A small wooden house has stood for almost a century on the south side of Peace Avenue in central Ulaanbaatar – now it has been demolished, but what the building will not be forgotten.
The house was the home of Mongolian Prime Minister P.Genden (1895-1937) and has long severed as the Memorial Museum for the Victims of Political Persecution. The humble wooden house has been closed and has recently been demolished, or more correctly, ‘carefully taken down.’
Very few people were able to stand up to Soviet leader Josef Stalin in person. P.Genden was one such man. During meetings in Moscow the Mongolian Prime Minister was outspoken in his defence of political independence and his unwillingness to destroy the institutions of the Buddhism in his country. Stalin saw Genden as an obstacle and the Mongolian PM’s days were numbered. P.Genden was executed in Moscow on 26 November 1937. Following his death, a terrible purge was unleashed in Mongolia.
The number of people killed in the Mongolian purges is usually estimated to have been between 22,000 and 35,000 people, or about three to four percent of the country’s population at that time. Nearly 18,000 victims were the Buddhist lamas P.Genden was trying to protect.
P.Genden’s legacy and the memory of the thousands he was trying to protect will not be forgotten.
A new future awaits the museum: according to B.Uuganbayar, director of City Reconstruction and Development, a 22-story tower block will be constructed on the land of the museum. The 90-year-old, wooden house is to be reconstructed in the 1-4 stories of the tower.
The museum is now owned by P.Genden’s grandson S.Bekhbat. According to him, the wooden house was no longer unable to be used for the museum due to chronic aging which effected 95 percent of the structure. The absence of the museum will be temporary. It will be reconstructed and covered by glass.
P.Genden’s daughter G.Tserendulam opened the Memorial Museum for Victims of Political Persecution in 1992 for remembrance of the bloody event of the murder of tens of thousands of Mongolians by communist leaders from the 1930’s to the mid 1950’s.