Deadline Diaries - Transsylvanian Monitor
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Name of collection
- Deadline Diaries - Transsylvanian Monitor
Provenance and cultural activities
From March 1987 until 1989, Határ/idő/napló – Erdélyi Figyelő (Deadline Diaries – Transylvanian Monitor), was the only independent, Hungarian periodical that regularly reported on the hardships of Romania in the last years of Ceauşescu’s dictatorship. The small samizdat paper, edited in Budapest by young Hungarian intellectuals, published 9 initial issues, distributed as 150 photocopied editions, and later as 2,000 printed copies. The copies were distributed in Hungary, among Hungarian émigrés in the West, and in Romania through underground channels by the activists of one of the largest grassroots movement in Hungary, ETE (Erdélyt Támogatók Egylete – Association for Aiding Transylvania, later registered in as Transylvania Caritas [Transcar] in 1990). ETE’s extensive network of more than 200 volunteers also served as the basis for launching two international, cultural protection campaigns: S.O.S – Save Our Settlements – Transylvania! (1988–1989), to save 8,000 villages in Romania from demolition; and Pro Domo Dei (summer of 1990), to help restore roughly 50 medieval churches heavily damaged by an earthquake in Covasna (Háromszék) County, Romania.
The samizdat periodical launched in March of 1987 by Albert Tódor and Béla Nóvé was written and edited by young Hungarian journalists, teachers and historians, including Tódor and Nóvé as well as: Árpád Kulcsár, Mónika Mátay, Zsolt Nagy, György Szücs and István Gábor Tóth. Contributors worked anonymously or under pen names due to safety concerns as they often travelled to Romania on clandestine aid missions.
The editorial staff of Deadline Diaries were recruited through the informal network of Hungarian volunteers organised in the mid-1980s first as ETE (later known as Transcar). This spontaneous solidarity movement of friends and families evolved from 40 members in 1985, to well over 200 by 1989. They managed to partner with Western relief organisations from Austria, West Germany, Switzerland, Holland, Sweden, etc., to provide regular help for the people of Romania, especially the 2.2 million Hungarian minorities in Transylvania. The covert mission of ETE/Transcar was to transport relief received from Western organisations to Transylvania. Thus, Hungarian volunteers smuggled—usually in rucksacks—a large amount of food, medicine, bibles and banned literature to Romania over several years. They also helped to protect the endangered cultural and folkloric heritage of Transylvania, supported local dissidents harassed by the Romanian secret police, assisted in family reunifications, and helped several refugees escape to Hungary. ETE/Transcar volunteers also took part in regular fact-finding fieldwork in Romania for human rights public reports by organisations such as Amnesty International and the Helsinki Foundation. These reports were translated and published in Deadline Diaries, and were later republished by both Hungarian samizdat and tamizdat media (Beszélő, Gazette Litteraire Hongroise, BBC, and the Radio Free Europe Hungarian Broadcast).The samizdat periodical, Határ/idő/napló (Deadline Diaries), was distributed in Hungary, among Hungarian émigrés in the West, and through Transylvanian Hungarian communities. Since both the Hungarian and Romanian secret police were eager to reveal and block these activities, all phases of production and distribution remained covert. Although some copies of the paper were found via house search or border control, the authors and editors were lucky to escape trial or police harassment. The reason their operations were kept cautiously underground was to protect their Transylvanian sources (dissidents, refugees or their families), and the key figures of local relief distribution (pastors, priests, teachers, doctors, etc.).
The original samizdat copies of Deadline Diaries - Transylvanian Monitor, together with other documents pertaining to civil movements, were kept in the private collection of founding editor, Béla Nóvé, in Budapest. However, most of these are available online at: transindex.ro Erdélyi Adatbank (Transylvanian Data Base) http://adatbank.transindex.ro.
Description of content
The collection contains the nine issues of the samizdat periodical, Deadline Diaries – Transylvanian Monitor. It also contains archive photos and books related to the samizdat paper, and the relief organisations ETE/Transcar (1985). Among the printed materials in this collection are three special, rare books on the Transylvania aid movement:
Bálint Homoród [Béla Nóvé]: Kétség és remény közt – Erdélyről sokadszorra (Hopes and Doubts: Once Again on Transylvania – a samizdat book, with the author’s illustrations, and English and Romanian-language summaries). (Also available online: http://adatbank.transindex.ro)
Pro Domo Dei: Jelentés az 1990. Május 30-i földrengés által a Háromszéki templomokban okozott károkról és a helyreállítások segélyezéséről (Report on Damages Caused by an Earthquake on 30 May 1990 in the Churches of Covasna County/Háromszék), (ed. István Varga, with maps and photo documentation). Also available online: http://adatbank.transindex.ro/html/alcim_pdf5550.pdf
Határ/idő/napló - Erdélyi Figyelő 1987-1989. Szamizdat összkiadás (Deadline Diaries – Transylvanian Monitor 1987-1989.) eds. Béla Nóvé–György Szücs. László Teleki Foundation, Budapest. Available online: http://adatbank.transindex.ro/cedula.php?kod=892)
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 10-99
- Nóvé, Béla
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Határ/idő/napló - Erdélyi figyelő 1987-1989. Szamizdat összkiadás. Szerk. Nóvé Béla és Szücs György. Teleki László Alapítvány, Budapest 2001.
Homoród Bálint [Nóvé Béla]: Kétség és remény közt - Erdélyről sokadszorra. Budapest, 1989. Szamizdat kiadás, a szerző illusztrációival.
'Pro domo dei'. Jelentés az 1990. május 30-i földrengés által a háromszéki templomokban okozott károkról és a helyreállítások segélyezéséről. (Térképmellékletek, részletes leírás és fényképes dokumentáció) Szerk. Varga István, Transcar-Országos Műemléki Felügyelőség, Budapest 1991.
Author(s) of this page
- Nóvé, Béla
Nóvé, Béla, Szücs, György, interview by Bárdi, Nándor, December 21, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection
Sípos, Zoltán, Koenig, Helmut, interview by Sípos, Zoltán, December 22, 2009. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection