Raţiu–Tilea Archives of the Romanian Exile Collection at BCU Cluj–Napoca
The collection comprising the documents collected by Ion Raţiu and Viorel V. Tilea gives detailed insights into the activities of its two creators, who were key political and cultural personalities of the Romanian diaspora. It represents one of the most valuable sources of documentation for the history of the Romanian exile community in the West during the Cold War period.
Cluj-Napoca Strada Clinicilor 2, Romania 400000
Show on map
Name of collection
Raţiu–Tilea Fond at BCU Cluj–Napoca
Provenance and cultural activities
The Raţiu–Tilea Archives of the Romanian Exile Collection reflects the political and cultural activity of Romanian exile milieus in Western Europe during the Cold War period and the criticism expressed by leaders of the exile community towards the communist regime in Romania. The collection was gathered by Viorel V. Tilea and Ion Raţiu, two key personalities of the post-war Romanian exile community in London. Both were members of the renowned Raţiu family, which distinguished itself during the nineteenth century through its members’ involvement in the movement of the Romanians in Austria–Hungary to acquire civil and political rights.
In September 1940, when the fascist political regime of the National Legionary State was proclaimed in Romania, Tilea held the position of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Romania to the United Kingdom, while Raţiu was a member of the staff of the Romanian Legation in London. The new political regime withdrew Tilea from office and Raţiu resigned from his position, because he did not want to serve the pro-Nazi government. Both decided to remain in the UK during the far-right dictatorship and asked for political asylum. While leaving his position at the Romanian Legation in London, Tilea retained a number of diplomatic documents that reflect Romanian foreign policy in the period from 1939 to 1940. In March 1939, Tilea was involved in the diplomatic incident called the “Tilea Affair,” which according to British historian Rebecca Haynes had a strong impact on British foreign policy in Eastern Europe. After this incident, during which Tilea alarmed the British government that Germany was intending to dismember Romania as it had done with Czechoslovakia, the Foreign Office tried “to counteract the growing German influence in Eastern Europe” (Haynes 2000, 99). Tilea also carefully collected and archived his correspondence with politicians and diplomats from the 1930s and 1940s, transcripts of the meetings of the Romanian governments led by the National Peasants Party during early 1930s, notes about his political and diplomatic activity, and clippings from the Western press dealing with Romanian issues covering the period of the Second World War and the first decade of the post-war period. Besides these documents covering international and national politics, Tilea also collected a large number of personal documents such as private correspondence, documents relating to his business activities, and drafts of his writings. The documents gathered by Tilea after 1944 chronicle the communist takeover of power in Romania, the emergence of the first organisational structures of the Romanian exile community and the internal disagreements among its members. The documents collected by Tilea reflect his democratic convictions, his critical stance towards both far right and communist dictatorships in Romania, and his involvement in the activities of the Romanian exile community in the West. After Tilea’s death in 1972, Ion Raţiu, his nephew, inherited Tilea’s collection of documents and private library and merged them with his own items.
After the communist takeover in Romania, Raţiu choose not to return to his native country. He continued to stay in the UK, where he acted as a journalist during the 1940s and 1950s. Due this these experiences, he acquired a deep knowledge of East European issues in the post-war period and collected a wide variety of documents which mirror the history of communist Romania and the political and cultural activities of the Romanian diaspora in the West. His efforts of documentation were materialised in the items of his collections such as: lecture sheets, drafts of his academic works, drafts and transcripts of radio shows and speeches, brochures and programs of academic events in the West focused on Eastern European issues, etc. Raţiu started in the late 1950s to publish Free Romanian Press: Features and News from Romania, a weekly bulletin of news that circulated within the Romanian diaspora in the West and displayed a vocal critical attitude towards the communist regime. The Raţiu–Tilea Archives comprise a complete collection of issues of this bulletin of news, which is very rare both in Romania and abroad.
Raţiu was also heavily involved in organising the Romanian émigré community in the West, especially during two periods. The first period was during the 1940s when he was one of the initiators of the Executive Committee of the Movement of Free Romanians, and the period from 1960s to the 1980s, when he launched several associations and initiatives. In 1965, Raţiu established the British Romanian Cultural Association, which later provided a platform for many of his political and cultural initiatives in the exile community. Raţiu initiated also the World Union of Free Romanians, whose president he was elected in 1984. This organisation that aimed at unifying all the organisations of the Romanian exile in the West, distinguished itself through its vocal opposition against the violations of the human rights by the communist regime in Romania. Raţiu’s activity of organising the Romanian émigré community is well illustrated by that part of the collection which contains reports about various events that took place within the Romanian diaspora, memoranda sent to Western governments concerning human rights infringements by the communist regime in Romania, correspondence not only with political and cultural personalities of the Romanian exile community, but also with Western politicians, drafts of his speeches held at the meetings of the afore-mentioned organisations.
The archives of the Romanian exile that were stored within Raţiu’s study in London attracted the interest of the Securitate, which in 1961 drafted a detailed plan to purloin those files that were considered of high interest for the secret police (Olaru 2017, 9). Raţiu himself observed that some files disappeared from his office. The Securitate had a special interest in the files in which Raţiu gathered information about the activity of the personalities of the Romanian exile community because they expected these files to contain secret information about those persons. As Lavinia Snejana Costea, a Romanian historian specialised in the history of the Romanian exile has pointed out, the Securitate had tended to overrate the importance of the political activity of Romanian personalities in exile and its threat to the regime’s security (Interview with Lavinia Snejana Costea). Thus, the Securitate invested a lot of resources in penetrating the Romanian diaspora in the West with informers and keeping all its key personalities under close surveillance.
When Raţiu returned to Romania in January 1990, the Raţiu–Tilea collection of documents remained in London at the Raţiu Foundation’s offices. After his death in 2000, the family decided to donate the greater part of his collection of documents and personal library to BCU Cluj-Napoca, Professor Doru Radosav, who was the head of the institution at that moment, played a significant role in this transfer. In 2010, a part of the collection of documents collected by Raţiu and Tilea was transferred to BCU Cluj-Napoca. Another part of the collection of documents remained in the custody of the Raţiu Foundation in London. From 2010 to 2018, the Raţiu–Tilea collection of documents was archived and the entire collection became accessible to the public at the Special Collections department at BCU Cluj-Napoca. During this process the BCU staff preserved the archiving work done by the creators of collection and continued its logic when archiving those items that had not been archived by the creators.
Description of content
The Raţiu–Tilea Archives of the Romanian Exile Collection comprises more than 500 files of documents such as: personal and institutional correspondence, drafts of academic papers and speeches, drafts and transcripts of radio shows, various memorandums addressed to Western governments concerning the human rights infringements of the Romanian communist regime, statutes and plans of the associations of the Romanian exile community, transcripts of political meetings, official statistics, diplomatic documents from the Romanian Legation in London, press clippings, newspapers, reports, financial documents reflecting the business activities of both Viorel V. Tilea and Ion Raţiu, and brochures and posters of cultural events. These documents cover a wide variety of topics such as: the history of the Romanian diaspora in the West, the anti-communist initiatives of Romanian personalities in exile, interwar Romanian politics, and Romanian foreign policy during the twentieth century. Due to the active involvement of its creators within Romanian exile organisations, this collection is one of the most valuable sources of documentation for the history of the Romanian diaspora. It reflects the most important activities against the communist regime in Romania and the critical stance of many of the cultural and political personalities of the Romanian exile community.
- cartoons & caricatures: 0-9
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 1000-
- legal and/or financial documentation: 1000-
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 500-999
- memorabilia (posters, flyers, stamps, etc.): 10-99
- photos: 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 1000-
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
London, United Kingdom
Show on map
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Pintilescu, Corneliu
BCU Cluj-Napoca. 2009. “Inaugurarea Bibliotecii Raţiu – Tilea la Biblioteca Centrală Universitară ‘Lucian Blaga’ Cluj” (The inauguration of the Raţiu–Tilea Library at the Lucian Blaga Central University Library Cluj-Napoca). Buletin Informativ: Biblioteca Centrală Universitară Lucian Blaga Cluj-Napoca 8: 2–4. Accessed November 14, 2017. http://aleph.bcucluj.ro/doc/buletin8.pdf
BCU Cluj-Napoca. 2017. “Donaţii şi donatori de prestigiu: Raţiu, Ion” (Donations and prestigious donors: Raţiu, Ion). Accessed November 14, 2017. ttps://www.bcucluj.ro/ro/despre-noi/donaţii-şi-donatori-de-prestigiu#pitariu.
BCU Cluj-Napoca. 2017. “Donaţii şi donatori de prestigiu: Tilea, Viorel Virgil” (Donations and prestigious donors: Tilea, Viorel Virgil). Accessed November 14, 2017. https://www.bcucluj.ro/ro/despre-noi/dona%C5%A3ii-%C5%9Fi-donatori-de-prestigiu#szabo
Buzle, Nicolina. 2009. “‘Eu sunt un fel de peregrin transilvan şi revin în ţară ...’ – Interviu cu Indrei Raţiu.” (“I am a kind of a Transylvanian traveller and I return to the homeland ... ” – interview with Indrei Raţiu). BiblioRev 17. Accessed November 14, 2017. https://www.bcucluj.ro/bibliorev/arhiva/nr17/biblio2.html.
Haynes, Rebecca. 2000. Romanian Policy Towards Germany, 1936-40. London: Macmillan.
Olaru, Stejărel. 2017. “Ion Raţiu, o poveste încă nespusă” (Ion Raţiu: an still untold story).Timpul 220: 8–9. Accessed January 18, 2018. http://revistatimpul.ro/documents/suplimente/Supliment-TIMPUL-iulie-2017.pd
Costea, Lavinia Snejana , interview by Pintilescu, Corneliu, January 25, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection