To take all the photographs that document the scale of the demolitions in the centre of Bucharest and that are to found in Alexandru Barnea’s collection, he used a Japanese-made Asahi Pentax camera. The predecessor of the Pentax cameras of today, this type of single lens reflex (SLR) camera for 35 mm film marked in its day a revolution in the field of photography and a source of inspiration for the other companies producing photographic equipment. In the period prior to the development of digital photography, Japanese SLR cameras dominated the world market, but they were a difficult product to obtain for someone living in an isolated country like Romania before 1989. Through a combination of circumstances, Alexandru Barnea came to be one of the few owners in Ceauşescu’s Romania of such a powerful camera for its time. He tells its story: “I think I’ve had this camera since 1975. It was from my father, Ion Barnea. He was well known in Italy as a specialist in Christian archaeology and the early history of Christianity – and one time he went to give a series of lectures there, particularly in Rome. And that’s where he got this camera. He met up with an old friend, also born in Romania – a great graphic artist, well known here and abroad, Eugen Drăguţescu. Like my father and myself, he had a passion for photography. Well, it was this old friend of my father’s who recommended this camera to him.”
Bought in a photographic shop in Rome, the camera has long been in the possession of the Barnea family, father and son alike. “My father used it and I used it too – especially for archaeological purposes. We both used it for about fifteen years until, as it was quite heavy to carry, we put it aside in favour of a smaller, more compact camera that was easier to transport. I took all the photographs in the series of demolition images with it. Some of them, as I said, with a bit of fear – because this camera had pretty audible click,” adds Alexandru Barnea.
As regards its technical details, he mentions that it was “very friendly, particularly as it ran on batteries which, although they could hardly be found in Romania, lasted quite a long time. Its focusing power was excellent; among other things you could set the distance very well, and this detail was of great help for my work. It could make almost any image clear, whether far away or close up. The zoom is manual. It can take Leika-type film, thirty-six pictures, narrow.” The Asahi Pentax, the camera kept in the Alexandru Barnea collection weighs around 2 kg and is still in working order.
- Bucharest, Romania
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The letter reveals Soviet government policy towards the Catholic Church and the community of believers, and the difficult conditions for priests in providing catechisation to the community. It shows not only the political struggle between the Soviet government and the Catholic Church, but also the attempts to find a form of coexistence. There were some grey zones in negotiations and communication between these two, when an understanding of common interests (such as keeping up moral standards in Lithuanian society, or restricting and fighting against negative tendencies such as alcoholism) led to attempts to come to an agreement in slowing down the anti-religious campaigns by the Soviet government, and limiting anti-Soviet rhetoric from Catholic priests.
Allen Ginsberg, American poet and leading figure of the Beat Generation, arrived in Prague in February 1965. During his stay in Czechoslovakia, he attended several public readings and discussions. At the beginning of May, during the May celebrations, he was elected by students “The King of May”. However, a week later, he was deported by the State Security to the airport and expelled from the country. Later, Czechoslovak press launched a denigration campaign and accused him of “corrupting the youth”.
The Jindřich Chalupecký Collection at the Museum of Czech Literature contains Ginsberg’s address from 1965 written by Ginsberg himself. This address illustrates Chalupecký’s interest in the American poet and probable contact between them during Ginsberg’s stay in Czechoslovakia in 1965. Moreover, Chalupecký’s name appeared in Ginsberg’s diary that was confiscated by the Czechoslovak State Security.
- Strahovské nádvoří 1, 118 38 Praha 1 - Hradčany, Czech Republic
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The founder regards the call by the HVG publishers for the creation of almanacs on the Hungarian Parliament as the date of the establishment of the Collection of Political Transition. The first volume came out in 1992, followed by the further issues of the almanac series on contemporary political events in 1996, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2009, and 2012. As for the publication milestones on the coalition period (1945–1948), the relevant dates are: 1994, 1999, and 2005.