OPEN LETTER TO ENDANGERED ARCHIVE PROGRAMME
Dear Sirs and Madams
My name is Semionoff Vitaly, I am genealogist and historian in Russia. I am also „ The Access Right Activist” which sounds quite peculiar, but what is quite demanding here in Russia.
Your project is wonderful, but I bitterly see that you missed some very important things that are out of your scope of mission, but which are terribly important!
Your project is concentrated on documents and collections which are already marked as historically valuable and are under some way of protection. But here in Russia and post-USSR countries we have another big problem: documents and collections that ARE NOT estimated as historically valuable or which (and this is most problematic) are under government control. Like in X-files movie the government destroyed documents. For example – here in 2014 we ABSOLUTELY suddenly had known, that Russian Ministry of Internal Affaires started to destory criminal cases of Stalin era. They burned it down at Match factory without any control from historians!
Have you heard about famous Dyatlov Pass Incidenthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyatlov_Pass_incident ? Do you know that the criminal case about this accident was quite SUDDENLY saved by Ekaterinburg city (region of Ural) historians by planned demolishing, just because it exceeded planned terms of saving in Ministry of Internal Affaires archive? And there are a lot of cases like this!
Here in Russia we badly need public monitoring of the saving of documents, which are REALLY historically valuable, but are not regarding as historically valuable by the state!
2nd In December 2013 me and my colleague Dmitry Sobolev visited Damascus to explore the fate of Christian Churches historical archives fate. You know, there is a war in Syria. A lot of historical monuments and documents are made trash and dust. Let"s guess, how much UNESCO and Blue Shield specialists we have met there. Bloody zero! Because they prefer to speak about the death of Syrian heritage from Geneva. In the same time for Russians this is quite simple to get Syrian visa, so why UNESCO did not ask some Russians to help them? The heritage does not care who save them.
If you know some organization who make grants to work at war field and problem areas, just tell me, because this is really Endangered Archive Area.
For example – now I have in my computer database of documents of WW2 copied in South Ossetia. Officially this territory is awkward – Russia and 4 states in the world thing about this as about independent states, when all other world this is part of Georgian which Georgia, meanwhile, does not control absolutely.
We have copied them in 2013 with local authorities oral permission, but they were lazy enough to give the written authority, that's' why we can not use in official database of WW2 documents of Russian Defence Ministry. I have send 3 mails in Georgia – no answer, because Georgia makes a face this territory does not exist. Well, I have more than 1 Gb of valuable jpg documents which is quite readable and I am quite ready and eager to share this with the world, but I do not have some archive free database where I can download it. Could I share it with The British Library? Or this is quite political awkward.
The problem is we are living in political awkward world and it will be more awkward every year, so we need new ways, new thinking, more out of the box. The thinking really concentrated on saving and preserving world memory and heritage.
Yours very sincerely
Historian and genealogist Semionoff Vitaly, Moscow, Russia
P/S I will be very grateful if you repost this message to some communities where people could be interested in it, or translated it to your language or „normal” English language.