Just after the Soviet Union fell, a Russian I met in Moscow told me a story about a tunnel in which the Red Army had buried the bodies of ten thousand German soldiers.
The tunnel is located between the island of Sakhalin and the Asian continent. This island is located at the east end of the Russian Federation, in the Pacific Ocean, north of Japan.
Sakhalin Island location
The strait between the island and the mainland is 10 km wide, and the sea freezes in winter. The ice makes transportation between the island and the mainland quite difficult, and this led Stalin´s government to begin construction of a railway tunnel under the sea.
So how come was this Russian telling me this story? In the early 90s, after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian Federation announced that it wanted to develop offshore oil fields located east of the island of Sakhalin. Without going into the details, to transport oil and gas from the island is quite difficult because the sea freezes in winter. This led me to have a casual discussion with Russian friends in Moscow who were engineers at a prestigious institute. During that conversation, one of the Russians mentioned:
"One option would be to use the tunnel dug by the Germans."
I asked which tunnel and which Germans, and he explained:
"After the Second World War Stalin wanted to build a tunnel between the island and the mainland. The project had a workforce of more than twenty thousand German prisoners who dug the tunnel in inhumane conditions. When the Korean War started and the Americans were coming to the Chinese border after their successful landing at Inchon, Stalin believed that after attacking the Chinese the Americans would continue and invade the Soviet Union, beginning with Vladivostok. He didn´t want the Red Army fighting with the Americans while holding thousands of German prisoners in the region, and gave orders to kill them all.
As they were in a hurry, those who had to carry out the orders put the Germans in the tunnel and blew up the entrance. Later, we wanted to use the tunnel to install an oil pipeline but Soviet authorities wouldn´t let us mention their existence. Officially no one dug that tunnel. It´s something we couldn´t mention because the Soviet Union would lose its reputation because it had killed over ten thousand German prisoners and to make matters worse, those men had been buried alive. "
I suggested that the issue was sensitive, and we shouldn´t talk about it anymore. Later I recommended the company to try to make a deal with the Russians to develop the fields and send the oil and gas from Sakhalin to Khabarovsk and China. But management refused to consider my plan.
I wanted to go ahead with the project, because that could possibly bring up the possible use of the tunnel, and would reveal what had happened. Imagine the uproar if we had really found and been able to open that tunnel and found the bodies. That place can be a similar scene to the Katyn forest where the Soviets killed more than ten thousand Polish citizens in the early days of World War II.
Photograph: Katyn Massacre monument , Poland
Since I have not returned to Russia, and I think I can´t back after revealing Vladimir Putin´s real identity, I'm writing this to get it off my chest. If you are in Russia do what you want with the information. I don´t like the idea of seeing Russians trying to recreate the image of Joseph Stalin as a great Soviet hero without realizing that the man was a very bad murderer.
Communism tends to create great myths, the result of state propaganda and the support of fans everywhere sustains it. Many of these myths are lies, and help to hide the truth. And this truth can be horrible.