András Hegedűs B. (1930–2001) had a twofold role in the history of OHA. He was one of its two founders and main interviewers and he had also been an active participant in the revolution, with whom detailed interviews were done to record his testimony. In the spring of 1956, economist and sociologist Hegedűs B. became one of the secretaries of the Petőfi Circle, and in the autumn he became an activist of the Revolutionary Committee of Hungarian Intellectuals. Two interviews with him are found in the holdings of OHA, one recorded in 1985 and another one in 1992–1993. The total typed transcripts of these interviews are almost two-million characters long.
The first interviewee of the research collection which later became the Oral History Archives was Jenő Széll (1912–1994), one of the politicians and intellectuals who supported Imre Nagy against the hardliner Stalinist leader Mátyás Rákosi. Széll’s interview was recorded in 1981–1982, and it served later as an example of the method of doing interviews adopted by OHA. Hegedűs B., the interviewer and a close friend of Jenő Széll’s, not only raised questions about Széll’s personal role during the revolution (Széllhad served as the government commissioner of the Hungarian Radio), but also asked about the events of his life before the revolution, his illegal activities in the workers’ movement before 1945, his trial and the years he spent in prison (1957–1963), and his later fate up until 1981. The transcript of the sound recording, which comes to roughly 1.6 million characters, is avaible as part of the holdings of the archive. Later, a video-interview was also done with Széll, and in 2012, his son Péter Széll published a shorter, edited version of the OHA-interview in 100 copies.
Waldemar Fydrych painted first dwarfs on the walls in late August 1982 in Wrocław together with Wiesław Cupała. According to the dialectic theory of “tactical painting” invented by Fydrych if an anti-governmental slogan was a thesis, and the spot left after it had been painted over was an antithesis, than the image of a dwarf appearing on the spot would be a synthesis. Throughout a year, over a thousand dwarfs were painted, vast majority of them manually, using a paintbrush, by “Major” Fydrych and his companions. Images of dwarfs would appear on walls also in later period, and until today they invariably continue to appear in Fydrych’s paintings.
The historical dwarf was painted on a spot left after the symbol of the Fighting Solidarity (a combination of leters “S” and “W”) on the wall of the building in the Madalińskiego street in Warsaw, where Fydrych temporarily lived. The graffiti comes from a very early period, from before the happenings of the Orange Alternative. Although there are thousands of photographs and films documenting the happenings, there is just one original dwarf graffiti surviving until today. In 2016 “Major” created several copies of this piece; some of them were sent to galleries in Poland, i.a. to the National Museum in Warsaw, and abroad.
The events that transpired alongside the fall of the Romanov monarchy in February 1917, the takeover of the Winter Palace by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, and the dissolution of the Constitutional Assembly in January 1918 are immensely significant for understanding Ukrainian history and cultural opposition to communism. During that year of upheaval, many divergent visions for the future were articulated throughout the Russian Empire. In the Imperial Southwest, the Bolsheviks battled monarchists, nationalists, socialists, greens and anarchists over how to move forward during and after the collapse of empire.
The Ukrainian Museum-Archives has in its possession an original broadside of the Third Universal, issued by the Central Rada on November 20, 1917, in the four major languages used in the Imperial Southwest—Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and Yiddish. This document is reflective of efforts by the Central Rada to appeal to various communities living on the territory, while negotiating with the Provisional Government for greater autonomy. As historian George Liber notes, the first two proclamations of Rada did not define the borders of Ukraine, but the Third Universal asserted that the nine provinces in the Imperial Southwest with Ukrainian majorities belonged to the Ukrainian National (or People’s) Republic. The document also claimed parts of Kursk, Kholm/Chelm and Voronezh provinces, where Ukrainians also constituted the majority. The Central Rada also pledged to defend the interests of all national groups living in these territories and articulated a law protecting personal and national autonomy for Russians, Poles, Jews and others.
Shortly after this, the UNR established diplomatic ties with a number of European countries and even the United States. Britain and France tried to persuade the UNR leadership to side with them against the Central Powers, which they refused as they were determined to stay neutral. The Soviet Russian Republic initially recognized the UNR, but this was short-lived as the Red Army soon moved in from the north and east. This prompted the Rada to issue the Fourth Universal on January 25, 1918, which declared independence of the UNR as defined by the Third Universal. This made the push for greater autonomy within the context of empire a war of nationalist secession. (Liber, 62-63)These early conflicts helped shape Soviet Ukraine’s relationship to Moscow for decades to come. In fact, Ukraine’s cultural, political and economic leadership struggled to define the parameters of engagement. Figures who were at the forefront of creating Soviet culture in the political and creative domains had to contest with the complex legacies of the Civil War of 1917-1922, which were never really fully resolved. Republican officials in particular (first in Kharkiv and later Kyiv) found it difficult to strike the right balance between autonomy and central control, regularly finding themselves on the wrong side of cultural policy after major shift in the priorities of Moscow.
VHS cassette No. 144 from the Original Videojournal collection contains recordings of two significant Czechoslovak demonstrations from the turn of 1988/1989. The first, only a few minutes long, was filmed on 10 December 1988 during a demonstration of the 40th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was one of the very few protest rallies that had been authorized by the state. The second recording comes from January 15, 1989, the first day of the so-called Palachiáda, or Palach's week of demonstrations, as twenty years had passed since student Jan Palach had self-immolated. Demonstrations were suppressed by the State Police and the People‘s Militias forces with unprecedented brutality (including water cannons and tear gas, among others) and led to the imprisonment of opposition leaders including Václav Havel.