“We Are What We Remember”: The Open Society Archives

A walk through the Open Society Archives with its director, Istvan Rev, was inspiring. The archives are astounding; the materials range from the horrific to the banal. They are items both donated and rescued. They are virtual as well as physical. What they share is their role in making us remember, or at least acknowledge, history.

Objects from previous decades—dossiers of the Czech secret police to photos of the grisly remains from a mass grave in Srebrenica—are all testimony to our past and represent our attempts to remember what it takes to keep from repeating history's mistakes. Each photograph, newsreel, and newspaper clipping tells us what happened in bad times, and arms us with the knowledge to strive towards a different, better future.

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A really interesting and educating video, which could be comprised in the following few words, nation with no history has no future at all. In such hard and sinister times we live in, those institutions are the keepers of our identity and the only ones who could show us the path of exiting from these times. If we had learned something from the two world wars of the previous century, we might be in a better position nowadays. But, unfortunately, this is not the case. Now we are condemned to relive such hard conditions and hardships, even if in different forms from the ones we lived then. It has been proved true once again, when it is claimed that history repeats itself over time.

The tragic past can come back again unless we think and reflect on it. In 1937 the Stalin authoritarian regime shot many dignified, bright and intelligent people who served their people, who exemplified models of struggle for human rights, standing up to the regimes. We need to find out all names, places of killing and burial places. Officials try to conceal these doucments responding to us that that data is unknown. Many current crimes and problems ar eenrooted in that time's crime of the regime. There are followers and offsprings of those who committed the crimes who were in power, who enriched themselves with conficated stuss of the perished. Now the crime goes on with the efforst of the offsprings - hiding historical truth and depicting killers as heroes. We will go on in our efforts in

The question is what are the future archives going to look like, who is taking care of that issue?

Hope you have documents/films on 21st century human rights violation in Africa and Asia subcontinent.

Thank you for this reminder and for the resource you are making possible. I have seen the same things happen over and over in Central Africa for the past forty years...and that's not the only place in the world! Fear is so easily used to manipulate people--all of us! So, what and how we remember what happens is critical...

As a journalist from Moscow, RF I would be interested to know about the funds from Radio Liberty, particularly those materials concerning soviet dissident artists.
Could someone give me an advice if I could get access to those materials with purpose to later write a book.
Thank you in advance.

Dear Sergey,
Certainly there is a lot of material at OSA concerning dissident artists. The Samizdat Archives is perhaps the first collection to research. More info about the holdings here: http://osaarchivum.org/db/fa/300-85.htm or contact Olga Zaslavskaya for assistance http://www.osaarchivum.org/
Best, Zsuzsanna Zadori, Senior AV Archivist at OSA

We are looking for Open Society Archives online to engage with previous state sponsored human rights violation.

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