March 25, 1997 Library of Congress Publishes Revelations from the Russian Archives

Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940

With the opening of the vast Communist Party archives, the Library of Congress had the opportunity to display Soviet documents for its exhibition "Revelations from the Russian Archives," in 1992. Now the Library has published Revelations from the Russian Archives: Documents in English Translation, a compendium of English translations of all the documents exhibited at the Library, documents that shed new light on the structure and workings of the modern world's longest-lived totalitarian state. The former Central Party Archive in Moscow supplied nearly two-thirds of the documents; the rest were loaned by 10 archives in Moscow, among them the Russian Presidential Archive, the Foreign Relations Archive, and the Central State Economic Archive.

Many of the documents relate to an area whose secrets had been most closely guarded -- the nature and operation of the Soviet apparatus of repression and terror. Numerous documents on the "Great Terror" are presented, beginning with materials on the assassination of the second most important party leader, Sergei Kirov, and including the trials and sentencing of Kamenev, Zinoviev, Bukharin and Rykov.

A few letters written by Vladimir Lenin that were made public for the first time in the Library's exhibition reveal a sinister persona that is wholly inconsistent with the popularized image of Lenin as benevolent leader.

Persecution of intellectuals by the state is the subject of another group of selected documents included in the volume. These begin with the minutes of a Politboro meeting in September 1919, shortly after the threatened mutiny at the Krasnaia Gorka fortress near Petrograd, followed by a letter from Lenin to Gorky four days later, in which he says, "To waste yourself on the whining of decaying intellectuals and not to write -- is that not ruin for an artist, is that not shame?"

Collectivization, the famine in Ukraine, industrialization, and the cover-up of the Chernobyl nuclear accident are the subjects of other documents, as are religion, perestroika and glasnost. These and other facets of the internal workings of the Soviet Union are treated in the first part of Revelations from the Russian Archives.

The remainder of the documents in the publication cover various aspects of U.S.-Soviet relations, in particular famine relief to the victims of the Russian Revolution and civil war, U.S. investments in the Soviet Union during the 1920s, the American Communist Party's relationship with Moscow, the World War II alliance, U.S. prisoners of war held in the Soviet Union, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, peaceful coexistence and detente, and the invasion of Afghanistan.

Reproductions of posters and photographs that were displayed in the exhibition illustrate the volume, and an index of personal names and place names enhances the research value of the work. No other single volume on this subject covers such a broad range of new discoveries, with emphasis on U.S.-Russian relations, while providing the commentary to make the documents' significance clear to the general reader.

The 808-page book, with 52 illustrations, was edited by Diane P. Koenker, professor of history at the University of Illinois, and Ronald D. Bachman, the Polish/East European area specialist in the European Division of the Library of Congress.

Dr. Koenker served as director of the University of Illinois' Russian and East European Center from 1990 to 1996. In September 1996, Dr. Koenker became editor of Slavic Review, the quarterly publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies.

Dr. Bachman, having served for 14 years as a translator and editor of Slavic materials in the Library's Federal Research Division, was selected to coordinate and supervise the translation of the several hundred documents that formed the heart and substance of the 1992 exhibit on which the present volume is based.

Revelations from the Russian Archives is available for $59 from the Superintendent of Documents, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. Order by fax with Visa or MasterCard at (202) 512-2250, or telephone (202) 512-1800. Please cite the stock number: S/N 030-001-00168-7.


PR 97-034
ISSN 0731-3527