ArcheoBiblioBase: Archives in Russia: B-8

Last update of repository: 2 December 2020

Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv (RGVA)

Holdings from the former Special Archive (TsGOA; 1992–March 1999—TsKhIDK)


Total: 799 fonds; 3,689,518 units
institutional fonds (GUPVI)—169 fonds (432,623 units) (1939–1960); captured records—593 fonds (234,297 units) (15th c.–1945)

N.B: As of the mid-2015, remaining captured foreign records displaced to the Soviet Union during and after the Second World War from the former Special (Osobyi) Archive (ul. Vyborgskaia 3, kor. 1) have all been moved to the main RGVA building. They may now be consulting in the main RGVA reading room at ul. Admirala Makakova, 29, at the corner of Vyborgskaia ul., half a block from the building of the former Special Archive. A separate reading room for those fonds is no longer operated.

Holdings from the former Special Archive (TsGOA SSSR) consist of two major independent complexes of documentation. The first is documentation of Soviet prisoner-of-war and displaced-person camps from the period of World War II and its aftermath. These constitute a voluminous complex of records of NKVD–MVD agencies subordinated to the Main Administration for Affairs of Prisoners of War and Internees (Glavnoe upravlenie po delam voennoplennykh i internirovannykh—GUPVI, 1939–1960), including fonds of the divisions of GUPVI and the records of individual camps, which contain personal files and interrogation reports on individual foreign prisoners, collections of prison writings and memoirs of inmates, and documentation on labor brigades and the burial of foreign prisoners of war who died in the USSR.
        The second part of the archive consists of captured foreign records displaced to the Soviet Union during and after the Second World War. As of 2015, RGVA retains 593 fonds of captured (or in Russian “displaced” or “trophy”) records. They can be divided into four main complexes. The first complex comprises official records of the Third Reich“from the very beginning of Nazi rule through the end of World War II. It includes a variety of fonds (many quite fragmentary) of the highest state institutions of Germany, such as the Reich Chancery (Reichskanzlei), the Ministries—of Foreign Affairs (Auswartiges Amt), of Internal Affairs (Reichsministerium des Inerren), of Justice (Reichsjustizministerium), for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsministerium fur Volksaufklarung und Propaganda), the Department of Secret Police, or Gestapo (Geheimes Staatspolizeiamt), and the Headquarters of the State Security Administration (Reichssicherheitshauptamt—RSHA), and the subordinated state security and police agencies. There are also the fonds of the Reich Archive (Reichsarchiv) and of the Military Archive (Heeresarchiv). All of these remain in RGVA, because the 1998 law on displaced cultural property forbids return to Germany.
        Local records include those of some regional Nazi administrative authorities in Germany and Austria. There are also some records of Nazi occupation authorities outside of the Reich, including the records of police, economic, social, cultural agencies, and also concentration camp records, such as the construction records from Auschwitz (Pol. Oswiecim). Central state records dealing with occupied areas include some files from the Ministry for Occupied Eastern Territories (Reichsministerium fur die besetzten Ostgebiete), which governed occupied Soviet lands, and a few files from the Staff of the Special Rosenberg Command (Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg—ERR). There are many fonds of personal papers of Nazi leaders and prominent public figures of the Nazi movement.
        A second complex of captured records included those of the highest institutions of state power and administration of other European countries (Austria, Belgium, Poland, and others), which had been captured by Nazi authorities, and in turn seized by Soviet authorities in Czechoslovakia, Poland (Silesia), and Germany in 1945.
        Most numerous were records from France, with many records of the French Ministry of War and its subdivisions, including the Intelligence and Counter Intelligence Bureau of the Army General Staff (Dieuxieme Bureau), the Chief National Security Agency (Surete Nationale), and other French intelligence offices from the interwar period and some from the late nineteenth century. There were extensive records of the French Confederation of Labor (Confederation generale de Travail), and high governmental and cabinet files, including some papers of Leon Blum. Most of the French archives had been captured by German forces in France during occupation, and were then captured at the end of the war by Soviet authorities; most of those were returned to France by 2002, although a few remain.
        Major government and military records from Belgium, the Netherlands, and Austria, and several other countries have also been returned. Archives of the Grand Duchy of Liechtenstein were returned already in 1996. Captured records from Poland, however, remain in RGVA.
        A final complex of fonds includes collections of unique documentary materials of private and family origin. Among them are the collection of original documents from the Wittenberg archive, the collection of the Austrian Counts von Belgarde (late 18th c.–1873), and the archive of Prince Reuss-Korstritz from the town of Ernstbrunn. The extensive captured archives of the Rothschild family from France and Austria have all been returned.
        Many of the original holdings of the archive and other captured records were transferred to other repositories. For example, much of the documentation from European Communist and Socialist organizations and the personal papers of their leaders were transferred to the Central Party Archive (TsPA, now RGASPI—B–12). These include some of the collections from the Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and its Paris branch, and also records of the Second International which came from Belgium and the Netherlands. Many records and private papers of Russian émigré groups and individuals in Germany, France, and other European countries were transferred to TsGAOR SSSR (now GA RF—B–1).

Central State Special Archive (Osobyi arkhiv—TsGOA) was officially established in March 1946 to house archival materials of foreign origin that were captured by the Soviet Army at the end of World War II in Germany and Eastern Europe and brought back to Moscow. In addition to captured Nazi and earlier German records, there were archival materials from many different European countries that had earlier been seized by Nazi authorities. Later the archive also acquired records of Soviet agencies dealing with prisoners of war and displaced persons, under the Main Administration for Prisoners of War and Internees (GUPVI) under the Ministry of Internal Affiars (NKVD—MVD SSSR). The previously top-secret repository was first mentioned in the official Soviet press in February 1990 (see b-359). In July 1992 the Central State Special Archive was reorganized and renamed the Center for Preservation of Historico-Documentary Collections (TsKhIDK), and opened for public research.
        With the 1999 Rosarkhiv reorganization, TsKhIDK was abolished as a separate archive, and its holdings are all now part of RGVA.

Working conditions:
The small reading room in the archive has limited space for researchers; hence advance reservations are often required. Since the March 1999 reorganization researchers using “trophy” fonds from former TsKhIDK continue to use the TsKhIDK reading room (ul. Vyborgskaia, 3). All fonds from TsKhIDK/TsGOS SSSR henceforth have the letter “K” added to their numbers. Researchers have the right to order 5 opisi and 10 files per day. Orders are delivered within 24 hours for files and the same day for opisi.
        In the case of records that have been microfilmed, researchers are required to use the microfilmed versions in the regular reading room in the main RGVA building.
        New researchers are advised to call in advance to be sure their names are listed with the militia and to make arrangements for the records they may want to consult.

Reference facilities:
Opisi (in Russian) are available for all fonds, including foreign captured records. There are many special reference materials for the captured records prepared for specific purposes and operational utilization, such as card files on Soviet citizens who worked under Nazi agencies; subject, name, and geographic files for Nazi court and police records involving the USSR; subject and name files of partisan and patriotic organizations during the war; inter-fond name and subject card files for various Nazi police agency records; name files for Soviet citizens who perished in concentration camps, and many others.
        Readers should note that the Russian-language description of files in the opisi for the foreign-language captured records are frequently inadequate. Furthermore, for many fonds the original order of records in their office and country of origin has been lost in transport and in the rearrangement process in Moscow, as now reflected in the Russian opisi.
        Since the main purpose of the archive was operational utilization, many materials of lesser operational interest were never throughly arranged and described. Some more fragmentary materials were described only by language rather than country of origin; these as well as many of the Masonic files, for example, were never broken down as to lodge or institution of origin but simply grouped in large collections.
        A systematic and name card file has been compiled for the GUPVI MVD records, and there are extensive card files for the camps, hospitals, and work batallions. Computer databases have been established for prisoners of war from Austria, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Luxemburg, and the USA.

Library facilities:
There is no library, but Russian and foreign dictionaries and encyclopedias are available in the reading room. Some printed materials that came with the foreign captured records have, nevertheless, been separated out into a collection for publication and printed materials.

Copy facilities:
Xerox, microfilm, microfiche, scan, and photographic facilities are available. Foreigners are required to pay at higher rates in rubles (but in dollar equivalent). Higher costs and special licenses are required for any form of commercial use of the documents.

ABB ArcheoBiblioBase Archeo Biblio Base Patricia Kennedy Grimsted