The Archive was founded in 2005 by the American industrialist and philanthropist Len Blavatnik to reflect his commitment to cultural heritage and expand his support for primary source–based scholarship and education.
The Blavatnik Archive is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to preserving and disseminating materials that contribute to the study of 20th-century Jewish and world history, with a special emphasis on World War I, World War II, and Soviet Russia.
The collection began with the 2005 acquisition of 10,000 Judaica-themed postcards—images and messages from places and people that are now long gone. After the initial acquisition, the Archive has substantially expanded the thematic scope of its holdings. One topic that has become a major focus area for the Archive is the role and experience of Russian Jewish soldiers in the Second World War. In order to add their stories to the more familiar narratives about the Jewish experience of the war and the Holocaust, the Blavatnik Archive launched a long-term project to record the testimonies of veterans who had fought in the Soviet armed forces and partisan detachments. Between 2006 and 2014, nearly 1,200 veterans were visited in 78 cities across 11 countries, over 1,500 hours of video testimonies were recorded, and more than 11,700 ephemera artifacts digitized, including photographs, documents, letters, and diary pages.
Today, the Archive’s Veteran Testimonies & Ephemera project is the largest collection of materials dealing with the experience of Jewish soldiers in the Soviet armed forces during World War II. The collections continue to grow and evolve. Major additions were made with the 2014 acquisitions of 52,000 World War I postcards; 22,000 National Socialist Party ephemera; 5,000 World War II ephemera; and 1,300 Leningrad Siege postcards. In 2021, a Judaica and Holocaust collection with more than 5,500 items was aquired.
Blavatnik Archive website