The 28 guardsmen of the Red Army’s 316th Rifle Division, led by Major General Ivan Panfilov, presumably died battling German tanks on the outskirts of Moscow in the freezing winter of 1941-1942. The myth of Panfilov’s 28 Guardsmen, perpetuated by high-ranking government officials, serves to exemplify Soviet Russia’s supposed superiority and satisfies the Russian Federation’s need to allude to the halcyon days of the Great Patriotic War. With the opening of archives in countries of the former Soviet Union, all-union as well as republic myths, are in peril. It is critical to understand why this myth, as opposed to other more probable stories of valiant and tenacious Red Army fighters, survives.
In the summer of 2015, Director of the State Archives of the Russian Federation Sergei Mironenko debunked the “Panfilov’s 28 Guardsmen” myth. After a public rapprochement by the Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky, Mironenko was forced to comply with Minister Medinsky’s directive “to not give his own assessment on archival documents” or his position could be changed in order to more adequately reflect his preferences.
This lecture examines the archival administration system in the Russian Federation as it is expressed through this conflict. Through the use of historical and administrative elements, the Ministry of Culture’s direct exercising of its jurisdiction over the archival system (specifically over the State Archives of the Russian Federation) is investigated. The professional and personal characteristics of State Archival Director Sergei Mironenko and Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky are examined individually, followed by an explanation of the conflict between them over the veracity and publication of the highly contested “Panfilov’s 28 Guardsmen” myth.
Yiyari De La Garza, ’17