Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Judy H. Sahak
© 2013 Jessica S. Rosenthal
The “twice-looted” archives refer to a vast body of documents that were looted by Nazi agencies during, and again by Soviet Army units immediately following World War II. The archives were taken in the context of the two most intensive programs of cultural heritage looting in modern history. Their fate remained unknown until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, many efforts have been made to return the documents to their original owners. However, significant obstacles have hindered restitution, leaving a large body of foreign archives in Russia.
By connecting the history and current status of the “twice-looted” archives to archival theory and ethical principles on cultural heritage property, this thesis provides a foundation from which to approach archival restitution. The analysis of recent additions to archival theory provides new understandings of archival meaning that may facilitate the restitution of archives displaced by war. Reviewing the details of the archives’ successive seizures leading to their extended residency in the secret “Special Archive” (TsGOA) and discussing restitution developments on national and international levels reveals how exploitation of archives during war violates archival principles. Concluding with specific case studies further illustrates the complex nature of archives and archival meaning and its significance for archival restitution. These discussions reveal the damages that result when archives become targets of war. This in turn, encourages respect for archives and brings attention to the necessity of safeguarding archival heritage.
Rosenthal, Jessica S., "The “Twice-Looted” Archives: Giving Voice to the Long-Silenced Witnesses of World War II" (2013). Scripps Senior Theses. 177.
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