- Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland
Od początku swojej działalności opozycyjnej Michał Guć archiwizował wszystkie materiały, które miał okazję napotkać. Jego kolekcja rozpoczęła się przypadkowo, aczkolwiek towarzyszyło mu silne przekonanie o konieczności zachowania dziedzictwa ruchu demokratycznego. Początkowo gromadził bibułę, którą rozprowadzał po wprowadzeniu stanu wojennego w Polsce. W późniejszym czasie zaczął również zachowywać kopie wydawnictw podziemnych. W 1982 pojawiły się znaczki poczty podziemnej „Solidarności”, których pojedyncze egzemplarze Guć również odkładał do swojego domowego archiwum. Znaczki wkrótce go wciągnęły i filatelistyki podziemna stała się jego hobby. W późniejszych latach, aż do 1989 roku, jego kolekcja wciąż się powiększała. W wolnej Polsce odłożył swoją pasję na bok, aby poświęcić się rozwojowi zawodowemu i budowaniu kariery. Powrócił do swojego hobby kilka lat temu i obecnie posiada jedną z większych kolekcji polskiej poczty podziemnej (znaczków, stempli i kopert), oraz prawdopodobnie najobszerniejszą kolekcję znaczków samej poczty strajkowej. Swoją pasję dzieli z żoną, również byłą działaczką opozycji demokratycznej.
- Gdynia 81, Poland
Gadó was born in a Jewish middle-class family. Both of his parents were deported in the Second World War, but they were among the few who survived. In the post-war era, members of the family joined the Hungarian Communist Party, and he was raised in this spirit. He started his career as a convinced communist and a more or less loyal cadre of the regime in the 1950s, and he remained a communist until the 1960s. Beginning in 1958, he worked at the archives of the party daily Népszabadság [Freedom of the People], from where he was fired for one of his articles in 1963. He took a position at the Central Statistic Office (KSH), which was kind of a depot for ideologically deviant social scientists and intellectuals. At both places, he had some degree of access to confidential papers of the Hungarian News Agency (MTI). At KSH's library he started to read the foreign press extensively. Furthermore, a friend living in Switzerland got him a subscription to the Neue Zurcher Zeitung (and also paid for it), so Gadó was well informed in foreign affairs. His views changed as a result, and he ceased to be socialist. He left the Worker's Union in 1965 and the Party in 1967.
1967 was a year of revelations for him: the Six-Day War demonstrated that Jews did not need to accept the role of the victim, but could act as self-confident agents fighting for liberty. For Gadó, helping nurture this sense of confidence and develop a dissident stance towards the Kádár regime were two sides of the same coin. He started to rediscover his Jewish heritage, and as a consequence he came to appreciate the historical role of the middle class in Hungary. He found that the regime's official cult of the proletariat prevented the middle-class from fulfilling its role in contemporary society, so he came to regard socialism as a dead end. In terms of foreign policy, the regime took a pro-Arab, anti-Israeli position, and it represented Israel as the aggressor, which further distanced Gadó from Kádárism.
He started to produce leaflets using a toy-press made for children in 1970/71. On the leaflets he printed slogans like "The press is lying about Israel!" He also wrote on walls with chalk, and he was arrested for this in 1973. The following year, he was imprisoned for 9 months. The political police never tried to turn him into an agent. Personal circumstances may have played a role in this: Gadó personally knew Sándor Geréb and Pál Hajdú, leaders of the III/III Department at the time, who had been members of the Hungarian Workers' Youth Association (MADISZ) after the Second World War, together with Gadó.
After he was released, he considered emigrating, but he was not given a passport. It was also difficult for him to get a permanent job: he made his living doing translations. In the early 1980s, he became involved in samizdat production via György Krassó. Once Krassó asked Gadó if he had a copy of Villon in the emigré poet György Faludy's translation, because he wanted to publish it in samizdat. Gadó lent him the book. Through Krassó, he met Demszky, János Kenedi, and János Kis, and he became involved in the activities of the democratic opposition. He published in several organs of the press, including Hírmondó and Beszélő, he produced independent samizdat brochures. In 1986, he allied with Jenő Nagy and Tamás Mikes to launch Demokrata. This organ was supposed to address the less educated strata of society, and it was also radical. They aimed to reach a wider audience than the other samizdat periodicals.
In 1987, Gadó started his own samizdat journal, Magyar Zsidó [The Hungarian Jew]. It was released in 800-1000 copies. Gábor Demszky provided a typewriter, and Attila János Ötvös printed the journal. Costs were covered by Gadó himself, and it was a more or less self-sustaining investment. In spring 1988, the third issue was confiscated by the police, but György Krassó, who was then already living in exile, mimeographed the copy he had, and sent it to Demszky from London. Demszky then reproduced it in Budapest in multiple copies.
He made his living as a translator and also as a distributor of samizdat materials. He was constantly under surveillance by the political police. After the change of regimes, he became the first legal Hungarian correspondent of Radio Free Europe.
- Budapest, Hungary
Galántai, György is an artist, researcher, cofounder of Artpool, art director of the Artpool Art Research Center and curator of Artpool’s website. From 1963 to 1967, he studied painting at the College of Fine Arts in Budapest. From 1970 to 1973, he was the initiator and organizer of semi-legal exhibitions, actions, and happenings in an unused chapel in Balatonboglár, which he had rented from the Catholic Church; his Chapel Studio was finally closed down by the police. Subsequently, Galántai’s artistic activities were restricted and tightly monitored.
In 1970, Galántai abandoned painting and began to experiment, primarily with graphic art, visual poetry, sound poetry, and performance and mail art. In 1975, he created his first metal sculptures. He has also made prints, paintings, kinetic and sound sculptures, actions, and performances. He is the author of several multimedia installations and communication projects.
His view of art bears close affinities with the spirit of Fluxus, defining the task of art as inventing conceptual objects, creative situations, and spiritual spaces. In spite of this, the idea behind the Artpool project is to create an active archive: the way in which it operates also generates the material to be archived. As an artist, Galántai was already involved in the mail art network when Artpool was founded, so the network offered a natural framework for this kind of operation and provided sources for growth. Artpool issued calls, organized events, released publications, and extensively documented the events of the local neo-avant-garde scene. The active archive concept can be seen as an open artwork in itself or an activist kind of art practice.
During the socialist era in Hungary, Galántai organized underground exhibitions, so he was considered a “dangerous element” by the authorities because he allegedly spread western propaganda. He was monitored by the III/III department of the State Security Services, who opened a dossier called “Festő” [Painter], which focused solely on his activity. In 1998, he made public the content of the dossier on the internet: http://www.galantai.hu/festo/default.html.
Galántai, György received a fellowship from the DAAD in 1988/89 and was guest artist at Arizona State University in 1990.
- Budapest, Hungary
Ștefan Gane (b. 1924, Bucharest, d. 1988, Paris) was a Romanian architect who asserted himself in the Romanian exile in France from 1985 when he set up in Paris the International Association for the Protection of Monuments and Historic Sites in Romania. This association was established in order to present to political decision makers and international public opinion the project of the communist regime in Romania for the destruction of Romania’s architectural and urban heritage. The actions taken by this association focused on dissemination of information on the demolition of the city centre of Bucharest, as part of the project devised by the authorities of the totalitarian regime in order to reconstruct it according to the communist architectural vision. Ștefan Gane was joined by a series of personalities of the Romanian exile community who, together with him, wrote letters and memoirs to Western officials (for example, to the President of France, François Mitterrand), to international organisations such as UNESCO, and to the editorial offices of foreign publications. They also organised protests in the streets of Paris, the goal of which was to inform and mobilise public opinion in the West to such an extent as to trigger an external intervention to hamper the destruction project planned by the Ceaușescu regime.
Prior to his emigration to France, Ștefan Gane worked as an architect in his hometown. In Bucharest, he started to express his dissatisfaction with the communist regime in 1977 after the earthquake, which served as a pretext for the destruction or mutilation of many historic monuments. His dissatisfaction was related to the Bucharest systematisation programme of the Ceaușescu regime. Against this background, Ștefan Gane started to pursue a cultural opposition activity directed against the arbitrary policy of the Ceaușescu regime aimed at annihilating an essential part of the national past. In this connection, between 1977 and 1985, when he emigrated to France, he secretly photographed a series of historic monuments that were destroyed or mutilated by the Communist authorities. His purpose was to preserve the memory of some national heritage monuments and gather testimonies for future generations about the Ceaușescu regime's policy of transforming the urban landscape and destroying what did not fit the communist vision of national heritage. After settling in Paris, he publicly and openly expressed his views on the demolition project devised by the Ceaușescu regime. He died of cancer in Paris in 1988, and was buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery, where a number of prominent personalities are buried.
His activity, however, was continued by a former colleague from the Faculty of Architecture in Bucharest, Sanda Budiș, who joined his actions from 1985 to 1988. On 10 May 1988, she founded the Association for the Protection of Villages, Monuments, and Historic Sites in Romania based in Switzerland. Among other activities, this association dealt with the establishment of partnerships between Swiss and Romanian villages, which were organised by Opération Villages Roumains (OVR). OVR was founded in December 1988, in Belgium, with the purpose of adopting and saving all 13,123 Romanian villages, which, according to Ceaușescu's announcement, should have disappeared from the map. The OVR action managed to take on a considerable scale in just a few months, with the creation of committees of this association in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Norway, and Denmark. Basically, OVR followed an already existing model in postwar Western Europe, aiming at creating partnerships between localities with a similar economic and geographical profile in order to create local development opportunities through joint efforts as well as transnational solidarities. Although there had been partnerships with localities in Eastern Europe, OVR was without a correspondent in the Communist bloc, considering the magnitude and speed of its evolution.
- Paris, France