The Bloody Rozalia’s Horrific Underwater Forrest of Swaying Corpses
Rozalia Zemlyachka was sent to Crimea as Secretary of the Crimean Regional Committee of the Russian Communist Party. Crimea was one of the last enclaves of the Whites – those opposed to the Bolshevik Reds. She was determined to stamp out that opposition, once and for all. Conscientious about her job, she wanted to economize on mass murder and do it as cheaply as possible. At a time when the Bolsheviks were running low on munitions, she decreed it unreasonable to waste bullets on captives slated for execution. To cut costs, she ordered rocks tied to condemned prisoners’ legs, who were then tossed off barges into the sea. Tens of thousands were killed that way, and when the waters were calm and visibility was good, rows of upright bodies could be seen like a horrific underwater forest, swaying with the currents on the sea bottom.
Zemlyachka returned to Moscow, and was awarded the Order of the Red Banner – then the highest Soviet military award. She continued to climb the Communist Party’s rungs, and joined the Central Control Commission – the organization that kept a watchful eye on the party. She worked closely with the NKVD throughout the bloody Great Terror, and so impressed Stalin with her ruthlessness that she was made head of the Control Commission in 1939. That made Zemlyachka the only woman in the USSR’s highest administrative body, the Council of People’s Commissars. She died of natural causes at age 71 in 1947, and was honored with a burial in the Kremlin.