The ministry of culture of the Russian Federation in the Internet project «Cultural values –the victims of the war» represents the information on cultural values in which destiny the Second World War played a tragical role.

This letter of Narkompros (Narcofloor-mat of education of RSFSR) from February, 3, 1942 - one of the first official documents on necessity of the account of destructions of monuments of history and culture and the losses suffered by museums and libraries in territory of the USSR, temporarily occupied by fascist armies.

This letter of Narkompros (Narcofloor-mat of education of RSFSR) from February, 3, 1942 - one of the first official documents on necessity of the account of destructions of monuments of history and culture and the losses suffered by museums and libraries in territory of the USSR, temporarily occupied by fascist armies.

The people's commissar of education of RSFSR V. Potyomkin charges to heads of regions of Russia just released from the enemy to organise the special commissions which should collect the most detailed information on destruction of domestic monuments of culture, the People's commissar of education suggests the supervising regional organisations to employ in the commissions of authoritative local experts, representatives of the public, directors, employees of museums and libraries. Members of the commissions should collect indications of witnesses, prepare documentary photographs, draw up statements about destructions of monuments, museum and library buildings, plunder and export of museum and library collections.

All collected documents, it is told in the letter, in the future will be shown the enemy as the account «for destruction and plunder of our cultural values.

First of all, these are facts of the Russian military losses, established documentary and illustrated with the list of suffered museums, lists of the plundered and destroyed works of art, books, manuscripts, archival funds and their restored images, special researches of these questions.

In the Internet project data on all exhibitions, expositions and scientific publications on the moved cultural values which arrived after the termination of the Second World War in the Russian culture establishments as the indemnity for the suffered damage are generalised. Also texts of the standard documents regulating their legal status are resulted.

In days of the Great Patriotic War in Russia over 160 museums, 4000 libraries (was lost 115 million editions), archives of 19 areas (17 million affairs lost) suffered. The extreme state commission of the establishment and investigation of evil deeds of fascist aggressors and their accomplices and the damage caused by them to citizens, to collective farms, to public organisations, to the state enterprises and establishments of the USSR made only the general lists of "cultural losses» as the problem of revealing of the lost values is extremely difficult till today.

Founders of the Summary catalogue spend complex works on search and gathering of the documents concerning «military destiny» of Russian cultural values, on processing and comparative studying of the information received about them.

Complex works on the reconstruction of a real picture of the Russian military losses and ordering of the received data about the lost cultural values are spent according to the Governmental order of the Russian Federation from June, 18th, 2004 «About Federal agency on culture and cinematography». In it, in particular, it is told about the «distribution of the moved cultural values between the Russian culture establishments injured with destruction and plunder of their property by armies of the former enemy states during the Second World War».

The ministry of culture of the Russian Federation regularly publishes the information about the losses of the Russian culture establishments in «the Summary catalogue of cultural values of the Russian Federation stolen and lost in the Second World War». The summary catalogue is the unique reference edition in which materials, inaccessible within 50 post-war years are systematised.

Today 15 volumes of the catalogue in 33 books in Russian and 15 books in English, containing the information about the lost collections of the State Tretyakov gallery, the State Russian museum, the museums of Gatchina, Voronezh, Kaluga, New Jerusalem (Istra), the Eagle, Ostrogozhsk (the Voronezh region), museums of Pavlovsk, Peterhof, Smolensk, Taganrog, Tsarskoje Selo (of Pushkin), and also library and archival collections of Russia are already published.



Nikolay Nikandrov,
The editor of the Summary catalogue

Attempts of the Soviet researchers to study loss of the Russian museums as a result of Hitlerite occupation appeared unsuccessful in the absence of materials in the open press and obvious unwillingness of the power to "stir" them in the state archives. On an extent more than half a century the interested in this theme had to scoop the information from domestic newspapers of a wartime where there were messages on the barbarous relation of Hitlerites to our cultural heritage on occupied territories.

In February, 1942 art dealers of the released territories were obliged «to take urgent measures to documenting of the destroyed museums... For the report to the government and for a presentation in the future of the account to the enemy...». Received by Narkompros of RSFSR datas in the autumn of 1942 were transferred the Extreme state commission.

Extreme state commission (ESC), created for data gathering, check and ordering of all materials about evil deeds of Hitlerite aggressors and a material damage, received a large quantity documentary and material evidences. Partially these data were shown on the Nuremberg process. However the exhaustive data about the sizes of the damage put to the Russian museums by war to find out to these it is not possible.

Later in scientific publications there was data that in the USSR had been destroyed about 3 thousand monuments of architecture, 427 museums were plundered. The figure taken out by invaders for limits of the country of the most valuable art and scientific exhibits — over 100 thousand had been named also. In 1957 in the culture Ministry there was an information that 64 museums lost in war from above 783. 000 exhibits. Then it was found out that ESC had not included in the list of loss of 12 large museums.

Spent by ESC researches of losses of cultural values are not full and demand serious scientific studying. ESC did not consider that many museums and other culture establishments suffered from air raids and shellings, from the movings connected with evacuation and reevacuation or necessity to release the area of storage for other organisations. Losses took place in the absence of elementary storage conditions.

The archival materials found out lately allow to estimate more precisely scales of losses, in particular, considering the miscalculations admitted by the state at export of museum property from areas to which war approached.

In premilitary years Narkompros of Russia had no plans of evacuation of museum values for a case of occurrence of threat of their destruction. Such plans were only at some museums of Leningrad and area: nearby there passed frontier with Finland. The attack of Hitlerite Germany and prompt development of military operations didn’t allow local authorities to make the thought over decisions on evacuation of museums in east areas of the country.

Council about evacuation of the population, the enterprises, establishments, military and other cargoes and values from "risk" areas has been created on June, 24th, 1941. At narcofloor - mats and departments special bureaus and the commissions on evacuation they started to operate. The direct management of evacuation was assigned to local party and Soviet bodies. In the conditions of military operations evacuation of cultural values was spent in haste, without due material maintenance (there was no container, packing materials), in the absence of necessary vehicles. Only exhibits of the Armory Museum of the Kremlin, Russian museum and the Hermitage were taken out under special governmental decisions.

Collections of the State Hermitage were sent from Leningrad under the plans prepared long before the beginning of war. On July, 1st, 1941 from Leningrad the first echelon of special function went to Sverdlovsk. In 22 cars were 500 thousand museum values — the whole exposition and treasures of the Special pantry of the Hermitage. For twenty next days employees of a museum managed to send to Sverdlovsk more than 70 thousand exhibits. It was not possible to finish packing of prophetic 3rd turn — enemy armies cut last trunk-railway between Leningrad and the country. Approximately under the same scheme in deadlines treasures of Russian museum were evacuated. Within summer of 1941 thanks to efforts of art dealers it was possible to send to Ulyanovsk funds of the Central Naval museum, to Novosibirsk the Artillery Historical museum, in Bitter the State museum of ethnography, to Irkutsk of the Museum of revolution of RSFSR.

The Leningrad authorities, without having waited recommendations from Moscow, addressed to a management of cities of Sarapul and Bitter with the request to accept everything that it was possible to send from museums of Leningrad and area. Museum workers up to the middle of September packed exhibits of suburban palaces-museums. Evacuation was spent to some stages. First three turns were sent by rail in Bitter (when over Bitter the German aircraft began to appear, things of palaces-museums of Leningrad have transported to Novosibirsk). Some cargoes were transported to Sarapul.

Pavlovsk palace

Enemy shelling
on Neva

The cascade of
fountains in Peterhof

In Imperial village

The burnt church
in Torzhok

Memorial estate I.E. Repin
in Penates

P.I. Tchaikovsky House museum
in the Klin in days of war

P.I. Tchaikovsky House museum
in the Klin today

Room in a house museum
L.N. Tolstoy in Clear to
glade, the Tula area

Jasnaja Poljana

Because of shortage of a packing material it was necessary to use fresh hay and straw. Things of last turn should be taken out to Leningrad on cars and with passing flights of cargo barges under continuous fire of the opponent.

About 12 thousand museum subjects found a shelter behind strong walls of the Isaakievsky cathedral. In total from suburban palaces-museums 40 765 most valuable subjects were evacuated. Rather small part of that was available. The remained values were preserved and hidden in territory of palaces-museums (large-sized furniture, a palace and park sculpture). It was not possible to finish sending of 3rd turn of museum values: on August, 30th enemy armies cut last trunk-railway between Leningrad and the country.

Evacuation plans of the Moscow museums managed to prepare only in July, 1941, but have not considered real requirements for vehicles and the areas on which should place the taken out values. For example, it was supposed to send property of the State Historical museum in two (!) railway cars. It was unexpectedly found out that planned in Moscow evacuational bases in Kirov and Sverdlovsk already accept museum values from Novgorod, Pskov and the Hermitage. In June, 1941 at meeting in Narkompros RSFSR sounded words about inexpediency «prematurely to curtail capital museums». But it was necessary to "curtail". Operatively organised «the State storehouse № 1» where there were placed values of the State Historical museum, a museum of Revolution of the USSR, the Literary museum, Polytechnical, a museum of the people of the USSR, etc., sent on the east a waterway on the overloaded barge.

On the way the barge has got under bombardment, has in the dark faced a counter vessel and has received a hole. However cargo safely delivered to destination. Absence evacoplan has seriously complicated the decision on export of museum values from the regions which were in dangerous affinity from front. Narkompros recommended all values to divide into three turns. 1st turn — subjects which are necessary for taking out; 2nd turn — evacuation of things if there is their possibility to take out, 3rd — the values left on places.

On August, 15th, 1941 at the initiative of Narkompros of RSFSR in Moscow State storehouses № 2 ». Hundreds of boxes with exhibits started creation united« Nikoly on Bersenevka began to arrive on Bersenevska quay in church premises «». It was supposed that the most valuable part of museum subjects from these storehouses later will be sent in depth of the country. However in October when in Moscow especially dangerous position was created, it was found out that museum values from «State storehouses № 2» were not evacuated, but actually left to the mercy of fate. The chief of storehouse has autocratically left a city. Heads of museums have addressed in Narkompros and Committee on affairs of arts with the request to finish evacuation of the values which are in «State storehouse № 2». In December, 1941 four railway cars with museum subjects have left to Omsk. The values which have remained in church «Nikoly on Bersenevka» were are taken under protection.

Treasures of the State Tretyakov gallery (STG) were evacuated in July, 1941. The special train under the strengthened protection had been sent 634 boxes with pictures, a drawing and a sculpture of Russian masters. Together with property of STG collections of the Museum of the fine arts of A.S. Pushkin, the Museum of new western art, archive of the Museum of M.I. Glinka, etc. Pictures and sculptures which did not manage to be taken out were evacuated, till the end of war were in Moscow in a gallery building. The remained values of the State Historical museum were stored in its cellars.

Evacuation was spent to back of regional, city and regional museums on the basis of orders of local representatives of Council of evacuation. With great difficulties and even with risk for a life under bombardments and a gun-fire of the opponent art dealers managed to evacuate in depth of the country a considerable part of collections of museums of Smolensk (to Novosibirsk), Novgorod and Pskov (to Kirov), Voronezh (to Fergana), Kursk (to Saratov), the Oryol (to Penza) and of some other cities of Russia.

In due time employees of Stalingrad regional museum of local lore didn’t prepare the funds for evacuation. Evacuation should be spent under bombardment in July, 1942. It was possible to take out a part of meeting of literature of the Х1Х century, casual archaeological subjects, a numismatical collection, a cap and Peter's 1 cane, presented by the emperor to inhabitants of Tsaritsyn in 1722. An ethnographic collection and life subjects could not rescue.

Almost funds of Kalmyk republican museum of local lore which had tried to take out a cartage completely were lost. The part of things of a museum after the end of war were found out in territory of Germany.

«The military destiny» the art museums, subordinated to system of Committee on affairs of arts of the USSR and RSFSR, developed differently. The All-Union committee created in 1936 on affairs of arts received in the conducting from Narkompros of 56 art museums who were prepared for work in the conditions of a wartime. Lists of the values which were subject to evacuation, were made in advance. During evacuation Committee museums were provided by military protection.

By 1941 Narkompros in territory of Russia submitted 439 museums, to Committee on affairs of arts — 56, Academies of sciences — 18, to other departments — 123. Coordination concerning evacuation between them was not. The narcofloor-mat of education of RSFSR in a war initial stage collected not at once the information on a situation with museums.

In days of war for museums of Russia in deep back it has been created 9 large specialised funds where exhibits of 66 museums from 15 areas, 2 edges and 2 autonomous republics had been delivered.

War sharply worsened storage conditions of funds of almost all museums of the country. Since June 1941. Till January, 1943 the number of museums of Russia with 592 was reduced to 390. It had been preserved 29 large regional museums; the considerable part of the regional had ceased to function. About 200 museums appeared in the territory occupied by the enemy.

In rear areas where museum premises in haste released under other civil and military establishments, share collections it is frequent, without packing, hastily forwarded to casual premises, sometimes absolutely not suitable for storage of any values. For example, in Tyumen things of a local museum fell down in a warehouse premise where the considerable part of exhibits were lost and spoilt".

Narcompros tried to put things in order, suggesting the subordinated establishments «to start immediately check of a condition of the account and storage of museum funds». By April, 1st, 1943 it was planned to make a scientific card file of museum funds on the basis of the inventories sent from places. The commission of experts on revealing of the most valuable museum subjects and collections for creation of the inventory book of museum funds of RSFSR and preparation of materials for drawing up of the summary catalogue were created. However arriving lists of museum subjects and collections could not serve as an original initial material for the state account and preparation of summary catalogues.

The question on calculation of concrete museum losses did not stand and after war. In 60th years in the collection of works of scientific research institute of museology M.P. Simkin's article «the Soviet museums in the Great Patriotic War» was published. The information on cultural losses was in it rather poor.

In official Soviet documents in every possible way underlined successes of the war of museum evacuation spent in the beginning. To carry out the objective analysis evacuational actions of cultural values on the basis of official data appeared uneasy.

The book which has left in 1977 of L. V. Maksakova «the Culture of the Soviet Russia in days of the Great Patriotic War», written on the basis of accessible the then archival and references, essentially expanded scales of researches of "military" destiny of cultural property of Russia. The picture of evacuation of funds of the Russian museums in other book of L is in more details presented. L.V. Maksakova «Rescue of cultural values in days of the Great Patriotic War». М, 1990 the Author tried to pay attention to a damage put to cultural property of the USSR. However accurately to define number of the lost values and their cultural importance it was not possible because of limitation of access to primary sources.

In 1980th years there were publications of known journalists Е.V. Konchina and S.N. Razgonova. But authors, telling about rescue of museum values, their storage in extreme conditions of evacuation, ignored problems of losses. Ideological "taboo" still operated. Changes of 1990th years allowed to use earlier closed archival documents in historical researches.

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