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Eternal Memory: Voices from the Great Terror (1997)

This award-winning historical documentary examines the Stalinist purges and terror in the former Soviet Union during the 1930s and 1940s when an estimated twenty-million people lost their lives - some in labor camps, others starved in state-induced family, and many others executed for "crimes against the state". Their bodies still lie hidden in mass graves. Only since the breakup of the Soviet Union have people been able to search for these graves, exhume the remains and give them a proper burial.


The 1917 Bolshevik (or Communist) Revolution laid the foundation for the later collectivization and subjugation of the peasant classes, along with the systematic quota-driven elimination of those who where perceived to be a threat to Stalin's policies. This film contains many survivor and eyewitness accounts of the resulting torture, executions, and mass burials. The film ends with current efforts to document the atrocities and the slow process of bringing the guilty to justice.

Focusing on the Ukraine, the film incorporates historical footage, interviews with witnesses and survivors, public officials, and historians, including Robert Conquest of Stanford University and author of "The Great Terror," former U.S. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Roman Szporluk of Harvard University.

Eternal Memory: Voices from the Great Terror (1997)

  • Duration: 81 minutes

    Directed by David Pultz

    Narrated by Meryl Streep

  • Where to Rent/Buy

  • Awards

    • SILVER APPLE AWARD, National Educational Media Network
  • Critic Reviews

    "Addresses a difficult subject matter....with a visual and stylistic grace that transcends assumptions about the mediums of both documentary and human rights filmmaking." 

    — Adriana Leshko, THE UKRAINIAN WEEKLY 


    "Gr 10 Up - After the breakup of the Soviet Union in the last decade, historians feasted on the opportunity to learn more about the internal record of Russia's past. While the world had limited knowledge of the Stalinist purges from the 1930's until his death following World War II, no details were available until the government records could be examined. This program goes one step further as survivors and eyewitnesses share their stories of the manner in which the Communist government exterminated an estimated 20 million of their own citizens in order to establish its power. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this moving account brings a human face to the horror by interspersing interviews with archival footage primarily spotlighting the slaughter of citizens of the Ukraine. English subtitles accompany the moving reminiscences of the elderly who outlived the oppressive government as they share vivid memories of their losses. Historians and former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski help viewers place the atrocities into both historical and contemporary perspectives. The producers, utilizing expert videography, take us to several of the most notorious locations of labor camp and other sites utilized by the Communists... A compelling, stirring, and educational addition to most collections."

    —Dwain Thomas, Lake Park High School, SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

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