Mihnea Berindei Collection at the A. D. Xenopol Institute of History in Iași
The Mihnea Berindei Collection stored at the library of the A.D. Xenopol Institute of History of the Romanian Academy in Iași comprises the founder’s personal library. It consists of two major parts. First, it includes almost two thousand books, of which over a hundred are directly relevant for the history of the communist regimes in Romania and the neighbouring countries. These publications also reflect Berindei’s interest in human rights issues in communist Eastern Europe and the USSR. Second, it features a substantial sample of periodicals (magazines and journals), mostly published in exile and dealing with Eastern and Central Europe during the communist era. Mihnea Berindei donated his library to the A.D. Xenopol Institute of History in Iași shortly before his death, in 2016. This collection is significant due to its focus on the publications and activities of the Romanian exile community in the West. It also emphasises its founder’s abiding interest in the history and political trajectories of the East European communist regimes.
Iași Strada Codrescu 6, Romania 700481
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Name of collection
Mihnea Berindei Collection at the A. D. Xenopol Institute of History (Iași)
Provenance and cultural activities
During his years in French exile, when Mihnea Berindei emerged as a significant public intellectual and crucial intermediary between the Romanian opposition movement and Western media and political circles, he amassed a substantial archive and a rich library. The latter was donated to the A.D. Xenopol Institute of History of the Romanian Academy in Iași shortly before Berindei’s death, in 2016. It totals over two thousand books and periodicals focusing on the founder’s main professional and academic interests, including his main specialisation in the field of Ottoman studies and his constant interest in the Napoleonic period. These subjects accordingly represent a significant part of the library materials. The ad-hoc collection presented here, however, consists exclusively of those publications that are directly relevant to the history and politics of communist Romania and other countries of the Soviet bloc. These publications include general overviews of the recent history of Romania and other Socialist countries, analytical works concerning the history and politics of the Soviet bloc countries after World War II, the dissident movement and its evolution during the communist regimes, various memoirs and personal diaries of anti-regime activists and exiles, etc. Many books in the collection include the authors’ signatures and personal dedications to Mihnea Berindei, emphasising their close connections and his role in assisting them during exile. This is especially relevant in the case of prominent dissidents, enhancing the value of these materials. Besides the book collection, Berindei amassed over the years a substantial collection of periodicals, mainly published in France either by exiles from Eastern Europe or by French intellectuals interested in the region. Berindei himself was a co-editor or permanent collaborator at some of these magazines and journals (notably L’Alternative, La Nouvelle Alternative and L’Autre Europe). These materials are relevant for his intellectual horizon, but are also a valuable resource for researchers interested in the history of Eastern Europe during the communist era.
The books connected to the history and politics of communist Romania and other East European countries could be divided into two large categories. The most relevant type of materials includes a number of publications printed in the West or in exile by professional historians / political scientists or by anti-communist exiles who had written their memoirs. The largest sample of such works was published at the Jon-Dumitru Verlag in Munich, the most important publication venue for the Romanian exile community, especially from the 1970s onwards. Among the main authors in this category may be mentioned Ion Dumitru, Doru Novacovici, Constantin Dumitrescu, Noel Barnard, and Remus Radina. This category also includes works by Ghiță Ionescu, Vlad Georgescu, Pavel Cîmpeanu, Michael Shafir, Claude Karnoouh, and Andrey Amalrik, which constructed a more analytical argument and mostly belonged to the genre of serious scholarly works, despite their authors’ overt ideological rejection and condemnation of the communist regime in Romania and beyond. A separate subcategory was that of the reports and synthetic overviews of the human rights situation in Romania and other countries of the Soviet bloc drafted by the staff and experts of international organisation for the protection of human rights (e.g., Helsinki Watch, Human Rights Watch, the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe). The second type of publications encompasses a large number of works published in Romania after 1990, which reflect on and analyse the communist period. Most of these works were written by prominent Romanian dissidents and anti-regime activists within the Romanian exile community, such as Gabriel Andreescu, Monica Lovinescu and Virgil Ierunca, Mihai Botez, Dorin Tudoran, Doina Cornea, N. C. Munteanu, Vasile Paraschiv, and Matei Călinescu). Although some of these works were not produced during the communist period per se, they represent a valuable resource for researchers interested in that era and frequently provide a measure of personal self-reflection on the anti-regime activities performed by their authors before 1989. One of the most relevant examples in this regard is the two-volume edition of the letters sent to Radio Free Europe by Romanian citizens during 1979–1989, published by Mihnea Berindei and former dissident Gabriel Andreescu (Ultimul deceniu comunist. Scrisori către Radio Europa Liberă (The last communist decade. Letters to Radio Free Europe), Iași, Polirom, 2010–2014. The book collection also contains a number of volumes dealing with the Prague Spring of 1968 and the Polish Solidarity movement of the early 1980s, witnessing to Mihnea Berindei’s constant interest in the opposition movements developing in Central Europe.
The second part of the collection comprises a representative selection of periodicals, mostly published in France during the 1970s and 1980s, which were either devoted to Central and Eastern European events and political processes or displayed a certain interest in the region. Mihnea Berindei himself was actively involved in many of these publication projects either as co-editor or as permanent collaborator (primarily in the journals L’Alternative, La Nouvelle Alternative and L’Autre Europe). Besides these three journals, which are represented almost in their entirety, Berindei also collected occasional issues of other periodicals dealing with Central and Eastern Europe, e.g., Cahiers de l’Est, Revue des Etudes Roumaines, Le Courrier des Pays de l’Est, L’URSS et l’Europe de l’Est, La Nouvelle Europe, Diagonales Est-Ouest, Politique Internationale and Uncaptive Minds. The review L’Alternative, for example, published between 1979 and 1985, closely followed the main developments in the communist countries, publishing surveys, synthetic overviews, analytical texts, relevant documents, and works of prominent dissidents. It also paid significant attention to human rights issues and included a “chronicle of current events,” informing its Western readership about the main noteworthy occurrences in the regions beyond the Iron Curtain. Berindei’s journal collection is one of the most substantial of its kind in Romania. It is especially valuable for reconstituting the activities of East European exiles in France during the last decade of the existence of the East European communist regimes.The materials donated by Mihnea Berindei will form a separate book collection at the library of the A.D. Xenopol Institute of History. Following the donor’s wish, the library will remain intact and will reflect his professional interests and preoccupations. The ad-hoc collection presented here consists of materials relating to the history of communism, with a special focus on the opposition movements in Romania and other East European countries. Together with Berindei’s archive, his library will be an extremely valuable resource for the interested researchers and the wider public.
Description of content
Mihnea Berindei’s personal library consists of over two thousand book titles, various excerpts and over thirty periodicals (with varying degrees of completeness) amassed by its founder over a period of more than forty years, during his residence in France. Most of the items were gathered between the mid-1970s and 2015. During their transportation to their present location in Iași, these materials filled eighty-eight large boxes. At this point, approximately 1,750 books (including excerpts) and most of the periodicals have been inventoried by the librarian of the A.D. Xenopol Institute of History. For the purposes of this ad-hoc collection, over one hundred books and around ten periodical publications have been reviewed. The overall structure of the library comprises various valuable publications issued in Romanian, French, English, German, Italian, Turkish, Russian, Polish, etc. These materials cover a period starting from the 1890s and extending into the 2010s. They concern the main fields of interest pursued by Mihnea Berindei, including: Ottoman studies, the medieval history of Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania, the history of the Black Sea region and the Eastern Mediterranean, and the military and political history of the Napoleonic period. The present ad-hoc collection focuses specifically on various publications relating to the recent history of Romania and other Central and Eastern European countries, analytical and synthetic works regarding the history of the Soviet bloc after World War II, the dissident movement during the communist regime (in Romania and other socialist countries), memoirs and diaries written by prominent dissidents and anti-regime activists, etc. Some items in the collection concern human rights issues (for example, reports drafted by international organisations). Many books include the authors’ signatures and personal dedications to Mihnea Berindei. Another important part of the collection features almost complete samples or fragmentary issues of important periodical publications printed in France from the late 1970s to the early 2000s. The journals published during the late 1970s and 1980s dealing primarily with Eastern and Central European developments or at least occasionally interested in the region are especially significant. The collection includes a number of exile publications in which Mihnea Berindei was directly involved as a co-editor or as a permanent author and collaborator (mainly L’Alternative (twenty-one bound volumes), La Nouvelle Alternative (twelve bound volumes) and L’Autre Europe (nine bound volumes). Besides these three journals, Berindei also collected occasional issues of other periodicals concerned with Central and Eastern Europe during the communist period, e.g. Cahiers de l’Est (five bound volumes),, Revue des Etudes Roumaines (seven volumes), Le Courrier des Pays de l’Est (five volumes), L’URSS et l’Europe de l’Est (three volumes), La Nouvelle Europe, Diagonales Est-Ouest (three volumes), Politique Internationale (twenty-one volumes) and Uncaptive Minds (six volumes). Berindei’s larger library also comprises other important French journals, such as Limite, Problèmes politiques et sociaux, Critique Internationale, Les Temps Modernes etc. According to the terms of the donation agreement signed between the collection founder and the Institute, Mihnea Berindei’s materials should be separated into a special book collection (fond de carte), preserving the content and original structure of the library. This collection is still in the process of being inventoried.
- grey literature (regular archival documents such as brochures, bulletins, leaflets, reports, intelligence files, records, working papers, meeting minutes): 10-99
- photos: 10-99
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): 100-499
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
- Dobrincu, Dorin
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Important events in the history of the collection
- visits by appointments
Author(s) of this page
- Cusco, Andrei
Dobrincu, Dorin. 2017. „De la Paris și Veneția la Iași: biblioteca și arhiva Mihnea Berindei” (From Paris and Venice to Iași: Mihnea Berindei's library and archive). Archiva Moldaviae. Volume IX: 493-509.
Dobrincu, Dorin, interview by Cusco, Andrei, August 14, 2018. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection