World War II in archival documents (collection of digitized archival documents, film and photo materials)

World War II in archival documents (collection of digitized archival documents, film and photo materials)

Under the paragraph № 4 "k" of the List of instructions for the implementation of the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on January 15, 2020 № Pr-113, the Federal Archival Agency with the participation of archival services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation will organize the preparation of a set of digitized archival documents, film and photo materials dedicated to the Second World War.

Based on information resources of the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library of the Administrative Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation, electronic copies of archival documents which spotlight the history, course and results of the Second World War will be placing on the Internet for a number of years.

Identification and digitization of documents are carried out on the basis of domestic, captured and foreign archival funds.

In the year of the 75th anniversary of the Victory, online access to the first part of the documentary complex dedicated to the history of the Second World War (January 1933 - August 31, 1939) has been opened. The materials disclose, in particular, the policy of appeasing Germany from the moment the Nazis came to power until the German attack on Poland.

In total, the first part of the project included more than 1700 archival documents, photographs, and newsreel fragments stored in federal and departmental archives. Almost half of them are published for the first time.

The documents highlight the most important events in the life of Europe in the 1930s, and above all the phasing out of the Third Reich of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, the accelerated militarization of the country and the transition of the German leadership to a policy of active conquests on the European continent.

Already on February 3, 1933, immediately after coming to power, the new Chancellor of Germany A. Hitler, at a meeting with the leaders of the Reichswehr, delivered a speech where he outlined the Nazi programmatic guidelines for the “rescue” of Germany and the transformation of Europe under its leadership. In October 1933, the German delegation defiantly left the Geneva Conference on Disarmament and announced the withdrawal of Germany from the League of Nations. On January 26, 1934, a German-Polish non-aggression declaration was signed, which meant a warming of relations between the two neighboring states. At the same time, the establishment of German-Japanese contacts on an anti-Soviet basis began. Under these conditions, serious changes took place in the foreign policy orientation of the USSR. The Soviet Union abandoned the anti-Versailles line of foreign policy, acting as the defender of universal peace. France turned towards cooperation with the USSR: French diplomats initiated a discussion on the draft Eastern Pact - a multilateral treaty on security in Eastern Europe and negotiations on the conclusion of a Franco-Soviet mutual assistance treaty.

In January 1935, a plebiscite took place on the status of Saar Region, which was under the control of the League of Nations. As a result, the vast majority of the population of Saar spoke in favor of its accession to Germany. Two months later, on March 16, 1935, Hitler signed a decree on the introduction in the Third Reich of universal military service and the creation of mass armed forces, which was a violation of the military articles of the Treaty of Versailles. The further militarization of Germany was facilitated by the Anglo-German naval agreement of June 18, 1935. In the same year, fascist Italy began to expand its colonial possessions, having made a military invasion of the territory of Abyssinia, an independent state in East Africa.

The year 1936 was marked by a further increase in tension in Europe. On March 7, 1936 German troops entered the Rhine demilitarized zone. Thus, Germany violated the territorial clauses of the Treaty of Versailles. In the summer of 1936, after the start of the anti-government rebellion of the right forces, a civil war broke out in Spain. The USSR was the only country in Europe that provided comprehensive assistance to the legitimate republican government. At the same time, “Western democracies” preferred a policy of non-interference in Spanish affairs, while fascist Italy and Nazi Germany actually openly sided with the Spanish rebels, providing them with military support, which only intensified over time.

In November 1937 the German military-political leadership decided to move to territorial conquests in order to expand living space. Already in March 1938, Germany completed the Anschluss of Austria, after which preparations began for an attack on Czechoslovakia. During the Czechoslovak crisis, the USSR was ready to provide military assistance to the Czechoslovak Republic as a victim of German aggression. At the same time, Great Britain and France headed for the pacification of Germany and reaching a compromise agreement with her at the expense of Czechoslovakia. The apogee of this Anglo-French policy was the Munich Agreement of 1938, which provided for the transfer of the Third Reich of the Sudetenland to Czechoslovakia. In addition to Germany, in the fall of 1938, Poland and Hungary took part in the dismemberment of the Czechoslovak state.

In March 1939, Germany, violating the Munich agreements, liquidated Czechoslovakia as a sovereign state. After the British declared independence of Poland, Hitler decided to prepare an attack on this country. In the spring and summer of 1939, with the growing threat of German expansion in Europe, Anglo-French-Soviet political and military negotiations were held with the aim of creating an anti-Hitler coalition. Not the least role in their failure in August 1939 was played by the position of the Polish leadership, which refused to let Soviet troops through its territory. In this difficult situation, the USSR was forced to negotiate with Germany, culminating in the signing of the Soviet-German non-aggression pact and a secret protocol.

The structure of the information resource is provided in accordance with the chronological principle, documents are grouped by year.

The materials are diverse in their composition, origin and authorship.

The project includes documents from the collections of the Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI). It contains decisions of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks) ("special file") on the most important issues of foreign policy and international relations and relevant materials (memorandum reports, draft documents, etc.) from the collection of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks) - Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It also includes a significant number of documents from the personal collection of J. V. Stalin (cipher telegrams of the Politburo members of the Central Committee of the All-Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks) to J. V. Stalin on foreign policy issues and reply cipher telegrams; cipher telegrams, newsletters, conversation records, memorandum reports of Soviet diplomats; intelligence materials, reports, and information of Soviet intelligence sent to J. V. Stalin and others). Documents of special interest are the materials of negotiations of military missions of the USSR, England, and France in August 1939 from the collection of K. E. Voroshilov, selected documents from the collections of V. M. Molotov, A. M. Kollontai, A. I. Mikoyan.

Documents of the Communist International (Comintern) archive (proclamations, resolutions, records of meetings of the Executive Committee of the Communist International Secretariat, letters, information materials, etc.) illustrate the reaction of the international communist and socialist movement and its leaders to events in Europe.

The Russian State Military Archive (RGVA), archives of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and the Federal Security Service (FSB) store documents of the Soviet military and foreign intelligence. Among them are intelligence materials (reports, bulletins, and messages of agents), documentary intelligence materials (translations of undercover personnel documents), intelligence reports, references, official and analytical notes, bulletins, special messages, and information.

The documents from the archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation are represented by cipher telegrams, memorandum reports, information letters from Soviet diplomats in the UK, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, records of their conversations with representatives of foreign military and foreign affairs agencies.

The main collection of Russian-language documents is complemented with trophy documents in foreign languages from the Russian State Military Archive: materials from French and German special services - analytical notes, reviews, reports, newsletters, intelligence reports, letters, as well as reports from military attaches, notes, memoranda and records of meetings of governments of several European countries.

 

Project organizers:

Federal Archival Agency of Russia

Administrative Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation

Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library 

 

Project participants:

Historical and Documentary Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

Registration and Archival Office of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation

Archival Service of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

Russian State Archive of Social and Political History

(RGASPI)

Russian State Military Archive (RGVA)

Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents (RGAKFD)

State Archives of the Russian Federation (GA RF)

Russian State Archive of Economics (RGAE)

Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Empire (AVP RI)

Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation (AVP RF)

Archive of the President of the Russian Federation (AP RF)

Archive of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation (Archive of SVR)

Central Archive of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (CA FSB)

Central Archive of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation (CA MO RF)

 

The project was prepared by:

A. N. Artizov (Head of the Federal Archival Agency of Russia), A. V. Yurasov (Deputy Head of the Federal Archival Agency of Russia), N. M. Barinova (Director of the Historical and Documentary Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), A. V. Vasiliev (Head of the Registration and Archival Office of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation), A. V. Vladimirov (Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation), E. A. Paderin (Head of the Archival Service of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation), A. K. Sorokin (director of RGASPI), V. P. Tarasov (director of RGVA), N. A. Kalantarova (director of RGAKFD), D. S. Agafonov (RGASPI), V. A. Artsybashev (RGVA), E. M. Grigoriev (RGASPI), E. V. Ivanova (Rosarchive), N.A. Kirillova (RGASPI), V.I. Korotaev (RGVA), L.I. Kudryavtseva (Federal Archival Agency of Russia), N. A. Myshov (RGVA), S. M. Rosenthal (RGASPI), A. I. Fedorova (RGASPI), A. V. Lukashin (RGASPI), T. L. Maskhulia (Presidential Library), L. V. Mitrofanova (Presidential Library), A. A. Sakaev (Presidential Library), M. V. Stegaeva (Presidential Library), A. V. Zaitsev (Presidential Library), M. V. Zueva (Presidential Library).

 

Translators:

D. Dynin, M. V. Zubova, L. I. Kudryavtseva, K. G. Chernenkov.

Share content in social networks: