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07 October 2009

Dear colleagues!
Congratulations on the Archivist Day!
Thanks to the dedicated work of the archivists in the State Archives Service of the Republic of Belarus, all people who are not indifferent to their past can see and appreciate the documentary heritage of our country.
We wish you health, happiness, well-being, and success in your hard but respected work for our dear Belarus!

The Department for Archives and Records Management
of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus
6 October 2009

07 October 2009
The third meeting of the international council on the project for the virtual reconstruction of the Radziwills’ documentary heritage and book collections was held on October 2, 2009 at Mir Castle, Mir, the Republic of Belarus in the framework of the Regional Project "Documentary Heritage of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth/Rzeczpospolita". The meeting was organized by the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records with the participation of the National Commission of the Republic of Belarus for UNESCO and with the financial support of the UNESCO Moscow Office.

The participants of the meeting included specialists and officials from archives and libraries in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Finland, and representatives from the Belarusian Culture Foundation and the National History and Culture Museum-Reserve "Nesvizh".

The participants welcomed the decision of the UNESCO International Advisory Committee taken on August 31, 2009 to include the Radziwills’ documentary heritage and book collections into the UNESCO "Memory of the World" Register and emphasized the importance of the joint efforts undertaken in the framework of the project.

The council members reported about their work in pursuance of the previous decisions, and in particular about the implementation of the project "Documentary Heritage of Rzeczpospolita" and the preparation of a demonstration compact disc "The Radziwills’ Documentary Heritage (registers of the library and museum collections of the Nesvizh entail)". It was noted that all conditions have been available for completing the projects by the end of 2009. This will result in the creation of a unified information resource that would describe the contents of the major archival holdings and libraries’ manuscript collections covering the period of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, including a more detailed description of the Radziwills’ Nesvizh archives. The compact disc will present the digitized copies of the most important registers of the Nesvizh Library and descriptions of the museum pieces which had been preserved at Nesvizh, thus helping specialists to further the virtual reconstruction of this collection.

The participants confirmed that the newly-created information resource would be given to all participating countries for free use and that their archives and libraries would provide all interested persons with access to the information, also by means of its placement on their websites. They also confirmed their readiness to continue, on the basis of the existing agreements, the exchange of archive and library copies and the joint acquisition of the information resource.

The participants made the decision that it would be advisable to create a Centre of Studies of the Radziwills’ Documentary Heritage, based at the National History and Culture Museum-Reserve "Nesvizh", which could assume responsibility for the maintenance and acquisition of the database and a specialized website. In this connection, they requested the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus to take an appropriate decision. It was also decided that before the creation of the centre the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records would continue the coordination of works for the project.

A final document was adopted on the results of the meeting, which set out several steps for further implementation of the project. In particular, the Council requested the respective bodies in the participating countries to initiate the adoption of international projects, within the European Union, the Council of Europe and other international organizations, for studies and virtual reconstruction of the documentary heritage of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

15 September 2009
A regular three-party meeting of the heads of state archival services and institutions from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine was held on 10-12 September 2009 in Kiev, Ukraine.

The agenda included the following issues: The archives during the financial crisis: the ways for sustainable activities; Electronic archives: problems and perspectives; Joint publishing projects; The role of local archives in documents preservation.

The Belarusian delegation was represented by V.I. Adamushko, director at the Department of Archives and Records Management of the Republic of Belarus, V.V. Balandin, director at the Belarusian State Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings, A.K. Golubovich, director at the National Historical Archives of the Republic of Belarus, A.V. Zapartyko, director at the Belarusian State Archives-Museum of Literature and Art, V.L. Nosevich, director at the Belarusian Research Centre dor Electronic Records, V.D. Selemenev, director at the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus, and P.M. Cherny, director at the State Archives of Gomel Region.

15 September 2009
The State Archives of Brest Region presents an exhibition of documents "17 September 1939…" dedicated to 70 years since the reunification of Western Belarus with the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic.

The exhibition offers 47 documents dating from 1939-1941 selected from the holdings of the regional and city committees of the Communist Party of Belarus for Brest, Baranovichi, Pinsk, Kobrin, etc. The documents, covering the period from September 1939 to June 1941, reflect the first steps of Soviet power in the western regions, the activities of the provisional institutions, the election to the People’s Assembly of Western Belarus, etc.

15 September 2009
The exhibition "World War Two: the lessons of history and the present" is being staged at the National Library of Belarus from 28 September to 30 September, 2009 to mark seventy years since the beginning of the Second World War.

Within the frames of the exhibition the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus presents previously confidential documents telling about the local population’s attitude to the Non-Aggression Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany, the military trainings in September 1939, public panic over the events in Europe, etc.

Of especial interest among the 300 new publications on World War Two presented at the exhibition are war bulletins of the foreign press published at the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army Fifth Administration selected from the National Archives of the Republic of Belarus holdings. These small in size publications dating from September 1939 already bear clear witness to the scale of the catastrophe of the late 1930s.

28 August 2009
The UNESCO International Advisory Committee at its meeting in late July 2009 added thirty-five new items of documentary heritage to the Memory of the World Register, among them, the Radziwills’ Archives and Nesvizh Library Collection, submitted by the Republic of Belarus in cooperation with Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Finland. The decision was announced on 31 July.
The successful inclusion of the nomination on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register has become an important achievement of the Archival Service of the Republic of Belarus, which completed major work in the project. The nomination dossier, describing the ten surviving parts of the Nesvizh collection and showing their cultural and historical significance, was prepared in late 2007 by the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records with the financial support from the UNESCO Moscow Office and with the participation of specialists from the member countries. To show the contents and the significance of the Nesvizh collection, the Belarusian Research Centre for Electronic Records also prepared a compact disc with the illustrating materials, including the digital copies of the most representative archival documents, early illuminated books and ex-librise bookplates of the Nesvizh library, as well as samples of archival signatures and archivist's handwriting. The digital copies were made by the archives and libraries participating in the project. Part of these can be found on the UNESCO official website, together with the nomination text:

The Nesvizh collection is one of the largest collections of documents on the history of Central and Eastern Europe. The collection was created from the 15th to 18th centuries by members of the Radziwill family, one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The holdings, preserved during the course of history in different Radzwills’ estates, included archive and library in which invaluable historical and cultural information was accumulated. The extent of the collection, its continuous expansion through new acquisitions and comparatively high level of preservation make it a unique archival complex of world value. This collection is now dispersed among archives and libraries in Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, and to a lesser extent in other European countries.

Belarus now holds a considerable part of the collection. First of all, these are over 20,000 documents from the "Radziwill Princes" Holding at the National Historical Archives of Belarus. Several thousand books from the Nesvizh library, newly reconstructed by its owners in the 19th century, are at the National Library of Belarus, the Central Academic Library of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences and the Presidential Library.

The UNESCO listing and international recognition of the universal significance of the Nesvizh collection will serve, we hope, as a powerful impulse to scholarly and cultural cooperation in the region and will promote the integration of the peoples and their mutual enrichment.

30 July 2009
A compendium of documents has been prepared for publication by Belarusian and Russian archivists jointly with the History Institute of the Belarusian National Academy of Sciences to mark seventy years since the reunification of Western Belarus and the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic.

In addition to the texts of historical content, the book presents rare photographs and facsimile copies of documents selected from the Moscow archives, which were not available so far. These include autographs by Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Ponomarev and Khrushchev, as well as documents indicating that in March, 1941, the Communist Party Politbureau abolished the status of the Belovezhskaia Pushcha (Bialowieza) Forest as a natural reserve, permitting for one million cubic meters of wood to be cut there annually. According to the document, only the sites of palaces and museums and the animal nurseries located in the area of ten thousand hectares had retained he status of the national park

Of importance is a document concerning the People's Assembly of Western Belarus, testifying that the Assembly was initially planned to be held in Bialystok or in Baranovichi.

The book also presents a photograph showing members of the People’s Assembly Plenipotentiary Commission for Western Belarus together with the USSR leadership in the Big Kremlin Palace.

This book is not the first joint work of Belarusian and Russian archivists. Previously they jointly prepared and published the following titles: "…The Western Special Military District, late 1939-1941", "The USSR State Committee for Defence has decided…" comprising declassified records of the extraordinary higher authority in the USSR in WWII relating to Belarus, "The Grodno Province. 1919-1926", "Belarus in the first months of the Great Patriotic War", "…Evacuation of prisoners from Belarus in 1941", "Liberated Belarus", "Documents on Belarusian history in the Special File of J. Stalin" etc.

01 July 2009
The eighth meeting of archivists from the Gomel, Briansk and Chernigov regions took place near the Friendship Monument at the border of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine (the village of Senkov, Dobrush district, Belarus) on 26 June 2009. This year’s meeting, held within the framework of the international youth festival "Friendship 2009", was organized by the Belarusian side. Among other events, the program included a round table titled "The issues of documents acquisition, maintenance, preservation and use".

The Belarusian archivists told the participants about the presentation of a scholarly edition titled "The Gomel Province, 1919-1926. Documents and Materials" and read their papers addressing issues of documents acquision at the state archives, documents maintenance and preservation at the State Archives of Gomel Region, new technologies for creating security copies of especially valuable documents of the National Archival Holdings of the Republic of Belarus, and the prospects of documents digitization.

The Ukrainian archivists told about their two new editions: a collection of documents marking 200th anniversary of Nikolai Gogol, "N.V. Gogol in documents of the State Archives of Chernigov Region. A collection of documents and materials" and a monograph titled "The formation and development of the system of local organs of state power and administration in Ukraine in the 2nd half of the 19th and early 20th centuries" written by R.B. Vorobei, Director of the State Archives of Chernigov Region.

The Russian colleagues dwelt on the issues of acquisition at the state archives of Briansk Region and the issues of documents transference from agency archives for preservation by the State.

The next meeting is to be organized by the Ukrainian side.

01 July 2009
On 26 June 2009, the Minsk Regional Executive Committee hosted an exhibition of documents from the State Archives of Minsk Region dedicated to the 65th Anniversary of Belarus’ liberation from the Nazi invaders.

The exhibition presented the archive’s documents relating to partisan and underground movement in Belarus in WWII, combat operations in Minsk area, crimes committed by the occupation regime, the liberation of Minsk area in the summer of 1944, etc. Also on display were documents from personal collections – diaries, personal papers and awarding documents of WWII veterans, memoirs of participants in partisan and underground movement in Minsk region, etc.

29 June 2009
The National Archives of the Republic of Belarus offers two exhibitions based on the unique documents relating to partisan and underground movement in the Second World War.

The exhibition "The Unconquerable Belarus" prepared in collaboration with the National Library of Belarus presents materials of partisan and underground press dating from the years 1942-1944.
In all, the Archive’s collection totals 177 titles of newspapers of Belarusian underground regional and district executive committees, and partisan units.

In 1942, when the struggle against the Nazis on the occupied territory rapidly increased, only nine underground newspapers were published using a printing press, five of which are displayed at the exposition. At that time newspapers were brought into the occupied area of Belarus from the Soviet home front, entailing great difficulties. But already in the late 1942, publishing activities began to spread behind the enemy's line with the use of typewriters and hectographs.

Newspapers published by underground organizations, despite their short print run and small size, played an important role in raising the population to fight against the occupiers.

The exhibition also presents memoirs and reports of partisan brigades and detachments about combat operations and common people’s life in the enemy’s rear. Of especial interest are the drawings and pictures made by direct participants in the struggle against the enemy.

Another exhibition, prepared by this Archive in collaboration with the Archives of Films, Photographs and Sound Recordings, has been staged at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Belarus. In addition to underground press and drawings, this exhibition presents archival documents relating to Belarus’ liberation from the Nazis.

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