Periodical Auseklis Collection
The periodical Auseklis (Morning Star) was a samizdat magazine published in 1987-1988 by the human rights group Helsinki-86, and was the first independent periodical in Soviet Latvia. It was distributed by volunteers outside official distribution networks.
LV-1050 Rīga Raiņa bulvāris 7 , Latvia
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Name of collection
- Donation of Vaira Strautniece.
Provenance and cultural activities
In 1987, the human rights group Helsinki-86 started to publish the periodical Auseklis (Morning Star). The first issue came out in September 1987, and as the editors admitted in the first issue, it was the first uncensored periodical in Latvia since 15 May 1934 (since the authoritarian coup by Kārlis Ulmanis). It aimed to be an 'independent socio-political, literary and religious magazine'. The editor was Ivars Žukovskis (b. 1936), a former political prisoner and dissident. Lidija Doroņina-Lasmane (b. 1925, who was involved in the 'Action of Light') and Ausma Krēsla were members of the editorial board. It was a samizdat publication, but the editors formally submitted a request to the Council of Ministers of the Latvian SSR to allow 20 to 30 copies of the periodical to be distributed free of charge. This request was denied, on the grounds that publishing in the USSR was restricted to the state and officially listed NGOs. Despite this, the editors did publish the magazine, on the grounds that a decision by the LSSR Council of Ministers in April 1987 permitted individual business activities. However, in January 1988, the Council of Ministers amended this decision, and banned individual initiatives in publishing. Although the Public Prosecutor's Department demanded that the publication be closed on these grounds, Žukovskis argued that a decision on individual business activities did not refer to tax-exempt publications. Since the authorities could not apply direct repressions under the conditions of glasnost, the samizdat publication of Auseklis continued. Altogether, seven issues were published. The magazine was quite long, the first issue had more than 100 pages. It published articles about political events in Latvia, documents from Helsinki-86 and other unofficial organisations, analytical articles on the official press, literary work, etc. The magazine was typed on a typewriter. Since photocopiers were rare and controlled by the KGB, one of the most convenient ways of making copies for distribution was to take photographs. Vaira Strautniece (b. 1942) was a professional photographer, who in the 1980s worked in the photography and film unit of the Academy of Sciences. Her colleague Zigurds Vidiņš (b. 1943) asked her to make 20 copies of each issue. She kept one copy for herself, and handed over the remaining 19 to Vidiņš, who looked after the distribution of the magazine. It should be stressed that the publication was semi-legal, and involvement in its distribution could still have unpleasant consequences for those involved. Although this collection is not on show at present in the exhibition at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, it is envisaged to use it in the new exhibition after the renovation of the museum is finished.
Description of content
The collection consists of photographic copies of five issues of the samizdat magazine Auseklis (Morning Star) (No 1, September 1987; No 2/3, October-November 1987; No 4, January 1988; No 5, April 1988). The periodical was a significant step towards the resumption of freedom of speech in Latvia.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 0-9
Date of founding
Place of founding
Latvia, LV-1050, Riga, Raiņa bulvāris 7
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Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Part of network
Kokneviča, Taiga , interview by Bleiere, Daina , October 27, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection