Uncompleted investigative files of the Soviet Estonian KGB
The collection of incomplete investigative files at the National Archives of Estonia is an extensive, though partial, set of investigative files about people who were persecuted during the Soviet period. A significant part of the collection is made up of the files of persecuted cultural figures. The cases included in this collection were still open when the KGB was liquidated in 1991.
Tartu Nooruse 3, Estonia 50411
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Name of collection
- Collection of uncompleted investigative files of the State Security Committee of the ESSR
Provenance and cultural activities
The collection of incomplete investigative files was formed as a result of the everyday work of the KGB of the Estonian SSR. It contains the investigative files of people arrested for political reasons, starting with former Estonian state officials, police officers and military commanders, as well as dissident groups. The collection also includes the files of many cultural figures and intellectuals who were accused of bourgeois nationalism and anti-Soviet tendencies. As such, it is an invaluable source of material for research into cultural opposition.
The collection of incomplete investigative files began to form as a separate collection in 1954, when the Department of Security Investigation of the KGB of the Estonian SSR was created. After a verdict was announced in political trials, the case file was registered by the Estonian KGB, and indexed in the catalogue of the Estonian KGB. Even when a person returned from a place of incarceration, his or her file with the KGB remained open until he or she was rehabilitated, granted an amnesty, or died.
The collection of incomplete investigative files (ERAF.129SM) forms an interconnected archival system with another collection described here, the completed investigative files (ERAF.130SM).
The collection contains mainly files from the 1940s and 1950s, and to a lesser extent files from the 1960s to the 1980s. The latest addition to the collection was made in 1991.
The collection was taken over from the State Security Archive in Tallinn in the autumn of 1991, and has maintained its original structure. This means that investigative files are ordered alphabetically. No reorganisation based on subjects has been made. As a result, some prior knowledge, in particular the names of people of interest, is needed when working with the material in this collection.
During the takeover of archival material from the KGB archive, part of this collection temporarily ended up in Ulyanovsk, Russia, but it was brought back to Tallinn, half a tonne of archival materials in total, in December 1991. By government decision, the collection was given to the Estonian Police Board instead of the Estonian National Archival Board, which led to objections by archivists. The collection was incorporated into the National Archives (formerly the Party Archives) in the spring of 1993. The card index did not follow until 2000.
A large part of the collection is digitised and available for registered users in the Saaga database for digitised archival sources of the National Archives of Estonia, but only in the intranet of the National Archives. Part of the collection is also digitised by the Hoover Institution.
Description of content
The collection consists of 13,170 investigative files. Some may include multiple volumes which are kept under one file number. Files under one file number usually consist of at least two separate files: a main file and a monitoring file.
The investigative or criminal files include arrest warrants, defendant questionnaires, interrogation records, search records, correspondence between the KGB and other institutions, charge summaries, trial records, and court rulings. They can also include personal letters, material considered as evidence, such as manuscripts, letters, publications (samizdat), insignia, and photographs.
An operational-informational card index of files of those arrested for political reasons is attached to the collection of completed investigative files, although the card index (62,040 cards) consists of cards about both collections, incomplete and completed investigative files. It was transferred to the National Archives in 2000.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Tammela, Mari-Leen
- Tark, Triin
Ohmann, Valdur, interview by Tammela, Mari-Leen , September 26, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection