- London, United Kingdom
Cornel Chiriac (real name Ionel Corneliu Chiriac) was a Romanian journalist, jazz drummer, and radio and record producer, who worked for Radio Romania and Radio Free Europe (RFE). He was born on 9 May 1942, in Uspenca/Uspenivka (now in Ukraine). Later, his parents moved to Pitești, a city approximately 100 km northwest of Bucharest. Despite the fact that his parents were “intellectuals” (both were teachers), Cornel Chiriac was officially considered a person with a “healthy social origin.” His father, nicknamed “the Marxist,” was a member of the Argeș regional committee of the Romanian Workers’ Party (the official name of the communist party in Romania between 1948 and 1965) and the editor-in-chief of its official publication Secera și ciocanul (The hammer and sickle). His father’s membership of the local party elite sheltered the rebellious adolescent Cornel Chiriac from unwanted interventions on the part of the authorities. It also provided him with access to goods and financial resources unavailable to the rest of the population, which allowed him to buy a camera and a radio for listening to foreign radio stations. In short, he was one of the few privileged young people who could pursue his many hobbies, which included music, acting, painting, photography, and poetry (Udrescu 2015, 16–29, 195).
Cornel Chiriac’s most enduring passion was jazz music, to which he dedicated his entire life. He started to be interested in this musical genre in the middle of the 1950s, when jazz was still identified as a Western cultural product that allegedly undermined the “correct” education of Romanian youth. Thus, Chiriac joined the cultural cold war and took the side of the West in this cultural competition once he began listening to foreign radio stations, especially Voice of America (VOA). His favourite show was Willis Conver’s Music USA - Jazz Hour, a musical programme that VOA started to broadcast worldwide in 1955. For Cornel Chiriac and other young people in the Eastern bloc, Willis Conver’s daily jazz programme was the main source of knowledge about this musical genre and a glimpse into the West and the American lifestyle (Ritter 2016, 13). The adolescent Cornel Chiriac also listened to other foreign radio stations which regularly broadcast jazz (Udrescu 2015, 48). During the late 1950s, Cornel Chiriac’s parents were among the few Romanians who could afford to buy a radio receiver. Their price ranged between 400 and 4,000 lei, at a time when the net average national monthly salary varied between 400 lei in 1956 and 750 lei in 1959 (Marin 2016, 671). Over the next few years, with the help of his parents, Cornel Chiriac bought a portable radio receiver and a Belcanto record player to play his vinyl records (Udrescu 2015, 175-176). Another source of knowledge of jazz music was foreign magazines, especially those from Poland that arrived in Romania for the first time at the end of the 1950s. These publications could be legally bought, but the number of subscriptions was limited to two or three for the entire city. Consequently, Cornel Chiriac started to read La Pologne, a magazine published in French, and later the Polish periodical Jazz, which featured articles about the international jazz community. This turned into his main source of information about jazz music, with the help of a Polish–Romanian dictionary (Udrescu 2015, 63, 67).
Cornel Chiriac’s passion for jazz music influenced his decision in 1961 to produce a samizdat, in fact a hand-written magazine about this musical genre. Its purpose was to make jazz music known in Romania and also provide up-to-date information to other Romanian jazz lovers. The samizdat Jazz Cool included discography of jazz artists and bands, charts published by Down Beat and other magazines, articles translated from the Polish periodical Jazz, and information about jazz concerts and festivals organised around the world. The content, the layout of the text, and the illustrations inserted in Jazz Cool were the work of Cornel Chiriac. Jazz Cool was usually “issued” in a maximum of ten copies as his friend Mircea Udrescu helped him to multiply all the featured items. Apart from editing this hand-written magazine, Cornel Chiriac began to work on the Jazz-Cool-Encyclopaedia, a project which he sadly never finished due to his decision to emigrate. His critical article about the musical orchestra of Pitești was published in the Polish periodical Jazz at the end of the year of 1963 and enhanced his status as a jazz connoisseur (Udrescu 2015, 63–67, 103, 52).
His Jazz Cool samizdat magazine brought Cornel Chiriac the unwanted attention of the Romanian secret police, the Securitate. Consequently, in the summer of 1964 the Securitate held him in custody, searched his house in Pitești, confiscated copies of Jazz Cool, and interrogated him. In order to protect his friends who had helped him with the magazine, Chiriac took all the blame for “publishing” it. After questioning him, the Securitate gave him only a warning and released him after he had signed a declaration that he would never again engage in such activities against the “social order” (Udrescu 2015, 77, 81). Even though Cornel Chiriac might not have previously considered his passion for jazz and foreign music as a form of opposition to the Romanian communist regime, the encounter with the Securitate influenced him in consciously pursuing his passion in that perilous direction.
In the same year, 1964, Cornel Chiriac moved to Bucharest and soon began to work for the national radio station, Radio Romania, as the producer of the music show Metronom, which quickly became extremely popular among young people. There he organised a sound archive, recording as many tracks as he could from the albums he had borrowed from friends and acquaintances (including foreign diplomats, jazz artists, and the offspring of the communist nomenklatura) or had bought on the black market. Taking advantage of the ideological relaxation and liberalisation in the first years of Ceaușescu’s rule, during his show Metronom, he broadcast the latest jazz, rock, and folk music. Thus, he became an epitome of cultural opposition by working inside a Romanian institution. According to one of his many listeners, Cornel Chiriac became an idol for them as he not only broadcast the latest musical tracks, but also educated his audience about how to listen to music, value it, and talk about it. Chiriac took a great interest in Romanian rock bands and brought some of them to Bucharest to illegally record their songs in the studios of Radio Romania (Ionescu 2016, 26–32, 34). In addition, Cornel Chiriac was involved in the organisation of a series of conferences about jazz artists or styles at the Students’ House of Culture in Bucharest. His theoretical lectures on jazz were followed by musical performances, some of them by well-known jazz artists and bands of that time (Udrescu 2015, 93).
A rebel by nature, Cornel Chiriac could not stand any form of censorship and used every available opportunity to revolt against it. For instance, after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968, he managed to trick the censor and play in his programme a folk song about one big wolf and five small wolves that attacked a sheepfold. This was a thinly veiled criticism of the Warsaw Pact’s brutal interference in Czechoslovakia to stop the Prague Spring. As Ceaușescu himself condemned the invasion, this action remained without immediate consequences, but it later provided further arguments for his ousting from the national radio station. The last straw in his case was the broadcasting of the Beatles’ song “Back in USSR” during the Metronom programme. Consequently, Cornel Chiriac was fired from Radio Romania in 1969, so he decided to flee Romania the same year (D. Ionescu 2016, 40–41).
Taking advantage of a tourist visa, Cornel Chiriac reached the refugee camp in Treiskirchen, near Vienna. The director of the Romanian desk of RFE, Noel Bernard, found out about his arrival and offered him a job (Morariu 2015). His participation in the cultural cold war against communism entered a new phase. Cornel Chiriac resumed his Metronom show at RFE and also produced several other musical programmes, such as Rock in Concert, By Request, and Jazz à la Carte (D. Ionescu 2016, 47, 61). His music and comments were now blended with criticism against Ceaușescu’s regime and frequent denouncements of the lack of liberty for young people. Cornel Chiriac attracted his loyal listeners from Radio Romania to RFE. Some of them actually discovered RFE due to his musical broadcasts and gradually became faithful listeners of this foreign radio station. Until his violent death on 4 March 1975, Cornel Chiriac continued to receive numerous letters from young people. In their letters, these youngsters described the grim situation in Romania, the tightening of censorship and the reinforcement of ideological control over cultural production and consumption after the so-called Theses of July 1971. They also asked their idol to broadcast their musical preferences, which he always did (Udrescu 2015, 156–157; Măgură-Bernard 2007, 26–28; D. Ionescu 2016, 62). Cornel Chiriac used the radio microphone and his passion for music to create an alternative view of the world for young people in Romania. This was a world which valued freedom, personal choice, diversity in all its forms, and above all moral dignity. While Cornel Chiriac’s broadcasts offered young people a glimpse into the Western world, they also greatly influenced their nonconformism and rebellious attitudes.
- München, Munich, Germany
Viacheslav Chornovil was a journalist, a sixtier, human rights activist and founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group. He studied journalism in Kyiv, finishing his degree after some fits and starts in 1960. After working for a Lviv television station for two years, Chornovil returned to Kyiv, where he applied to do graduate work but was not admitted for political reasons. He instead went to work for Dnipro GES and then a local newspaper. In 1963, together with Alla Horska, Ivan Svitlychny, Ivan Dziuba, Yevhen Zverstiuk created the Club of Creative Youth in Kyiv, taking active part in the burgeoning sixtiers movement, disseminating and publishing samizdat, and organizing a number of literary and civic gatherings. In 1965, he, Ivan Dziuba and Vasyl Stus publicly spoke out against arrests that had taken place of a number of their fellow travelers, choosing as their venue of protest the Kyiv screening of Sergei Parajanov’s internationally acclaimed film „Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors.” As a result, Chornovil was fired from his job and subject to myriad searches and surveillance. He also refused to testify against the brothers Horyn’, calling the judges considering their case criminals, which resulted in additional punitive measures against him.
After publishing an account of these ongoing repressions abroad, Chornovil himself was tried and sentenced to three years of hard labor in 1967. He was amnestied and released in 1969, resuming immediately his activism, first in support of Ivan Dziuba, who was being pressured to recant the arguments outlined in his work Internationalism or Russification and later in the publication of 5 editions of the journal Ukrainskyi Visnyk (Ukrainian Chronicle), one of the most important samizdat publications in Soviet Ukraine, which also included regular reports of human rights abuses and unjust arrests and detainments. He wrote letters to the Ukrainian Central Committee in defense of historian Valentyn Moroz, after his arrest in 1970 and upon his initiative Ukrainian dissidents formed a committee in defense of Nina Strokata, a microbiologist, who was arrested that year as well.
Given his activism, and his ties to the Lviv dissidents, especially to Iryna and Ihor Kalynets, it is no surprise that Chornovil was arrested again alongside them during the wave of arrests that took place January 12-14, 1972. In response to threats against his wife and child, Chornovil went on an eight-day hunger strike. Ultimately, the courts handed out a severe sentence of 6 years of hard labor in Mordovia and 3 years of exile in Yakutia. While in exile, Chornovil actively corresponded with his compatriots, among them Iryna Kalynets-Stasiv, with whom he discussed parochial every day concerns alongside the legality of the work regimen forced upon GULag inmates. His lively, accessible and warm delivery are thought to be a unique contribution to our understanding of the Soviet penal system for political prisoners during the union’s decadent phase.Chornovil returned to Ukraine in 1985, resurrected Ukrainskyi Visnyk in 1987, worked to expand the Ukrainian Helsinki Group’s reach to a national and international level in 1988. He became a member of parliament in 1990, the following year ran for president of an independent Ukraine. After serving two more terms in parliament, he ran again for the presidency in 1999, dying in a suspicious car crash on the road near Borispil.
- Chappanda, Russia 678454
- Kyiv City, Kiev, Ukraine 02000
- Lviv Oblast, Ukraine
- Pokrovsk, Russia
Vlasta Chramostová is one of the most significant personalities from the Czech cultural scene of the 20th century. She was born on 17 November 1926 in Brno as the oldest of five children of the engineer Vladimír Chramosta. She spent her childhood in Skryje u Rouchovan, a village which was destroyed in 1976 during the construction of the Dukovany Nuclear Power Station. She studied at the Department of Drama at the Brno Conservatory between 1941 and 1945. In 1944 she was forcibly made to work as a machinist at a German aircraft factory near Brno. During the war she acted in her first “apartment theatre” with her classmates and in the hall of “Nový domov”, a housing association in Brno. After WWII, she worked at the Svobodné divadlo (Free Theatre, now Brno City Theatre) in Brno, the Olomouc City Theatre and Brno State Theatre. She relocated to Divadlo na Vinohradech (Vinohrady Theatre) in Prague in 1950. In the same year, she married Bohumil Pavlinec, a director of Czechoslovak Radio in Brno. After her divorce, she lived with the artist Konrád Babraj, with whom she had a son. In 1963, her 4-year-old son died in a car accident and Chramostová herself was badly injured. She married the cameraman Stanislav Milota in 1971. At the beginning of Normalization she left Divadlo na Vinohradech in protest at the dismissal of its director František Pavlíček; Chramostová had been one of the ensemble’s leading actresses. She was unable to perform in film, television and radio due to political reasons. She acted for a short time in Divadlo za branou and gave guest performances at the West Bohemian Theatre in Cheb. In 1973 she was officially banned from performing in public. Thanks to her connections in the dissident movement she established “apartment theatre” in her flat near the National Museum in Prague. She organised (with some help from her husband) the first performance in October 1976 to mark the 75th birthday of Jaroslav Seifert, a banned national artist. Václav Havel, who was imprisoned few months later, was among the guests at the premiere. Vlasta Chramostová was one of the first people to sign Charter 77. That led to even more pressure from the State Security (StB) against her and her apartment theatre, which she was forbidden to organise during the 1980s. In January 1989, she attended a memorial event to commemorate Jan Palach. Vlasta Chramostová and Libuše Šilhánková were later given suspended sentences because of their letter to Jakeš and Adamec with a declaration related to the “Palach Week”. In the same year, she was awarded the Poul Lauritzen Foundation Freedom Award for her contribution towards human rights. In 1990, she was declared an honorary member of the National Theatre, where she performed after 1991. She was awarded the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk for her contribution to the development of democracy, humanity and human rights in 1998. During the 1990s, she performed in television and several films and was twice nominated for the Czech Lion Award, the most renowned Czech film award. She was awarded a Special Thalia Award for her lifelong contribution to the theatre in 2007.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Ivan Chvatík is a Czech philosopher and former pupil of Jan Patočka. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Nuclear Sciences and Physical Engineering of the Czech Technical University in Prague. In 1968, Chvatík became an external aspirant at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague, supervised by professor Jan Patočka. After Patočkaʼs expulsion from the University in 1972, he stopped official graduate study and continued organising Patočkaʼs private seminars and lectures. Immediately after Patočkaʼs death, Ivan Chvatík deposited Patočkaʼs written legacy in a secret location and began publishing his works as a samizdat. Until 1989, 27 samizdat volumes of Jan Patočkaʼs works were issued. In 1990, Ivan Chvatík and his colleagues were recognised by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences for their samizdat publication activities. Chvatík also cooperated with the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna, which was founded in 1982. The Institute handled, among other things, the philosophical legacy of Jan Patočka. Thus, Ivan Chvatík constantly made copies of Patočkaʼs works and, with the help of collaborators, smuggled these reproductions into Vienna. In Vienna, these works were provided to those interested and translated into German or French. In 1984, twelve of Martin Heideggerʼs lectures, translated into Czech by Chvatík, were published in Oxford. These books were then smuggled secretly into Czechoslovakia. Until 1989, Chvatík led a private philosophical seminar on Heideggerʼs “Being and Time,” using his own translation in progress, and organised the visits of foreign philosophical guests at the seminars. In 1990, Chavtík set up the Jan Patočka Archives as a special department at the Institute of Philosophy of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and today Ivan Chvatík still serves as the director of this archive.
Beginning in 1990, Ivan Chvatík served as a governmental liaison for the founding of the Central European University and as the secretary to the board of trustees of the Prague CEU Foundation, until the end of the CEU in Prague in 1997. Since 1993, he has been co-director of the Center for Theoretical Study, the Institute for Advanced Study at Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences. In 1997 Ivan Chvatík received the Jan Patočka Memorial Medal from the Czech Academy of Sciences in recognition of accomplishments in furthering scientific research. Since 1990 he has edited 29 books by Jan Patočka, including 19 volumes of his collected works.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic