The crematorium at Donskoi Monastery had been founded mostly as an antireligious experiment, but in the middle of the 1930s, it saw a new purpose: like Fanny Kaplan, the victims of Stalin’s political repressions needed to “disappear without a trace.”
During the day, the crematorium boss Pyotr Nesterenko authorized the funerals of Communist citizens. At night, he was well-paid for his silence as the secret police (known as the Commisariat for Internal Affairs, or NKVD) brought in and incinerated truckloads of executed prisoners. Some, such as White Army general Yevgenii Miller, were actually executed in the crematorium’s basement itself.
Miller, like many others, was held in the Lubyanka before being brought to the crematorium. After sentencing, prisoners were usually executed either in the Lubyanka itself or at Transportation Base #1 on Varsonofevsky Lane.