just what an evil form of government communism has been.
Although the trials of former Soviet leaders were widely publicized, the hundreds of thousands of other arrests and executions were not. These became known in the west only as a few former gulag inmates reached the West with their stories. Not only did foreign correspondents from the West fail to report on the purges, but in many Western nations, especially France, attempts were made to silence or discredit these witnesses; Jean-Paul Sartre took the position that evidence of the camps should be ignored, in order that the French proletariat not be discouraged.
Efforts to minimize the extent of the Great Purge continue among revisionist scholars in the West.
According to the declassified Soviet archives, during 1937 and 1938, the NKVD detained 1,548,366 victims, of whom 681,692 were shot – an average of 1,000 executions a day (in comparison, the Tsarists executed 3,932 persons for political crimes from 1825 to 1910 – an average of less than 1 execution per week).
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, numerous mass graves filled with executed victims of the terror were discovered. Some, such as the killing fields at Kurapaty near Minsk and Bykivnia near Kiev, are believed to contain up to 200,000 corpses.
In 2007, one such site, the Butovo firing range near Moscow, was turned into a shrine to the victims of Stalinism. From August 1937 through October 1938, more than 20,000 people were shot and buried there.