Romualdas Ozolas and Lithuanian Philosophers' Opposition
Since there were no underground organisations or networks of Soviet Lithuanian philosophers, Lithuanian lecturers and scholars of philosophy accommodated Soviet ideology, and used legal forms of activity in order to pursue the aims of cultural opposition. Philosophers played an important role in Sąjūdis (the Lithuanian national movement) in 1988-1990. One of the key figures among Lithuanian philosophers was Romualdas Ozolas. During Soviet times, he occupied nomenklatura positions, such as adviser to the deputy chair of the Council of Ministers, but at the same time he was deeply involved in various cultural initiatives that went far beyond the Soviet ideological line. Being a very scrupulous collector, Ozolas left extensive papers that are still waiting for investigation by researchers.
10102 Vilnius O. Milašiaus gatvė 19 , Lithuania
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Name of collection
- Romualdas Ozolas collection
Provenance and cultural activities
Since there were no underground organisations or networks of Soviet Lithuanian philosophers, Lithuanian lecturers and philosophy scholars accommodated Soviet ideology, and used legal forms of activity in order to pursue the aims of the cultural opposition. Philosophers played an important role in Sąjūdis (the Lithuanian National Movement) in 1988-1990. One of the key figures among Lithuanian philosophers was Romualdas Ozolas. He occupied high formal positions during Soviet times: in 1975-1980 he worked as assistant to the deputy chair of the Soviet Lithuanian Council of Ministers, and in 1980-1989 he was deputy director of Mintis (Thought), one of the biggest publishers in the republic. Despite his high positions, Ozolas was very active in informal networks that took initiatives to promote Lithuanian culture and history. During Gorbachev’s perestroika period, he urged extending the cultural opposition, to make political claims against Moscow.
Ozolas could be called a chronicler of cultural life in Soviet Lithuania. He was a very scrupulous collector, who understood the importance of historical documents. Because of this, he made conspectus and tape recordings of many meetings he attended. The collection is especially interesting for understanding the history of Lithuanian philosophy. According to Soviet policy, Vilnius University was not allowed to have a separate department of philosophy. At the beginning of the 1950s, the Ministry of Higher and Special Education of the USSR proposed to the Central Committee of the CPSU to concentrate philosophy studies in only four universities: in Moscow's Lomonosov, Leningrad, Kiev and Central Asian universities. In other universities of the USSR philosophy was treated only as a subsidiary subject, under the departments of social sciences or history. Lithuanian philosophers interpreted this situation informally as oppression, and made great efforts to promote their discipline at Vilnius University. They established a particular school of philosophy called the School of Eugenijus Meškauskas. Although based on a Marxist approach, Meškauskas and his colleagues stressed Marx’s early works, and went beyond the limits of a Leninist interpretation of Marx’s intellectual legacy. This approach enabled philosophers to look to Existentialism, which, being an idealistic approach, was not approved of by Soviet ideology. The community of Soviet Lithuanian philosophers published the research journal Problemos (Problems). The journal was reorganised during the 1960s and 1970s, when the community of Soviet Lithuanian philosophers attempted to make it a serious academic journal, with critical articles, reviews and translations of Western authors. Ozolas was secretary of the journal’s editorial board, and because of this he collected many documents, drafts and letters from authors and institutions in his private papers. Starting from 2008, all this material was transferred to the Lithuanian Central State Archives.
Ozolas was a very thoughtful and reflective observer. He recorded many facts, events and discussions in the daily cultural life of that time in his diaries, which he wrote almost every day. These dairies express their author’s surprisingly deep understanding and critical attitude of the Soviet reality. The collection enables us to make a comparison between the two sides of Ozolas’ activities: on one hand, documents and papers from his official work, where ideological conformity was obligatory and inescapable, and his dairies, which contain his private thoughts about the situation. Some parts of the diaries have already been published in a number of books that came out after the 1990s. While the originals of the dairies that are held in the collection are still not accessible to researchers and readers, there are paper copies of them that prove, verify and expand the content of the published books.
Ozolas left extensive papers that are still waiting for investigation by researchers. He started to collaborate with the Lithuanian Central State Archives (LCSA) from 2008, transferring files from his private papers to state archives. Ozolas himself and the director of the LCSA Dalius Žižys were directly involved in this activity. According to Žižys, Ozolas considered the LCSA to be the right place for his files, because of its capacity. Nevertheless, the collection does not have an inventory number, and it is not accessible to researchers and readers.
Description of content
The collection holds thousands of files. Chronologically, they can be divided into two parts: the Soviet period, and documents about Ozolas’ activities after 1990. Files from his work as secretary of the editorial board of the journals Kultūros barai (Culture Fields) and Problemos (Problems), as assistant to the deputy chair of the Council of Ministers of Soviet Lithuania (1975-1980), and as deputy editor-in-chief of the publishers Mintis (Thought), are interesting in the context of the cultural opposition. Secondly, Ozolas wrote his dairies throughout the Soviet period, giving his reflections on the situation in the cultural life of Soviet Lithuania. While the original manuscripts are still inaccessible to researchers and readers because of a limitation put on them by Ozolas and his family, there are copies of draft dairies that are very useful for research into the cultural opposition.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 500-999
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Vilnius, Oskaro Milašiaus gatvė 19, Lithuania
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Ozolas, Romualdas. Išsivadavimas 1971-1984 metu̜ asmeninio dvasinio gyvenimo štrichai. (Liberation 1971-1984: Aspects of Spiritual Life) Vilnius: Pradai, 1998.
Ozolas, Romualdas. Atgimimo ištakose: 1970–1980 m. Lietuvos kultūros gyvenimo štrichai.(In Outflow of National Revival 1970-1980: Aspects of Cultural Life) Vilnius: Pradai, 1996
Author(s) of this page
Jankauskas, Algimantas, interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, January 15, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Žižys, Dalius, interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, January 12, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Agurkis, Vaidas , interview by Grybkauskas, Saulius, May 17, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection