Modor, Ádám Samizdat Collection
Budapest Pinty utca 22, Hungary 1121
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Name of collection
- Inheritance of Ádám Modor
Provenance and cultural activities
Ádám Modor’s bequest consists of personal and official (formal) documents concerning the democratic opposition and the samizdat publication of periodicals and books in the 1980s. The material of the collection bears witness to the events of several decades. More than just the life and professional career of Modor, it sheds light on the history of Katalizátor Iroda from its foundation to its end in 1995, and the years after the political transition, when the office was transformed from being an important institution of distribution of samizdat to a publishing company with legal activity. Materials linked to the cultural opposition are mostly from the 1980s, yet personal correspondence, notes, and stories also refer to the earlier stage of the age of Kádár, whereas the documents of Modor’s research, interviews, and newspaper articles are related to the decades after the political transition. Thus, the collection was created over the course of several decades and reflects a subjective narrative of the period and the stories of various groups.
One part of the collection can be dated to the mid-1980s, including materials, manuscripts, and drafts connected to the publication of prohibited samizdat, as well as a few leaflets and prints of the Polish political Solidarnosc. Most of them are typed manuscripts that were to be published by Katalizátor. This material includes Quo Vadis Romania, a Romanian-language manuscript by Sándor Tóth (who wrote using the pseudonym Béla Ábel) and its translation, a copy of Jelentés Erdélyből (Report from Transylvania) form 1987, as well as Esperanto texts by Sándor Szathmári and the manuscript of A Tao virágai (The Flowers of Tao) by László Tábori. There are also several samizdat publications (AB Hírmondó, Demokrata, principally issues of periodicals) and a set of books, biographies, and photos in the collection. The 1980s section of the collection includes Modor’s own literary, historical, and political writings such as A mi utcánk (Our street), Küzdelem a szarral (Strife with the shit), Helyzetünk 1985-ben (Our situation in 1956), and the uncertainly dated Ő – Önéletrajzi regény (He – a biographical novel). As a special item within the collection, a typewriting machine is also stored which was used to reproduce a number of samizdat works.
Later, after the political transition, the collection expanded with the addition of further documents. Ádám Modor collected a lot of photocopied documents from the Historical Office (Történeti Hivatal) which were mostly related to the 1980s. In some cases, they were about him and his role in samizdat publication, and he wanted to keep these document for academic work. Although not originating before 1990 yet in their content closely related to that period, the various types of sources (documents, recordings, interviews) concerning the movies produced together with film director János Gulyás also constitute an important part of the collection. In this part of the collection, much material is related to the “foot soldier” participants in samizdat-making. The texts collected just before 2000 (e.g. an interview with politician László Kövér, a commemorative volume, articles by jailed Romanian bishop Áron Márton) all reflect the preliminary processing for historical analysis. Modor continued collecting specific types of documentation for Katalizátor Iroda even after the political transition and the end of Katalizátor, including the proceedings of a 1992 meeting in the Merlin Theater in Budapest and an unknown manuscript written in pencil. Moreover, he added a large number of newspaper articles to the collection.The collection was established by Ádám Modor and was developed from the 1980s up to his death in 2009. His intention was probably to document the period and to create a set of a wide range of sources for historical analysis. In the 2000s, Modor was considering founding a website (called The XX-Files) on the 1980s, but he never did. Some of the materials in the bequest were lost, and some were seized by the police in 1988 (probably a manuscript by political prisoner Béla Szász). Some was given as a present by Modor in 2008. The collection is located at various sites, including Pinty Street in Budapest and the flats of various members of the family. The collection has not been made public so far. However, a few of the documents have been used for the purpose of an exhibition on Plot 301 (in the New Public Cemetery, Budapest, where people executed for their alleged participation on the 1956 Revolution are buried) by János Balassa és Ádám Bálint.
Description of content
The documents stored in the collection of Ádám Modor can be dated to the period between 1980 and 2009. They represent a large range, both in terms of the ways in which they were written and their contents. Among the items produced before 1990, there is a collection of samizdat (primarily AB Hírmondó, Beszélő, Demokrata, which were samizdat periodicals). It also contains a set of books published as samizdat (some 30 items). The latter includes some of the own publications of Katalizátor Iroda (eg. Halottaink 1956, which is about the history of Plot 301) as well as the texts of other publishers such as Minden kényszer nélkül [Without any Pressure] by Béla Szász, Állati Gazdaság [Animal State Farm] by Béla Nóvé (the translation of Animal Farm by Georg Orwell), and a number of published and unpublished manuscripts of Katalizátor Iroda. A collection of movies and audio recordings is also included, with interview material (with Béla Nóvé, Tibor Pákh) for movies produced together with János Gulyás and research interviews as key items. A further significant part of the collection consists of personal notes, diaries, short stories, research outlines, applications, and copies of archive documents (of relevance to his research) of Ádám Modor. A script by István Szőcs for a movie about 1848 revolutionary Prime Minister Lajos Batthyány is also worth mentioning. The printing machine with which the publications of Katalizátor Iroda and a few issues of Beszélő were printed is also part of the collection.
- artifacts: 0-9
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
- video recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 10-99
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Budapest Pinty utca 22, Hungary
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Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Káli, Anita
Modor, Bálint, interview by Káli, Anita , September 24, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection