By Professor Alistair Thomson, President, Oral History Australia
Oral History Australia joins oral historians around the world in condemning the closure of Russia’s Memorial organisation, one of Europe’s most important oral history projects. A Russian court ordered the closure on the 28th of December in 2021. This appalling act represents an assault on human rights and an attempt to suppress the Memorial’s significant contribution to the history of the Soviet Union.
Memorial was set up in the late 1980s to document and record the crimes of the Soviet regime and the history of political repression in the Soviet Union. In a statement following the closure decision, Memorial wrote, “Memorial is not an organisation, it is not even a social movement… Memorial is the need of the citizens of Russia to know the truth about its tragic past, about the fate of many millions of people.”
As oral historians we understand the significance of memory and how an authoritarian state like Putin’s Russia might wish to suppress memory to sustain a mythical version of the past which legitimises the regime. We urge Australian colleagues to protest about the Russian decision to close an oral history project that spoke truth to power.
For further details, see this article by British oral historian Graham Smith, at www.ohs.org.uk/general-interest/ohs-condemns-closure-of-memorial-international/.