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A register of the Aleksandr Il'ich Ginzburg Papers, 1921-2007
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content Note

  • Collection Summary

    Title: Aleksandr Il'ich Ginzburg papers
    Dates: 1921-2007
    Collection Number: 2004C55
    Creator: Ginzburg, Aleksandr Il'ich, 1936-
    Collection Size: 18 manuscript boxes, 10 cassette boxes, 2 oversize boxes, 1 card file box (19 linear feet)
    Repository: Hoover Institution Archives
    Stanford, California 94305-6010
    Abstract: Materials relating to civil liberties and dissent in the Soviet Union and to Russian émigré affairs including correspondence, writings, printed matter, identification documents, photographs, sound and video recordings, printed matter, and memorabilia.
    Physical Location: Hoover Institution Archives
    Languages: English Russian French

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.
    The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.

    Publication Rights

    For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Aleksandr Il'ich Ginzburg papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.

    Acquisition Information

    Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2004, with several increments received in 2005, 2007, and 2011


    Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at http://searchworks.stanford.edu/ . Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number of boxes listed in this finding aid.

    Alternate Forms Available

    Digital reproductions of selected images are available

    Related Collections

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    RFE/RL broadcast records, Hoover Institution Archives
    Yuri Yarim-Agaev papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Leon Volkov papers, Hoover Institution Archives
    Natal'ia Solzhenitsyn speech, Hoover Institution Archives
    Aleksandr Isaevich Solzhenitsyn speeches and writings, Hoover Institution Archives
    Irina Kaplun writings, Hoover Institution Archives

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Ginzburg, Arina
    Dissenters--Soviet Union
    Civil rights--Soviet Union

    Biographical Note

    1936 November 21 Born in Moscow, Soviet Union
    1956-1960 Studied at the Moscow State University, Department of Journalism
    1959 Edited and distributed first three issues of the Sintaksis underground literary almanac
    1960 July Arrested and sentenced to a two-year term in a correctional labor institution in Kirovskaia oblast'
    1964 Arrested and imprisoned for several months for distribution of New Class book by Milovan Djilas
    1966 Admitted to the Historical-Archival Institute, Moscow
      Compiled "Belaia kniga"(White book) about the court trial of writers AndreĬ SiniavskiĬ and IUliĬ Daniel'
    1967 Arrested, charged with anti-Soviet propaganda and agitation, and sentenced to a five-year camp term, which he partly served in Pot'ma, Mordovia, and partly in the strict regime Vladimirskaia prison
    1972 Released from camp, prohibited from residence in Moscow, lived in exile in Tarusa
    1974 Administrator of the Solzhenitsyn Fund for Aid to Political Prisoners
    1976 May 12 Co-founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG)
    1977 Arrested, along with other members of the MHG
      Aleksandr Ginzburg Defence Committee is established in the U.S.
    1978 July 13 Tried in Kaluga and sentenced to an eight-year strict regime camp term, which he served in the Dubrovlag system in Mordovia
    1979 Released and exchanged, along with three other political prisoners, for Soviet spies in the United States
    1979-1980 Lectured at universities in the United States
      Family joined him in the United States
    1980 Moved to France
    1982-probably 1988 Head of the Russian Cultural Center in Montgeron
    1988-1997 Columnist, Russkaia mysl' newspaper
    2002 Died in Paris, France

    Scope and Content Note

    The documents in the Aleksandr Ginzburg papers portray him as a fighter for freedom and human rights, a person of culture and integrity. They also show how Aleksandr Ginzburg was persecuted by Soviet authorities and how he was finally sent into exile abroad. His wife, Arina (Irina) Ginzburg, provided documents with extensive comments and explanations, which complement Ginzburg's papers.
    The Biographical file documents three imprisonments of Aleksandr Ginzburg, his exile, and rehabilitation. Ginzburg was first arrested in 1960 for his attempt to publish an uncensored magazine, Sintaksis , which included works of writers unacceptable to official publishers. The trial materials, including a letter from the prominent writer IUriĬ Olesha confiscated during Ginzburg's arrest, were returned to the family in the 1990s. Trial documents allow researchers to understand the "rule of law" in the Soviet Union. Arina Ginzburg, along with their friend Vera Lashkova, attended Ginzburg's third trial in the city of Kaluga and made notes about it; their account is included in the Biographical file. At the time of that trial, friends and family were waiting outside the court building; they were secretly photographed by another friend, Viktor Timachev (see the Photographs). Also most informative is Arina's logbook (also in Electronic documents), in which she meticulously listed the contents of her letters to her husband and other prisoners in the Pot'ma camp and their responses, food purchased for camp visits, and other events in her life.
    Aleksandr Ginzburg's fight for human rights and his three imprisonments brought wide attention abroad. The Alexander Ginzburg Defense Committee petitioned the Soviet and United States governments and organized demonstrations fighting for his release, which are documented in the Biographical file. Of special interest in the Biographical file are materials relating to the dismissal of Aleksandr and Arina from Russkaia mysl' by chief editor Irina IlovaĬskaia-Alberti, including their comprehensive account of the dismissal and many letters from public figures in Russia protesting it.
    Correspondence includes letters addressed to Arina and Aleksandr Ginzburg from many dissidents and prominent public figures, including AndreĬ Sakharov, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Natal'ia Solzhenitsyna, Vladimir BukovskiĬ, Natal'ia Gorbanevskaia, to name just a few, and letters they received as Russkaia mysl' newspaper employees (these are mostly letters from writers and other intellectuals).
    Speeches and writings includes excerpts from Aleksandr Ginzburg's unfinished memoirs, his essays about AndreĬ Sakharov and the writer Bulat Okudzhava, and his interviews by Raisa Orlova, Annie Tchernychev, SergeĬ Kovalev, and others.
    "Zeks," a play by Maria Rasa, in the Writings by others, was based on a real incident that happened to Aleksandr Ginzburg in the forced labor camp in Mordovia. The play was staged at the Theater for the New City, directed by Jonas JuraŠaŠ. Photographic prints depicting Aleksandr Ginzburg with the director and actors after the performance, included in the same folder, supplement the script.
    Also included in the Writings by others is a holograph Samizdat book with several poems by Igor Severianin copied by Aleksandr Ginzburg; the hand-made book traveled with him to prisons and camps. Unpublished recollections of Filip Makhonin about his meetings with the prominent writer Viktor Nekrasov are accompanied by photographs and Makhonin's illustrations to Nekrasov's book V okopakh Stalingrada.
    In the Subject file researchers will find clippings and documents that bring to light dissident activities. Particularly illustrative material is contained in the Dronnikov-Konovalov sets of portrait sketches depicting Ginzburg and the writers Vladimir Maksimov, AndreĬ SiniavskiĬ, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In 1973-1974 Solzhenitsyn established a Fund for Aid to Political Prisoners and Their Families (later called the Solzhenitsyn Fund), and Aleksandr Ginzburg became its first administrator. Also in the Subject file are materials relating to the war in Chechnia, which Aleksandr Ginzburg followed closely.
    A reprint in Grani of the previously mentioned Sintaksis, magazine and a tiny edition (to be smuggled into the Soviet Union) of Solzhenitsyn's Arkhipelag Gulag are worth mentioning among other interesting publications in the Printed matter.
    Materials relating to the establishment of the Russkaia mysl' Moscow Bureau, especially letters in support of publication and distribution of the newspaper in Russia from Elena Bonner, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the politician Galina Starovoitova, and others, are among the most interesting documents in the Russkaia mysl' file.
    Hundreds of photographic prints in the Photographs series present a comprehensive picture of the life of dissidents in the 1970s and 1980s, their gatherings, and travels to prisons, camps, and exile. On the reverse of some photogaphs are letters to Aleksandr Ginzburg in prison from his wife and his mother Liudmila. Several unique photographs depict Solzhenitsyn's apartment after his family left the Soviet Union and his car donated to the Solzhenitsyn Fund. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Ginzburg's home in Paris attracted visitors from Russia; many photographs depict Aleksandr and Arina Ginzburg with writers, singers, actors, film and stage directors, and political figures.
    The most important among the Electronic documents are Aleksandr and Arina Ginzburg's correspondence during his imprisonments and the previously mentioned logbook of Arina Ginzburg, which was confiscated during his arrest. It was returned to Arina in the 1990s, with a page from the trial file given to Arina by mistake. The page contained KGB notes with secret (coded) names for Ginzburg, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Natal'ia Solzhenitsyna, and others. These documents were scanned by the Ginzburg family, who retain the originals.
    Among the Sound and video recordings one compact sound cassette contains a recording of IUliĬ Daniel reading poetry written by another prisoner, Kurt Skujenieks, which Ginzburg managed to record in the camp and smuggle abroad; later the recording was aired by Radio Liberty to the great surprise of KGB officials. The Sound and video recordings include 429 compact audio cassettes and 18 videotape cassettes. 130 audio cassettes contain the Ginzburg McGoff lecture series, recorded telephone conversations of Aleksandr Ginzburg with his Moscow correspondents, interviews of cultural and political figures, news from all over the world, etc. These tapes were a source of information for Ginzburg's "News from the Motherland" weekly column in Russkaia mysl'. Four cassettes (nos. 26, 30, 35, and 46) have not been delivered to the Hoover Archives. One compact cassette (no. 31) has not been described. (Arina Ginzburg compiled a list of the cassettes, with detailed descriptions of their content.) Another 299 audiocassettes record uncensored Soviet/Russian underground poetry and songs; among the authors are Joseph Brodsky, Aleksandr Galich, Bulat Okudzhava, IUliĬ Kim, Vladimir Vysotsky, and many others.
    A U.S. one-dollar bill was signed for Ginzburg by G. William Miller, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, on board a Concord plane to New York. The bill can be found among other Memorabilia.
    Oversize material, along with many awards to Ginzburg and prison rules, includes a remarkable print given to Arina Ginzburg during her vacation on the Black Sea coast while Ginzburg was in prison by a group of young men who lived nearby. The painting depicts a mother with two sons surrounded by listening ears and watching eyes hidden everywhere. It turned out later that these men were KGB people spying on Arina, and the painting was to remind her that she was under constant surveillance.