Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Russian-Germans in the Central State Archives of the Kyrgyz Republic

The staff at the Central State Archives of the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek are very nice and helpful. It has a nice reading room that is quite accessible to foreign scholars. Unfortunately, most of what I was looking for has apparently been reclassified as secret, a total of eight registries (opisi) that I requested. I was told there was no possible way for me to access them. Ironically a number of works published before I first arrived in Bishkek in the summer of 2007 cite these secret document and some were even reproduced verbatim in 2000. Another five registries with material dealing with Russian-Germans have been moved to the archives in Talas. So I got to look at four files from four different fonds that had a little over 50 individual documents that were of some interest. Among these was a greeting from the Executive Committee of the Volga German ASSR to the Germans in Leninfeld from 1924 written in German and a protocol of a 1926 meeting of 28 Germans in Gruenfeld outside Tokmak on the issue of redistricting the Kyrgyz Autonomous Oblast. But, as I suspected I did not find anything earth shattering.


Walt Richmond said...

Any idea why the Kyrgyz would be so secretive? I understand why the Russians would do that, but since Kyrgyzstan was a captive state of the USSR you would think they'd want the truth of what the Soviets did to come out.

The Ancient said...

Otto --



J. Otto Pohl said...


I do not know for sure. All I know is that everything that I asked for that was classified in the 1930s and 40s is still classified. I also know that in the 1990s and even later that many of these specific documents were declassified since they are cited and reproduced by other scholars including other foreigners. I was told in no uncertain terms that it was not possible for me to view these documents. This was almost Kafkaesque when they handed me Eisfeld's document collection as a guide and it had verbatium reproductions of some of the secret documents that they had just denied me access to.

The building was renovated in 2007-2008 and I think that is when they moved out the documents I was looking for. That would have been under the Bakiev regime. But, that is just speculation.

On the issue of Russia, the political relationship with Russia is very close. It is similar to that France has with the Ivory Coast. There is also a feeling here by most Kyrgyz that the USSR was the height of their development. They do not view themselves as having been a captive state, but rather as having been an equal partner with other union republics in the USSR. To people outside of Central Asia like myself the very strong nostalgia to be part of the USSR rather than independent is at first strange. But, realistically the alternatives to Russian influence have historically been rather unattractive.

J. Otto Pohl said...


Thanks for the link.