Conference Transcript

Transcript of an online discussion carried by America Online and led from the National Demonstration Laboratory at the Library of Congress by James Billington, Librarian of Congress, and Rudolf Pikhoia, Russian Archivist. The event took place June 18, 1992.

AFL Bobloo : Sovarc, I'm curious as to how the Russian people feel about this exhibit?

Sovarc : We have to say that not only Americans have not seen these documents, but Russians have never seen these. We have been preparing a series of useful exhibits for high school and college students.

AFL Bobloo : So we are all seeing these things for the first time.

TipToe : I'm asking this on behalf of Mick Anderson (7th grade): Is this a 2-way exchange of information?

TipToe : Are we making American documents available to Russian people through schools or anything?

AFC SteveB : [Good question!]

Sovarc : Probably we should say a big thank you to you for this wonderful question. Right now we are going to receive a large set of documents, microfilms, etc. from the Hoover Institute on Russian History.

Sovarc : We have preliminarily agreed to have the Smolensk Archives (captured by Germans) returned to Russia. These documents will become part of the school materials and texts for all Russian students of all ages.

Sovarc : Billington: I should add that when I accompanied Pres. Reagan during the summit, he asked what would be appropriate to give to Russian Universities. I found out that no students could get primary-source documents, so have given them the complete microfilm documents of Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln. This is the first time university students had primary documents to work on. I would hope that as our exchange would develop we could share such things in schools and universities and archives.

TipToe : (Excellent!!!!!!!) ga :)

VGEngineer : What is the current position of the CIS concerning the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty?

Sovarc : The position of the CIS on nuclear disarmament was agreed to by all the states, members of the CIS and the position was confirmed at the mtg of heads of state in Minsk and Tashkent--meetings held very recently.

BCS Skip : I ya tozhe :)

BCS Skip : (me too)

Jennifer05 : Sovarc, one of our questions was: How were the archives made available to the US?

Sovarc : The materials were provided to the Library of Congress, the largest not only in the US but the largest repository in the world. The gov't of Russia believes it useful to familiarize Americans after a period of seventy years …and the L of C is the best way of getting this information to the Americans.

Jennifer05 : Question: Which documents in the exhibit are likely to cause historians to re-evaluate key aspects of Soviet history?

Sovarc : I think that all of the documents will be cause for a reevaluation of Soviet history. Two hours ago there was a seminar held at the L of C in which some of the leading US historians were present and they share this point of view.

Sovarc : Billington: I would add that the Lenin documents that show far more of the distinctive elements of totalitarianism present from the beginning of the Soviet experience are of particular importance. Also, more recent documents showing, for instance, that the preparations for Afghanistan were well developed earlier than previously thought.

Sovarc : But the biggest new contribution of all may be to show the human factor at work, both the brilliance of repression and the strength and depth of opposition that was there all along.

UICLibrary : how many CIS citizens will have access to the archives? and how?

RebeccaH : Will these documents be widely available inside the CIS?

Sovarc : First of all, we will provide access, we will make access to archives a lot easier... we are declassifying a large number of these documents, and Russian specialists along with L of C are planning to publish series of books based on these documents and these books will be available in the CIS and in the US.

Teacherjh : How might the Soviet people react =differently= to these documents as compared to the American people?

Sovarc: For the American people, the documents are a matter of interest. For the peoples for the Soviet Union, this is their destiny, this is their life.

Jennifer05 : Question: Are there any documents that have serious implications for Russian-US relations? Which ones?

Sovarc : US-Russian relations existed in 1917 and are resuming in 1992. For the history of US Soviet relations, which have already become a thing of the past, there will be exposed many, many more new pages which will explain why the relations between our two countries were the way they were.

Jennifer05 : Question:Will the particular revelations about Lenin from his personal memos accelerate his debunking?

Sovarc : There is a question in the question. History does not deal with debunking or glorifying. The purpose of history is to show how things really were. The real Lenin turns out to be a lot closer to the real Stalin than people thought in the past.

Jennifer05 : Question:Do you feel the exhibit's revelations will be a net plus or minus for the cause of increased US assistance to Russia?

Sovarc : We, the organizers of this exhibit, the Russian gov't Committee on Archives and the L of C are convinced that this will help the cause of providing assistance because you help those whom you trust. This exhibit is precisely an indication of the trust that has developed between the US and Russia.

Jennifer05 : Question:Do any documents in the archives pave the way for increased exchange of more scientific/artistic ideas between the US-Russia?

Sovarc : Dr. Billington: No particular document paves such a way. The very fact of sharing all of this material creates the first and most fundamental precondition for true intellectual and cultural exchange, which is the open and full sharing of information with other writers and creators.

Sovarc : Moreover, by exposing the negative effects of repressing creative and spiritual life, you create a strengthened belief in the importance of those aspects of human life. So, this to me is a very hopeful swallow of a new spring of creative interaction for America (speaking selfishly) with a great culture with which we have only partial contact these recent years.

Jennifer05 : Question: Does the exhibit have any revelations impacting nationalities issues in Russia, particularly the ethnic groups?

Sovarc : Probably, these documents might be the information on the repression carried out against the Crimea and Tartars, the ethnic Germans, carried out in the '30's and '40's. We are convinced that the truth about these events has to be told as a necessary condition for normalizing the question of nationality.

Sovarc : Dr. Pikhoia would like to know where the questioners are from. Please identify your city & state also.

Rich OO : (—Newport Beach California GerryR52 : (--St. Paul, Minnesota... Gazers : (—Little Falls, New Jersey Teacherjh : (—Ridgefield, Ct PC Kate : (—New Milford, CT AFC SteveB : (—Northboro, Massachusetts. Prof Terry : (—From Huntsville, Alabama TipToe : (—San Francisco, CA with St. James Elementary School grades 6-8 & SF State University Ed tech team:) Boodlums : (—New York, NY Dilvish : (— Seattle, Washington Handler1 : (—Cleveland, Ohio AFL SandyB : (—Kansas City, Missouri NealK : (—Los Angeles, CA Grashopper : (—Brewer, Maine! :) Teacher BY : (—Philadelphia, PA AFA Andy : (—Montevallo, Alabama Susan100 : (—San Diego, California BCS Skip : (—Currently in Little Rock Arkansas TOSAdvisor : (—Vienna, Va. JimIngram : Washington, DC AFC RRJoe : (—Nome, Alaska very close to Russia John628556 : (—Cheshire, Connecticut Anaise : (—Silicon Valley, CA AFA Jay : (—NW New Jersey :) GenericUC : (—Chico California RebeccaH : (—Troy State University, Troy, Alabama Prf CL : (—Davis, California AFC Andrew : (—Bay City, Michigan Rita Marie : (—Bellaire, Ohio Teacherdb1 : (—San Mateo, California UICLibrary : (—University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

Sovarc : I want to thank all of you for coming, for bearing with us under unbelievably trying, literally unprecedented circumstances—

Jennifer05 : Give them our thanks for being here today, Sovarc!

Rich OO : ::applause:: I am glad I was present where history is being made! Great job! :D (—AOL note: in "online talk" :D means the person is giving you a big smile—turn your head sideways to see)

Anaise : hip hip hooray!!!

AFC Andrew : ::applause!:::::

TipToe : I just want to say I think we all feel as though we've been a part of history today and look forward to using the library online.. Bravo AOL!!!!!!!

AFC RRJoe : Wows and great job Sovarc, Ochen Priatna!

Teacherdb1 : Hoping this exhibit is a precedent for a reciprocal exchange of science info!

Gazers : +Yahooo children of St James Elementary School!!!

TipToe : (All my kids are giving you guys a BIG cheer!!!)

GenericUC : Standing O (AOL note -- this means standing ovation)

BCS Skip : This was a great conference, and congrats for pulling it back together!

Teacherjh : ()()()()()

GerryR52 : :::::LOUD applause:::: :) GREAT job in VERY difficult circumstances, everyone! :)

Susan100 : {{{{{{{{{{ Peoples of the World }}}}}}}}}}}}

Handler1 : Great job! :)

Gazers : sensational...and thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gazers : It only takes a spark to get a fire going :):):)

Boodlums : ()()()()()()() :::applause:::

AFC SteveB : *Cheer*

RebeccaH : Great, when will the next conference be held?

Teacher BY : I enjoyed this discussion very much. Very interesting. :) Thanks! BCS

Skip : Great job well done, all!

Back to Top