Vons.cz is a unique digital collection of archive materials related to the VONS association, which aimed to track and publish cases of political prisoners and other people persecuted for political reasons. All digitized archives are accessible on the web.
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Name of collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The vons.cz website was created under the Grant Agency project of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic under project number IAA800630703. The main investigator of the project was the Institute of Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the project leader was historian Petr Blažek. The project was designed to map the history of the VONS independent initiative, in particular in collaboration with the library Libri Prohibiti and other research institutes. Therefore, the archive sources and testimonies of the witnesses are published online, and the physical documents are available at Libri Prohibiti. The webpage was developed from 2007 until 2009, while funding from the Grant of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic was available, and in 2015 the webhosting was taken over by the Center for Documentation of Totalitarian Regimes.
VONS was established on 27 April 1978 by a group of signatories to Charter 77. The aim of this group was to provide prosecuted individuals with legal representation and financial aid and, where appropriate, other assistance. Reports of cases were also provided by VONS members abroad, where information was disseminated via radio stations such as Radio Free Europe, Voice of America or the BBC, and they were also sent back to Czechoslovakia. VONS members were prosecuted for their activities, the most famous such instance being the prosecution of six members that took place in 1979. VONS did not continue after the Velvet Revolution because its members participated in an amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, calming the stormy state of affairs in prisons and the preparation of general amnesty rehabilitation laws. The committee's work was completed in 1996.
Most of the material was added to the site between 2007 and 2009. Since the conclusion of the project, the website has only been used as a repository of materials, and it also provides information about events associated with the VONS group. It no longer actively publishes material since all archives related to VONS history are available on the site, fully accessible to all.
Description of content
Posted on vons.cz are facsimiles of documents, which originated primarily as a result of the activities of members of the Committee for the Defense of Unjustly Prosecuted People. Most of the materials refer to individual cases that VONS dealt with. Specifically, documents of official origin, such as: indictments, judgments, prosecutors' appeals, orders for house searches, protocols, and various resolutions on the course of criminal prosecution or the submission of individual persons. The collection also contains VONS organizational information, a document about VONS and its members, information regarding VONS cooperation with human rights organizations around the world, and other contacts with foreign countries. Other materials in the collection could not be classified into individual cases. These are documents related to VONS organizational issues, human rights, prisons, case reports, committee papers, news articles, materials that contain data on multiple cases or police repression against a large number of people, as well as other materials.
Archival materials are divided into two groups: I - documents of official origin, including letters and II - materials created by the persons involved.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 10-99
- legal and/or financial documentation: 10-99
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 10-99
- photos: 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 10-99
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Pažout, Jaroslav. Výbor na obranu nespravedlivě stihaných 1978-1989: edice dokumentů. Praha: Academia, 2014.
Author(s) of this page
- Vrtálková, Anna
PAŽOUT, Jaroslav (ed.): Výbor na obranu nespravedlivě stíhaných. Politická perzekuce, opozice a nezávislé aktivity v Československu v letech 1978-1989. Sborník grantového projektu. Libri prohibiti, Praha 2008, 144 s.
Pažout, Jaroslav. Výbor na obranu nespravedlivě stíhaných 1978-1989: edice dokumentů. Praha: Academia, 2014.
PAŽOUT, Jaroslav: Výbor na obranu nespravedlivě stíhaných, In: BLAŽEK, Petr (ed.): Opozice a odpor proti komunistickému režimu v Československu 1968–1989. FF UK v Praze – Dokořán, Praha 2005, s. 96-110, 321-323.
Aktuálně - VONS.cz. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://vons.cz
CEP - IS VaVaI. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.rvvi.cz/cep?s=jednoduche-vyhledavani&ss=detail&n=0&h=IAA800630703
Rendek, Peter, interview by Vrtálková, Anna , November 13, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection