults were saying then. It was a horrible sight. The arms and legs of many were contorted not from the agonies of approaching death but tortures, because the arms and legs had been practically severed from the bodies. Many corpses had no eyes, tongues had been ripped out��
(From the testimony of Maria Skrypnyk).
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