In two chapters, we revisit the milestones of the Ukrainian democratic transition following 1989. The first part explores the social movements and events that defined the country’s path toward state sovereignty, and later independence. We look at these decisive years through archival material held at Blinken OSA. In this counter-archive, the vast holdings on the Cold War anticipate a large collection on democratic transition in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Sarajevo, the biggest concentration camp in the world,” wrote Arma Tanović at the age of 15. Arma was one of the Sarajevan kids and teenagers, who, a year into the siege, sent letters to their American pen pals, in which they introduced themselves and their daily challenges hardly imaginable for others, and asked their unknown friends to do everything they could to stop the war.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher traveled to the Soviet Union in March 1987; it was her first official visit to Moscow since in office for seven years, and she was the first UK leader to visit the USSR in 12 years.
Miklós Horthy passed away in Portugal on February 9, 1957, 65 years ago today. We revisit contemporary press reactions through his Biographical File compiled at the RFE/RL Research Institute. The operations of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), to broadcast across the Iron Curtain in Eastern Bloc countries, was assisted by its own Research Institute.
Seventy-seven years ago today, on January 17, 1945, a Swedish diplomat sent as a special envoy to Nazi-occupied Budapest with a mission to rescue Jews from extermination, was detained by the Red Army on suspicion of espionage. The diplomat was Raoul Wallenberg, a businessman and a member of a banking and industrial family; he was never again seen alive.
“Citizens of the Polish People’s Republic! I turn to you today as a soldier, and as the head of the Polish government. I turn to you in a matter of supreme importance. Our country has found itself at the edge of abyss. The achievements of many generations, the house erected from Polish ashes, is being ruined. The structures of the state are ceasing to function.” These were the first lines of General Wojciech Jaruzelski’s speech aired 40 years ago at 6 am, on December 13, 1981.
69 percent lived in settlements on the outskirts of towns or around villages, 88 percent of adults didn't finish primary school.
I usually encounter three typical reactions when I mention that I deal with education for democratic citizenship (for the sake of simplicity, let us call it “democratic civic education”): firstly, a wry grin signalling that my conversation partner has no idea what I am talking about (most people, but especially my parents’ generation). Secondly, a fierce indignation that there is no need for civic education, and we know all-too-well how similar top-down, compulsory programs turned out (my grandparents).
The first clumsy steps of a child, blowing candles off a birthday cake, a family holiday at the lake Balaton, or cruising along the Italian coast. These are just some of the usual snippets from the Private Photo and Film Foundation’s rich collection of home movies from the last century. As early as the 1920s, amateur cameras appeared in Hungary and became prevalent ways of recording everyday, private realities of primarily middle- and upper-middle-class families.
In September 2021, the latest movie by highly acclaimed Russian director Andrey Konchalovsky, Dear Comrades! premiered in Hungary. The film depicts the heart-rending story of the 1962 Novocherkassk shooting. Public knowledge on the mass protest and its brutal dispersion was suppressed in the USSR before the regime change; in Russia today, it is facing the risk of quieting again.