This is of interest to those researching the fate of lost family members who disappeared many years ago.
Russia’s Gulag History State Museum has opened an archival centre to help descendants discover the fate of their family members among the millions of prisoners and victims of Joseph Stalin’s vast network of forced labour camps.
A full-time researcher, Alexander Makeev, is assigned to the Moscow centre. It houses a library, an interactive map of the Gulag camps accessible on computer screens and a growing archive of interviews with victims and descendants, and potentially even former prison guards.
Andrey Makarevich, a Soviet rock star, attended the opening. Through the centre, he learned that his great-uncle had been executed in 1938 at Butovsky Poligon, a killing field near Moscow, during Stalin’s Great Terror.
This government backed museum replaces the repressed Memorial, an association of human rights groups across Russia, which was founded in 1989 to commemorate the victims of Stalin’s crimes. The non-governmental organisation operated the last intact camp, Perm-36, as a museum of political repression from 1994 to 2015, when the regional authorities took control of the site. Memorial continues to operate under the justice ministry’s restrictive “foreign agent” designation—applied to groups that receive foreign funding and are deemed to engage in “political activity”—after it made statements criticising Russia’s human rights record.
The Gulag museum’s centre draws from Memorial’s database and will work with government archives to add information. The process is complicated, however, by the fact that many of the records are held by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and the Federal Security Service (FSB), successor agencies of Stalin’s secret police, which perpetrated the repressions. State support for the museum—under the aegis of Moscow’s department of culture—does not mean the doors will fly open, Romanov says.
For full article by Sophia Kishkovsky in The Art Newspaper see here