Ego documents

Ego documents are materials such as autobiographies, diaries or letters in which the self-perception and representation of historical subjects in their environment is expressed. Within the framework of the Specialized Information Service (FID) for Russian, East and Southeast European Studies, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek makes previously unpublished ego documents related to Eastern or Southeastern Europe available online. These can be searched via osmikonSEARCH and the OPACplus/BSB catalogue. A specially designed platform also offers user-friendly access to all ego documents digitised by the FID so far.

Ego documents and estates on and from Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe


Searching for ego documents

Using osmikonSEARCH you can find a variety of published ego documents from library collections. You can search for a particular document very effectively using the keyword "Erlebnisbericht" and refining your search by selecting another facet (language, subject, year).

Search example with the search terms "Erlebnisbericht + Russland"

In the Index of Microforms on History at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Verzeichnis der Mikroformen zur Geschichte in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, VMG-BSB) you will find numerous microfilmed ego documents from Eastern European archives, such as:

  • The Long Road Home: Documents of Ukrainian Forced Labor Workers in Soviet Filtration Camps in Germany. [Fond R-5597.] 180 film rolls | State Archive of the Kiev Oblast' (GAKO)
  • Voice of the People under Soviet Rule. [Materials from individuals and families.] 90 film rolls | Documentation Center "Narodnyi arhiv" (Moscow)
  • Russia through the Eyes of Foreigners. Travel and Personal Accounts from the 16th Century to the October Revolution 1917. 2,179 microfiches | National Library of Russia (Saint Petersburg)

The microfilmed archive materials are searchable via the OPACplus/BSB catalogue and can be ordered by interlibrary loan to the reading room of your home library.

Tip: Use the keyword index for your research (subject/heading "Erinnerungen")! 

Bayerische Staatsbibliothek | Verzeichnis der Mikroformen zur Geschichte in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek

Keyword index to the Verzeichnis der Mikroformen zur Geschichte in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek

The Specialised Information Service for Russian, East and Southeast European Studies has licensed the following source collections with ego documents:

  • Chronicles of Terror 39-45 (Pilecki Institute) – the online database of the Pilecki Institute contains testimonies of Polish citizens who were victims of the German and Soviet wartime occupation between 1939 and 1945.   
  • Croatian Memories: Unveiling Personal Memories on War and Detention – the database contains more than 1,000 oral history interviews with survivors of the Second World War as well the Croatian War of Independence. The focus is on women, ethnical minorities and victims' relatives. 
  • Memoirs of Russian, East European, and Eurasian Women – the collection is curated by the Slavic Reference Service. It contains digitized (pre-copyright) memoirs of women from these regions, which were published in collected works, journals, and books. It is open to researchers from around the world. 
  • Paměť národa – the database contains more than 7,000 oral history interviews with contemporary witnesses who lived under the totalitarian rule of National Socialism and Communism. The focus is on the Czech Republic.  
  • PamMap – this portal contains over 60,000 place and person-related digital records in the form of photos, postcards and written ego documents of all kinds relating to the history of Bratislava and Slovakia.
  • Polskie Archiwum Filmów Domowych – a project to collect and digitise private films that provide special insights into the history of Poland after 1945 through visualised family stories.  
  • Prožito – this database contains over 450,000 daily entries from over 4,000 diaries by over 1,700 authors in Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian from the years 1802-2006.
  • Soviet Survivors of Nazi Occupation. The first testimonies – the website features some of the earliest testimonies of Soviet survivors of Nazi occupation recorded by Moscow historians from 1942 to the end of the war. 
  • Testifying to the Truth – this project of the Wiener Holocaust Library contains more than 1,000 reports of eyewitnesses of National Socialist persecution and includes the following aspects of the Holocaust: children and young people, resistance, persecution of non-Jews, the November pogrom, perpetrators, Theresienstadt, gender-specific experiences, forced migration.
  • Transformation of Civil Society: Oral History of Ukrainan Village Culture of the 1920-30s – the collection offers oral history interviews with 126 villagers, who witnessed rural life before and after the collectivization and during the Holodomor.

Ego documents in research and teaching

If you are interested in using ego documents in research and teaching, we will be happy to support you.

Your contact person: 

Dr Katarzyna Adamczak

Email: katarzyna.adamczak(at)


Publishing ego documents

You would like to publish first-person documents that are of interest for research on Eastern and South Eastern Europe? Find out more from us!

Publishing ego documents 


Online workshop "Ego documents as a historical source"

On 17.05.2021 a workshop on first-person documents took place, organised by the Specialized Information Service for Russian, East and Southeast European Studies. Students from LMU Munich were also involved in the event.

Presentation in German:
Ego-Dokumente als historische Quelle (pdf)