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)

On July 2, 2024, the collection was updated with more than 100 new documents from Soviet intelligence agencies. These materials cover the period between November 1942 and November 1944, and they are stored in the Archives of the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation (SVR).

Most of these documents are agent reports (cipher telegrams) sent from Soviet intelligence agents abroad (London, New York, Washington, and Stockholm) to the First Directorate (Intelligence) of the NKVD (April 1943 - NKGB) in the USSR, as well as special reports and intelligence reports from the leadership of the First Directorate of the NKVD/NKGB to the State Defence Committee in the USSR for I.V. Stalin, V.M. Molotov, and L.P. Beria, and to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR.

They contain intelligence data on the military plans of the Wehrmacht and the internal state of affairs in Germany during a specified period. They also contain information on the plans of USSR allies for the anti-Hitler coalition (USA and Great Britain), including the opening of a second front in Western Europe, the development of Operation Overlord, and the landing of Allied troops in Sicily in July–August 1943.

They also cover the Anglo-American-French conference in Casablanca, Morocco, in January 1943, and the Anglo-American conferences in Quebec, Canada, held in August 1943 and September 1944. The documents also discuss the activities of the Polish government in exile, the position of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill on the "Polish question," the impressions of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt from the Tehran Conference, and attempts by Field Marshal Dwight D. Eisenhower to open a second front.Von Brauchitsch organized separate negotiations between Germany and the United States in Switzerland in June 1944, as well as other aspects of international relations during that period.

Of particular interest are intelligence reports collected by Soviet intelligence regarding the development of plans by the United States and Great Britain for the post-war structure of Europe and international relations. Specifically, the extensive notes from the meeting of the Committee on Armistice and Post-War Problems held on August 31st, 1944 under the chairmanship of British Foreign Minister Eden, which discussed plans for occupying Germany, dividing it into occupation zones, restoring German industry, and the role of Germany in the post-war economy. Other topics included sending British troops to Greece and other aspects of British European policy after the war.


On June 29, 2024, The collection portal has been expanded with digitized documents related to the partisan movement during 1942-1944, which were provided by the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus (NARB), the Central Archives of the Federal Security Service of Russia, and the Russian State Archive for Socio-Political History.

In the autumn of 1942, the partisan movement had a well-established structure in the central and local levels, and was active behind enemy lines. P.K. Ponomarenko led the Central Headquarters of the Partisan Movement (CHPM), and on September 6th, 1942, by decree of the State Defence Committee of the USSR, the position of commander-in-chief of the partisans was established, with Marshal of the Soviet Union K.E. Voroshilov taking the position. On November 19th, 1942, leadership of the partisan movement was once again entrusted to the Central Committee, which reported directly to the Supreme High Command Headquarters. Since May 1942, Ukrainian partisan headquarters operated, and on September 9th, Belarusian and Estonian bands were formed, followed by Lithuanian bands in November 1942.

The Collection contains a German document "10 Commandments for German Soldiers in the Fight Against Partisans" (December 7, 1942, RGASPI), which states that "the partisan struggle is a secret struggle, its success depends largely on speed, cleverness and disguise, as well as the courageous endurance of all hardships and difficulties, which corresponds to the whole essence of the Russians."

On July 14, 1943, the Central Shaking-up and Purging Department (CHPM) ordered the start of Operation Rail War. This carefully organized, one-time, and massive operation resulted in the breaking of 171,452 railway rails, or 1,060 kilometers of railway track, in the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (105,846), Kalinin (19,973), Oryol (15,841), Smolensk (11,772), and Leningrad (11,020) regions. Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic also had 7,000 rails removed. This massive demolition significantly slowed the transportation of enemy troops and supplies. The results of the operation were summarized by the head of the Central Internal Affairs Department, P. K. Ponomarenko, and reported to I. V. Stalin on September 7, 1943. Additionally, the collection includes a plan for the continuation of the operation in Belarus from the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus.

The documents of the Federal Security Service of Russia contain letters from the head of the Fourth Directorate of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs of the Soviet Union, P.A. Sudoplatov, to the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs, L.P. Beria, in 1943, and to Deputy People's Commissar for State Security, A.Z. Kobulov, in 1944, regarding enemy actions in the fight against partisan movements. These letters discuss the use of Gestapo agents disguised as ragged policemen to eliminate commanders of partisan units, the development of instructions and precautions by the Germans to counter partisans, and the dispatch of German-trained doctors and paramedics into partisan areas to carry out acts of mass terrorism against partisans.

Intelligence agencies also operated within the structure of the Central Intelligence Service, extracting information from enemy-occupied territories. This information included:

- Preparation of German troops for chemical warfare against the USSR
- State of German defensive structures
- Damage caused by Soviet aircraft to enemy targets
- Preparation by the Germans for a major punitive operation against partisans in the areas of Bobruisk, Gomel, and Ovruch
- Deployment of toxic substances by the Germans in basements of buildings in Oryol

Additionally, reports were presented by the head of the Central Internal Affairs Department, P.K. Ponomarenko, about the results of partisan activities on various fronts. These reports included information about:

- Number of destroyed and captured German soldiers
- Captured equipment
- Blown up bridges and warehouses
- Losses incurred

The rapid offensive of the Red Army in the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (Byelorussia) was supported by partisan detachments, who coordinated their actions with the central committee and leadership of the fronts. The National Archive of Belarus has documents that include cipher messages regarding the need for Belarusian broadcasts to assist units of the Red Army in crossing the Dnieper River on June 25, 1944, as well as the advance of troops of the 1st Baltic Front westward and the withdrawal of enemy forces on June 27, and the liberation of western regions of Belarus on July 15. The documents state that "brigades and detachments were constantly fighting alongside units of the Red Army, and many brigades and detachments joined up with Red Army units."

On July 1, 1944, the First Secretary of the Communist Party (B) of Belarus, P.K. Ponomarenko, reported to the Secretary of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (b), A.A. Andreev, about the state of affairs in the liberated cities of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and the contribution of partisans to the liberation of the country (RGASPI archive).

The collection also includes NARB documents from the personal files of P.M. Masherov, one of the organizers and leaders of the partisan movement in Belarus. He was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. There are also pages from the personnel record of S.N. Zorin, the commander of Jewish partisan unit No. 106 in the Naliboksky Forest. A fragment of the report of the Extraordinary State Commission on the mass execution of civilians in Minsk and the surrounding villages by Nazi invaders and their collaborators in 1941-1944 (25 August 1944, NARB). The act on the atrocities committed by the Nazi occupiers in the Ozarichy concentration camp in the Polesie region of Belarus (18 March 1944, NARB) and the statement made by the residents of Selishcha village, Kamensky Village Council, Pleshchenitsy district, Minsk region, on the burning of Khatyn village and its inhabitants (25 March 1943). Khatyn has become an image of all burned villages in Belarus, a symbol of eternal remembrance and sorrow for the Belarusian people.


!!! Please note that the materials presented in the project contain shocking details and descriptions of atrocities and abuse of civilians; The photograph shows mass graves and the exhumation of remains. In accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation, these visual materials are prohibited for viewing by children under 16 years of age, as well as by persons suffering from nervous and mental illnesses.


Archival documents of the Collection World War II in Archival Documents are available from anywhere in the world thanks to the Presidential Library’s portal. Especially for the foreign audience, the titles and annotations to the documents as well as the texts of the accompanying articles are also available in English.

In addition to digitized archival documents the Collection contains a list of the main Internet projects, databases, other thematic online documents, virtual tours of the history of World War II, developed by government agencies of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and various organizations.


Executive institution: Federal Archival Agency (Rosarkhiv)

Operator: Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library of the Administrative Directorate of the President of the Russian Federation



Foreign Policy Archive of the Russian Federation (AVP RF)

Russian State Military Archives (RGVA)

Russian State Archive of the Navy (RGAVMF)

Russian State Archive of Social and Political History (RGASPI)

State Archives of the Russian Federation (GA RF)

Russian State Archives of Contemporary History (RGANI)

Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents (RGAKFD)

Russian State Archives of Economy (RGAE)

Russian State Archives in Samara (RGA in Samara)

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

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

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

German Federal Archives (Bundesarchiv)

National Archives of the Republic of Belarus (NARB)

Belarusian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents (BGAKFFD)

Belarusian State Archives-Museum of Literature and Art (BGAMLI)

  • About the Collection

    In acordance with 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.

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