The archives of victims of political repression of the soviet regime: Memorial International

ICA-SAHR Tuesdays Talks on Archives and Human Rights | Networking

Elena Zhemkova, Executive Director of Memorial International (1995-2022) will talk about the main questions related to the organization records and archives and their use for supporting human rights. She will be introduced by Jose Maria Faraldo Jarillo, professor of the Complutense University of Madrid, who will also moderate a conversation with the audience.

The event will be held online and previous registration is required. It will be delivered in Russian with simultaneous interpretation into English.

How have them been collected and used, mainly by victims of repression or human rights abuses? Which are the most important threats against Memorial and its documentary heritage, have any of the records been destroyed or seized within the judicial and political attacks against Memorial? How Memorial archives are being protected and preserved in the current Russian political situation? What has been the role of Memorial in the fight for opening the public archives of the former USSR. Which is the position taken by Memorial on the Ukraine war?

Organized by the International Council on Archives – Section on Archives and Human Rights in collaboration with the EUROM – University of Barcelona Solidarity Foundation. Co-funded by the programme Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values of the European Commission.

About the speaker

Elena Zhemkova graduated from the Mathematical Faculty of Odessa University and the International Management Systems Consulting Company (MSI, USA). In 1987, she became one of the founders of the “Memorial Initiative Group” and in 1988 a member of Memorial’s Board. She has been Executive Director of Memorial International from 1995 until 2022 when it was liquidated by the Russian Supreme court.

She has been notably responsible for the project “Victims of two Dictatorships”, the 3 – 5 million persons taken from the former USSR during World War II by the Nazis for forced labour and, for this reason, persecuted again by their own government after their return to the USSR. Likewise, she has been involved in major original research, publications, and exhibitions in relation to this work for over 30 years.

In 1996-2011 she has been a member of the Supervisory Board of the Russian Foundation “Understanding and Reconciliation”, which paid compensation for this forced labour, funded by the German government, and in 2018-2022 a member of the Russian Interdepartmental Working Group aiming at perpetuating the memory of victims of Political Repression. Since 2015, she is a member of the International Scientific Council of the Topography of Terror Foundation (Germany), which studies the crimes of the Nazi regime and since 2018, a member of the International Scientific Council of the Documentation Center for Forced Labor by the Nazi Regime, in Berlin-Schoeneweide.

In recent years, she has coordinated the International Memorial network, which includes more than 30 regional organizations in Australia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.

Since 2023, Elena works as the director of Zukunft Memorial in Germany. Zukunft Memorial (Future Memorial) is one of the 15 founding organizations of the new International Memorial Association.  It was founded by Memorial members who were forcibly relocated from Russia to Germany, and continue the activities carried out in Russia for many decades related to state repression, including historical research, collection and preservation of archives, and public education.

The main areas of her research interests are the history of political repression, comparative analysis of Nazi and Soviet repressive mechanisms, memorialization of victims of political repression (monuments, toponymy, etc.) as well as the development of civil society organizations and their means of support; educational work with young people; and the establishment of democratic values and human rights.

Pre-registration link:

The conference will be recorded and published on our YouTube channel throughout the SAHR’s playlist of ICA’s.


This activity is co-financed by the European Commission and for its evaluation we kindly ask your collaboration in filling out this survey. It will take about 10 minutes, and you will need the information indicated below. Thank you very much!

  • Reference of the Project: 101140481
  • Type of activity: Awareness raising
  • Title: Networking: SAHR Tuesday Talks
  • Duration of the event in days: 1
  • Online event




February 6, 2024
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