I went from Moscow to Ekaterinburg by train, the journey takes one day and one night, and while on the train I thought that there are many tragedies in human history and each of them was someone’s pain, and someone’s compelling force. There are just so many of them, buried in the depths of our planet’s past. But still there are some tragedies and mysteries that won’t let us go, they have their hooks in our collective unconscious. We think about them again and again, forcing us to seek answers: the Titanic, the assassination of the Tsars, Amelia Ehrhart’s plane. Years pass, but people remember and they write books, they make films.
I wrote the Dyalov’s group story in 2008, it was nothing knew for Russia, but it was the first exposure to the rest of the word. Since that time it’s been widely discussed in the foreign press, and on the net, there have been several books and at least two films. And there is even more interest stimulated again in the wake of the meteor strikes of Chelyabinsk in 2013.
Even without fresh meteorites over the Ural region this story stirs the mind at every level. An internet survey conducted by Boris Akunin the famous writer where he asked his fans what they would like him to write about next. He gave them several suggestions:
How humankind appeared? Did Russia’s Czar Alexander really die at Taganrog7 What was the mystery of the Marie Celeste? Did Anastasia really survive after her family were shot in Ekaterinburg? Who killed Stolypin? What happened to the Dyatlov Group?
8000 respondents voted with a massive majority for the Dyatlov Mystery.
I also wished to put my little stone on the top of the cairn, when I wrote my article for the Moscow Times in 2008.
I took my train, it was the sixth February 2013. I visited the Dyatlov Foundation immediately, and coincidentally the 6th February is a significant date in the story, this date was written on the front of the case file, yet the official opening of the criminal case was not ordered until 26th February. It is no wonder for me today after I have read the first investigator’s of the case Vladimir Korotaev and journalist Grigoryev’s testimonies as well as some old timers recollections. There is a Criminal Case document that also confirms that in reality before the bodies discovery by the Rescue Parties they were found by local the Manci people. I wrote more about it in my book “Don’t Go There” which is available on Amazon.
My purpose was to ask the foundation workers to show me the accumulated materials, materials which had been assembled for the previous 50 years, and I wanted to audit these items and describe them in English. I also wanted to talk to some of the Rescue Party and Yuri Yudin, who was still alive at that time. Why? Actually after my English language article triggered international discussions and interest in the tragedy beyond the borders of Russia, I could see that people came up with theories about the disaster which were trivial and uncomprehending of life in the USSR in the 1950’s. For instance some of our English speaking friends on internet forums were promoting the idea that maybe the students were high on drugs and killed themselves in a mass orgy of self annihilation. Or, that sexual imbalance in the group had led to various appalling acts. My book is a good opportunity for a reader to begin to grasp the sheer conflict of confusing and conflicted facts.
So here we have documents from the official enquiry (the so-called Criminal Case Investigation), radio messages, testimonies of the search parties, of the relatives, the diaries of the climbers, the diaries of the rescue team, the results of laboratory analysis, and important Russian press articles. There is of course much more documentary available in Russian than in English. In English the story is only 5 years old, but in Russia it is more than 50.
The solution of the tragedy which finally was formed in my mind at first was absolutely impossible for me but it finally turned out to be the only truth I could accept. Still I keep trying to comprehend the puzzle.
I am sure that nothing else that I have written has ever made such a noise in the world, and no wonder. This story has one puzzling querk, at least one circumstance is inevitably contradicted by some other. Not a single explanation of the may, is able to explain the story – there is always at least one fact that completely ruins whatever theory one prefers. This excites the mind.