Memory of Nations
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.
Vodičkova 36, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
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Name of collection
- Memory of Nations
Provenance and cultural activities
The Memory of Nations is an extensive collection of witnesses' memories, built throughout Europe by individuals and institutions that want to share their recordings, photos and texts.
The idea of creating a digital archive was born between 2006 and 2007 in cooperation with several Czech institutions, which also focus on archiving memories of witnesses. In particular, it is Post Bellum (a Czech educational non-profit organization, with the aim of increasing public knowledge of the 20th Century history of the Czech Republic and neighbouring countries, especially among younger generations), Czech Radio, the Institute for Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, the Military History Institute, the Jewish Museum in Prague, Live Memory o.p. and the Museum of Usti nad Labem. The creation of the project was motivated primarily by the need to find a platform that would allow the digital storage, sharing and comparison of individual research outputs.
The portal was launched on October 28, 2008 to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak state. At the time, the portal had been in development for two years, mainly by Post Bellum and Czech Radio, and also, one year before the launch, with the help of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. The portal is an attempt to share the testimonies of people whose fates have somewhat intertwined with the history of the twentieth century. History of Nations is particularly interested in reflections on the Nazi or Communist dictatorships. In the archive there can be found evidence of people who actively faced injustice, either as soldiers or rebels, as well as people who became victims through no fault of their own (e.g. expropriated tradesmen, victims of collectivization, victims of forced resettlement, racial or national persecution, etc.). The Memory of Nations also seeks witnesses from the other side of the barricade, people who actively served the communist regime at a certain stage of their life, but it is much more difficult to find respondents willing to openly share their testimonies. History of Nations is also trying to share memories of people who have not actively "entered history", but were passive witnesses to events. And finally, History of Nations records and makes available the fates of people who entered the public space as artists, scientists, athletes, etc. the Memory of Nations´ Collections allow the search of testimonies of people who were, for example, also involved in cultural opposition, on the basis of criteria. Here can be found memories of 122 people who were dissenters, members of musical or cultural groups, persons associated with the Radio Free Europe, Charter 77 signatories, over one hundred people connected with art and censorship, 59 people who were part of the underground, and others. These testimonials provide unique information about the time and the position of artists against the regime.
Significant milestones in the history of the Memory of Nations are follow-up projects that have helped to make the Memory of the Nations visible, such as large exhibitions in the public space ("We did not give up", Autumn 2009 in Prague; Heydrich 70, 2012, at Charles Bridge in Prague) or the Memory of Nations award ceremony, which has been held annually since 2010 and is broadcast live on television and radio. In past years, the Memory of Nations has received awards from both the lay and professional public (for example, Inforum 2009 - "The best information act for 2009", the 2011 Novel Award for Best Innovative Citizen Online Journalism [Google and Open Society Fund], SozialMarie 2013 for Social innovation projects).
On the day of launching the Memory of the Nations portal, more than 200 memorial stories were made available; as of January 2019, the Memory of the Nation has 4,780 testimonies available.
Description of content
On the Memory of the Nations page, a few hundred witnesses can be found in the digital memorial archive. The basis of the archive is the Post Bellum collection, which was created in 2001. There are records of WWII veterans, anti-Nazi resistance, Holocaust victims, clergy, dissidents, political prisoners of the 1950s and later, and the testimonies of executive officers and agents of the KGB, NKVD, StB, political officials and others.
Since 2008, the collection Memory of Nations has accepted help with the recording of testimonies from organizations and individuals who record the memories of witnesses from the Czech Republic and across Europe. The digital archive is also supplemented by testimonies by prominent cultural figures, representatives of national minorities, witnesses of events from Hungary, Romania, the Baltic States, Slovakia and other states. The texts are edited and translated from national languages into English and testimonies are digitized.
The basis for all the materials stored on the Memory of Nations is always an audio or video recording, on which the witness usually speaks in his or her native language. In the vast majority of cases, follow-up text materials, such as short CVs, biographical bulletins, audio and video clips (of which there are usually three), and photo labels are usually processed. These materials are then translated into English, which is a prerequisite for publishing on the Memory of the Nations portal.
Saved recordings are complemented by audio and video samples, photographs, diaries, archive documents, CVs, and other materials. Witnesses are also assigned to historical epochs, anniversaries, and commemorative categories. The ability to compare is just one of the goals of the Memory of Nations collection in an effort to bring closer events of the 20th century.
Assignment to categories is part of the work of the collector or editor that processes the medallion, but everything is still checked by the administrator before publishing. Categories are always meant to be some kind of phenomenon, if a witness is included in the "dissident" category, it does not necessarily mean that the narrator was an active opponent of the regime; it could be, for example, a family member who did not him or herself experience a totalitarian regime, such as a wife or daughter. Such activity could have simply had an impact on the person (disadvantage within the social hierarchy, the impossibility of education or employment, the ostraciation of the environment etc.)
- photos: 1000-
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 1000-
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
- alternative lifestyles and resistance of the everydays
- democratic opposition
- human rights movements
- independent journalism
- music (rock, punk, alternative, classical, etc.)
- national movements (patriotic opposition)
- party dissidents (outcasts from the party)
- peace movements
- philosophical/theoretical movements (neomarxists, maoists, reform socialists, etc.)
- religious activism
- samizdat and tamizdat
- student movement
- surveillance (various)
- survivors of persecutions under authoritarian/totalitarian regimes
- underground culture
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
- Brabenec, Vratislav
- Brázda, Pavel
- Chvatík, Ivan
- Havel, Václav
- Hejdánek, Ladislav
- Hutka, Jaroslav
- Janouch, František
- Jelínek, Milan
- Jirous, Ivan Martin
- Kantůrková, Eva
- Karásek, Svatopluk
- Knížák, Milan
- Kohout, Pavel
- Landovský, Pavel
- Marek, Vlastimil
- Nováková, Věra
- Němcová, Dana
- Pitaš, Stanislav
- Pithart, Petr
- Placák, Petr
- Post Bellum
- Prečan, Vilém
- Schwarzenberg, Karel
- Stárek, František
- Topol, Jáchym
- Uhde, Milan
- Zajíček, Pavel
- Zoubek, Olbram
- Šiklová, Jiřina
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Drda, Adam, Mikuláš Kroupa, and Petr Nosálek. Příběhy hrdinů 20. století: paměť národa. Praha: Plus, 2016.
Nosálek, Petr. Místa Paměti národa: průvodce po místech spojených s událostmi 2. světové války. Brno: Jota, 2015.
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
- Vrtálková, Anna
"Kroupa (Pamět národa): Inspirujme se příběhy statečných." Aktuálně.cz - Víte co se právě děje. November 15, 2013. Accessed April 26, 2017. https://zpravy.aktualne.cz/domaci/nazory-a-komentare/kroupa-pamet-naroda-inspirujme-se-pribehy-statecnych/r~072653264e0311e396900025900fea04/?redirected=1493133767.
"Kdo nezná minulost, těžko pochopí, co jsou to lidská práva, říká Mikuláš Kroupa - E15.cz." Student.e15.cz. Accessed April 26, 2017. http://student.e15.cz/q-a/kdo-nezna-minulost-tezko-pochopi-co-jsou-to-lidska-prava-rika-mikulas-kroupa-1255605.
Memory of Nations. Accessed April 24, 2017. http://www.pametnaroda.cz/
Post Bellum. Accessed April 24, 2017. http://www.postbellum.cz/.
Šmíd, Michal , interview by Vrtálková, Anna , April 21, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection