US-Russia Archival Conference April 2004 - Overview

U.S. - Russia Archival Conference was held at the National Archives II (NARA) in College Park, Maryland, 13-15 April 2004. ORganizaed by JCSD/DPMO, the ten-person Russian delegation was headed by Colonel Sergey Ilyenkov, Chief of the Archival Service of the GEneral Staff of the Ministry of Defense of Russia. The welcome was given by DPMO Director DASD Jerry D. Jennings and Dr. Michael Kurtz, a senior official at NARA.

On Tuesday, Danz Blasser, Senior Analyst of the Korean War Working Group gave a presentation showing how documents identified through research at the Central Archives of the Ministry of Defense at Podolsk near Moscow have been correlated with official U.S. records to help clarify the fate of 262 servicemen. Colonel Ilyenkov reviewed the work done by American researchers at the Podolsk archives since 1997: hundreds of files reviewed representing tens of thousands of pages and more than 15,000 pages copied and delivered to the U.S. Side for analysis. Efforts are underway to declassify selected Korean and Vietnam War documents of interest. Colonnel Sergey Chuvashin, Chief of the Podolsk archives, described the archives' holdings which begin on June 22 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Chuvashin noted that, unlike in the U.S., there is no automatic declassification of secret dosuments in Russia, although they can be reviewed for declassificiation after 25 years, except for personal information and intelligence sources and methods, which can be protected for 75 years, the same as in the U.S. Dr. Jim Connell of JCSD, long-time chief of the Moscow office of the U.S. - Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs, reviewed the work of the Commission.

On Wednesday, Laura Kimberly snd Donald McIlwain of NARA and Colonel Ilyenkov discussed the procedures for declassifying documents in Russia and the U.S. Colonel Ilyenkov said that, except for Korean and Vietnam War documents provided to the Joint Commission, the Russians were declassifying documents chronologically beginning with World War II. There was also considerable discussion of a growing move to reclassify once declassified documents, both in the U.S. and Russia. Dr. Tim Nenninger of NARA and Colonel Chuvashin discussed how their respective countries address requests from veterans for information on their military service, often to document elegibility for financial and other benefits.

On Thursday, NARA specialists Dr. Sharon Thobodau, Brenda Kepley, Robert Richardson and Jeannine Swift made presentations on finding guides which help lead researchers to the information they need and on the impact of modern technology on archival operations. Irin Pushkareva of the Podolsk archives discussed the inventory lists used at Podolsk as finding guides.

In addition to Colonels Ilyenkov and Chuvashin, the Chief of the Central Archives of the Russian Navy, the Chief of the Border Guards Archives, the Chief of the Military Medical Museum archives, and the Chief of the Ministry of Interanl Affairs Archives (GULag and prison records), participated in the Conference along with other Russian archival specialists and historians. Also attending the conference were analysts of the Joint Commission Support Directorate in Washinton, representatives of family groups, specialists from academic institutions and Non-governmental organizations, and Army and Navy historians. JCSD Director Norm Kass served as conference moderator.

Courtesy DPMO April 2004

"NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense
No. 311-04
Apr 12, 2004

U.S. POW/MIA Office Hosts Russian Archivists

The Department of Defense announced today that the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office will this week host a historic meeting between key Russian and U.S. archivists examining the issue of American POWs and MIAs at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) at 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, Md.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs Jerry D. Jennings, invited the Russians in 2003 to discuss technical areas important to the effort to locate materials in the Russian archives about unaccounted-for American servicemen. He is also acting American chairman of the U.S.-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs.

The three-day conference begins Tuesday and will feature presentations by Jennings as well as by the Archivist of the United States Gov. John W. Carlin. Additionally, NARA experts in the preservation, handling, storage and release of historical materials will lead discussions with their Russian counterparts.

A delegation of ten Russians is expected to attend, including Chief of Archival Services of the General Staff, Col. Sergei A. Ilyenkov, and Col. Vladimir V. Kozin of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Other Russian attendees will represent the Ministry of Defense; the Central Archives of the Navy; the Military Medical Museum and Archives; and the Archives of the Border Guards. U.S. archivists representing governmental and private collections also are expected to attend.

The conference will examine issues of declassification of military and political documents; technical aids to improve the operation of a modern archive; Korean and Vietnam War documents held in Russian archives; and other issues of importance to the American effort to account for missing U.S. servicemen.

A small team of U.S. POW/MIA specialists working full time in Moscow recovers documents from Russian archives and conducts other research across the country to clarify the fate of Americans still missing from several conflicts, to include World War II, the Korean and Cold Wars and the Vietnam War.

Media are welcome to attend. Additional information about the schedule of the archival conference may be found under "Upcoming Events" on the DPMO web site at: []"