the Soviet period in Russia,
millions of people were arrested, exiled and executed. Most of these
arrests, exiles and executions took place during Stalin's repression of
the 1930s. An overwhelming majority of those repressed were not guilty
of any crime. The OGPU-NKVD* compiled false "proof" of crimes
using legal and illegal methods. People were forced to plead guilty and
to testify to the guilt of others as a result of torture and the threat
of repression against relatives.
of the organizations which brought people to trial changed many times
throughout the years. Listed by date, these organizations are listed
- Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counter-revolution
Sabotage. Years 1917-1922.
- State Political Administration. Years 1922-1923.
- Special State Political Administration. Years 1923-1934*.
- Popular Commissariat of Interior Affairs. Years 1934-1943*.
- Popular Commissariat of State Security. Years 1943-1946.
- Ministry of State Security. Years 1946-1953.
- Ministry of Internal Affairs. Years 1953-1954.
- Committee of State Security. Years 1954-1995.
- Federal Security Service. Current Bureau.
often tried to attach many people to the same case in order to compile
a common bill of indictment. Since there were many false accusations,
Secret Police documents cannot be recognized as objective sources for
genealogy information. However, files of a particular case may contain
specific information about many people. File documents often contain personal
and family information, such as: questionnaires of the person arrested,
personal documents taken as "material evidence", results of
medical examinations, verdicts and certificates about case results.
repression system was censured in the Khrushchev period. During this time,
relatives began to apply to the Supreme Court for rehabilitation of the
accused (mostly posthumously). During the Gorbachev period, a mass process
of rehabilitation of repressed people (sometimes without inquiries by
relatives) started and continues today. As a result, certificates about
rehabilitation are in the same archival files as some of the case documents.
If rehabilitation was initiated, it is possible to find names, addresses
and other information within these documents.
is a list of a few surnames of persons accused of being members of religious
philosophic societies (circles), which existed in Leningrad in the late
1920s. At that time only the Marxist philosophy was official. Thus, it
was not possible to publish any articles inconsistent with this ideology.
These people gathered together in private apartments to discuss their
philosophy. According to a decision by the OGPU dated October 8, 1928,
members of a few such circles were accused of criminal behavior, labeled
as "socially dangerous elements" and condemned to four to five
years in labor-corrective camps.
of indictment affirms that in fact this was a well-conspired monarchic
organization which had the goal of agitation of religious education of
young people. This particular case was continued and members of other
philosophy circles (75 persons total) were accused for the same reason.
Blitz Information Center was hired by one of the persons accused to research
this first case file holding 35 names of accused persons. As a result
of this research, an article was published in a St. Petersburg Newspaper.
The surnames found during research with this file are listed below.
with documents of such criminal cases are kept in the Archives of the
FSB (Federal Security Service) located in the same city in which the person
was arrested. In Russia, the term of confidentiality of personal information
for all archival documents is 75 years. Currently, a large portion of
such documents are now becoming available to researchers.
are several ways to access files held at the FSB. This Archive will answer
inquiries by relatives and from those with a certificate which contains
general information, such as; dates of arrest and rehabilitation, the
verdict and its execution, data and place of death (if the person died
in exile or was shot.) In order for a researcher to receive permission
to work with the documents in these Archives he or she needs to apply
to the authorities of the appropriate FSB office with a petition in which
the goals of the research work are stated. It is better if a researcher
can provide the archive with a document compiled on behalf of an Institution,
such as a university doing a study or scholarly work on this subject,
but not always necessary.
Information Center has been successful in accessing and conducting research
in the FSB archives. Blitz researchers have become adept in navigating
thru the paperwork and authorization to gain access to the archives.
Blitz was able to locate extensive information for one US client who was
researching the disappearance of his uncle. This work required access
to search FSB archives and resulted in locating documents ordering his
arrest and deportation to the Solovetski prison camp in Northern Russia.
written by Elena Tsvetkova
by Kristin Nute