Sound Archives: European memories of the Gulag

Testimonianze inedite sui Gulag e i campi di prigionia sovietici (1939-1953) raccolte da un’équipe internazionale di studiosi e rese pubbliche sul sito Sound Archives: European memories of the Gulag.

La maggior parte delle interviste e dei documenti video sono in lingua russa ma in alcuni casi è disponibile anche una versione con traduzione in lingua inglese.

From 1939 to 1953, nearly one million people were deported to the Gulag from the European territories annexed by the USSR at the start of the Second World War and those that came under Soviet influence after the War: some to work camps but most as forced settlers in villages in Siberia and Central Asia.

An international team of researchers has collected 160 statements from former deportees, photographs of their lives, documents from private and public archives and films. Many of these witnesses had never spoken out before.

The labour camps and special settlements of the Soviet gulag are part of European and not simply Russian experience. In the countries that have recently joined the European Union there are memories and an inheritance that are unknown elsewhere in Europe. This experience deserves to be part of the construction of the memory of Europe as a whole.

With support from Radio France Internationale (RFI), a research team of European anthropologists, geographers, historians and sociologists set out to find archival documents, survivors’ testimonies, objects and personal documents relating to the deportation to the Soviet Union of citizens of the Central and East European countries annexed, occupied or “liberated” by the Soviets during or after the Second World War.

We recorded their memories in their countries of origin — Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Ukraine — and the countries where they settled after their liberation, such as France, Italy and the UK. We also went to Siberia and Kazakhstan to find those who stayed where they had been resettled.

These are the materials we have made available here. Our aim is to preserve the life stories of our witnesses and to show under various headings the key events in which many of them shared. Combining theme and biographical rooms, maps and timelines, we wish to make known our witnesses’ lives and point out the relationship between their life stories and historical events.

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