Slovak Samizdat Online Collection
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Provenance and cultural activities
The website brings together reproductions of Slovak samizdat journals from the period 1982 to 1989, which are registered in UNESCO "Memory of the World" list. The website was founded and is managed by Marek Endel and Jan Šimulčík. Ján Šimulčík is responsible for the content of the website and collection of samizdat; Marek Endel possesses the technical equipment necessary to launch the website. Samizdat was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored and underground publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader. This grassroots practice to evade official Soviet censorship was fraught with danger, as harsh punishments were meted out to people caught possessing or copying censored materials.
From 1969 to 1989 in Slovakia two basic kinds of samizdat journals were produced. The first originated in the lay-liberal intelligentsia, the second was based in a Christian environment. Those behind the website believe that Catholic samizdat journals are still not very well known, and the portal is meant to contribute to a deeper knowledge of these.
Catholic samizdat periodicals went through several stages of development. The first and longest was the establishment of samizdat publications (from 1973 to 1982), followed by a phase of expansion (from 1982 to 1988), and then a transition from underground samizdat to its public form (from 1988 to 1989). Samizdat became a symbol for the persecution of the church, on behalf of which nineteen periodical samizdat were published during the twenty-year period. On the website it is not only possible to read them, but to look up an overview of published samizdat and the frequency of their publication.
It is possible to read and download the following samizdat in PDF form: Svedectvo [Testimony], Historický zápisník [Historical Notebook], Príloha mladých (NaS) [Annex for Youth], Zborník [Almanac], ZrNO [Seed], Bratislavské listy [Letters from Bratislava], Una Sancta Catholica, Nové Turíce s Máriou [New Pentecost with Mary], Hlas Slovenska [Voice of Slovakia], Svetlo [Light], Katolícky mesačník [Catholic Periodical], Rodinné spoločenstvo [Family Community], Náboženstvo a súčasnosť [Religion and the Present Time], Plátok [Sheet]. The portal also offers recommended literature for further reading and a brief overview of how and where the samizdat were secretly issued.
Description of content
List of samizdats that are available on the website:
Bratislavské listy [Letters from Bratislava] (1988-1989), 5 issues. During the late eighties the activity of some secret church activists transformed from a strictly religious to a more social character. One of the phenomena accompanying this change was the publication of Bratislavské listy. The magazine sought to create a space for the discussion of the problems of society and the state, as well as the future development of alternatives. The magazine wanted to unite its readers with a sense of European belonging by means of knowledge of the situation and of the problems of other nations, especially Slovak neighbours. Individual articles dealt with political developments in Slovakia, information about persecution, and controversial political and cultural events. It was the first magazine of a Christian political orientation and, at the same time, the only magazine that declassified the address of their Editorial Office, to which readers could send contributions on their topics.
Historický zápisník [Historical Notebook] (1986-1987), 3 issues.
Hlas Slovenska [Voice of Slovakia] (1988-1989), 8 issues. The magazine focused on the publication of studies and articles on Slovakia and the Slovak nation. The editorial office wanted to contribute to the clarification of many difficult events of the past, to show the realities of the socialist period, and to reflect on the way of the future. They published historical studies and original articles, and also published well-known articles that had been published elsewhere but were unknown to the general public in Slovakia.
Katolícky mesačník [Catholic Periodical] (1988-1989), 18 issues. The only official weekly Catholic newspaper, which was supposed to provide news or list events in the Church, failed to fulfill its function, and this led to the publication of this monthly periodical. This new monthly magazine, Katolícky mesačník, sought to eliminate a lack of information and misrepresentation of the truth.
Náboženstvo a súčasnosť [Religion and the Present Time] (1982-1989), 34 issues. This was the first samizdat periodical with national circulation. The magazine was created for the needs of the developing underground church. As it was the only one of its kind in Slovakia, its aim was to create activities in the field of religion and, if possible, in other areas such as culture and history. Single issues brought news and events discussed in the Church from around the world, and articles about the history and current situation of persecuted Christians in communist countries (including the USSR, China, and Albania).
Nové Turíce s Máriou [New Pentecost with Mary] (1987-1989), 7 issues. One of the movements that developed their activities in secret was the Hnutie charizmatickej obnovy [Charismatic Renewal Movement]. Nové Turíce s Máriou focused on the formation of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement in Slovakia. The journal published information on the life of the movement, reflections, theological articles, news, and testimonies.
Plátok [Sheet] (1986-1989), 40 issues. The community of young adults felt the need to solve the problem of the transmission of information on their activities among themselves and others. Therefore, they started to publish the magazine Plátok. The magazine had as its task to increase the awareness of the parish church in Nové Zámky, to provide information about the life of the Church in the region and the world, and to help different communities manage joint meetings. It contained reflections, articles, and historical news.
Príloha mladých [Annex for Youth] (1988), 3 issues. This magazine´s aim was to provide a space to young people. The magazine contained reflections, meditations, and literary and poetic experimentation by young authors.
Rodinné spoločenstvo [Family Community] (1985-1989), 25 issues. The idea behind this was to create a magazine that would serve families: specifically, to help strengthen the faith in the family and the source of certainty and security of its refuge in God. The magazine tried to find answers to questions that were part of everyday family life, but also to those concerning society, culture, and means of communication.
Serafínský svet [Seraphin World] (1982-1989), 28 (?) issues.
Una Sancta Catholica (1983-1985), 6 issues. Information for priests was communicated only through Katolícke noviny [Catholic Newspaper] and Duchovný pastier [Spiritual Herdsman], the editorial offices of which were controlled by the Communist state. This magazine was intended for priests. Una Sancta Catholica brought in mainly information and speeches from Pope John Paul II, reflections, and recent information from local churches. Each issue also focused on an aspect of the Ecclesiastical calendar in the period during which the issue was published.
Svetlo [Light] (1986-1989), 14 issues. Salesians, who could not publicly support children and young people, had to try to look for other ways to do so. One of these was the foundation of Svetlo magazine. The aim of the magazine was to encourage young people to lead a spiritual life and to inform them about religious affairs. Its graphic layout tried to appeal to the world of children. Monothematic issues addressed such things as: Dreams of Don Bosco, Church history, our patron, steps of youth, I have a problem, and riddles. It was the first samizdat that tried to balance graphics and content.
Svedectvo [Testimony] (1988-1989), 2 issues. At the initiative of Bishop J. Ch. Korec this almanac of information and documents about events in the Church was established.
Výber [Selection] (1984-1987), 26 issues.
Zborník [Almanac] (1984-1986), 3 issues. The secret church in Slovakia helped the persecuted church in Russia, not only materially but also by trying to learn its spiritual history. The first two issues of this publication are dedicated to the period from the Millennium of Russia to the advent of Christianity (from 988 to 1988). Articles in these issues tried to help to identify Russian spiritual values. The third issue is focused on then-current theological issues.
ZrNO [Seed] (1989) 4 issues. This magazine wanted to recognise the needs and aspirations of young Catholics seeking spiritual values as well as their place in society. It tried to capture the spirit of the times and respond to the current issues of young men and women. It therefore provided an opportunity to express opinions, ideas, and the attitudes of young people. Each issue included: answers to the problems of youth, profiles of well-known Slovak persons, historical articles, specific problems of the time, and poetry. It had outstanding graphic design.
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
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Author(s) of this page
- Benčuriková, Martina
Šimulčík, Ján , interview by Benčuriková, Martina, February 28, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection