At these times, there were numerous reports that Cheka interrogators employed tortures of “scarcely believable barbarity”. People were tied to planks and slowly fed into furnaces; the skin was peeled off victims’ hands to produce “gloves”; naked people were rolled around in barrels studded with nails; “in Kiev, cages of rats were fixed to prisoners’ bodies and heated until the rats gnawed their way into the victims’ intestines.”
Executions took place in prison cellars or courtyards, or occasionally on the outskirts of town, during the Red Terror and Russian civil war. After the condemned were stripped of their clothing and other belongings, which were shared among the Cheka executioners, they were either machine-gunned in batches or dispatched individually with a revolver. Those killed in prison were usually shot in the back of the neck as they entered the execution cellar, which became littered with corpses and soaked with blood. Victims killed outside the town were conveyed by lorry, bound and gagged, to their place of execution, where they sometimes were made to dig their own graves.