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SECRETS OF THE STATE ARCHIVES

Дата публикации: 16 сентября 2021
Автор(ы): Marina KHALIZEVA
Публикатор: Научная библиотека Порталус
Рубрика: ОТЕЧЕСТВЕННЫЕ ДЕТЕКТИВЫ
Источник: (c) Science in Russia, №1, 2011, C.54-60
Номер публикации: №1631778271


Marina KHALIZEVA, (c)

by Marina KHALIZEVA, journalist

 

In September 2010, a rather unusual polythematic exhibition "To Keep... at the State Archives..." opened at the Exhibition Hall situated in Bolshaya Pirogovskaya Street. It was devoted to the 90th anniversary of its foundation. The well-selected materials make up 23 intriguing stories from the Russian history of the 19th-20th centuries.

 

The name of the exhibition was suggested by a piece of paper folded in two containing a resolution of Emperor Alexander III (1845-1894) put on the Draft Constitution of his father Alexander II (1818-1881): "To keep this package at the State Archives and to open it on special instructions". However, the Ministry of Culture and Mass Communications, the Federal Agency for Archives and the State Archives of the Russian Federation as the exhibition sponsors decided after all to half-open some secrets. The information contained in the diaries of Yelizaveta Alexeyevna, spouse of the autocrat Alexander I (1777-1825), which have reached us. Or information of the secret police on prophesies of the great zealot of Russian church the Venerable Serafim Sarovsky. Or whether we should regard Grigory Rasputin, a sagacious man and a healer, who got worldwide fame due to his closeness to the family of the last Russian Emperor Nicholas II (1868-1918), as a culprit of perhaps all misfortunes, which fell on Russia. Or what material evidence was found on the Koptyakovskaya road near Yekaterinburg on the burial site of the last tsar's family in 1918.

 

Were the organs of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs involved in the assassination of the First Secretary of the Leningrad Regional Communist Party Committee Sergei Kirov in 1934? Why did People's Commissar of Internal Affairs of the USSR Lavrenty Beriya abolish tortures in the beginning of the 1950s, and the leader of "all times and peoples" Stalin revoked the Victory Day of May 9? Answers to these and many other questions can be found in the documents, photos, personal correspondence and diary records. For a long time they had been kept in the vaults of the main archives office of the country and were open for public at large for two months.

 

STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

 

It must be remembered that on September 17, 1920, Mikhail Pokrovsky, Head of the Main Department of Archives Business under the People's Commissariat of Education suggested to found the RSFSR State Archives as a part of the existing single fund. Its history begins from a decree signed on the same day. The first "incoming" documents included the materials on the tsar's family, the for-

 
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mer State Archives of the Russian Empire, the Archives with manuscripts, printed books of the medieval Rus of the 11th-17th centuries and also documents of the 18th-early 20th centuries, the Provisional and White Guard governments, higher and central bodies of the state power of the RSFSR and the USSR. In fact, it was the first attempt to set up such institution in the country. However, this office existed for only 5 years and was liquidated in 1925: the government decided that the Archives of the October Revolution would be a center of documentary wealth, while the State Archives would be one of its departments. Only on the eve of the Great Patriotic War, a well-organized network of similar offices appeared throughout the country headed by the Central State Archives of the October Revolution reorganized from the former structure. 1992 became a milestone, when, by the government resolution, the State Archives of the Russian Federation in its present form was founded and is now the most valuable documentary complex of modern Russia replenished by materials of top bodies of legislative, executive and judicial

 

power. The sources of its formation include 149 state establishments and public organizations, among them the Federation Council and the State Duma, the Government of the Russian Federation, many ministries and departments. Today its vaults have 6.5 mln units. More than 220 highly qualified staff members take care of this heritage.

 

The personal archives of Russian emperors, beginning from Alexander I, and documentary collections of the reign of Catherine the Great (1729-1796) and Paul 1 (1754-1801) are regarded here as "the wealth not yet estimated and materials mainly historical, highly competitive in authenticity with any documents and including a great many curious details". According to Sergei Mironenko, Dr. Sc. (Hist.), Director of the State Archives of the Russian Federation, these collections were formed "from the papers (correspondence, notes and state documents) kept in their residences, namely, in Tsarskoye Selo, the Winter Palace and later in Livadiya and Gatchina". The collections are replenished by immigrant materials (they are supplied by relatives of our compatriots and philan-

 
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Pass for traveling by railway or a car, issued to Her Highness Princess Yekaterina Yuryevskaya in France. June 22, 1916. The State Archives of the Russian Federation. Gift of the baron Rothschild family.

 

 

Letter of princess Yekaterina Dolgorukova to Emperor Alexander II written in French. 1870. The State Archives of the Russian Federation. Gift of the baron Rothschild family.

 

thropists) and rarities from personal collections. By the way, they held a central place in the exposition of the jubilee exhibition.

 

LYRICAL CHRONICLE OF THE ROMANOVS

 

The diary notes, letters and drawings help us find way to secrets of imperial families. Can personal and family relationships change traditional views of facts and events of the past or, moreover, can they influence the course of history? As the exhibition has proved, they can.

 

Not without reason, it was opened by the exposition "Poor Liza", which gave an account of a tragic love of the young Empress Yelizaveta Alexeyevna, spouse of Alexander I, and the horse-guardsman Alexei Okhotnikov. This unusual love story, crowned with the birth of a daughter generously recognized by the tsar, though he never loved her, would have possibly remained a secret, if it had not been for a chance. When Okhotnikov's letters to Yelizaveta Alexeyevna got into the hands of Alexandra Fyodorovna, spouse of Nicholas I (1796-1855), she ordered to destroy them, but she confided in the diary, which was later considered lost. These manuscripts were kept with a note "unrecognized handwriting" in the archives for many decades. But only a careful piece of work of historians allowed them to say with confidence that they were pages from the diary of the "poor Liza". Otherwise, our knowledge of the past would not be complete.

 

The exhibition materials disclosed one more romantic story, when the Russian autocrat, first from the time of Peter the Great, got married to his subject, i.e. officially entered into a morganatic marriage, thus becoming an inciter of trouble for the imperial family. In 2001, the State Archives of the Russian Federation through the Rothschild family (Germany), a powerful clan of financial magnates and philanthropists (late 17th-early 20th cent.) received unique documents from the personal collection of Yekaterina Yuryevskaya (Dolgorukova), the second wife of tsar Alexander II. The basic part of this heritage consisted of correspondence, namely, 3,450 messages of the emperor to the princess and 1, 458 messages from her to him.

 
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Their first meeting took place, when the young lady, belonging to the ancient noble family, was hardly 10 years of age. But their romantic relationship began later, when Katya moved from the Dolgorukov estate near Poltava to Petersburg and entered the Smolny Institute for Noble Maidens, which was often visited by Alexander II. Their secret relationship continued for 14 years.

 

From recollections of Yuryevskaya: "... On December 24, 1865 thanks to lucky circumstance I met the emperor in the Summer Garden... That day became memorable for us, as, without any words and even for unknown reason, the whole life became filled with our meetings... Our first appointment took place on July 1, when we decided not to conceal our feelings, which overwhelmed us, and were happy to love each other... Since then we met every day... He swore on icon that he was devoted forever to me and his only desire was to marry me, if he was ever free..." From a letter by Alexander II on March 6, 1867: "... my thoughts are always with my beloved naughty child... I wish I could fall into the arms of my Angel, press her tightly to my heart and kiss her all over... It is true that my life is filled with you and all my thoughts... are always with you and do not leave me for a minute..."

 

Yuryevskaya gave birth to four children from her crowned admirer. Soon after the death of the tsar's wife Empress Mariya Alexandrovna in 1880, they got married secretly in front of a field altar in a Winter Palace room. However, the coronation of Her Highness Princess Yuryevskaya planned for the summer of 1881 did never take place. After Alexander II died in an explosion on the Yekaterininsky Canal on March 1, 1881, she became a widow and lived in Nice (France) for over 40 years.

 

Apart from the letters, the exposition included the princess' photos, testament versions and a traveling pass (by railway or a car), issued in France in 1916.

 

"DEATH OF THE ROYAL FAMILY"

 

While the above fragments were a lyrical part of the Romanov dynasty chronicle, the following narration represents its bloody part. It is a documentary evidence of the execution of Nicholas II, his family and household in the basement room of the Ipatyev house in Yekaterinburg on the night of July 17, 1918, by order of the Ural Soviet

 
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Receipt, issued to commissar Yakovlev, certifying the transfer of the "cargo". 1918.

 

of Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Deputies. Their remains were found under the embankment of Kop-tyakovskaya road not far from the city in July of 1991. Later on, during a criminal investigation they were identified and buried in the Peter and Paul Cathedral of St. Petersburg in 1998.

 

It should be noted that the State Archives of the Russian Federation played an important role in studies of the circumstances of the death of the royal family. Its director Mironenko was included in a government commission for studies of questions connected with the investigation and re-burial of the remains. He admitted: "Of course, the genetic and anthropological examination, the bullets and fragments of pottery with acid used to destroy the traces of the crime are an extremely important evidence, which, in my opinion, accurately proves the belonging of the remains to the close relatives of the Romanovs. But how they were killed and on whose order we can learn only from documents". Therefore, archivists were included in the commission not by chance. Besides, the recent case investigation was based in many ways on their inquiry and findings.

 

The State Archives of the Russian Federation has a rich information material on this subject in its possession. This is how it happened. On the night of July 20, 1918, the security officer Yakov Yurovsky, one of the murder organizers started out for Moscow carrying "seven articles of luggage" with the most valuable personal documents of Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna. The rush evacuation (White Guards were approaching Yekaterinburg) made the Bolsheviks leave a major part of personal belongings and documents of the Romanov family and its household (by the way, they were partly plundered by the guard) in a bank storeroom. In Moscow the valuable evidence got to the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, and later on it was partly transferred to the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. In the 1920s, the documents, including those brought from Yekaterinburg, were found in the Central (today the State) Archives of the Russian Federation.

 

In 1997, Hans-Adam II, the ailing prince of Liechtenstein handed over to the State Archives the materials collected by Nikolai Sokolov, an investigator of Omsk District Court, who studied circumstances of the murder of the

 
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Wallpaper fragment from a wall of the basement room of the Ipatyev house in Yekaterinburg. July 1918. The State Archives of the Russian Federation. Gift of Hans-Adam II, the ruling prince of Liechtenstein.

 

 

Fragment of Beriya's memorandum to Stalin on the visit of Yakov Terletsky, member of the C-Department of the USSR People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, to the Institute of Theoretical Physics of Niels Bohr in Copenhagen.

 

imperial family hot on the trail. The material included a piece of wallpaper from the basement room of the Ipatyev house. Several days prior to the murder, one of the imperial prisoners (possibly the Empress herself) wrote in German on that wallpaper the following oracular phrase from Heinrich Heine's poem: "Balthasar was killed by his servants this night". The exhibition visitors could see the originals delivered from abroad and the case materials kept in our archives.

 

For the first time the general public could see the original of the so-called "Yurovsky's note", in which the manager of "the house of special purpose" described in detail the circumstances of the bloody massacre. Next to this note on a display stand is a draft cable of the Ural Soviet Presidium about the execution of Nicholas II. The text is written in pencil in the official form. "...Due to the approaching counter-revolutionary gangs to Yekaterinburg, the Bolshevik capital of Ural ... and in pursuance of the will of the revolution, it was resolved to shoot the former tsar Nikolai Romanov, who is guilty of innumerable bloody massacres of Russian people. On the night of July 17 (the date was corrected in red ink.–Ed.), the sentence was executed...". Also displayed is an order for delivery of sulphuric acid needed for destroying dead bodies, which was signed by Pyotr Voikov, regional commissar: "I request you to give to the bearer of this document, without any delay or reservation, 80 kg of sulphuric acid from your storehouse". Nearby on the display stand are bullets from a Browning pistol found during diggings on the Koptyakovskaya road, which placed a full stop in the history of Russian monarchy.

 

"NIELS BOHR AND THE SOVIET ATOMIC BOMB"

 

Among the exhibited rarities, the undoubted interest of visitors is attracted by documents, which throw light on secret operations of the Intelligence Department of the USSR People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, dealing with gathering and integrating of materials on atomic problems. For example, "Memorandum of Beriya to Stalin on the visit of Yakov Terletsky, member of the C-Department of the People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs of the USSR to the Institute of Theoretical Physics of Niels Bohr (November 14-15, 1945)" with a list of prepared questions and answers to them, and also with evaluation of the obtained information by Academician (from 1943) Igor Kurchatov, who headed works on the creation of the Soviet atomic bomb.

 

The details of this "operation" became known to public at large after publication of the memoirs of Pavel Sudoplatov, Head of the C-Department, Intelligence Service and the Kremlin (in 1994 in English and German, and in 1996 in Russian). The memoirs disclose how the young physicist and professor of Moscow State University Yakov Terletsky visited, on Sudoplatov's instructions, Niels Bohr (1885-1962), one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century and the Nobel Prize Winner in Copenhagen in 1945 to get some "secrets" (in the heat of World War II, the Danish scientist worked as adviser to the Manhattan Project dealing with the development of American nuclear weapons). The cause for a confidential meeting was delivery of a letter to Bohr from the Russian physicist Academician Pyotr Kapitsa, who knew Bohr well enough

 
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through their joint work in Cambridge, the oldest university of England. Sudoplatov, who used to overestimate the achievements of Soviet atomic espionage, presented the visit as a triumph of the national intelligence service. This line is maintained also in Beriya's memorandum. As to Kurchatov, who possessed vast information on the bomb subject by that time, he did not find any useful information in the document, and his comments were very restrained. It should be admitted that Terletsky, who managed to make a tape recording of a detailed report on his visit before his death in 1993, also openly characterized it as "a total failure of a senseless undertaking".

 

What can we learn from the materials exhibited in the section "Niels Bohr and the Soviet Atomic Project"? The Soviet intelligence service encouraged development of a large-scale research in the field of atomic energy in the USSR and rendered essential assistance, however the atomic weapon was created by colossal efforts of our scientists and workers of the industry. But the atomic program yielded one undoubted success. It was just in 1945, for the first time after the American bombing of Hiroshima (Japan), when a dialog started between the Western and Soviet specialists engaged in the development of nuclear weapons. The dialog ended in favor of peace. Pyotr Kapitsa, a future Nobel Prize Winner in physics (1978), withdrew from the atomic project, and Bohr devoted the whole of his further life to attempts to make world powers avoid no responsibilities for curbing and control of nuclear energy. In 1961, he and his family visited the Soviet Union (it was his third trip to our country) with ardent desire to preserve peace on the planet. He was met with enthusiasm in the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences, at the Moscow State University, in a number of Moscow physical institutes and in Dubna. But perhaps the visit to the Institute of Physical Problems headed by Pyotr Kapitsa was the most important. Here met two disciples of the great British physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937).

 

It seems to be just one "office product", but how many cause-effect relations it generates making us think about the true course of history!

 

Within the framework of the exhibition, a new official Internet site of the State Archives of the Russian Federation was opened, which included about 3 mln headings of the whole inventory of the collection. Today this cultural-educational institution can secure actually eternal storage of the unique documents, which comprise the history of our country and afford an opportunity to everybody, who is interested in it, to make use of retrospective information.

Опубликовано на Порталусе 16 сентября 2021 года

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