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630 VLADIMIR P. KOZLOV DISPLACED COLLECTIONS AND ACCESS TO ARCHIVES THE HISTORY OF relations between Russia and Poland has always reminded me of a spindle that for many centuries has been spinning the thread of mutual suspicions, hatred, and revenge. It is extremely unpleasant and most undesirable to continue embroidering this patchwork and turning the coiled thread into a forever thickening skein. We need to lay to rest all the vile actions of both parties against each other and detach them from current policies. We need to stop listening to unprincipled politicians from both countries and try to preserve existing bridges of mutual understanding and build new spans between Russians and Poles, ones that are even stronger than before. One of those bridges is cooperation in the sphere of archival collections involving the two countries. Archival work can be something positive and is a present reality, as well as a possible future development, despite the fact that Russia and Poland have faced numerous problems in this area. In the postcommunist period, relations between Russian and Polish archivists remained varied but stable for many years. Polish historians and archivists will always be interested in Russian archives. The history of the two countries has been closely intertwined for centuries. In the twentieth century , Polish archives suffered considerable damage in the two world wars. Russian archivists value professional contacts with their Polish colleagues. When the sociable and vibrant Daria Nałęcz was put in charge of the Polish archival service, Polish archivists became more actively involved in Western European archival and information collaboration. Today, they have a considerable claim to being the leader in archive storage among Central and Eastern European countries, to a certain extent acting as a link in the chain between archivists of this region and Western European countries. Stark evidence of this fact is the annual Skowronek Readings (Colloquia Jerzy Skowronek Dedicata) held in Poland, which is attended by foreign ar- 631 DISPLACED COLLECTIONS AND ACCESS TO ARCHIVES chivists. The popularity of the readings among archivists is confirmed by their regular attendance. In 2004, the readings had their tenth anniversary. Russian archivists have remarkably been attending the readings every year since the first sessions in 1994. Harsh preelection remarks against Russia by several Polish politicians cooled relations between archivists of both countries. In essence, they ended up in a frozen state of affairs. The former distinctness and permanency of professional and friendly relations have been replaced by a cold air of expectancy , which is perpetuated by actual and alleged archival disputes. One of those conflicts is the dividing of the Russian Empire’s archival heritage and the moving of archives belonging to the Polish state and private organizations and citizens to Russia after World War II. This is not a new issue and is indeed, to a large extent nowadays, international in character. It is an international issue that has never lost its relevance, particularly in modern and recent history. The twentieth century did not eliminate this issue but exacerbated it by turning it into a global problem. It relates to the two world wars and breakup of empires, as a result of which colonialist countries generally refused to share cultural antiquities, principally archives, with their former colonies. The archives of France today may be used to study the history of Algeria, Tunisia, and Vietnam; the archives of England, the history of India; and the archives of Austria, the history of Hungary, and so forth. The world is not as fair as it seems, and numerous attempts to create an international legal framework to solve this issue face opposition and at best are limited to nonbinding declarations such as the Hague Convention of 1954, which remains unsigned even by many European countries. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council of Archives (ICA) attempted to find a partial solution to the problem of imperial archival heritage in relation to former colonies that had become independent states. Documents removed from colonies by colonialist countries would, if combined, fill archival shelves extending approximately seventy kilometers, and the goal was to preserve all of these materials on microfilm. This project (now being conducted in digital formats) has been slowly implemented for many years based on bilateral agreements. This solution seems fairly reasonable, though former colonies will undoubtedly be frustrated by its half-hearted measures. However, former colonialist countries, in particular Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, show a...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780822980957
Related ISBN
9780822944409
MARC Record
OCLC
914230098
Pages
704
Launched on MUSE
2015-08-17
Language
English
Open Access
No
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