The Last Address (Russian: Последний Адрес, Posledniy Adres) is a civic initiative to commemorate the victims of repressions in the Soviet Union. The essence of the initiative is that ordinary people deserve to be commemorated, not only "VIPs" which typically receive memorial plaques. A small commemorative plaque (palm-sized) is installed on the houses known as the last residential addresses of those arrested. Every commemorative plaque is dedicated to one person only, with the project operating according to the motto "One name, one life, one sign".
The project is the initiative of Moscow and St. Petersburg historians, civic and civil rights activists, journalists, architects, designers and writers.
The project initiative had originated with journalist and publisher Sergey Parkhomenko, who saw in Germany the stones of the European Stolpersteine project to commemorate the victims of Nazism. Within the scope of that project, over 45,000 memorial stones were set up in Germany and other countries of Europe. The organizers of "Last Address" intend to install a comparable number of plaques across Russia.
The memorial sign is a stainless steel plaque 11x19 cm with the information on the repressed person: his or her name, profession, date of birth, date of arrest, date of death, date of exoneration. The design of the memorial plaques is by architect Alexander Brodsky. The hole in the plaque symbolizes the missing photo.
The project is based on the law “On exoneration of victims of political repressions” adopted in 1991. The law treats the period of political repressions in Russia and USSR as starting on 25 October (7 November) 1917. The project also adopts the law’s definition of political repressions.
The official representative of the project is the noncommercial entity Last Address Foundation for the Commemoration of Victims of Political Repression (Russian: Фонд увековечения памяти жертв политических репрессий «Последний Адрес») founded by the Memorial Society and a number of individual persons through voluntary contributions from private citizens and organizations.
Search for names and addresses of repressed persons
Memorial society opened its archive with data on victims of political repressions for anyone wishing to search for their relatives or friends based on their names or addresses. The database is created using the sources of the regional Memory Books. The database is also used for the traditional annual action “The return of the names” that takes place in October near the Solovki Stone on the Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow.
The database of repressed and subsequently exonerated citizens of Leningrad and Leningrad Oblast is based on materials collected by historian Anatoly Razumov who has been working on his book “The Leningrad Martyrology” for 25 years.
Installing memorial signs in Russia
A sign is installed on the façade of a building so as to be visible from the pavement. The initiator of setting a sign is one specific applicant, who pays the net cost of production, lettering and installation. By April 2018, over 700 memorial plucks have been installed around Russia.
The first memorial signs of “Last Address” project were installed in Moscow on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2014. Some of the signs were made in response to applications of the residents of houses where repressed people had lived.
The next batch of signs was installed in February—March 2015. By January 2015, over 500 applications for the installation of memorial sign had been submitted. Since 2016, the installation of memorial signs is being performed usually 2 times per month, see for example a story of a sign installation: Last Address: Nikolai Yushkevich (Russian Reader, May 9, 2018).
In St. Petersburg
The first 12 memorial signs on the houses of Saint Petersburg were installed on 21—22 March 2015; 80 more applications were submitted to St. Petersburg “Memorial” office. At the initiative of Anna Akhmatova Literary and Memorial Museum, two plaques were installed on the wall of the “Fountain House” commemorating the poet’s civil partner, art historian Nikolay Punin, and his daughter’s husband, worker Genrikh Kaminsky.
In two cases, the applicant was a resident of the house who decided to install plaques for all those for whom that house had been a last address. These are the houses at Pushkinskaya ulitsa 19 (three signs) and Fontanka Embankment 129 (five signs). The installation of the memorial sign at Ulitsa Rubinshteina 19 was attended by a relative of the repressed person who came from Kiev specifically for that purpose. Sergey Parkhomenko says that the emotional reaction is easy to understand: “Last Address” is often the only place where the name of the deceased is commemorated, because most of those repressed were buried in mass graves.
The second batch of memorial signs installed on six houses on 25—26 July 2015 included such names as artist B. Malakhovsky, outstanding literary scholar G. Gukovsky, as well as scientists, engineers, and people who were not famous or outstanding in any way, such as the family Belenkiye-Bodganovy (an accountant and a housewife) arrested as “Polish spies.”
The first commemorative sign in Taganrog was installed on 31 May 2015. The ceremony was attended by project founder Serguei Parkhomenko, the deputy of Oblast Duma Oleg Kobyakov, president of the Council of the regional branch of the Russian National Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Monuments Alexander Kozhin, residents of neighboring houses and numerous journalists.
In Perm and Perm Krai
“Last Address” was launched in Perm in February 2014. The first four plaques were installed on 10 August 2015. The project founder Serguei Parkhomenko came from Moscow to Perm; in an interview to Zvezda magazine he talked about the ways to launch an initiative group, what the cases of the repressed were telling us and whether it was necessary or advisable to install signs commemorating the organizers of repressions.
The first village with a “Last Address” sign was the village Kupros of Yusvinsky District, Komi-Permyak Okrug. The memorial sign was installed on 11 August 2015 on the façade of the house that was the last residential address of peasant Valentin Startsev, declared by investigators “an active participant of the liquidated counterrevolutionary insurgent organization.” Investigators claimed that Startsev was “conducting counterrevolutionary defeatist agitation among kolkhoz members, trying to prove the inevitability of the fall of Soviet power,” “praising the old Tsarist regime and proving unprofitability of kolkhozes”; as a result, he was sentenced to capital punishment in the form of execution by a firing squad.
In other cities
The Moscow-born project is developing in Russian cities with emerging initiative groups. As of December 2014, the movement comprises such cities as Arkhangelsk, Barnaul, Irkutsk, Kirov, Kostroma, Nizhny Novgorod, Petrozavodsk, Taganrog, Tver, Voronezh, Yaroslavl.
The cities of a number of post-Soviet states have expressed their wish to join the movement: Kiev, Yerevan, Odessa, Minsk, Mogilev, Riga.
On 19 August 2015 a commemorative plaque was installed on the façade of the church in the village of Pozdnyakovo, Novgorod Oblast, commemorating the priest Alexander Yelpatyevsky who had served in that church.
Installing memorial signs in other countries
The first country outside Russia where "Last address" started working, became Ukraine. The project in Ukraine "Остання адреса — Україна" is a separate Ukrainian project based on Russian "Last address". On 5 May 2017 the first three commemorative plaques were installed on three houses in Kiev. On June 15, 2018 "The last address" received a German Karl Wilhelm Fricke award. Its monetary part will be sent to the Ukrainian project "Ostannya Addressa", in order to avoid the status of a "Foreign agent".
- Posledniy Adres website
- «Последние адреса» репрессированных: москвичам напомнят об их истории // «Москва 24»
- Мемориальный проект «Последний адрес»
- "Последний адрес: имена жертв репрессий на стенах московских домов", dw.de, Russian edition (in Russian)
- Живые с мертвыми. Для бога мертвых нет. // Novaya Gazeta, 22 March 2015.
- Памятники обычным людям. В Перми стартовал проект «Последний адрес», Arguments and Facts Prikamye, February 3, 2015
- Проект "Последний адрес" начинает работать в Украине // Interfax, August 5, 2016.
- В Киеве появилась первая табличка проекта «Последний адрес» // 5 May 2017.
- Verleihung des Karl-Wilhelm-Fricke-Preises 2018 // Die Stiftung, June 15, 2018
- Проект о жертвах репрессий "Последний адрес" получил немецкую премию // Radio Liberty, June 15, 2018
- Last Address project marking communism victims launched in Prague // Prague Daily Monitor, 28 June 2017.
- "Last Address" project commemorates victims who were executed or whose deaths were hastened by Communist regime // Radio Prague, 27 June 2017.
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- "Čtyři zmařené životy – čtyři tabulky. Projekt připomíná oběti komunismu" (in Czech). Lidovky. 27 June 2017.
- Sergey Parkhomenko (7 March 2018). "Russia has yet to recover from the trauma of the Stalin era". The Guardian.