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Appendix B: Spanish Historical Sources in the Russian Federation


Though Moscow and St. Petersburg may seem at first glance an unlikely place to undertake the study of Spanish history, the archives of the Russian Federation hold vast stores of long-inaccessible material on many aspects of early modern and modern Spain. While some files remain classified, many are now available, and others are likely to be declassified soon. This appendix surveys some two-dozen Russian archives and libraries that hold material on Spanish history.

I. Libraries

Russian State Library (former Lenin Library)


The Russian State Library, or Leninka, seems to have much going for it. With over forty million volumes, it is probably the largest research library in the world. Located across the street from the Kremlin, at the corner of Okhotnyi Riad and Novyi Arbat, the Leninka may also be the most ideally located of all the world's great libraries. Despite the obvious intellectual handicaps of state censorship and privileged access, during the Soviet period the library was well funded and staffed, and research here reached a very high level. Since 1991, conditions have steadily deteriorated. Without adequate funds, librarians often go unpaid, working hours have been drastically reduced, and the in-house press, once a leader in scholarly publication, has issued only a few reference works in the last dozen years. Most restrooms have ceased to operate, and on a recent trip I found just one working toilet in the entire building—this in the intellectual epicenter of a nation that spans eleven time zones.

Despite these hurdles, work in the Leninka can be quite rewarding. The holdings offer a wealth of materials for those interested in assessing the extent of Russian scholarship on the Hispanic world, including monographs, periodicals, manuscripts, photographs, and maps on all aspects of Spanish arts and sciences. On the Spanish Civil War, I found works published in nearly every Soviet republic. Certainly, the Leninka is the first place to begin any project bridging the Slavic and Hispanic worlds.

Admittance to the library requires only a passport. Though the catalog is not on-line, the reference resources are impressive, and the traditional Marxist-Leninist categories for subject searches can be rapidly learned. Foreign books and works published in Soviet languages other than Russian are listed in separate catalogs. Photocopies at the library are cheaper than anywhere in Russia, but there is some delay in receiving them, and errors, missed pages, or illegible copies are common. Foreign researchers are among those who now receive materials in a special reading room previously reserved for Party members and senior scholars. I found this room delightful almost to the point of distraction. Surrounded by plants, seated in a large, comfortable chair, and drinking in exceptional views of the Kremlin, I came to see the old hall as an oasis of nineteenth-century decorum amid the violence and decay of contemporary Moscow.

Russian State Library-Dissertations and Newspapers Branch-Khimki


All researchers, regardless of their topic, should eventually make the trip out of Moscow to the village of Khimki and visit the dissertation and newspaper section of the National Library. Khimki is allegedly the largest dissertation library in the world and, indeed, a copy of virtually every candidate and doctoral dissertation ever written in the fifteen Soviet republics found its way here. Anyone familiar with the frustrations of ordering dissertations in the United States or Spain will appreciate such an institution: from the researcher's perspective, Communist centralization has a certain appeal. At Khimki, over the course of two weeks, I was able to examine, read, and order copies of several dozen dissertations on Spanish topics. I was quite surprised by the large number and wide variety of dissertations on Spanish history, culture, literature, and even science, many quite recent and often containing very useful archival citations.

Working conditions at Khimki are somewhat mixed. The staff is first-rate, probably the most efficient and courteous I encountered anywhere in Russia. Turn-around time on orders is under thirty minutes, and three dissertations may be requested at once. Most dissertations are available for copying, though prices are high—around eighty dollars apiece. The bad news is the following: laptops are only grudgingly tolerated, and you are absolutely forbidden to plug one in. The seats in the reading rooms are unusually uncomfortable. The overhead lights are often dimmed, and one is forced to read by the natural light streaming through the windows, though it is often obscured by rain clouds. Once, when a major afternoon storm cast the reading room into near total darkness, I was harshly reprimanded for suggesting that the lights be turned on. The functionary who refused my request informed me that the electricity bills could bankrupt the library in matter of weeks. Generally poor reading facilities are compounded by the library's stifling summer temperatures. As in all the research centers I visited, there is no air conditioning, and at Khimki you will be lucky to get a window open. The heat is made much worse by the lack of any sustenance available in or near the library. With two quarts of water and a couple of sandwiches, however, you may find yourself so immersed in the rich collections that you stay until closing.

Russian National Library-St. Petersburg
State Historical Library-Moscow


Two other libraries deserve brief mention. The second largest in Russia, the National Library in St. Petersburg is especially rich in pre-Revolutionary book and manuscript collections. Any scholar researching relations between the Romanov and Spanish crowns will want to visit this great hall of learning, heir to the celebrated Imperial Public Library, where at least a dozen manuscript collections cover nineteenth-century Russo-Spanish affairs. In Moscow, the State Historical Library is a valuable resource for several reasons. First, unique among Russian libraries, you are permitted to both use and plug in your laptop computer. Second, the History Reading Room has open stacks where you can browse through key reference works from both the Imperial and Soviet periods. Finally, the leading newspapers of the Soviet era are available in open stacks, which will save you from having to make extra trips to Khimki. The library possesses a large collection of Russian books on Spain, many of which appeared in a special exhibit in the spring of 1997 that showcased the work of three centuries of Russian Hispanists.

II. Archives

State Archive of the Russian Federation (Gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Rossiiskoi Federatsii, or GARF)


The flagship archive of the Russian Federation, GARF is usually the starting point for Soviet-era primary research. Created in 1920, the former Central State Archive of the October Revolution is the main archival repository for pre-Revolutionary and Soviet-era institutions and social and popular organizations. GARF is located not far from the center of Moscow in the so-called "Archival Suburb," which also houses the Archives of the Economy (RGAE) and Early Acts (RGADA). Declassification has made available nearly all collections that pre-date the outbreak of World War II. With a wealth of long-unavailable materials relevant to a broad range of topics, it is a pity that GARF is not better maintained. In the last several years the staff has received salaries only sporadically, and many archivists now volunteer at GARF and moonlight elsewhere to make ends meet. GARF reduces summer hours from noon until six PM. To be candid, however, more than six hours in the stifling hot, fly-infested reading room would be difficult to tolerate. Further, uncomfortably low temperatures are a hallmark of work here during the long winter. In fact, in a recent year the archive suddenly shut its doors in January when it could no longer pay its heating bills. Worse, with limited funds for repairs and electricity, all elevators in the multi-story complex have ceased to operate, thus rendering file retrieval a time-consuming and back-breaking ordeal for the staff. As a result, one is allowed only five files per day, and orders take several days to fill. Three months are required to deliver duplication requests, and copies are grossly overpriced. In short, work at GARF proceeds agonizingly slowly, and one must grow accustomed to the constant delays in delivering material. On my last trip I could not even kill time in the small cafeteria: it had closed.

That said, GARF does possess a wide array of materials concerning Spain. Among the most interesting is fond 5293, the archive of the Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Coutries (VOKS). This organization was the principal conduit for cultural exchange between Moscow and the West throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The correspondence between private Spanish citizens and VOKS numbers around 5000 letters, and documents a growing curiosity in Spain about all aspects of Soviet society. Other collections relevant to the Spanish Civil War are 4459: Soviet Information Service (TASS); 8265: International Society for Workers Aid (MOPR); and 9501: International Red Help. Researchers interested in aspects of nineteenth-century Russo-Spanish relations will want to see fonds 48: Decembrist investigation; 728: the Library of the Winter Palace; 679: Alexander I; and 1094: A. I. Turgenev. Finally, GARF II, located some distance from the main complex, holds two important and to date wholly neglected fonds, 307 and 2306, which document the education and upbringing of the three thousand Spanish children evacuated to the USSR in 1937. [Author: again, is there an English equivalent of "fond" you can use here that would be sufficiently clear?]

Russian State Archive of Early Acts (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv drevnikh aktov, or RGADA)


Located next to GARF in the "Archival Suburb," RGADA is one of the only completely unclassified federal archives in Russia. All collections, personal and institutional, are accessible to researchers. In addition to documents of high-ranking state officials, RGADA holdings include estate, family, and local institution archives from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. In general, the same working conditions at GARF apply to this archive, although the summer hours tend to be longer. As always, consult the archive prior to arrival for details.

Along with the Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire (AVPRI), RGADA is the most logical place to begin work on relations between the Romanov and Spanish crowns. A selection of documents from this archive relating to Spain recently appeared in Il'ichev and Pozharskaia, eds., Rossiia i Ispaniia: Dokumenty i materialy, 1667-1917: Tom I, 1667-1799 (Moscow, 1991). This collection provides a tantalizing glimpse into RGADA's unexplored riches on early modern Russo-Spanish affairs. Important materials on Spanish topics include fonds 15: correspondence between Philip IV and Tsar Alexei; 59: Peter I's correspondence; and 93: Potemkin's ambassadorship to Madrid in the 1670s. Those working on Spanish diplomatic topics for this period are advised to consult the newest guide to RGADA: Dushinov et al., eds., Tsentral'nyi gosudarstvennyi arkhiv drevnikh aktov SSSR: Putevoditel', 4 vols. (Moscow, 1991-).

Russian State Archive of the Economy (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv ekonomiki, or RGAE)


A third archive, RGAE, is also located in the "Archival Suburb," and even shares the GARF reading room. The woeful conditions described at GARF apply here as well. I have not canvassed the archive's catalog completely, so it is difficult to say with certainty what collections may interest the Hispanist. For further information consult the four-volume guide to the RGAE which is nearing completion: W. Chase, J. Burds, et al., eds., Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv ekonomiki: Putevoditel' (Moscow, 1994-). Incidentally, my own inquiry at RGAE took me to two collections that hold documents on Soviet pilots in Spain and the performance of Soviet aircraft in the Civil War.

Russian State Archive of Literature and Art (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv literatury i iskusstva, or RGALI)


Located in a quiet woodland setting a short walk from the Russian State Military Archive, RGALI occupies a crumbling structure that dates from 1941. Far from the center of Moscow, the environs offer no amenities whatsoever: neither food, drink, nor telephone. Working conditions within the archive can be problematic: computers are forbidden, lighting is dim, toilets barely function, file retrieval is slow, and seats in the cramped reading room are hard to get. Arrive early to ensure yourself a chair, otherwise you may end up taking notes on the floor, as I usually did. These distractions aside, RGALI holds a rich collection of hundreds of thousands of files on Russians, foreigners, and institutions associated with arts and letters. All collections at RGALI, even previously restricted files of repressed or émigré writers, are today declassified. Nonetheless, access to some personal documents may be limited according to agreements reached with heirs, but this is usually only a minor hurdle. The files of Ilya Ehrenburg, for example—Izvestiia's correspondent in Spain during the Civil War—can be viewed only with permission of the journalist's daughter. In terms of finding aids and reference materials, RGALI typifies both the best and worst of the post-Soviet archives. With foreign assistance, the archive was the first in Russia to have its holdings catalogued on CD-ROM, but until recently the library had no computer with a CD-ROM drive. The most efficient alternative remains a descent into the basement to search through millions of index cards where, with luck, you will find your desired subjects.

In my visits to RGALI, I discovered many holdings that may be of interest to Hispanists, and I have by no means canvassed all catalogs. Materials on Spain may be loosely divided into two categories: files of Spaniards who visited the Soviet Union or had some other connection to it, and files of Russian travelers to Spain. In the first instance, RGALI has files for such Spanish luminaries as Antonio Machado, Isadore Acevedo, Miguel de Unamuno, and André Segovia, who toured the USSR in the 1920s. Spanish institutions are also represented, including the Amigos de la Union Soviética, the Madrid press "Cenit," which published many works on Soviet Russia in the 1920s and 1930s, and a Spanish drama troupe that visited Moscow. On Russians in Spain, RGALI has files covering the Spanish visits of Soviet film directors Sergei Eisenstein and Roman Karmen, materials from civil war correspondents Mikhail Kol'tsov and the above-mentioned Ehrenburg, a photograph collection of Soviet advisors in the Spain, and other personal files of individuals interested in either Hispanic language and letters or, quite often, the Spanish Civil War. In addition, I found the archives of two newspapers that covered the Spanish war extensively: Literaturnaia gazeta and the Deutsche Zentrale Zeitung, a German-language Moscow daily.

Russian State Military Archive (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voennyi arkhiv, or RGVA)


Throughout the Soviet era, the RGVA was second only to the former Communist Party archive with regard to secrecy and lack of access. Until the mid-1980s, neither foreign nor Russian historians were permitted access to more than a token number of unimportant files. Even at the height of glasnost in 1990, official Soviet military historians were regularly denied access to most collections. The post-Soviet era has brought considerable reform to RGVA, and the declassification process for military documents from 191741, including many of those on the Spanish Civil War, has steadily picked up speed since the fall of the Communist regime. The RGVA holds a half million to one million documents on Spain, most of which relate directly to Soviet participation in the civil war. Unlike the former Party archive, where some materials declassified in 1991-93 are now reclassified, the RGVA has been more consistent in keeping files open. Nearly all declassified materials on Spain are in fonds 4, 9, 35082, and 33987. In terms of documenting Soviet intentions and conduct in Spain, as well as the decision-making process at the highest levels, these collections are nothing less than sensational. Among the files are military and intelligence reports on the Republic's prosecution of the war, reports from Soviet personnel to the Politburo, after-action summaries of major and minor battles, discussions of political developments in Spain, copies of letters from Largo Caballero to Stalin, personal letters from Stalin concerning his goals in Spain, correspondence between Voroshilov and operatives in the field, reports by Litvinov on the progress of the war, and documents of Spanish provenance captured and transferred to Moscow. To my chagrin, on a recent visit to the archive, approximately half of all the files I requested were still classified. Despite this disappointment, the RGVA still holds an embarrassment of riches, many more documents than one could hope to sift through even during an extended stay in Moscow and ignoring all other archives described in this essay.

The RGVA is located nearly an hour out of central Moscow, just a stone's throw from the State Archive of Literature and Art (RGALI). Working conditions at RGVA are tolerable. The mid-sized reading room looks out on a nearby fores—a view I often had time to enjoy, waiting an hour or more for the delivery of orders. Computers are allowed, but copies, which I never ordered, can cost up to five dollars per page, depending on the deal one strikes with the functionary in charge. The RGVA is currently threatened not only by unregulated temperature and humidity but also by a major rat problem. For those planning summer trips, be advised that the archive usually closes from mid-June to early September.

In recent years, copies of a small portion of RGVA documents on the Spanish Civil War have been transferred to both the Archives and Manuscripts Department at the Yale University Library and the Archives of the Central Committee of the Spanish Communist Party (CC PCE). The Yale collection, part of the Russian Archive Project, includes some 10,000 documents, the majority of which concern Soviet tank performance in Spain. Filling eighteen boxes, this is not an insignificant cache, and the magnificently appointed Yale archives are far more pleasant than the RGVA reading room. Researchers should remember, however, that Yale possesses just one to two percent of the total RGVA material on the Spanish war. The PCE-Madrid, meanwhile, has even fewer documents, less than 1000 pages. For those already in Madrid, however, the opportunity to see at least a few original Soviet documents may be irresistible. The RGVA copies are located in boxes 17, 19, 50, 57, and 58, in the section "Tesis, Manuscritos y Memorias." Unlike Yale, the PCE permits photocopying.

Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv sotsial'no-politicheskoi istorii (Russian State Archive of Socio-Political History, or RGASPI; formerly Rossiiskii tsentr khraneniia i izucheniia dokumentov noveishei istorii—Russian Center for Preservation and Study of Records of Modern History, or RTsKhIDNI)


The Sutter's Mill of the post-1991 archival gold rush, RGASPI is the post-Soviet heir of the Central Party Archive or Institute of Marxism-Leninism. Prior to the fall of Communism, few researchers, even high-ranking party officials, were ever permitted within the reinforced brick walls of this massive structure. In the wake of the 1991 coup attempt, the archive fell under the jurisdiction of the Russian Republic, and throughout the following year declassification of many secret collections proceeded rapidly. RGASPI's holdings are both wide-ranging and bewilderingly voluminous. In addition to individual holdings for CPSU and Comintern individuals, committees, and secretariats, the archive has files for foreign Communist parties and leaders; files on youth, linguistic, agricultural and women's organizations; and front organizations such as International Red Help and the Friends of the Soviet Union. To appreciate the full range of what the archive contains, consult the recent guide: Amiantov and Kozlov, eds., Rossiiskii tsentr khraneniia i izucheniia dokumentov noveishei istorii: Kratkii putevoditel' (Moscow, 1993). Incidentally, the vault tour, if it can be arranged, is an unforgettable experience. On my last trip I was permitted to hold in my hand the first draft of the first chapter of Das Kapital.

RGASPI holds great potential for students of modern Spain. This is the only archive where Spanish scholars have already attempted a partial canvassing of the catalog (see Nájera and Encinas Moral's article in the list of further reading). The Marx-Engels section contains correspondence between socialism's founders and early Spanish socialists, including José Mesa and Pablo Iglesias. The Comintern collection (495) has a Spanish section of 250 files which traverse the history of the PCE from its formation in 1919 to its eventual political leadership in the civil war. The same collection also has personal files of André Marty, Dolores Ibarruri, and José Diaz. The International Brigades are the subject of fond 545, which is divided into six sections, containing 3365 individual files. This material includes documents from the War Commissariat of Luigi Longo, the International Brigades base at Alicante, the IB Central War Administration, IB internees in concentration camps in France and North Africa, personal files of IB recruits and commanders, and a large photographic collection. The Politburo collection (no. 17) contains many decisions regarding the civil war. RGASPI also has a large library of Spanish socialist and communist newspapers, periodicals, and monographs. In short, RGASPI is the most important archive of the Spanish left outside of, and possibly including, Spain.

Working conditions at RGASPI are unpredictable. In the initial drive to declassify, from 1992 to the end of 1993, researchers had access to many materials that were subsequently reclassified, including, for example, the files of the Dimitrov Secretariat (f. 495, op. 72-74), which are among the most important for understanding Comintern involvement in Spain. For some topics the best opportunity for research has already passed, though this situation could ameliorate in coming years. Work here is also impeded by the archive's chronic impoverishment. In mid-1996, RGASPI practically went bankrupt after losing its money in the successive failures of two banks, one of which had improbably opened a branch in the archive's lobby. In July 1997 the archive suddenly closed when it could not pay its electricity bills. Despite the financial crises, RGASPI has much to offer the patient and diligent researcher: working hours are long; files are promptly delivered; copies are easy to order and, by Russian standards, a bargain at a dollar a page; computers are allowed in the reading rooms; finding aids are helpful and readily available; and the staff is dedicated and knowledgeable. Best of all, the cafeteria continues to operate. For less than three Euros you can buy a lunch of soup, salad, bread, and an unidentified meat.

Russian State Military History Archive (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi voenno-istoricheskii arkhiv, or RGVIA)


All collections in RGVIA, the central archive for military records of the Russian Empire from the end of the seventeenth century until March of 1918, are open to researchers. Lacking direct experience in the archive, I must unfortunately direct readers to the most recent general guide, Dmitrochenkova and Konik, eds., Tsentral'nyi gosudarstvennyi voenno-istoricheskii arkhiv SSSR: Novye postupleniia, vol. I (Moscow, 1990). The archive is not without promise for the industrious Hispanist: a Soviet scholar of Russo-Spanish affairs, M. A. Dodolev, incorporated extensive citations from RGVIA in his monograph Rossiia i Ispaniia, 1808-1823 (Moscow, 1984).

Russian State Historical Archive (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi istoricheskii arkhiv, or RGIA)


Located on the Neva embankment in St. Petersburg, RGIA, the major historical archive for post-eighteenth-century records of the pre-Revolutionary Russian Empire, has an indeterminate amount of material on Russo-Spanish relations prior to World War I. Personal collections of Nikolai Mikhailovich, A. A. Zakrevskii, N. S. Mordvinov, Mariia Fedorovna, and Repin contain files concerning nineteenth-century diplomatic, cultural, and commercial ties between the two empires. Many documents in fond 1409, the "Kantseliariia Imperatora," will also interest scholars of this topic. While all this material is declassified, a series of crises at RGIA has made regular research impossible. A collapsed ceiling in 1992 closed some sections of the archive, and in 1995 the Fire Marshal ordered the doors sealed upon the discovery of serious structural and electrical problems. The same year saw the theft of some 12,000 documents. Recent assistance from UNESCO permitted limited repairs, and the archive operated on reduced hours in 1996, but as of the summer of 1998 RGIA was again closed.

Russian State Archive of the Navy (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Voenno-morskogo flota, or RGAVMF)


Located a few blocks from the Winter Palace, RGAVMF is the main repository of pre-Revolutionary and Soviet-era naval documents. Possibly due to lavish spending for the 1995 300-year anniversary of the Russian navy, working conditions at the archive have improved, and opening hours are generous and consistent. Most materials through 1942 have been declassified, including materials on the Spanish Civil War. For Soviet naval activity in Spain, see especially fond 1529. Several eighteenth-century fonds may also interest Hispanists, including number 233: correspondence of Spanish and Russian naval commanders; and 227: Elizabeth I's agreements with the Spanish navy. Given Russia's maritime strength by the end of the nineteenth century, RGAVMF may include other files relevant to naval ties between the two empires. For greater detail, consult the newest guide to pre-Revolutionary holdings: T. P. Mazur, Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv Voenno-morskogo flota: Annotirovannyi reestr opisei fondov (St. Petersburg, 1996), published simultaneously on searchable diskette.

Russian State Archive of Film and Photographic Documents (Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi arkhiv kinofotodokumentov, or RGAKFD)


This archive should be consulted by those wishing to view one of the three-dozen largely unknown documentaries shot by Soviet directors in Spain during the civil war. Photographs taken by Soviet photographers during the war are also available, including the entire TASS collection. In addition, the Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (VOKS) forwarded to RGAKFD scores of photographs received from Spanish correspondents during the 1930s. While all materials are now open, foreign researchers are currently being charged absurdly high rates to view films or photo albums, usually thirty to forty dollars apiece, per day. Duplication costs are totally prohibitive.

Center for Preservation of Contemporary Documentation (Tsentr khraneniia sovremennoi dokumentatsii, or TsKhSD)


The archive of the CPSU from 1952 to 1991, TsKhSD remains largely inaccessible to researchers. Materials related to the PCE in exile are most likely located in the International Department (fond 5). This collection, however, was closed in mid-1996, and since then I have no further information.

Center for Preservation of Historico-Documentary Collections (Tsentr khraneniia istoriko-dokumental'nykh kollektsii, TsKhIDK)


The former top-secret "Special Archive," TsKhIDK houses approximately 30 million foreign documents carried off as booty at the end of World War II. The very existence of this archive was not made public until 1990. Materials in TsKhIDK include records of the Nazi regime, Russian émigré archives and, of interest to us here, displaced archives of European nations either previously seized by the Nazis or captured by the Red Army. Access to documents at TsKhIDK is made difficult by pending negotiations to return documents to their legal owners. Many countries are currently lobbying the Russian government for immediate repatriation, but thus far the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, has rejected all such overtures. I have been unable to confirm precise details about the extent of Spanish documentation still within the archive. Following World War II a number of Spanish collections were housed here, although some were later transferred to other Soviet archives. Spanish-related documents now or previously among TsKhIDK's materials may include: fond 5: Embassy of Spain in France; 7: Military Attaché of the Embassy of France in Spain, 1920-40; 11, Partido Socialista Obrero Español in Paris; 14: XI International Brigade; 42: Aid Commission to Spanish orphans in France, 1939-40; 94: Commission to study the employ of Spanish refugees in French agriculture; and 1425: Spanish document collection, including posters, periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, and manuscripts. Finally, a well-connected military historian assured me that TsKhIDK also houses captured Nazi records of Franco's Blue Division.

Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation (Arkhiv vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Federatsii, AVP RF)


Given that a decade ago all collections in the post-1917 foreign policy archive were closed, AVPRF has undergone tremendous reform. Declassification proceeds apace, and the twenty-seat reading room is full of scholars from around the world. On Spain, and especially the Spanish Civil War, AVPRF certainly holds vast stores of fascinating material, not least of which are the files of the Soviet representative to the Non-Intervention Committee in London, the Soviet Embassy in Madrid, the Soviet Consul in Barcelona, and finally, the little-researched area of Soviet-Spanish relations during the Franco period.

In many respects, however, AVPRF remains an oasis of Soviet-era restrictions. Alone among Russian archives, AVPRF will not allow researchers to examine opisi (inventories of files). Instead, one must explain by letter what one wishes to study, and AVPRF will inform the researcher whether or not relevant files are open. Even if you are allowed to see some important files, the archive will not tell you what they have not shown you. Without the opisi, you have little sense of the range and quantity of materials on your topic. Furthermore, the archivist may tell you to consult one of the Ministry's published document collections, and that will be the end of your inquiry.

Recent reports indicate that many kinds of files are no longer being given out. These include Politburo documents, ciphered telegrams, much of the correspondence between Soviet diplomats and officials at the Ministry, and the very valuable godovye otchety (yearly reports) produced by individual Soviet embassies. Your problems are not solved even if you are given files. Laptops are sometimes banned from the reading room, and only a small number of overpriced photocopies can be made each year.

Archive of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire (Arkhiv vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Imperii, or AVPRI)


Nearly all collections in AVPRI, the pre-Revolutionary foreign affairs archive, are now open to researchers. Work here is unencumbered by the restrictions that plague the Foreign Ministry's other archive, AVPRF. On Spain, AVPRI holds several interesting inventories. The largest is the collection Snosheniia Rossii s Ispaniei (Relations between Russia and Spain), which contains over 700 files. Other holdings of interest to Hispanists include: Snosheniia Rossii s Portugaliei; Ambassador to Rome; Kantseliariia; and Administrativnye dela. Other details may be found in the excellent new guide: I. V. Budnik et al., eds., Arkhiv vneshnei politiki Rossiiskoi Imperii: Putevoditel' (Minneapolis, 1996). Over the years, many documents relating to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russo-Spanish relations have appeared in publications of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Vneshniaia politika Rossii XIX i nachala XX veka. Dokumenty Rossiskogo Ministerstva Inostrannikh del (VPR), Series One, vols. I-VIII (Moscow, 1960-1972); Series Two, vols. I-IV (Moscow, 1974-1982). The more recent Pozharskaia, Il'ichev, et al., eds., Rossiia i Ispaniia: Dokumenty i materialy, 1667-1917, 2 vols. (Moscow 1991-1997), brings to light AVPRI documents which did not appear in any of the earlier volumes.

Archive of the President of the Russian Federation (Arkhiv Prezidenta Rossiiskoi Federatsii, or APRF)


The Fort Knox of Russian archives, APRF remains completely top-secret and closed to researchers. The archive houses the most sensitive files of the Communist Party leadership, including Stalin's personal papers and the protocols of Politburo meetings for the whole of the Soviet era. All pre-1952 material was supposed to be declassified and transferred to the former Party Archive (now RGASPI) in 1992, a process first delayed, then abandoned, but apparently finally taking place as this volume went to press.

Central Archive of the Ministry of Defense (Tsentral'nyi arkhiv Ministerstva oborony, or TsAMO)


Controlled by the General Staff of the Armed Forces, TsAMO houses several fonds (numbers 5, 16, 119, 132) that document Soviet military activity in the Spanish Civil War. Access is extremely limited, and requires ministerial-level approval. Few foreigners have ever worked here. Fortunately, it appears that most of TsAMO's Spanish files can be found in duplicate at the regular Military Archive (RGVA).

Central Archive of the Federal Security Service (Tsentral'nyi arkhiv Federal'noi sluzhby bezopasnosti, or TsA FSB Rossii)


The direct archival heir of the CHEKA, NKVD, and KGB, the current FSB archive continues to maintain impenetrable levels of secrecy. With only a handful of exceptions, the archive does not admit researchers. My one and only visit to the infamous Lubyanka reception room, supported by very correct credentials and the physical presence of a senior researcher from the Russian Academy of Sciences, was greeted with contemptuous laughter and conclusive rejection. When all other Soviet secrets are made known, the NKVD's activities in the Spanish Civil War, chronicled in detail in this archive, are likely to remain obscure.

III. Museums and Other Organizations

Museum of the Revolution (Muzei Revolut'sii, or MR)


The museum was founded in 1923 as a propaganda exhibit covering the background and course of the Russian Revolution. Throughout much of the Soviet era, the required visit to Lenin's mausoleum was followed by a stop here, and thus the museum enjoys an ideal location in the center of the city, just a short walk from the Kremlin. In addition to a mass of documentation on Russian events, the museum archive possesses collections that chronicle foreign revolutionary activities. Among the countries prominently represented are Italy, Cuba, Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Spain. The Ispanskaia Kollektsiia, or Spanish Collection, is one of the largest in the archive, and includes newspapers, journals, photographs, phonograph recordings, and manuscripts. Much of this material was sent to Moscow during the Spanish Civil War, when Russo-Spanish cultural ties were at their high point. The archive also holds other collections related to Spain, among them documents of the Spanish friendship society Amigos de la Union Soviética and the personal files of O. G. Savich, the TASS correspondent in Spain during the war. Access to the museum's archive is problematic, as few (if any) researchers still work here. One unique and irksome rule at the archive: graduate students are not admitted; only professors. Letters of introduction should be prepared accordingly.

German Anti-fascist Memorial Museum (Memorial'nyi muzei nemetskikh antifashistov, or MMNA)


Located in the Moscow suburb of Krasnogorsk, the MMNA rivals only Khimki in terms of difficulty of access from central Moscow. The museum was built in 1985 on the location of what was first a former German POW camp, then an anti-fascist school. The archive contains manuscripts, photographs, recordings, and films documenting the Soviet fight against fascism, the history of German Communism, and the Soviet War Administration in East Germany. For scholars of the Spanish Civil War, the MMNA holds a large collection of materials on German volunteers in the International Brigades.

Archive of War Medicine Documents in the War-Medicine Museum (Archiv Voennoi-meditsinskogo dokumentov Voennoi-meditsinskovo Muzeia, or ABMD-BMM)


The museum's archive dates from 1939 and primarily holds materials from World War II and after. Fond 1, however, contains files documenting Soviet military medicine in the Spanish Civil War. For current working hours, contact the ABMD directly.

Institute of War History-Moscow (Institut voinei istorii, or IVI) [Author: translator asks that you check this—is it "istorii voiny"?]


Among the Institute's archival holdings are a series of internal military publications on various aspects of the Spanish Civil War. The Institute, an internal research center of the Ministry of Defense, is not generally open to outside scholars. The civil war inventories, however, are no longer, considered classified, and with a proper letter the librarian will make them available.

War Veterans Committee-Moscow (Komitet veteranov voiny)


The Spanish Civil War section of the Committee may be the only reliable place to locate oral history subjects able to illuminate Soviet involvement in Spain. Into the 1980s, the Wednesday evening meetings still drew dozens of veterans. During my visits to the weekly session in the late 1990s, however, I met no more than six octogenarian survivors of the original two thousand-member contingent. Few in number, they are willing collaborators on any project, historical or otherwise. It is recommended that visitors ask to see medals.

Russia does not make guarantees, and I can offer no assurances about the future of research in a country that has undergone political and economic turmoil for the past twelve hundred years. Nevertheless, Russia is a society in flux, and future developments may well favor new research opportunities above and beyond those discussed here. Iberianists should recall that, during the immediate post-Franco era, archival research in Spain was quite often frustrated by problems not unlike those in contemporary Russia. Many Spanish archives have only recently extricated themselves from decades of secrecy and inaccessibility. One suspects that, in time, the Russian situation will be analogous, and the post-Soviet archives will promise all researchers—Hispanists included—more success than disappointment.



Stalin and the Spanish Civil War