Official silence relating to difficult pasts in Polish History inspired the Eastern Archive to launch five annual nationwide competitions between 1989 and 1993 in order to encourage eyewitnesses to record their memoirs and turn over to the archive any other private materials they were able to preserve during the years since the outbreak of World War Two. The response to the competitions was enthusiastic and the archive catalogued thousands of files--a testament to the success of this public initiative. Moreover, the archive engaged in an active exchange program with other archives--especially those from outside Poland--that held materials relating to these territories during the period from the 1939 Soviet occupation and beyond. The collections include written and audio recordings, photographs, drawings, maps, and personal and official documents. Most of the materials are memoirs composed during or after the Communist period, but the collections also include correspondence and dozens of diaries written during the Soviet and Nazi occupations, deportations, internments, and eventual repatriations. The Eastern Archive will be of special value to historians of modern Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia; it contains personal materials from the 1930s to the 1950s from a wide range of memoirists and diarists. The files provide poignant and often eloquent testimony to the everyday lives of people caught between two dictatorships and the possibilities of resistance and opposition.