- Brno, Czech Republic
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
- Přerov, Czech Republic
After moving into the Prenzlauer Berg neighbourhood he took on various jobs. It was his work as a mail carrier that allowed him to venture through the city and capture various moments of everyday life. As he was not a state-approved photographer, his snapshots showed the GDR through his personal point of view. He documented a reality that was neither planned or approved of by the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED). His work instead shattered the carefully arranged image that the SED attempted to create through propaganda. Hauswald fell under Stasi surveillance as early as 1977 under the codename der Radfahrer (the cyclist). Up until the end of the regime, there were almost 35 registered Stasi collaborators documented as having spied on him.
Once settled in East Berlin, Hauswald emerged as part of the alternative creative scene, participating in various photography exhibitions in private apartments, churches, and youth centres. From 1980 he was employed as a photographer for the charitable Stephanus Foundation. Soon after, a series of collaborations with GEO, Stern, ZEITmagazin, and Merian followed. The photographer managed to publish his first book East-Berlin in 1987, although in West Germany. It was only in 1988 that his photos were published in the GDR together with the magazines Sonntag and Das Magazin.
During the 1980s, Hauswald also worked as photography technician for the German Theater. Towards the end of the regime, Hauswald collaborated as a freelancer with the German Film Association (DEFA) and additional theatres. It was only in 1989 that he joined the Union of Artists of the GDR.
Soon after the German reunification of 1990, Hauswald co-founded the photography agency OSTKREUZ in Berlin. Ever since, he has contributed to various publications, exhibitions, nationally and internationally. In 1997 Harald Hauswald was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and in 2006 received the Civil Prize for the German Reunification.
- Berlin (Ost)
Gábor Havas (1941–) sociologist, educator, MP, editor of Beszélő, and a founding member of Szegényeket Támogató Alap (SZETA), or the Foundation for the Provision of Support for the Poor.
Gábor Havas was born in late 1944 in London. He received his MA degree from Loránd Eötvös University Budapest in Hungarian Language and Literature and Adult Education. He started his career working as a program organizer in a rural cultural house and a secondary school teacher. In 1971, he became a research fellow participating in the nationwide sociological surveys led by István Kemény. Beginning in 1972, he launched other surveys together with Ottilia Solt.
From 1973 to 1990, he worked as a sociologist for the Adult Education Institution, Budapest. In the 1980s, together with sociologist Pál Juhász and Bálint Magyar and also working with film director Pál Schiffer, he took part in the ambitious video documentary project Changes in Hungarian peasants’ lives. He also made the documentary films Nyugodjak békében (Let Me Rest in Peace) and Kovbojok (Hungarian Cowboys), which won awards at national film festivals.
From 1979 to 1989, he took an active part right from the beginning in the Hungarian democratic movement, and he was one of the founding members of SZETA and the editor of the samizdat periodical Beszélő. In 1988, he was also a founding member of SZDSZ (the Alliance of Free Democrats), the Hungarian liberal party, of which he became an MP after the first free general elections in May 1990.In 1993 and 1994, together with István Kemény, who had returned home from Western exile, he was the project manager of the Hungarian Nationwide Roma Survey. From 1995 to 1999, he was an educator and also the head of the newly established Social Worker Training School of the John Wesley Theological College, Budapest. Beginning in 2000, his interests as a scholar began to turn to the unequal educational opportunities and recent re-segregation of the Hungarian Roma. From 2001 to 2008, he was the director of the Romaversitas Fund, a special higher education support program intended to provide assistance for talented Roma students.
- Budapest, Hungary
Václav Havel (1936–2011) was a Czech writer, dramatist, philosopher, dissident, politician, and important figure of the Czechoslovak alternative and counter-culture before 1989. Because of his bourgeois background, Havel’s access to higher education was limited. Already in the 1950s, Havel became acquainted with the milieu of the “second” culture and samizdat as he met “forbidden” authors associated with the poet and artist Jiří Kolář. Thus, as Havel stated later, already at that time he had “spontaneously and naturally entered among those who were active on the border of allowed, even more often beyond its frontier.” In 1955, Havel made literary debut in the magazine Květen, and until the end of the 1960s, his texts appeared in many Czech magazines. In 1959, he finished his first drama, the one-act play Rodinný večer (An Evening with the Family). In the same year, he was accepted as a stagehand at the Divadlo ABC (ABC Theatre) in Prague. In the following year, he took up work at the Divadlo na zábradlí (Theatre on the Balustrade) in Prague, first as a stagehand and later as an assistant director and literary manager. In December 1963, Divadlo na zábradlí performed Havel’s first full-length play Zahradní slavnost (The Garden Party). Another one of Havel’s play, Vyrozumění (The Memorandum), was performed by this theatre in 1965. Apart from theatre plays, Havel also wrote experimental poetry in the 1960s. At that time, he studied dramatic art theory at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, from where he graduated in 1966. Already in the middle of the 1960s, the Czechoslovak State Security started to take an interest in Václav Havel. In their reports, Václav Havel was labeled as someone around whom were a wide group of young artists who disagreed with the cultural policy of the Czechoslovak Communist Party (CzCP) and demanded “absolute creative freedom” was united. Havel criticised the cultural policy of the CzCP, for example at the Fourth Congress of the Czechoslovak Union of Writers in 1967, which led to his expulsion from the Central Committee of the Union.
Václav Havel played an active role in democratization and renewal of culture during the era of reforms, known as the Prague Spring. In March 1968, he, along with 150 other writers and artists signed an open letter to the Central Committee of the CzCP on the democratization process. In June of the same year, he became the chairman of the Circle of Independent Writers. At that time, Divadlo na zábradlí presented another one of Havel’s plays, Ztížená možnost soustředění (The Increased Difficulty of Concentration).
The Prague Spring ended with the Warsaw Pact invasion in August 1968. Václav Havel actively opposed the invasion and the resulting hardline Communist policies. As a result, his work was banned in Czechoslovakia. He moved from Prague to the countryside, where he continued his activities against the Communist regime, including hosting concerts of banned music. In 1975 he created the samizdat edition Expedice (Expedition) which issued a total of 232 volumes of “banned literature” including Czech prose and poetry, plays, philosophical texts and translations of important foreign works. Havel reflected on restrictions of cultural freedom in Czechoslovakia in his famous open letter addressed to the first secretary of the Central Committee of the CzCP and later President of the Republic, Gustáv Husák, in 1975. In this letter, Havel wrote about “cultural police,” banned books, abolished magazines and “plundered” exhibition halls. In November of the same year, Havel’s play Žebrácká opera (The Beggar’s Opera) was performed by an amateur theatre group. Although Havel was not officially mentioned as the author of the play, the group was later persecuted.
In 1976, Havel supported persecuted artists connected with the band The Plastic People of the Universe. Later, he co-founded Charter 77 and was one of its first spokespersons. Charter 77 was a civic initiative which, among other things, actively embraced alternative culture in Czechoslovakia. Thus, in 1983, it issued a report about the banned and restricted Czechoslovak rock music. In 1978 Havel co-founded The Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS) and became its spokesman. During the 1970s and 1980s, he continued to write plays. At that time, Audience (1975), Largo desolato (1984), Pokušení (Temptation, 1985) and many other plays were created. Havel was also known for his essays, especially Moc bezmocných (The Power of the Powerless) from 1978. Between 1977 and 1989 he was imprisoned several times for his beliefs, his longest prison term lasting from 1979 to 1983. This period is reflected in Havel’s letters to his wife, later published as Dopisy Olze (Letters to Olga).
Václav Havel was an important figure of the Czechoslovak alternative cultural milieu not only because of his plays, but also because of his support for other artists. Through recommendations and intercessions, he helped “unofficial” writers, visual artists, musicians or photographers, and in the second half of the 1980s, also creators from the audio-visual sphere. He supported, among others, the exile revue Paternoster and the samizdat magazine Revolver Revue, and initiated the foundation of an underground publicistic programme the Original Videojournal. He had subscriptions to magazines that were distributed in Czechoslovakia via diplomatic post from the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre in Scheinfeld, West Germany. Havel also often listened to “unofficial” music production, as the majority of his tapes were recorded “in flats, semi-secret concerts, exile, and cellars.” Thus, as noted by Czech historian Jiří Suk, alternative culture meant to Havel “his natural cultural milieu, where he felt well and free.”
In November 1989, Václav Havel co-founded the Civic Forum, and in December of the same year, he was elected the last president of Czechoslovakia (1989–1992). When Czechoslovakia split, he became the first president of the Czech Republic (1993–2003). After his presidency, he devoted his time again to theatre and literature, and he supported prosecuted and imprisoned human rights defenders around the world. In 2008, the Prague theatre Archa performed his play Odcházení (Leaving). Based on this play, Václav Havel made a film by the same name in 2011. Václav Havel died in December 2011. His state funeral was attended by many Czech and foreign politicians, artists, and other eminent figures.
Although Václav Havel was an important part of the Czechoslovak cultural opposition before 1989, he did not consider alternative culture as automatically qualitatively better than official culture. Sometimes, good texts could be published officially, and analogically, texts of poor-quality could be found in some samizdat volumes. Thus, the difference between official and alternative culture did not lie, according to Havel, in the fact that one of them was better than the other. It lied in its distinct and incommensurable values, styles, ideas, missions or meanings: “Parallel culture is not a guarantee of anything, it is neither a value nor a counter-value, it is not a style or some culturing principle, it is nothing but a fact.” Therefore, in Havel’s interpretation, the parallel culture was primarily not a field of artistic phenomena, but a social reality that could emerge only in a society controlled by a dictatorship which suppressed freedom of speech and required “total claim to the spirit of individuals and the society.” As pointed out by Jiří Suk, the official and alternative cultures were put in opposition not by Václav Havel, but by the dictatorship. According to Havel, restrictions of cultural freedom had far-reaching consequences, as so-called high culture – literature, theatre or visual arts – was part of the “self-awareness of the society.” Hence, interventions into the cultural and intellectual sphere influenced many more people than only those against whom they were originally directed.
- Auerbach/Vogtland Grünheide, Germany 08209