Five memory institutes from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine submitted a joint appeal to UNESCO to add birch bark letters sent from Siberian prison camps to its Memory of the World (MoW) Register.
The application deals with 148 items, including the birch bark letters and other personal documents created by political prisoners or deportees between 1940-1965. Approximately 1.5 million people were deported to Siberia or Kazakhstan from the five countries by the Soviet authorities.Birch bark was often the only material that could be used to write letters at places of deportation as paper was often denied to prisoners. The letters document people’s lives under the Soviet regime. The artifacts are stored across 31 memory institutions and in Estonia they are kept at Vabamu and in the Estonian History Museum.