Alenka Puhar Collection on the Human Rights Movement
The Alenka Puhar Collection on the Human Rights Movement in Slovenia/Yugoslavia was mostly created in the 1980s and testifies to the struggle of Slovenian and Yugoslav activists to promote and protect human rights in Yugoslavia. Alenka Puhar was one of the key people in the 1983 campaign to abolish the death penalty in Yugoslavia, and in the organization of mass protests in Ljubljana in 1988 and in the Slovenian spring in the late 1980s. The collection documents the struggle and connections between Slovenian activists and other Yugoslav activists and dissidents who had the common goal of promoting and protecting human rights in Yugoslavia and ultimately the collapse of the communist regime.
Ljubljana , Slovenia
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Name of collection
Alenka Puhar Collection on the Human Rights Movement
Provenance and cultural activities
Alenka Puhar's personal collection on the human rights movement in Slovenia/Yugoslavia was largely created in the 1980s, and the oldest publication which was also crucial to the professional and life path of Alenka Puhar is George Orwell’s book 1984, translated into the Slovenian language by Puhar herself in 1967. It is also the oldest work in the entire collection and its year of publication is taken as the founding date of this collection.
Alenka Puhar became interested in human rights issues in her student days when she was translating the novel 1984. First, she wrote about them as a journalist and later acted as an activist for the improvement of human rights in Yugoslavia. Puhar was one of the key people working on the petition for the abolition of the death penalty in Yugoslavia in 1983, and in the organization of mass protests in Ljubljana in 1988 and in the Slovenian spring in the late 1980s.
Translating George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 encouraged Puhar to significantly reflect on the nature of the communist regime for the first time. She emphasizes that the translation of such a text stirs people and fosters an aptitude for critical thinking, so they begin to think about the world in which they live and use it for comparative analysis. Puhar states that in the book tyranny is explained “as anatomy...every step of what is done and how it is done.” In the details of the book, she recognized the tyranny in her life: "To live in tyranny is to live in a world where crucial things are not discussed. In a tyranny, the crucial things are lied about." (Puhar, interview, July 6, 2017)
Alenka Puhar testifies to how seldom anyone in Slovenia called themselves “dissident” and how the word “opposition” was not used before 1988, because by using this earlier an individual would effectively be “confessing” to being a “counter revolutionary” (Puhar, interview, July 6, 2017). Puhar describes her activities as subversive, while the regime monitoring her activities described them as "right-wing" and dissidence, also using the term "right-wing bourgeoisie" (Puhar, interview, July 6, 2017).
Alenka Puhar’s collection consists of three parts: books, periodicals and documents. Most of the books are about historical and socio-political topics related to the history of Slovenia, Yugoslavia and communism. The key journals from the collection are the Slovenian Nova revija, (Puhar was a member of the editorial board) and the émigré Polish newspaper Poland News Bulletin and Index on Censorship. Most foreign editions came to her through Amnesty International, which was banned in Yugoslavia. The most valuable part of the collection is the documentation on the Human Rights Movement in Slovenia, primarily the campaign (petition) for the abolition of the death penalty in Yugoslavia in 1983. The entire box is dedicated to this issue and it contains hundreds of original signatures for the abolition of the death penalty from all over Yugoslavia. The collection also attests to Puhar's participation in various campaigns against different social phenomena, political trials and provisions of the criminal code, and it also contains documentation on the activities of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. At the same time, the collection testifies to the inter-republic cooperation of Yugoslav dissidents and contains letters from Ivan Janković, Vojislav Koštunica, Kosta Čavoški, Vladimir Šeks, Dobroslav Paraga, Marko Veselica and others (Puhar, interview, July 6, 2017).
The materials from the collection have so far been used for the publication of two books by Alenka Puhar, Peticije, pisma in tihotapski časi (Petitions, Letters and a Time of Smuggling) Maribor: Obzorja, 1985), and Slovenski avtoportret 1918-1991 (A Slovenian Self-Portrait 1918-1991), Ljubljana: Nova revija, 1992).
Description of content
Alenka Puhar’s Collection consists of three parts: books, periodicals and documents. The collection contains about two thousand books, more than a thousand documents and periodicals. The most important periodicals are Poland News Bulletin and Index on Censorship. The books are mainly related to socio-political topics and the protection of human rights, while the documentation primarily covers the human rights movement. In addition to this, Alenka Puhar also has a large collection of cartoons from the 1980s, which were the basis for the book Slovenski avtoportret 1918-1991.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Puhar, Alenka. Peticije, pisma in tihotapski časi (Petitions, Letters and a Time of Smuggling), Maribor: Obzorja, 1985.
Puhar, Alenka. Pozabljena polovica (The Forgotten Half), co-edited with Marta Verginella, Ljubljana: Slovenska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti, 2007.
Puhar, Alenka. Prvotno besedilo življenja (The Primary Text of Life) Zagreb: Globus, 1982.
Puhar, Alenka. Slovenski avtoportret 1918-1991 (A Slovenian Self-Portrait, 1918-1991), Ljubljana: Nova revija, 1992.
Vode, Angela. Skriti spomin (Hidden Memoir), ed. Alenka Puhar, Ljubljana: Nova Revija, 2004.
Author(s) of this page
- Bencetić, Lidija
Puhar, Alenka. Peticije, pisma in tihotapski časi (Petitions, Letters and Times of Smuggling). Maribor: Obzorja, 1985.
Puhar, Alenka. Pozabljena polovica (The Forgotten Half). co-edited with Marta Verginella, Ljubljana: Slovenska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti, 2007.
Puhar, Alenka. Prvotno besedilo življenja (The Primary Text of Life). Zagreb: Globus, 1982.
Puhar, Alenka. Slovenski avtoportret 1918-1991 (The Slovene Self-Portrait, 1918-1991). Ljubljana: Nova revija, 1992.
Vode, Angela. Skriti spomin (The Hidden Memoir). ed. Alenka Puhar, Ljubljana: Nova Revija, 2004.
Puhar, Alenka, interview by Bencetić, Lidija , Shek Brnardić, Teodora , July 06, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection