In 1924, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan was established within the Soviet Union. Uzbekistan served as one of the USSR’s main evacuation hubs during the war. On 31 August 1991, Uzbekistan declared independence.
On the eve of the German invasion, the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic had an estimated total population of 6 million people. About 100,000 of them were Jews, about half of whom were Bukharan and the other half Ashkenazi. Bukharan Jews were part of the indigenous populations of Central Asia, while the Ashkenazi Jews arrived and settled in the region following Russian colonization towards the end of the 19th century. During the war, several hundred thousand Jews arrived in the socialist republic as refugees or exiles. Most of those left when the war ended.
The agency “UzArchive” is affiliated with the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan. UzArchive administers and coordinates of the central and regional archival matters. In order to access to archives in Uzbekistan foreign nationals should submit an application to an Uzbek embassy or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The application must include the purpose and the theme of the study as well a list of all archives applicant is interested in. This process may take a few months, so planning in advance is required. Only after receiving written permission from the Uzbek authorities is it possible to make arrangements to visit specific archives. The permission is valid for one calendar year. There are no archival guides online as of yet and only a handful of physical copies available.
EHRI has identified approximately twenty archival institutions in Uzbekistan which hold Holocaust and evacuation related material. Four of them are located in the republic’s capital Tashkent. The Central State Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Tashkent is among the most relevant archives for Holocaust research in Uzbekistan. Its collections cover a fond on the evacuation authority and personal registration evacuation cards and various files dealing with the Polish government-in-exile. Similar files of a more local provenance are conserved by the regional archives in Samarkand, Bukhara and Ferghana.
Outside of Uzbekistan, EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections relevant for research on Uzbekistan.
A. EHRI approach to Uzbekistan: Pre-existing research, available archival guides and expert support
For a general overview of the archives in Uzbekistan, which is available in Uzbek and Russian, see:
Contacts to regional archives can be found here:
B. Characteristics of the Uzbek archival system and specific challenges
Most of the central and regional Uzbek archives were founded during the pre-war Soviet period. Thus many of them are based on the Soviet system of cataloging and most of the inventory files are written in Russian while new forms use only Uzbek. There are also other archival institutions established or restructured after Uzbekistan’s independence. The former Archive of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan was reformed as a Presidential Archive and it holds a large number of decrees related to the evacuation and war efforts. However, it is closed to researchers. As a result of regime changes and administrative reforms, some archival institutions in Uzbekistan have been renamed, which may cause some initial confusion among researchers.
C. EHRI identification and description results on Uzbekistan
C.I. In Uzbekistan
In Uzbekistan, EHRI identified approximately twenty archival institutions which hold or may hold Holocaust-relevant material. Four of the most important of them are concentrated in the country’s capital, Tashkent. The Central State Archive alone stores about 4,000 fonds, and regional archives of Bukhara and Samarkand hold a similarly impressive number of collections. Given the scale of mass evacuation and escape to Uzbekistan during the Second World War, many Holocaust-relevant collections are either known to be stored or can be expected to be found in the country’s archives.
C.II. In other countries
Outside of Uzbekistan, EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections that may prove relevant to Holocaust research on Uzbekistan. For instance, the State Archives of the Russian Federation and the Russian State Archives of Socio-Political History (former Central Communist Party Archive) in Moscow hold records and circulars sent to various Socialist Republics and have a big fonds on evacuation. In Israel, Yad Vashem holds some documentation from archives in Uzbekistan from 1930 to 1960, as does the Archives of the History of the Jewish people in Jerusalem. Furthermore, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum stores selected records from the Central State Archive of Uzbekistan including a catalogue of thousands of refugee cards.