Croatian and American historian Jere (Jerome) Jareb was born in Prvić Šepurina (Croatia) on May 3, 1922, and died in Charlottesville (Virginia, USA) on November 22, 2017. After completing the classics gymnasium in Šibenik, he left the town because Fascist Italy occupied it in September 1941. He moved to Zagreb where he studied at the Faculty of Law. Due to his poor health, he was not recruited into the army of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH). He became a member of the editorial board of the magazine Ustaška mladež (Ustasha Youth), where he wrote historical articles until the end of World War II. In the fall of 1944, he was severely stricken by a bout of tuberculosis in the bone of his right leg, and in July 1947 his leg was amputated. At the beginning of May 1945, instead of the planned hospitalisation, he ended up at the refugee camp in the suburbs of Klagenfurt. He stayed in the camp for three months, after which he was sent to the hospital where he remained until May 1949. In December 1951, he moved to Salzburg to seek an immigration visa to the United States.
In January 1952, he flew to New York, where his father, a pre-war economic emigrant, lived. Jere lived in New York until 1966. He was one of the founders of the Croatian Academy in America, established in 1953, and served as its executive secretary for the first four years, and then later became its president. Along with Karlo Mirth, he was the editor of the Academy's Journal of Croatian Studies, which was founded in 1960. From 1953 to 1995, he was a trustee of the journal Hrvatska revija (Croatian Review). From 1953, he studied history at Columbia University, where he earned his MA in 1958. He concluded his graduate studies, with an emphasis on East-Central European and Western Europe contemporary history, in 1964 by defending a doctoral dissertation entitled "The Adriatic Question from June 1919 to February 1924." During his stay in New York, he constantly acquired books from the homeland that he needed to study Croatian history. Olga Živković, then employed at the Lexicographic Institute, sent him books regularly. When Olga travelled to the United States in 1959, Jere Jareb married her (Matković 2008: 722). From 1963 to 1966, he lectured at Rutgers University (New Jersey), and in 1966 he moved to St. Francis University in Loretto (Pennsylvania), where he lectured on European and world history until his retirement in 1992. From 1968 until his retirement, he was chairman of the University’s History Department.
His best known book, Pola stoljeća hrvatske politike (One-Half Century of Croatian Politics), was initially a critical review of Vladko Maček's memoirs, which were serialized in Hrvatska revija (1959). In 1960, he expanded the text and published it as a book in Buenos Aires in 1960. It was a political history of Croatia from 1895 to 1945, with an emphasis on the history of the Ustasha Movement and the NDH. In that book, he presented a different view of the history of 20th-century Croatian politics than the one that had prevailed in Croatia and other parts of Yugoslavia. After publishing this book, he became close to the Croatian political emigration. He contacted and interviewed numerous Croatian emigrants, from Vladko Maček, through Juraj Krnjević, Lovro Sušić, to Eugen ‘Dido’ Kvaternik. He also had contacts with historians and other intellectuals from the homeland such as Ljubo Boban, Bogdan Krizman, and Zvonimir Kulundžić. Historians in the country saw his books as valuable and professional works, although they were banned in Yugoslavia. He is also the author of the books Političke uspomene i rad dra Branimira Jelića (Political Memories and Work of Dr Branimir Jelić) published in Cleveland in 1982; Zlato i novac Nezavisne Države Hrvatske izneseni u inozemstvo 1944. i 1945.: dokumentarni prikaz (Gold and money of the Independent State of Croatia taken abroad in 1944 and 1945: Documents) (Zagreb, 1997), and Državno gospodarstveno povjerenstvo Nezavisne Države Hrvatske od kolovoza 1941. do travnja 1945.: dokumentarni prikaz (State Economic Commission of the Independent State of Croatia from August 1941 to April 1945: Documents) (Zagreb, 2001). At the late stage of his career, he was also a corresponding associate of the Croatian Institute of History.
During his academic career, he gathered his collection of books and other publications, which he donated to the Croatian Institute of History in 1997. He has been active in preserving the cultural and historical heritage of Croatian emigrants, so had donated the émigré periodicals to the National and University Library in Zagreb, and the documentation (grey literature) of Croatian emigrants to the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb.
Although he was an anti-communist, he did not join any political organisations nor did he engage in political activism. Jareb acted only on a cultural and academic basis, trying to preserve the legacy of Croatian emigrant communities and explore those spheres and themes in Croatian history such as the history of the NDH which could not be studied freely the communist regime, for only an ideological approach was allowed.
- Prvić Šepurine , Croatia
- Zagreb, Croatia
Rimantas Jasas (1929-2002) was a Lithuanian historian. He was born in Šiauliai, where he lived until 1936 when his family moved to Utena. At the end of the Second World War, his father emigrated to the USA, and his mother was sent to Siberia in 1948. Rimantas Jasas concealed these facts when he became a member of the Komsomol. He even started to work as a laboratory assistant in the Department of Marxism-Leninism at Vilnius Pedagogical Institute, although he was soon accused of withholding information and sacked. In 1952, Jasas started studying history at Vilnius University. He graduated from the university in 1957, and started working at the Lithuanian Institute of History. In 1968, he moved to the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, where he worked till the end of his life.
While Jasas did not undertake formal doctoral studies (he deliberately refused), he was considered a leading specialist in the history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, knowing the archival sources very well. He prepared and translated the Bychovets Chronicle (published in 1971). Even today, this publication is a standard example of a perfect work on historical sources. Nevertheless, while working at the library, Jasas was overloaded with technical work that impeded his research work. The reason for this negative situation was the lack of political trust in him by the regime.
- Vilnius Žygimantų gatvė 1, Lithuania 01143
- Erlangen, Germany
Milan Jelínek was born 22. 6. 1923 in Brno. After his graduation in 1942, he was forced to work in Austria, where he worked as a clerk. During this time he participated in an anti-Nazi resistance group Lípa. Because of this, he was arrested and imprisoned from the beginning of 1944 until the end of the war. In 1945, he began to study Czech, Russian and Serbo-Croatian at Brno´s University, but due to financial problems he finished his studies externally. In 1948 he became a teacher for a year at the grammar school in Holešov.
The next year he became an assistant professor at the Faculty of Arts in Brno for a while, where he returned again from 1958 to 1971. For the third time, this institution became Jelínek´s employer in the period 1990 to 1992. Jelínek also worked at the Czechoslovak Academy of Science from 1953 to 1958 and 1971 to 1983. In the academic year of 1961 to 1962, he had a fellowship at the University of Greifswald and four years later at Sorbonne. The second academic destination became a good "explanation" when French scientists visited his underground university at his flat in the 1980s. Milan Jelínek also worked in university administrative positions: from 1962 to 1964 as the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, from 1990 to 1992 as the Rector of Masaryk University.
Jelinek was an enthusiastic Communist at the beginning of the 1950s and remained a strong left-wing ideologist until the end of his life. He was expelled from the Communist Party in 1970 because of his engagement in the Prague Spring. It was then that Jelinek was forced to leave the university in 1971 and work at the Academy of Sciences, where he could only pursue the popularization of Czech language and not scientific and pedagogical work. Jelinek published his articles unofficially under the names of other authors or in samizdat. The most significant activity of Jelinek within the framework of the cultural opposition lies in publishing samizdats and his organization of the underground university of the French branch of the Jan Hus Educational Foundation. The samizdat workshop of Jelínek's family (his wife Jana was actively involved) published about 120 book titles and 110 issues of magazines. The underground university in Jelínek's flat took place from 1986 to 1989, during which time there were 32 French thinkers.
Milan Jelínek holds many awards, among them the Commandeur dans l 'Ordre des Palmes académique in 1993, the Medal of Masaryk University and the University of Silesia in Opava.
- Brno, Czech Republic
Ivan Martin Jirous, also known under the pseudonym of “Magor“ (“madman”, “fool” – though in a positive sense), was a Czech poet, art historian, and leader and theoretician of the Czech underground. He signed Charter 77 and was the manager of the art music band “The Plastic People of the Universe”. In the seventies and eighties he was in prison five times (a total of eight years and six months) as a result of his cultural activities and attitude towards the system.
In 1963, Jirous began studying art history at the Faculty of Arts in Prague, and graduated in 1968 with a defence of his master thesis about the poet and artist Jiří Kolář. At the end of the sixties, he officially published art-theory texts, while from the beginning of the seventies he worked either as a labourer or was unemployed. At the end of the sixties, he collaborated with the Czech rock-music band “The Primitives Group”, which played psychedelic music. From 1969 he was the art leader of the underground music band “The Plastic People of the Universe” (PPU). One of Jirous’s most important essays was an introduction to the Czech underground “Notes on the Third Czech Musical Revival”. Jirous defined its fundamental values and artistic basis in a programme statement of the underground, where he emphasized authenticity in life and in creativity within the context of communist power. “Notes” was published in 1975 as a samizdat volume (entitled “Notes from the Czech Musical Underground”) and after that in the exile magazine “Testimony” (Svědectví, Paris 1976).
Jirous organized numerous concerts, public lectures and cultural events, for example, “Festivals of the second culture” (1974 in Postupice, 1976 in Bojanovice – connected with his wedding with Juliana Jirousová). The concert in Bojanovice, where The Plastic People of the Universe and others underground bands performed, was held in the hall of a village restaurant and became a pretext for repressive action taken by the police against sympathizers of the underground community – nineteen people were taken into custody and were charged with disturbing the peace. Most of them were members of the music groups PPU and DG 307. This case became a cause célèbre after the friends of the detainees termed the trial as political in a message to Amnesty International, and it was then brought to the attention of the Western media.
Many people from Czech cultural and intellectual life supported the accused (for example, Václav Havel, the philosophers Jan Patočka and Karel Kosík, and the writer and Nobel Prize winner Jaroslav Seifert). These people were later connected with the origins of Charter 77. On the other hand, the official propaganda campaign described the defendants as drug addicts and social parasites. It led to two trials with seven people convicted. In the second trial (the ‘Prague’ trial), Jirous was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and the musicians Pavel Zajíček, Svatopluk Karásek for one year and Vratislav Brabenec for eight months. One immediate consequence of the trial of Jirous and the others members of the underground was the establishment of the opposition initiative “Charter 77”; in connection with the international commitment of Czechoslovakia to respect human rights, which was declared at the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in 1975 in Helsinki. Jirous signed Charter 77 after his release from prison in 1978 (his ex-wife, the poet and art historian Věra Jirousová, and his wife, the painter Juliana Jirousová, also signed the charter).
Most of Jirous’s sentences were classified as disturbing the peace (§ 202). In fact, it is possible to speak about the politically motivated trials connected with his political convictions and his cultural activities. He was imprisoned for: singing an anti-communist song (“Send the Russian killers to hell where they belong”) and arguing with a retired Security Service Major (StB; 1973–74); for activities linked with the band “The Plastic People of the Universe (1976–77); for offending a communist functionary (1978; he made a speech at a Jiří Lacina exhibition about the insurmountable differences between official and unofficial culture); due to his role in producing, publishing and distributing the samizdat magazine “Vokno” (1981–85); for the activities around the petition “Tak dost”, which was connected to the last victim of the communist regime, the political prisoner Pavel Wonka. After his release from prison in 1985, Jirous was on parole and had to report daily to the Public Security Office at a specified time.
His prison experience is reflected in the collection of poems “Magor’s Swan Songs”. The collection was created during his terms of imprisonment from 1981 to 1985 and was originally published as a samizdat volume. The collection won the Tom Stoppard Prize in 1985. Jirous’s poems from this collection have appeared in many translated anthologies (English, German, French, Polish, Russian). In 2006, Jirous was awarded the Jaroslav Seifert Prize for this collection and his overall literary achievement. He published ten collections of poems as samizdat volumes. Jirous’s poetry work came out in 1989 in a collected volume “Magor’s summa” (Magorova summa). His work “The True Story of the Plastic People” was serialized in 1983, 1984 and 1987 in the Viennese magazine “Paternoster”, together with “Notes on the Third Czech Musical Revival”; and after that, for example, in the book “Magorův zápisník” (1997).
In the seventies and eighties he contributed to articles, critiques and polemics to many samizdat magazines, for example “Vokno” (Jirous helped found the magazine in 1979), also “Revolver Revue”, “Infoch – Information about Charter 77”, “Dialogy” and others. Jirous organized several samizdat anthologies of poems (for example “The Invalid Siblings for Egon Bondy on his 45th Birthday”, 1975). After 1989, he continued to write articles on art and other subjects, as well as poetry collections up until his death in 2011. He is now seen as a legendary figure who was crucial to the Czechoslovak underground.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic