"Fond 89: Witness to a Lost Great Opportunity of the Twentieth Century" by Lora Soroka
As unrest threatens to fell dictatorial regimes in the Middle East, it is appropriate to consider history’s lessons. Read more.
Documents relating to political conditions in the Soviet Union from 1903 to 1992 are available on 11,676 microfilm reels at the Hoover Archives. Each reel contains approximately 850 pages of documents. The original documents are housed at three Russian archives: the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv noveishei istorii - RGANI), the Russian State Archives of Social and Political History (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsialno-politicheskoi istorii - RGASPI), and the State Archives of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii - GARF). Three guides to the microfilm collection are available, with a separate guide for each source repository in Russia.
To use the guides, it is helpful to understand that archival documents in the former Soviet Union, and later in the Russian Federation, are arranged into record groups according to the institution by which they were issued or received. These major groups, which sometimes include thousands of documents, are called in Russian fond (plural fondy). Within each fond the documents are generally divided into smaller groups called opisi (singular opis). Opisi are generally organized according to the internal structure of the corresponding institution, but sometimes opisi consist of documents relating to one subject. The Russian word opis has two meanings: (1) "a series of documents"; (2) "finding aid." Each opis "series of documents" is provided with a descriptive opis "finding aid." Out of a total of 11,676 reels, 11,210 contain documents and 469 contain finding aids to the fondy available at the Hoover Institution, as well as to some fondy available only in Russia.
RGANI: Fond 89
Fond 89 is the designation for the three thousand documents (10,000 pages) submitted to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation for the trial of the Communist Party. This unique collection came into being as a result of President Yeltsin's decision to outlaw the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. For the trial, government prosecutors drew on a wide range of documents emanating from the highest organs of the Communist Party and the Soviet state. Covering the period 1919-1992, the documents were selected to prove that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union showed a complete disregard for human rights and international law. They constitute the most revealing collection of documents of the Soviet Union to have emerged since its collapse.
Fond 89 covers a wide range of subjects, including Stalin's purges, the creation and operation of forced labor camps, the financing of foreign communist parties, the activities of organs of internal security, such as the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) and the Committee for National Security (KGB), relations with ethnic minorities in the former USSR, espionage and subversion of other governments, the USSR's role in postwar Eastern Europe, and many other topics. The documents were drawn from a variety of sources; brought together in a single collection, Fond 89 is now a distinct record group in the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History.
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