Today, on 29 January 2019, International Historical, Educational, Charitable and Human Rights Society “Memorial” celebrates the 30th anniversary of its founding. Since 1989, the organisation has made an essential contribution to developing public awareness based on democratic values and overcoming totalitarian stereotypes, to revealing historical truth and preserving the memory of the victims of political repression, as well as to defending human rights. Currently, over fifty “Memorial” organisations in Russia, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy and the Czech Republic promote civil society and the rule of law to preclude possible return of totalitarianism.
Extensive archive of various documents, letters of former political prisoners and hundreds of previously unpublished memoirs describing the scourges of terror is often considered one of the major achievements of “Memorial”. Public accessibility of these collections embodies the fundamental principle of the organisation that is to prevent the revival and imposition of black and white vision of history, and thereby to promote public awareness of its complexity and diversity. The engagement of “Memorial” with modern society, however, is equally important, as this is the work that helps to foster civic participation, responsibility and a greater recognition of the importance of the past. Once having become the very first officially registered public organisation, “Memorial” continues its hard and meaningful work, despite today’s difficult conditions for human rights defenders.