The present volume opens the cycle of the reference edition entitled The Summary Catalogue of the Cultural Valuables Stolen and Lost During the Second World War. For the first time during the fifty-three years that have passed since the end of the Second World War the Catalogue attempts to bring together all the losses of Russia's museums. In December 1992, the State Commission for the Restitution of Cultural Heritage was founded by the Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation. At their first meeting its members took a decision to consider the work on the complete Catalogue of Russia's cultural relics lost during the Second World War as the task of first priority. At that time, six years ago, not many people were aware how difficult that task might be. Paradoxically, until then no serious efforts had been made to achieve this aim during the post-war period. The team of experts working at the Ministry of Culture had to deal with the documents that were chaotically piled up and scattered about the archives of various ministries and departments.
   The first to be studied were the Archives of the Special State Commission for Investigating the Crimes of the Nazi Invaders. The Commission had done a tremendous work trying to estimate the scale of damages caused by the enemy, still it failed to find out which objects of art had been taken out of the Soviet Union, which of them had been destroyed on the spot or badly damaged by bombardments, fires and war havoc. Besides, the Commission managed to estimate only the losses of the sixty-four most important museums of the USSR out of the 427 Soviet museums that had suffered great losses. In all, 173 museums on Russia's territory suffered losses as a result of the Nazi occupation. One hundred of them had been altogether wiped off the face of the earth.
   According to the data provided by the Commis sion the number of movable monuments of culture amounted to many hundred thousand items. Considering the circumstances of war havoc and the superhuman efforts made to defeat the enemy, we must admit that the Commission members had done all they could. The lack of systematized, precise and well grounded data on the losses may be easily explained: the Hitlerites pedantically took out of the country or destroyed the inventories, catalogues and registration documents that belonged to the palace ensembles, libraries, museums and other institutions of culture when they ruined them.
   The transferral of Russia's cultural relics from the country was organized to the well thought-out plan, on a large scale and with a purely German thoroughness. Even under the circumstances of war they spared neither means of transportation nor labour force to take the confiscated values out of the country and to safely deliver them to the Reich where they were supposed to have been carefully hidden. The objects of art were hidden in special depositories, in the mines or kept in the mansions of the Nazi. The works of art that did not conform to the "refined" tastes of the Nazi leaders were ruthlessly destroyed.
   In the post-war time some of the stolen cultural valuables had been discovered as a result of the search undertaken on the German territory occupied by the Soviet Army. Some of them had been returned from the American occupation zone. After that the Soviet officials practically stopped the purposefu and insistent search for Russia's lost valuables. Moreover, in the process of an unprecedented large-scale return of the captured cultural relics to the former GDR that took place from 1955 till 1960, some steps were taken to write off the museum property lost during the war. We must admit that up to now some of the important Russian museums do not possess complete information on the amount of their war losses.
   During the post-war years the archive documents on the subject were classified as secret. They were neither studied nor systematized and open only to a few archives staff members.
   In order to recreate the picture of Russia's cultural losses in the past war a new large-scale search of the archives was required. Investigation was carried out in the fourteen federal and departmental archives. Among the captured German documents they discovered, studied and systematized the files of the so-called "Rosenberg's Stra-tegica Headquarters" which was involved in the purposeful plunder of cultural monuments on the occupied Soviet territories. Of great help were the archives of the German scholar Georg Stein who dedicated many years of his life to the search of the Amber Room and some other captured art treasures. Unfortunately the work was interrupted by the scholar's tragic death.
   The compilers of this Catalogue were extremely careful when selecting data for publication. They rejected all dubious facts, all that might have been questioned by other scholars. Their task was to estimate the exact amount of art treasures that were sent back to Russia from the occupied Germany during the post-war period. Under the circumstances of the post-war confusion not all of the cultural valuables reached their homes as was the case with the Pskov icons listed as lost but in reality sent to the wrong museums on their return to Russia. Therefore, thoughtful and accurate work was required to analyze all the facts like this. The researchers had to collect information from the Soviet museums bit by bit, selecting, as it were, the grains of real facts from among the weeds of dubious documents.
   The documents that have been carefully selected for publication reveal the picture that far surpasses the expected scale of losses and does not agree with the data that had been published in the previous years. After the fifty years of work the true situation has been finally brought to light. We shall give here only one example. During the years of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) more than one hundred provincial museums suffered great losses. In spite of their status of museums of local lore, history and economy they possessed real art treasures, such as rare icons, masterpieces of Western-European painting, precious archaeologica rarities, among them Scythian gold, numismatic collections, objects of applied art. Even today we don't have a list of the lost objects as the museum inventories have been either destroyed or taken out of the country. A whole stratum of Russian national culture has disappeared forever without leaving a trace. This stratum is an irretrievable loss, there is no way to restore it or even to publish the data on the lost objects in the form of an unsophisticated list, not to mention a catalogue.
   TThe Great Patriotic War still echoes not only with the pain of Russia's losses but also with controversies on the cultural valuables that belonged to foreign countries and have been brought to the former Soviet Union after the war. It is essential to take the right decision on their destiny, not trying to pretend that this problem does not exist, to ignore it as the government of the former USSR continuously did. It is senseless and unwise to continue keeping them in museum funds and special depositories.
   TThe West and, especially, Germany prefers to keep silence about Russia's cultural losses, nevertheless everybody is interested in finding out how many German paintings, drawings, engravings, sculptures and objects of decorative art, archaeological finds and collections of books still remain in Russia and what museums house them. Enormous amounts of art treasures were brought forward, as if the lagre-scale restitution of the 1950s and 1960s had not been accomplished and numerous works of art had not been sent to Germany "as a gift for the German people". They also seem unwilling to acknowledge that only a small part of the lost works of art found its way back to Russia. They would not'acknowledge our rights of compensation for the irreplaceable losses.
   The similar catalogues are published in European countries with the aim to make the international community admit the very fact of plunder and destruction of their works of art. With the help of such catalogues numerous objects of art that got lost may be discovered and given back to rightful owner.
   We share the opinion that without a complete list of Russia's losses it is impossible to solve the problem of the search for and restitution of what has got lost during the years of the Hitlerite evil-doing. Without a catalogue it is impossible to discuss the problems of restitution on just and civilized grounds. At the same time such catalogues may help to solve one more problem. They call for international co-operation, mutual understanding and respect whenever controversies connected with restitution arise between the two countries.
   We sincerely hope that the Catalogue the publication of which is begun by the present volume will fulfil these two noble tasks. The project titled The Summary Catalogue is being realized by the editorial board headed by Deputy Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation P. V. Khoroshilov and Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage at the Ministry of Culture A. I. Vilkov. The editorial work could not have been completed without the thorough research conducted by the team of expert archivists, museum curators and voluntary assistants. This team was initially headed by Deputy Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage N. I. Ni-kandrov. Their conscientiousness, enthusiasm and devotion to their work guaranteed success of the whole project. Among them are senior researcher of the Institute of Russian History M. S. Zynich, expert at the State Duma E. S. Kuzmina, Dean of the Institute of Culture A. M. Mazuritsky, Head of the Kaliningrad Centre co-ordinating the search for cultural relics A. A. Ovsyanov, and the journalists S. V. Kuzakov and T. N. Ignatovich. Andrei Nikitin, who had finished the study of the captured files of "Rosenberg's Headquarters", passed away in the prime of life.
   Scheduled for publication are volumes dedicated to the losses of Soviet archives as well as of Smolensk, Novgorod, Pskov, and Peterhof. The lists of lost objects from the museum collections of Tver, Kursk, Orel, Kaluga, Stavropol, Krasnodar, Volgograd, Voronezh, Rostov-on-Don and other cities that suffered losses as a result of German aggression are being made still more precise.
   It is our hope that the present Catalogue will be duely appreciated and accepted, first of all in Germany, with respect and understanding. We suppose that our Catalogue will attract attention of experts in art history, museum researchers and curators. We expect that the Catalogue may be used as a reference book for art dealers and owners of auctions, specializing in Russian art. We shall make every effort to provide information on Russia's cultural losses so that it may be integrated into the world data bases. We believe that our Catalogue will awake interest of our compatriots who are not indifferent to the destiny of Russia's cultural heritage.

Editorial board