- Bratislava, Slovakia
Petruška Šustrová was a Czech journalist, translator and spokeswoman of Charter 77. From 1966–1969 she studied history and Czech studies at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague. However, she was prevented from finishing her studies when she was imprisoned in the autumn of 1969 for anti-regime activities as part of the critical group of leftist students called the “Revolutionary Youth Movement”. After returning from prison in 1971, she worked in a post office. She signed Charter 77 in 1977 and was its spokeswoman in 1985. In 1979 she became a member of the Committee for the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS). Šustrová also actively participated in samizdat activities. Thanks to a grant from the Hus Educational Foundation, she financially supported the work of the Czechoslovak samizdat publishers Expedice. She was also involved in rewriting texts for samizdat publications purposes, especially for Česká expedice (Czech Expedition) and wrote for the journal Střední Evropa (Central Europe). In 1983 she also edited a samizdat collection of poems by underground poets including František Pánek, Jáchym Topol and Andrej Stankovič.After 1989, she focused on journalistic and translation work. Her journalist contributions, commenting mainly on current political and social events, appeared in many Czech periodicals. She also worked externally for Czech Radio and Czech Television. Šustrová translates text mostly from Polish and English, especially works focused on contemporary history. From 1990–1992 she also served as a deputy at the Ministry of the Interior and was involved in drafting the lustration law. In 2010 she received the Ferdinand Peroutka Award.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Alojzij Šuštar was a Slovenian cleric, the archbishop of Ljubljana. He was baptized at the parish church in Dobrnič. He finished elementary school in Trebnje (1927-1932). He completed secondary education at the Saint Stanislaus Seminary in Šentvid (1932-1940). He enrolled in the Faculty of Theology in Ljubljana in 1940. In the autumn of 1941 he was sent to study in Rome by Ljubljana Bishop Gregorij Rožman. While studying philosophy and theology in Rome, he resided at Collegium Germanicum et Hungaricum. In 1943 he earned his licentiate in philosophy. At the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1949 he defended the thesis “De caritate apud Joannem apostolum” to earn his doctorate of theology.
On October 27, 1946 he was ordained a priest in Rome, because the Yugoslav communist authorities would not allow him return to the country. During his studies in Rome, he went to Switzerland for health reasons, where he was appointed a chaplain in Sankt Moritz (1949-1951) by the bishop of Chur. Christian Caminada. In 1951 he became a professor of philosophy and religion at Kollegium Maria Hilf in Schwyz. He became a professor of moral theology in the seminary of Chur, Switzerland in 1963. In 1965, he became a Swiss citizen and thereafter he began to visit Slovenia. The bishop of Chur, Johannes Vonderach, appointed him his vicar in 1968 and in the same year he was appointed the first rector of the newly established Higher Theological School in Chur. In 1971 he became the secretary of the newly established Council of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe. In 1976 he was granted a Yugoslav passport.
He returned to Slovenia on 3 January 1977. Already on 17 January 1977, the archbishop of Ljubljana Jožef Pogačnik appointed Šuštar a canon of the Ljubljana Archdiocese. On 19 October 1977, he was appointed archdeacon of the Third Archdeaconate of the Ljubljana Archdiocese. In 1978, he started to teach at the Theological Faculty of Ljubljana. , He wrote a book, Prenova v Cerkvi (Renewal in the Church) for the Mohorjeva družba publishing house in Celje. Šuštar was appointed Archbishop of Ljubljana on 23 February 1980. His appointment surprised the communist regime, because he was not compromised in any way before the authorities. He was consecrated as archbishop of Ljubljana on 13 April 1980 with the participation of the Hungarian primate, Lászlo Cardinal Lékai of Esztergom, as well as 27 other bishops and 500 priests. In 1981, Archbishop Šustar was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and, in 1983, to the Congregation for Catholic Education. His program was to continue with the renewal of the Church, encourage interest in evangelic values, confirm his words with everyday deeds and solve all open questions in open dialogue based on mutual respect.
On 16 March 1981, he suggested a nine-point dialogue to the State Commission on Relations with Religious Communities. By 1986, he was allowed to address the public over the radio for Christmas, which was immense progress for the Catholic Church. He was ecumenically active, especially with the Lutheran Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Šuštar visited Serbian Patriarch German in Belgrade in 1982. In 1983, he was active in setting up the Slovenian Regional Conference of Bishops within the framework of the Yugoslav Conference of Bishops. He was active in the national reconciliation process, starting with the Declaration of the Slovenian Bishops in March of 1990 and the initiation of the commemoration at Kočevski Rog in July 1990, and he continued with reconciliation initiatives. He supported the Slovenian independence process. During the Slovenian War of Independence, he appealed to all bishops’ conferences and Catholic organizations worldwide to recognize Slovenian independence. By 1993, he managed to restore the archdiocesan classics gymnasium. He retired in 1997 and died in 2007.
- Ljubljana , Slovenia
Rūdolfs Šīrants (1910-1985) was a historian and museologist who was highly respected for his knowledge of the history of Riga and Latvia. Like other historians whose professional activities started in independent Latvia, he came up against constraints and obstacles in his work all through his life. He was dismissed from the Riga City History Archive in 1950, but was allowed to work at the Museum of the History of Riga. From 1960-1974, he was the head keeper of the collections at the museum, and started systematizing the inventory of the museum, separating out the main collections of artefacts, such as textiles, furniture and photographic negatives. All his life, Šīrants collected material on different topics regarding the history of Riga, but his list of academic publications is rather short. The archaeologist and historian Andris Caune points out that Šīrants' magnum opus, a book on old maps and plans of Riga, was not approved for publication because 300-year-old maps were classified. Only in 1987, after his death, did the museum publish a catalogue of maps. Although Šīrants' name was not mentioned on the title page, the museum paid tribute to him in the short introduction to the catalogue. Šīrants researched the contribution of Riga's German population to different aspects of the city's life all his life, but these research topics were also considered to be suspect. Nevertheless, the museum's management recognized Šīrants' knowledge of history, and his opinions on procuring artefacts was very important, although he was not the only person involved in forming collections. Šīrants' reputation as an outstanding historian of Riga, his belonging to the ‘old’ intelligentsia, and the fact that prior to 1940 he belonged to the student fraternity Austrums (founded in 1883), made it easier for him to make contact with people who were marginalized by the Soviet regime and did not trust official institutions, and to persuade them to grant artefacts in their possession to the museum.
- Riga, Latvia
The student demonstrations of 1968 and the turmoil that followed the occupation of Czechoslovakia are at the center of Žilnik’s first feature film, Early Works (1969), which was awarded the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and four prizes at Pula that same year.
After being censored in Yugoslavia, Žilnik spent the mid-1970s in West Germany, where he independently produced and made seven documentaries and one feature film, Paradise (1976). These were amongst the first to touch on the theme of foreign workers in Germany, and they continue to be shown at various film retrospectives and symposiums.
Turning to independent film and media production in the 1990s, he went on to make a series of feature and documentary films centering around the cataclysmic events in the Balkans: Tito among the Serbs for the Second Time (1994), Marble Ass (1995), Throwing Off the Yolks of Bondage (1997), Wanderlust (1998). These films won top awards at national festivals (Herceg Novi, Palić, Novi Sad and Sopot) and were screened at numerous international festivals. In 1995 Marble Ass won the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlinale.
The breakdown of the value system in post-transitional Central and Eastern European countries and the problems concerning refugees and migration in the new circumstances of an expanded Europe were the focus of Žilnik’s most recent films: Fortress Europe (2000), Kennedy Goes Back Home (2003), Europe Next Door (2005), Old School of Capitalism (2009), among others.
His works are featured in collections of galleries and museums of contemporary art around the world. He has participated in international art events such as documenta in Germany and the Venice Biennale in Italy.
Alongside his ceaseless filmmaking and production work, Žilnik has been active in educational areas, as well; since 1997 he has been a mentor and executive producer at many international workshops for students from all over southeastern Europe. Since 2006 he has been a visiting lecturer at film schools and universities in the USA, Slovenia and the UK.
- Novi Sad, Serbia