Igor Cașu Private Collection
The Igor Cașu Collection represents above all an alternative collection of archival materials about the history of the Soviet Regime in the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR), originating from major public archives in the Republic of Moldova that preserve such documents without granting free access to them. The founder of this collection had privileged access to the items that are now part of his collection in the short time span when he acted as vice-president of the Commission for the Study and Evaluation of the Communist Regime in Moldova in 2010. In contrast to the public archives, the Igor Cașu Collection, which also includes an oral history interviews section, is shared with fellow researchers.
MD-2024, Chisinau, 32, Andrei Doga Str., Apt. 73
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Name of collection
- Igor Cașu Private Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The Igor Cașu Collection features two main categories of documents. The first category comprises oral history interviews that the founder of the collection has conducted with a number of people who expressed their opposition to the communist regime in various forms. The interviewed subjects include both prominent dissidents who contributed to active resistance against the regime and less well-known figures, whose main merits were linked to certain isolated, but symbolically charged, acts of defiance. To exemplify the first type of interviews, one could cite the interview with the famous dissident and anti-Soviet activist Mihai Moroșanu. The interview was taken in March 2011 and focused on Moroșanu’s trajectory as a nationally minded student. He was accused of nationalist tendencies for taking part in a public ceremony of laying flower wreaths at a monument dedicated to the medieval ruler Stephen the Great, who successfully reigned over historical Moldavia for forty-seven years and thus represents one of the most prominent personalities in Romanian history. The event took place on 11 October 1964, as Chişinău was celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which had been established on 12 October 1924. It was rumored that the monument to Stephen the Great would be moved to another, less central, location. Moroșanu collected signatures from students opposing the plan, as well as money to buy a flower wreath with the inscription “from the youth of Moldavia,” which he laid at the statue. As punishment, he was suspended from the institute and forced to work at a Chişinău-based reinforced-concrete plant for two years. Only after that could he resume his studies. However, he was soon arrested for his involvement in another incident, during which he insisted on speaking Romanian to a Russian shopkeeper in a central Chișinău shop. As a result, Moroșanu was sentenced to a three-year prison term. The interview focuses on the motivations and dynamics of Moroșanu’s criticism of the communist regime. His oppositional activity resulted from a combination of his nationalist convictions and his forceful personality, which displayed itself even after his release from prison. He remained openly defiant throughout the 1970s and 1980s, acquiring a certain public notoriety for his courage.
The second type of interviews concern less visible instances of public opposition to the regime. An interesting example concerns the case of two young women, Asea Andruh and Lilia Neagu, who were accused of writing over forty “anti-Soviet” slogans on a number of public buildings in central Chișinău in the autumn of 1970. In this period, this act was not as isolated as it might seem, given the persistence and resurgence of nationally oriented beliefs in intellectual circles, which provoked the dissatisfaction of the authorities. However, this public display was unusual in the generally quiet atmosphere of the MSSR. According to Neagu’s and Andruh’s testimony, the pro-Romanian nature of the slogans and the identification of many members from the new generation of educated Moldavians with the Romanians disturbed the regime more than the anti-Russian and nationalist nature of the inscriptions. Thus, the interviews offer interesting and valuable samples of oppositional actions and discourses from a variety of personal and social contexts, showing both their relative impact and their limits.
The bulk of archival documents in the collection was collected after 2010. This was possible due to the activity of the Presidential Commission for the Study and Evaluation of the Communist Totalitarian Regime in the Republic of Moldova, in which Igor Cașu served as vice-president. Most of the documents in Igor Cașu’s collection were originally preserved in several public archives, to which access is severely restricted at present. The materials in Igor Cașu’s collection were gathered from the following archives: the former Archive of the Central Committee of the Moldavian Communist Party, currently the Archive of Social-Political Organisations of the Republic of Moldova (AOSPRM); the former KGB Archive (currently the Archive of the Intelligence and Security Service, SIS), the archive of the Moldavian Writers’ Union (MWU), located in the Mihail Kogălniceanu Museum of Romanian Literature, and, finally, a collection of documents in the National Archive of the Republic of Moldova (ANRM) related to censorship (Glavlit). Most of the documents from the AOSPRM that are relevant for the topic of cultural opposition come from the so-called “Fond 51,” which covers the proceedings of the Central Committee of the Moldavian Communist Party after 1940. The materials from the SIS Archive originate from the judicial records of the persons repressed by the communist regime, providing valuable information on cases of individuals persecuted for political reasons. The most significant such cases are from the 1960s and early 1970s, when the local first secretary was Ivan Bodiul, who used the theme of local nationalism in order to enhance his credentials in Moscow and to tighten his grip at the local level. Under Bodiul’s leadership, which coincided with Ceaușescu’s coming to power in Romania and his anti-Soviet attitudes, there were constant campaigns against pro-Romanian individuals, which were driven by the fear of “contamination” by Romanian nationalism. The MWU archive is significant specifically for the situation of Moldovan writers under communism. The materials from the National Archive focus on issues related to censorship and official propaganda, but also shed some light on the inner workings of the Soviet institutions responsible for these areas. Finally, the collection features a number of photos and audio recordings that provide important insights into the phenomenon of cultural opposition in the late Soviet period. These materials allow one to assess what was considered “dangerous” from the official point of view at any given moment.
Description of content
The collection contains the following types of materials: 1) oral history interviews; 2) archival documents; 3) photos; 4) audio recordings. The collection includes several interviews with prominent and less well-known dissidents / oppositional figures active during the existence of the MSSR. Most of the interviews are of a “life-story” type and focus on the subjects’ personal and professional trajectories under the Soviet regime, as well as on their reasons and motivations for engaging in oppositional activity. The creator of the collection was interested both in notorious cases and less well-known instances of oppositional activity. The archival documents are connected to Cașu’s interest in the definition of the Soviet Moldavian nation by the communist regime, especially after 1944. A central topic of the documents coming from the AOSPRM concerns the language issue and the culturally significant figures that were to be included in the pantheon of the new “Moldavian” nation. These materials pertain to the ethno-cultural dimension of opposition to the regime, especially in the period between the late 1940s and the early 1970s. The materials from the SIS Archive refer to the main categories of persons repressed by the regime for reasons linked to various forms of cultural opposition. The first category includes people repressed during the all-Union campaigns (e.g. in 1946-1948, during the campaign against “cosmopolitanism,” or during later campaigns waged in the early 1960s, under Khrushchev, mostly against “formalism” in art). The second category of repressed persons suffered because of locally specific issues, such as campaigns against “local nationalism,” which took place mostly in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The materials from the MWU Archive and from the ANRM include excerpts from censored texts, official correspondence, minutes of official meetings, etc. The collection features a photo collection, with materials from the personal files preserved in the Collection on Repressed Persons in the SIS Archive, but also from a special photo collection in the National Archive concerning various individuals, public events, writers’ congresses, etc. Finally, several important audio recordings (notably, the recording of the Third Congress of the Moldavian Writers’ Union in 1965) are also part of the collection.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 0-9
- other: 100-499
- photos: 10-99
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 0-9
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- all closed to the public
Cașu, Igor. 2012. “Political Repressions in the Moldavian SSR After 1956: Towards a Typology Based on KGB Files.” Dystopia: Journal of Totalitarian Ideologies and Regimes 1 (1-2): 89-127.
Cașu, Igor. 2014. “The Quiet Revolution:” Revisiting the National Identity Issue in Soviet Moldavia at the Height of Khrushchev’s Thaw (1956).” Euxeinos: Governance and Culture in the Black Sea Region 15-16: 77-91.
Author(s) of this page
- Cusco, Andrei
- Petrescu, Cristina
Cașu, Igor. 2012. “Political Repressions in the Moldavian SSR After 1956: Towards a Typology Based on KGB Files.” Dystopia: Journal of Totalitarian Ideologies and Regimes, 1 (1-2): 89-127.
Cașu, Igor , interview by Cusco, Andrei, October 29, 2016. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection