The photo shows the skulls of Stalin’s repressions victims from a mass burial in the Demyaniv Laz tract near Ivano-Frankivsk. During excavations, human remains were found here and 524 people executed in June 1941 were identified later.

In total, more than a million people came under the repressions in Ukraine from 1917 to 1991. Stalin repressions were carried out in the USSR in 1930 – 1950 and associated with the name of the repressions keeper and ideologist J. V. Stalin, de facto the Soviet dictator in that period. The repressive actions include genocide of Ukrainians, purges in the ranks of the VKPb and NKVD, de-kulakization, the entire ethnic groups’ deportation, “socially alien elements” and “saboteurs” persecution, mass imprisonment and “enemies of the people” execution.

From international law view, such crimes do not differ from the Nazi’s crimes and are classified as crimes against humanity and fall under the jurisdiction of the International Military Tribunal according to the London Statute of the International Military Tribunal.

A counselling centre was opened to search for the information about the purged people

On the eve of the Memory Day of the Victims of Political Repressions, the Sectoral State Archives of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory opened a Consultation Center for information searching on the purged people (Kyiv). More than 4 million documents from the Security Service archives, the Foreign Intelligence Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Police, the Ministry of Defense, the State Border Guard Service, prosecutors, courts, etc. will be placed here. It will be the most comprehensive archive both in Ukraine and among similar archives in Central and Eastern Europe.

The Center will provide consultations to all concerned and will accompany people who want to know the fate of people repressed in 1917-1991, help them to write correct address and requests to the archives to get all the information about people, historical figures and events.

“The Holodomor of 1932-1933, the famine of 1921-1923 and 1946-1947, the Great Terror, deportations, political arrests and assassinations… Millions of citizens became the victims of these misanthropic experiments. However, not all the names have been established yet. Many families do not know the history of their kind because the pages of their ancestors’ lives disappeared. The purpose of the newly created Center is to support people who have dared to start searching for the truth about the relatives and their country,” said Ihor Kulyk, director of the Field State Archive of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory.

He says that plenty of applicants complain that their families were afraid to talk about repressed relatives – even about small grains of information. People admit that they have never dared to turn to any archive to search for their repressed relatives. The task of the Counseling Center is to give people faith and confidence in the possibility and ease of such a search, to overcome people’s fear of appeals.

The counselling centre has started operating from May 14. During this time, the Archive received hundreds of appeals from people around the world who dared to learn the truth about their repressed relatives. In particular, the Center received the request to help to know a family history in the archives via:

  • 120 messages per page on Facebook;
  • 392 mail notifications;
  • about 300 calls.

The geography of appeals is quite interesting. A significant part of the people are migrants from the Crimea and the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. One often asks to find information about relatives who were natives or lived in these areas. There are also many appeals from abroad – from Belarus, Russia, Poland, Spain, Canada and other countries.

Contacting the Counseling Center is free. Here one is longing to debunk the myth that the archives are complex bureaucratic institutions which are difficult in cooperation. The task of the Center is to make archival documents more accessible and interesting for ordinary citizens, as well as for historians, journalists and anyone who wants to know more about the communist and Nazi totalitarian regimes.

It is worth to note, that today Ukraine is a leader in access to the archives of repressive bodies in the post-Soviet space. Our country opened these documents to everyone with the right to freely copy and distribute them in April 2015

Information reference: 

The Field State Archive of the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory was established in June 2019 following the Law of Ukraine About the Access to the Archives of the Repressive Bodies of the Communist Totalitarian Regime of 1917-1991”. Its task is to search, receive, form, record and store archival documents, as well as to ensure the right of access to this information. The director of the Archive of National Memory is Igor Kulik.

In June 2019, the Government handed over a part of the building on Pukhivska, 7, in Kyiv, with ​​11,000 square meters’ area to our institution. It is here planned to place the Archive of National Memory, where approximately 4 million cases will be allocated.

In six months the Archive of National Memory received a positive expert report on the developed project documentation and got ready to start the building reconstruction. However, because of amendments to the State Budget for 2020 by the Verkhovna Rada, all funds of UAH 57.6 million for the reconstruction of the premises have been withdrawn. Therefore, the reconstruction of the Archive of National Memory building has been suspended for some time.

Natalia Tolub

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