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Irina Scherbakowa

Irina Scherbakowa
Irina Scherbakowa | © Maik Schuck

The historian Irina Shcherbakova, who was born in Moscow in 1949, is also a journalist and translator. In the late 1970s, she began compiling taped interviews of victims of Stalinism and since 1991 has been researching the archives of the KGB. Irina Shcherbakova was a founding member of Memorial in 1988, the first independent, civil society organisation in the Soviet Union. Memorial is committed to shedding light on Soviet repression and the protection of human rights in Russia today. In October 2016, Memorial was placed on the list of “foreign agents” by the Russian Ministry of Justice. Irina Shcherbakova is the director of youth and education programmes, coordinates oral history projects as well as the yearly, nationwide student competition “People in History: Twentieth Century Russia.” As an author and editor, Irina Shcherbakova has published numerous books on Stalinism and remembrance culture, many of which have been published in German. Most recently, her book Der Russland-Reflex. Einsichten in eine Beziehungskrise (2015), written in collaboration with the German historian of Eastern Europe, Karl Schlögel, received great attention. Marianne Birthler, former Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records, praised Irina Shcherbakova’s dedication in her laudatory speech, stating, “She has chosen the perhaps most difficult and most important task that needs to be accomplished on a society’s pathway to freedom. She puts into words what was concealed and is still kept hidden. She helps us to distinguish between experience and myth, truthfulness and lies, facts and legends. She stands by those who are looking for words to express their buried memories and their suffering; is close to them as they re-live it once again and acts respectfully and gratefully towards what she hears.”