Bratislavské listy Editorial Office Archive
Bratislavské listy [Bratislava Papers] was a Christian-political samizdat created from 1988 to 1989, with 4 published issues. The Collection of Bratislavské listy Editorial Office was created in 2002 by the newly established Nation’s Memory Institute, an institution governed by public law that is focused on research and the collecting of documents from socialist era. This collection contains not only published issues of Bratislavské listy, documents such as correspondence, manuscripts, and personal notes of authors dealing with topics discussed in Bratislavské listy, but also unique original appeals to the Czechoslovak President signed, among others, by Alexander Dubček, Martin M. Šimečka or Ján Langoš.
Bratislava Miletičova 7, Slovakia 821 08
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Name of collection
- Bratislavské listy Editorial Office Archive
Provenance and cultural activities
The founder of the Nation’s Memory Institute (Nation’s Memory Institute; ÚPN), Ján Langoš (1946-2006), who was also the first chairman of adiministrative board, was one of the main creators of content of the Christian-politicial samizdat Bratislavské listy [Bratislava Papers]. The collection of Bratislavské listy Editorial Office Archive was transmitted to ÚPN’s archive by Ján Čarnogurský, founder of Bratislavské listy samizdat. He founded it in July 1988 to gather the later electoral base of Christian citizens. Its circulation was 500. In the first issue’s editorial he wrote: “This magazine wants to create space for free discussion about problems of society and state, as well as about various alternatives of future development. The basis for understanding the problems in society and the state we seek in the Christian concept of man. [...] We consider the Slovak exile to be an integral part of the nation.” Bratislavské listy had regular sections: Our basis and aims, History - Figures - Nation, Culture and Art, Ethics of our Lives, Christianity and Present, Economy and Ecology, Glosses - Records - Echoes. Some of the authors wrote under aliases, others under their own names. Articles reflected the religious and political situation in Slovakia and Europe.
In 1990 Ján Čarnogurský stated that Bratislavské listy was “the first and only magazine in Slovakia that was publicly against the communist regime and published under the real name and address of the publisher.” With its fifth issue in 1990, Bratislavské listy became legal and after the establishment of a new political party, the Christian-Democratic Movement, Bratislavské listy became its official periodical. The last issue was published in 1994. The collection of Bratislavské listy Editorial Office Archive in the Nation’s Memory Institute contains the samizdat issues of Bratislavské listy and documents of the editorial office from 1988 to 1989.
ÚPN is a public organization that collects and processes all of the information related to regimes during the period from 1939 to 1989 and in its archives it declassifies documents from former state security agencies. The ÚPN archive registers, accumulates, accesses, and administers documents from the German Third Reich and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as well as Czechoslovak and Slovak governments that were created and collected during 18 April 1939 to 31 December 1989. ÚPN was officialy launched on 1 May 2003. The institute publishes the periodical Pamäť a národ [Memory and Nation], various documentary editions, memoirs, collections, and offers access to its e-library.
Description of content
The collection contains six boxes of documents, which Ján Čarnogurský, the founder of this samizdat, handed over to the Nation’s Memory Institute in 2002. In addition to the copies of the individual samizdat issues (5 issues, I / 88, II / 88, I / 89, II / 89, III / 89), it includes personal notes, original texts before editing together with editorial changes. The collection also includes many unidentifiable manuscripts related to the publication of Bratislava Papers with the titles Trpké ovocie totality [Bitter fruits of totalitarianism], Ohrozená sloboda [Endangered Freedom], and Vnútorná sloboda [Inner Freedom]. Manuscripts are political and theological debates on totalitarianism, freedom and belief in God.
The most interesting parts of the collection are the original legal decisions and the correspondence of the authors of the Bratislava Papers. Ján Čarnogurský and Milan Šimečka contributed in samizdat under their names, others wrote under pseudonyms. Ján Čarnogurský in issue no. 11 of 1990 stated that the Bratislavské listy samizdat was “the first and only magazine in Slovakia openly opposed to the communist regime and being published with the full name and address of the publisher”. So the collection contains e.g. the decision of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Socialist Republic that prohibits the publication of Bratislavské listy dated 28 July 1988 and addressed to Jan Čarnogurský.
Another interesting document is the rejection of the gathering of Christians at the instigation of RNDr. František Mikloško issued by the Ministry of Culture on 17 March 1988. It was stated that the reason for rejection was the organizersʼ inability to secure the course of the event. However, the manifestation of the believers took place on 25 March 1988 in Bratislava. The event, known as the Candle Demonstration, was the highlight of the activities of the Catholic Secret Church in Slovakia and was attended by about 3000 people.
The Candle Demonstration in Bratislava preceded the affair with the article of the future cardinal, Ján Chrysostom Korec, the leading figure of the Secret Church. On 30 October 1987 Korec published in Bratislava Papers a critique of the article in Rudé právo newspaper, the press authority of the Communist Party, Zbožná přání a reality [Wishful thinking and reality] from 9 October 1987, dealing with the freedom of the Church in Slovakia. The collection contains the correspondence between Korec and Václav Doležal, the author of the article published in Rudé právo.
Moreover, the collection contains all declarations of Charter 77, which Bratislavské listy supported publicly. Before 1981, Ján Čarnogurský legally represented persons accused of anti-state activity who worked for Charter 77.
In addition, the collection contains other letters, including requests and appeals to the Czechoslovak President, e.g. the request of Anton Zlatohlavatý from 15 July 1989 to the President Gustáv Husák with the aim of obtaining the state’s permission for the exercise of spiritual activity as a Roman Catholic priest which had been withdrawn on 1 December 1980. Some of these decisions or transcripts of these decisions were also printed in samizdat.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 100-499
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Part of network
Author(s) of this page
- Benčuriková, Martina
Mikloško, František , interview by Benčuriková, Martina, May 04, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Čarnogurský, Ján , interview by Benčuriková, Martina, June 25, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Last edited on: 2020-03-02 10:42:53