Soviet past and human stories

7 Feb, 2013

On January 31, 2013 the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) hosted a presentation of „Rethinking the Soviet Past  – Discussions 2011″, a publication prepared by the Soviet Past Research Laboratory  and „Big Soviet Terror: Human Stories”, a film made by the same organization.

The publication „Rethinking the Soviet Past – Discussions 2011″, is the collection of the textual versions of the discussions held by the Soviet Past Research Laboratory in the Goethe-Institut throughout one year. The discussions focused on the soviet past and involved a number of crucial issues – Soviet writing, cinema, architecture, post Soviet nationalism, Stalin’s repressions, deportations, banned literature, dissidents’ activities, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the policy of disclosure of personal files etc.

„Great Soviet Terror: Human Stories” tells us about the life of the people who fell victim to  Stalin-era repressions.  The film depicts the developments taking place in Georgia in 1921-1956, showing the impact of the process on various families and people.

The project aimed to promote the study of the Soviet totalitarianism for the comprehension of political, legal and moral responsibility of the Soviet heritage and therefore, create an environment encouraging free thinking and discussions in order to support democratic development.

Public discussions on rethinking the Soviet past had the following two aspects: a) educational aspect – the contributors shared their expertise and knowledge with the audience and b) discussions served as a platform for analyzing liberal values and the recent historical experience in the light of contemporary context.  A discussion platform was created, where less popular but rather important topics that still define Georgian culture, policy and everyday life were discussed and reviewed.

Moreover, apart from recording oral histories, researchers of the Soviet Past Research Laboratory collect from respondents photo materials, documents, letters, which are kept in a public archive created by the organization. In the future, the archive should turn into a unified open space through which soviet history researchers and the people interested in the topic will obtain exhaustive information about different periods, people, stories and phenomena.

The presented materials will increase public awareness and contribute to understanding their own responsibility.  This in turn will support the formation of open society and democratization of the country.

To see detailed information about the activities of the Soviet Past Research Laboratory please visit:

Most of the people in Tbilisi are unaware of those buildings where public offices relating to Stalin’s terror, repressions and soviet history of Georgia were located.  Nor do they know the location of the houses, where the people playing an important role during 70 years of the Soviet rule in Georgia lived.

The Soviet History Research Laboratory uploaded on the interactive map those thematic routes, which will introduce concrete periods or details of the Soviet history to interested people.

The events were organized in 2011 and 2012 as part of projects “Virtual Platform: Rethinking the Soviet Past” and “Regional Platform – for Rethinking the Soviet Past”.  The projects were supported by the OSGF.