Mojmir Vanek was a scientist, professor of history and journalism, dissident, organizer of Czech cultural life in Switzerland, and also chairman of the Swiss group of the Society for Science and the Arts.
Mojmir Vanek was born on February 9, 1911 in Přerov. He came from a family of teachers and musicians, which influenced his later interests and focus. He attended a grammar school in Přerov and as one of the best pupils of Czechoslovakia, he was awarded a scholarship by the Czechoslovak Ministry of Education to complete his secondary school in France at the Lycée National in Nimes. He then completed his Bachelor's degree at the University of Montpellier and later graduated from Charles University in 1936, where he received his law ldegree. He then completed his studies in Vienna and Krakow. Prior to World War II, he studied history and cultural history (including the history of music) at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University in Prague while also working as an assistant at the Faculty of Law of Charles University.
During the war he worked as the presidential secretary of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts. During the Nazi occupation, they were granting support from so-called Jewish funds to young artists and musicians who often worked under the cover name, mainly for racial reasons, among others for example now famous Czech composer Miroslav Kabeláč. After the war, he was president Edvard Beneš's personal secretary and in 1946 he was released on the orders of President Benes and Minister Jan Masaryk to serve as Senior Counsellour at the UNESCO Secretariat, first in London and then in Paris where he became the first Director of the Arts and Music Section.
His work was interrupted in February 1948 when he was expelled from the Office of the President of the Republic on 26 February 1948 because of the decision of the so-called Action Committee. In 1949, he was arrested along with Milada Horáková and four other colleagues. On 21 July 1950 he was convicted by the so-called state court in Prague for alleged high treason and spying and sentenced to 18 years of heavy imprisonment. He served a punishment of eleven years, of which he spent seven months in solitary confinement at Ruzyne Prison without walks, visits or correspondence. The remainder of his sentence was served in Prague-Pankrác, Česká Lípa, Plzeň-Bory, Pardubice, Leopoldov, Uranium mines in Příbram, Mírov and Valdice. This conviction was expunged from his criminal record only in 1990, however, in 1960, Mojmir Vanek was released from prison during the amnesty conditionally for five years.
He then worked as a metal worker for a few years, and in 1967 he started working at the National Gallery in Prague. In 1966 he also became secretary of the Congress of the International Association of Fine Critics (AICA) in Prague, which he founded in 1946 while working at UNESCO.
In 1969 he went to Geneva, Switzerland, at the invitation of Musée d'art et d'histoire and where he also received the right to asylum as a political refugee in Switzerland. There he collaborated with the Musée d'étour d'Historia de Geneve. He lectured at universities in Geneva, Lyon and Tours. Mojmir Vanek is the author of about 20 studies, articles and translations of scientific papers and many dozens of articles in the daily press.
Mojmir Vanek actively engaged in culture. He saved the famous Prague Quartet before the break-up and organized several series of concerts in Prague. Later, he also did the same thing for the Czech Nonet. In 1940 he was appointed to be a member of the Society for Contemporary Music. After the end of the war he became a member of the constituent committee of the Prague Spring International Music Festival. During his work at UNESCO, he was the main organizer of the International Art Festival, which was launched on 28 October 1946 by a festive concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. After February 1948, he could no longer continue his cultural activities until his emigration to Switzerland, where he continued to do so. Mojmir Vanek organized exhibitions of Czech art at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva, the Kunsthaus in Zurich, exhibitions of Czech graphics at the museums in Lausanne, Geneva and La Chaux-de-Fonds and others. In 1971, after the establishment of the Swiss Society of Science and Arts, based in New York, organised the Symposium “Culture and Freedom” to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Czechoslovakia. It was organized by Mojmír Vaněk in Geneva and many prominent scientists from all over Europe spoke at this symposium. This event had a huge response in the Swiss press. Likely it was due to this event that Mojmir Vanek and his wife Olga had their Czechoslovak citizenship revoked. Vaněk became an outstanding promoter of Czechoslovak music abroad and continued to host many concerts and exhibitions. For his cultural activities, he was awarded the French "Palmes académiques" in France and received a silver medal from Charles University in 1991.
He is also responsible for the fact that the Geneva City Council named one street after President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk.
- Geneva, Switzerland
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Árpád Varga E. (1952–2011) was a Hungarian librarian, social researcher and statistician. He was born as Árpád Ernszt in Budapest. He studied public education and library sciences at the Teacher Training Institute in Szombathely, where he worked for the municipal library in 1972–1973. He worked at the regional unit of the Metropolitan Ervin Szabó Library in Budapest, then at the Library of the Teacher Training Academy in Kaposvár from 1975 to 1978 and at the Library of the Institute of Public Education from 1978 to 1985. He studied at the Training Educational Academy in Eger in 1979 as well. In 1985, he started to do research on the history of the official census surveys of nationalities, the changes in ethno-demographical relations and the questions of population patterns of Hungarians in Transylvania. He published many books and studies on this topic. Beginning in 1985, he was a librarian at the Library of Informational Institute of Public Education, while from 1993 he was the director of the Library of Cultural Innovation Foundation. He was the only person who received the award of the Central Statistical Office as an outsider for his statistical processing of the population history of Transylvania.
- Budapest, Hungary
Mrs. Hetényi Varga is the widow and co-author of Károly Hetényi Varga, who herself did research on clericals who had suffered under the dictatorships of the 20th century. She was born in Szécsény in 1930 as Borbála Varga. After finishing secondary school (1946), she couldn’t continue her studies because of the hard political and economic situation. She later graduated from school and worked at the office of the National Insurance Company. She had to seek treatment at the Korányi Sanatorium (Budapest), because she got tuberculosis in October 1956. She underwent surgery in 1957. After her recovery, she worked at the Sanatorium (1958–1960), where she met Károly Hetényi Varga, who himself sought treatment there. In July 1960, they got married, and soon they had two boys: Péter Pius (1961) and Károly József (1962). Borbála Varga started to work in the surgery in the Komló City Hospital, but after the birth of their first child, she worked as a regional nurse until her retirement. She helped with their husband’s church historical research, typing the audio materials and sorting sorted the documents, which later were edited by her husband. She was the first reader and the first person to correct the manuscripts. After the death of her husband (2002), she offered Hetényi Varga’s collection to the Cistercian Abbey of Kismaros.
- Pécs, Hungary
Sándor Varga was born in 1942, in Chotín ( Slovakia). He graduated in Komárno, then continued his studies at the Pedagogical Institute in Nitra. He completed his studies at Comenius University in Bratislava and graduated as a historian-archivist. He received his PhD in 1975. He participated in youth organisations while still a student. The first youth organisation of ethinc Hungarians was established in Czechoslovakia in 1964,after the Czechoslovak Union of Youth failed to meet their needs and claims. Varga was one of the founders of the Hungarian Youth Association [Magar ifjúsági szövetség]. This association (MISZ) was established in 1968 in Bratislava as a response to the political situation following the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. The main purpose was to create an independent youth organisation, on that protected the rights of Hungarian youth. From 1968 to 1970 Varga worked as a secretary in the largest cultural organisation of ethinc Hungarians in Slovakia, CSEMADOK. Until the Velvet Revolution (1989) he worked as archivist in the Slovak National Archives; during this time he remaind the member of CSEMADOK and defended the rights of Hungarians. After the Velvet Revolution, between 1989 and 1990, Varga was the Deputy Prime Minister in the Slovak goverment. While in government, Varga represented the Hungarian independent intiative. This intiative was created as one the most important movements during the Velvet Revolution. It worked closely with Public Against Violence. From 1978 till 1989, Varga was a member of the Hungarian minority’s rights defense committee. The commitee co-worked with some international organisations whose main purpose was to protect human rights. In 1991 he created the Documentary centre of nationalities in Bratislava. The centre’s main purpose was to document the history of the Hungarian minority in Slovakia. Throughout his life Varga tirelessly defended the rights of the Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia and Slovakia. He also had a big part in maintaning Hungarian cultural heritage in Slovakia. He was not persecuted for his activities.
- Chotín, Slovakia
János Vargha (1949) is a Hungarian biologist, environmentalist, and photographer. He founded and directed the Danube Circle (Duna Kör), a civil movement which opposed the Nagymaros dam project on the Danube River in the 1980s. He completed his studies at the József Attila University of Sciences in Szeged in 1977, after which he worked at the periodical Diver. In 1981, he began to write articles and deliver lectures on environmental issues concerning water management. In 1984, he joined the Duray Committee, a movement which offered criticism of and put up opposition to the Czechoslovak leaderships’ policies against the Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia. In the same year, he founded the environmentalist movement Danube Circle. Thanks to his efforts, the organization was awarded the alternative Nobel Prize in 1985. This prompted the Hungarian opposition to support environmentalist candidates in the parliamentary elections in 1985. He was dismissed from his workplace, the editorship of the periodical Science, because of his oppositional activities. In 1988, he became the government’s senior advisor on environmental policy. Until 1997, he was the leader of ISTER – East European Environmental Research Foundation. From 1998 to 2000, he was the chief environmental advisor of the Hungarian government. Now he is working as a photographer and web developer.
- Pilisborosjenő, Hungary 2097