In 1918, Armenia briefly became independent, first as part of the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic, then by itself. After the Red Army defeated its forces, it became part of the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic founded in 1921, which was made up of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. In 1936, the TSFSR was dissolved and Armenia emerged as an Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic. During the war, Armenian territories were not occupied. Due to a long shared border with a potentially hostile Turkey, Armenia did not serve as one of the USSR’s main evacuation hubs. On 23 September 1991, Armenia declared independence.
On the eve of the German invasion, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia had an estimated total population of 1.3 million people. About 500 of them were Jews. Most of them were Ashkenazi Jews who began arriving and settling in the region before 1917. During the war, a few thousand arrived in Armenia as evacuees or refugees. Most left Armenia when the war ended.
In 2004, the National Assembly of Armenia adopted a law of ‘’Archive keeping’’. The National Archives of Armenia became an agency of the Ministry of Culture, Youth Issues and Sports, with the status of a separate subdivision. They include the National Archives, the Department of Social-Political Documents, and the Central National Archive of Films, Photographs and Sound-Recording Documents, all of which are located in Yerevan. In order to gain access to the archives, researchers are requested to bring an official letter from their university or research institution addressed to the General Director of the National Archives of Armenia. The letter should include the title of the research topic. Written permission is given by the director of the archive and is valid for one calendar year.
EHRI Research (Summary)
EHRI has so far identified over ten archival institutions in Armenia which hold Holocaust-related material. The most important archives in Armenia for Holocaust-related research are the National Archives of Armenia. They are responsible for, among others, the Former Communist Party of Armenia archives (Department of Social-Political Documents) and are located in Yerevan. Their collections include fonds on the evacuation authority, Communist Party resolutions, and investigations. Similar files of a more local provenance can be found in the regional archives. Outside of Armenia, EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections relevant for research on Armenia, which are outlined in the EHRI Research extensive section below.
EHRI Research (Extensive)
A. EHRI approach to Armenia: Pre-existing research, available archival guides, expert support
For a general overview of the National Archives of Armenia, which is available in Armenian, Russian and English, see: http://www.armarchives.am
For a direct link to the Department of Social-Political Documents in the National Archives, see: http://www.armarchives.am/en/content/113/
This department holds the fond of the Former Communist Party of Armenia Archive. The holdings of this archive date from 1920–2003 and are in some 53,000 and 105 lists.
B. Characteristics of the Armenian archival system and specific challenges
Most Armenian archives are based on the Soviet system of cataloging and most of the inventory files are written in Armenian and Russian while new forms use Armenian only. There are also other archival institutions established or restructured after Armenian independence. Notably, the Former Archive of the Communist Party of Armenia was reorganized. This archive holds many decrees related to the evacuation and the war effort. As a result of regime changes and administrative reforms, some archival institutions in Armenia have been renamed, which may cause some initial confusion among researchers.
C. EHRI identification and description results on Armenia
C.I. In Armenia
In Armenia, EHRI has so far identified over ten archival institutions which hold or may hold Holocaust-relevant material. The most important of these are concentrated in the republic’s capital, Yerevan.
The National Archives of Armenia The National Archives are one of the leading research institutions of Armenia. The documents preserved there are a rich source for researchers interested not only in the history of Armenia, but Caucasus peoples in general. Branch of Films, Photographs and Sound-Recording Documents and Insurance Copies (National Archives) The Central National Archive of Films, Photographs and Sound-Recording Documents (CNA FPSR) was created in 1943 by the ASSR Council of Commissar’s of People. It holds many wartime films, photographs, and records.
Department of Social-Political Documents (formerly the Archive of the Central Committee) The archive was established in the early 1920s., then was reformed to be the Central Committee Armenian branch of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism attached to the all-union Communist party. The archive of the party began its activity under the supervision of the institute. With the reform of the archival system in 2003, it became a part of the National Archives of Armenia. Today it holds 398 funds and 804,883 dossiers ranging from 1855 to 2003 as well as photographic documents within some 1,300 dossiers.
Regional Archive Branches A complete list of regional archives with mail addresses and phone numbers can be found here: http://www.armarchives.am/en/content/69/
C.II. In other countries
Outside of Armenia, EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections that may prove relevant to Holocaust research on Armenia, for instance in the Central State Archive of the Russian Federation and the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (former Communist Party Archive) in Moscow hold records and circulars sent to various Socialist Republics and have some vast collections on evacuation. In Israel, Yad Vashem holds some documentation from archives in Armenia from 1930 to 1960. Furthermore, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum stores selected records from the Central State Archive of Armenia.