The private collection, established in 2016, presents the life and work of Sevdalina Panayotova. It shows this literature teacher, theater director, public figure, and citizen daily and consistent opposition to the hypocrisy of the structures of state socialism and against the status quo. Sevdalina Panayotova, a teacher and cultural activist, was neither a well-known writer, director, nor a popular dissident, but her whole life and creativity was a rebellion against the attempt of the socialist state to impose narrow standards and norms on everyday life and thinking, a rebellion against pseudo-morals and pseudo-arts, against the principles of socialist realism in literature and theatrical art.The collection of books, scripts, photos from theatrical productions, interviews given by Sevdalina Panayotova and interviews with her, published articles, among others, shows an "ordinary" life of civil and cultural opposition. Sevdalina Panayotova pursued opposition through critical themes in literature and theater as well as through the use of innovative means of expression by resisting against imposed artistic forms. The collection highlights individual estrangement from the socialist state, the dynamics of criticism, and the risks criticism entailed for "ordinary" people. The collection shows the attempt of a "life of truth" and of repeated defiance borne out of a strong moral stance. It is also a good example of a small family collection that maintains personal memories without having a grand political agenda.
The Circle of History Students was a society for history students and lecturers at the University of Tartu during Soviet times which was officially part of the Students' Scientific Union. Although it was an official organisation, the Circle of History Students offered space for relatively free discussions between students and lecturers. It was a breeding ground for the growing protest spirit in the late 1980s. The Circle of History Students archive, which is preserved today in the National Archives of Estonia, contains various documents about its activities. Although it followed the formal rules for Soviet public speaking, these documents also display ironic and critical attitudes towards the regime, and reflect the free atmosphere for research and communication in the society.
The personal collection of Croatian philosopher and sociologist Rudi Supek contains documents and photographs that testify to Supek's intellectual activity, which had been prevented in some phases of his life. Supek was the editor of two critically-oriented Marxist journals, Pogledi and Praxis, and as one of the main protagonists of the Korčula Summer School of Philosophy, he expressed views that did not align with those promoted by the Communist authorities. Supek's disagreement with the practices of the communist regime stemmed from his understanding of the position of intellectuals in society and his stance that there is no socialism without democracy. This collection also illustrates Supek's work as one of the pioneers of the environmental movement in Yugoslavia.
The collection includes documents (archival material) stored in the archive of the "Commission for the Disclosure of Documents and Announcing Affiliation of Bulgarian Citizens with the State Security and the Intelligence Services of the Bulgarian People's Army", commonly called "Commission for Dossiers" (Comdos) in Bulgarian.
The collection documents developments among the Bulgarian intelligentsia during the communist regime through the perspective of the secret police and reveals their strategies of observation and persecution of critical intellectuals.
The Praxis and Korčula Summer School Collection includes significant books and articles by the Praxis thinkers and a complete set of all editions of the journal Praxis. It represents a first-class cultural legacy because it is the most comprehensive collection of the phenomenon, widely recognised not only in (the former) Yugoslavia but also internationally. During the socialist period, philosophers and sociologists of a predominantly Marxist orientation actively participated in the promotion of the culture of critical thought by writing for the journal, and by attending the summer school.
The archival fond Zhelyu Zhelev at the Central State Archive portrays the life and the creative and political work of Zhelyu Zhelev. Zhelev, a prominent philosopher, was one of the most well-known dissidents in Bulgaria and, in August 1990, became the first democratically elected president of Bulgaria (he was in office until 1997). The collection contains numerous materials documenting the attempts by the communist government to impose total control over intellectual and scientific activities; at the same time, it shows different forms of resistance and opposition by various individuals and groups. The collection holds essential documents, which can help us reconstruct Zhelev’s ideas and activism, including documents on the Club for Support of Openness and Reconstruction, which was among the first dissident organizations in Bulgaria.
Zoran Đinđić Library at the Zoran Đinđić Foundation
Zoran Đinđić Library at the Zoran Đinđić Foundation
This is the collection of the prominent intellectual and dissident of the SFR Yugoslavia, Zoran Đinđić. During his studies at the beginning of the 70s, Đinđić was active in a leftist oppositional student movement. After being tried for attempting to organize an alternative independent student union, he left Yugoslavia for Germany and only returned at the beginning of the 90s. After the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Đinđić was one of the most important leaders of the opposition movement during the 1990s, and between 2001 and 2003 he served as prime minister of Serbia. The collection consists of books which Đinđić accumulated from his student days up until his assassination.
The collection reflects the activity of the Romanian-German writer and journalist William Totok, persecuted by the communist authorities for the criticism towards Ceaușescu’s political regime expressed in his literary texts. The William Totok private collection comprises mainly books, literary manuscripts, drafts of academic papers, audio and video documents, and correspondence.
The Aktionsgruppe Banat Ad-hoc Collection reflects the type of cultural opposition represented by a group of Romanian-German writers, who founded together the literary circle Aktionsgruppe Banat and developed a neo-Marxist criticism of “really existing socialism.” The collection comprises two types of items: (1) manuscripts and other materials confiscated by the Securitate from these writers, (2) documents issued by the Securitate concerning their cultural activity, which the communist regime perceived as dangerous.
The Fištrović Collection of the Fran Galović Library and Reading Room in Koprivnica contains about 1,300 historical, political, economic and cultural books in English, many of which are the only copies in Croatia. The books were used by a group of Croatian intellectuals in Chicago in the 1990s to address the American public and advocate for a democratic and independent Croatia, which can be considered a final act of resistance to the Yugoslav socialist regime. The authors of some of the books are also intellectuals from the former Yugoslav republics, and their work, published in English, is evidence of their dissent against the Yugoslav system of government.
The collection includes the documents of the Danube Circle Association, which was a non-governmental organization in opposition to the government’s project to construct a River Barrage Dam near Nagymaros (Hungary) in the 1980s. The Danube Circle movement tried to prevent the construction of the dam with samizdats, public debates, and protests. The Circle was one of the new types of alternative movements, which expanded the base of the “traditional” intellectual opposition.
Ljubomir Tadić was a professor of philosophy, academic, and politically active intellectual over many decades. During the socialist period in Yugoslavia he was a prominent opposition figure and critically minded intellectual who struggled against the Yugoslav system. Ljubomir Tadić’s collection is located in the Archives of Yugoslavia in Belgrade.
Augustinas Janulaitis was a famous Lithuanian national activist, an active member of the Social Democratic Party, a lawyer and historian. In 1945, he became dean of the Faculty of History at Vilnius University, and later a member of the Academy of Sciences. The Augustinas Janulaitis collection, which is kept in the Wróblewski Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, holds various manuscripts of Janulaitis' work, and documents relating to his career and life in Soviet Lithuania. His letter to the president of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences reflects the difficult situation in 1946, when he was attacked by the Soviet authorities for bourgeois nationalism. To students, he was an example of an intellectual and a scholar of interwar independent Lithuania.
The collection documents the work of Croatian historian and political émigré Nikola Čolak (1914-1996). In 1966, he belonged to a group of academics and thinkers from Zadar, who officially sought to break the Communist Party's monopoly on truth by establishing the first journal not controlled by the Party. After the suppression of this initiative, Čolak was forced into exile in Italy. The so-called Movement of Independent Intellectuals represented the first attempt to create a formal cultural opposition circle not only in Croatia, but in Yugoslavia as a whole, which is recorded through this collection.
Collection of the Calvinist youth congregation of Pasarét
Collection of the Calvinist youth congregation of Pasarét
The collection, which is the private property of István Viczián, illustrates the history of the Calvinist youth organization of Pasarét under socialism. The collection includes letters and photographs, which provide insights into the aspirations of the group to create an active religious community in an era when such communities were a threat to and contradiction of official communist youth policy.
The Jan Patočka Archives (AJP) studies and interprets the philosophical heritage of the Czech philosopher and dissident Jan Patočka (1907-1977). AJP is led by Patočkaʼs pupils and is a unique institute working with Patočkaʼs original texts and also with the attendees of his lectures.
Ferenc Erős’s interview collection includes in-depth interviews with second-generation Holocaust survivors. This project was one of the first which seeks to revive suppressed memories of the Holocaust and the effects of the psychological strategies used to grapple with these memories and the ways in which trauma are transmitted within families.
The Memory of Nations is an extensive online collection of the memories of witnesses, which is being developed throughout Europe by individuals, organizations, schools and institutions. It preserves and makes available the collections of memories of witnesses who have agreed that their testimony should serve to explore modern history and be publicly accessible. The collection includes testimonies of communism resistance, holocaust survival, artists of alternative culture and underground and many others.
Ferenc Fejtő was an original, democratic leftist thinker. His library is a unique trace of the criticism of Eastern European rightist, authoritarianist, socialist dictatorship, and Western European leftist romanticism. Fejtő, who maintained strong connections with European intellectual elites, left Hungary for France in 1938, yet remained deeply committed to the fate of freedom-lacking Eastern Europe.
Totok, William. Projekt für eine intellektuelle Extermina...
Totok, William. Projekt für eine intellektuelle Extermination (A project for an intellectual extermination), in German, 1976-1977. Manuscript
In the period from 1975 to 1976, William Totok spent more than eight months in arrest at the Securitate for his involvement in the Aktionsgruppe Banat literary group, considered subversive by the authorities,and for his criticism of Ceaușescu’s political regime. Totok was released in June 1976 after the publication in the newspapers Frankfurter Rundschau and Le Monde of articles presenting the abuses of the communist authorities in his case. After his release, Totok drew up a manuscript of memoirs entitled Projekt für eine intellektuelle Extermination (A project for an intellectual extermination), in which he recounted his experience as political prisoner. In May 1982, the Securitate carried out a search at his domicile and at that of one of his friends, the Romanian-German writer Horst Samson. On this occasion several documents were confiscated, including one copy of the manuscript of these memoirs (ACNSAS, I 210 845, vol. 2, 265–66; Totok 2001, 107–108).
In this manuscript, Totok recounts in detail the conditions in the political prison in Timișoara, the interrogations carried out by the Securitate, and the story of a letter drawn up between the two periods of arrest (Totok was released for a short period in October 1975, only to be arrested again in November 1975). In this letter, sent by his mother to the Federal Republic of Germany after his second arrest, Totok related the dramatic events of the abusive arrest of his colleagues and himself in October 1975 and all the harassments of the secret police. Fortunately, the copy of the manuscript of this memoirs that was confiscated by the Securitate was not the only one. Totok managed to hide a copy and to smuggle it out of the country to the Federal Republic of Germany after his emigration in March 1987. In 1988, Totok published a revised and extended version of this manuscript under the title: Die Zwänge der Erinnerung: Aufzeichnungen aus Rumänien (The constraint of memory: Recollections from Romania).
The digital collection of the Oral History Center contains more than 2000 interviews with twentieth-century witnesses, which are divided into different themes and topics, thus presenting a unique collection of professionally created interviews and memories, many of which are related to the theme of cultural opposition.
The Czechoslovak Students’ Movement of the 1960s Collection (Ivan Dejmal Collection) at the Libri Prohibiti Library contains valuable sources documenting Czechoslovak students’ movement in the 1960s, and especially during the years 1968 and 1969. Materials, which were collected by the leading Czechoslovak student activist Ivan Dejmal, illustrate, among other things, students’ activities during the so-called “Prague Spring” or reactions of students’ milieu to Jan Palach’s self-immolation in 1969.
The High Consistory Collection includes mostly of documents issued by the High Consistory of the Evangelical Church of Augustan Confession of Romania in the period 1922–1990, together with the minutes of meetings of the High Consistory and documents concerning institutional communication with parishes and with the state authorities. The collection illustrates the opposition of the Evangelical Church A.C. of Romania to the policies of the communist regime in certain domains, such as religious education.
The Marian Zulean personal collection is an illustration of the fact that any act of cultural opposition is dependent on the societal context that generates it. It implicitly highlights the fundamental difference between Romania and other communist states in the last years of the period 1980–1989. The more than 400 newspapers, magazines, brochures and books, originating especially from the Soviet Union in the Gorbachev period, epitomise a reformist political discourse that had become relatively official in the rest of the Soviet bloc, but was considered dangerous by the Romanian Securitate.
Krunoslav Draganović Collection on World War II and Post-...
Krunoslav Draganović Collection on World War II and Post-war Victims
The Krunoslav Draganović Collection on World War II and Post-war Victims is an archive collection whose original collector was the priest Krunoslav Draganović, who, relying primarily on the testimonies of survivors and other witnesses, planned to publish a book on the crimes of the Yugoslav communists.
Totok, William. Wieland durch die Lorgnette gelesen (Wiel...
Totok, William. Wieland durch die Lorgnette gelesen (Wieland seen through the lorgnette), in German, n.d. Manuscript
“Wieland durch die Lorgnette gelesen” (Wieland seen through the lorgnette) is a draft of a poem confiscated by the Securitate in June 1975 during their search of the Totok family house in Comloșu Mare. The search officially concerned his brother Gunter Totok, arrested for openly expressing his criticism against the Ceaușescu’s regime. However, the Securitate took advantage of the moment and picked up some literary manuscripts of William Totok’s, including this poem, without mentioning them in their minute of the home search as the criminal legislation stipulated. In October 1975, during a trip to Comloșu Mare, William Totok was arrested along with other members of Aktionsgruppe Banat (Wichner 2013, 7). After a short period of release, he was again arrested in November 1975 and interrogated about the content of his literature in order to prove an alleged guilt of “anti-state propaganda.” Among the texts of Totok on which the Securitate focused its investigation was the poem Wieland durch die Lorgnette gelesen, which contained some ironic critical remarks regarding Ceaușescu’s dictatorship (ANSAS, P 054927, f. 62–66).The lines of the poem tell the story of a “recently proclaimed leader of the republic,” an obvious allusion to Ceaușescu. Concerning his character and relations with the “people,” the poem stated that “When he started to work on the minds of people/ He was the most luminated head/That had ever staggered in the lead/ Thus nobody has anything/Against this amiable tyrant/Or against his patriotic sighs” (ACNSAS, P 054927, 64-66).
The poem was commented on by the informers of the Securitate, who were active in the Romanian-German literary milieu. They provided to the secret police the meanings that the latter were looking for in order to prove his “anti-state propaganda.”The Securitate attached the draft of this poem to the so-called “criminal file” on William Totok.
The private collection of historian Gábor Klaniczay (1950-) includes written, visual, and audio sources from the 1970s and 1980s. These sources all concern the alternative, underground cultural trends, art, music performances, and political oppositional movements of the period. The almost entire series of the samizdat publications from Hungary also constitute an important part of the collection, as do the leaflets and posters from his trips to Paris and New York.
The Zoltán Rostás private collection stands out as something unique in the context of the Romania of the 1980s and an extraordinary example of a passion that developed in the grey zone of tolerance permitted by the regime into a profession after the fall of the regime. The oral history interviews recorded by the owner of the collection, which capture not only societal changes but also the cultural diversity that still existed in the Bucharest of those years, contradict the official homogenising vision of the party-state and constitute documents of social history without parallel in the period in question. This collection also preserved the memory of the school of sociology that was destroyed by the communist regime and, after 1989, it made a decisive contribution towards the institutionalisation of oral history in the academic world of Romania.