The Union: Haunted By History's Horrors

In allowing Stalin's crimes to be exhumed, Gorbachev is trying ( to create a mandate for his reforms. But what if debate about the past calls the legitimacy of the state into question?

For almost 50 years there were whispered stories about black vans that drove every night into a fenced enclosure in the Kurapaty forest, about gunshots and screams waking villagers who lived nearby. But not until last spring did the full horror begin to be known. Workers digging a trench for a gas pipeline through the forest near Minsk came across a heap of human skulls pierced by bullets from Nagant revolvers fired at close range. The prosecutor of the Belorussian Soviet Socialist Republic set up a commission to investigate the murders. Last July more skulls and bones were unearthed, along with...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!