Jiří Pelikán was a Czech journalist, communist functionary, exile politician and publisher of the quarterly “Listy”. He was born on 7 February 1923 in Olomouc as the son of the sculptor Julius Pelikán. He started studying at a grammar school in Olomouc but then joined the communist resistance during World War II and was imprisoned for several months by the Gestapo. He was released in 1941 and was hidden until the end of the war in an unknown place. After the war, he joined the communist youth movement and started studying at the Political and Social University. He was a secretary for the university’s committee of the Communist Party (1946-51) and a member of the board of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party in Prague. During the second half of the 1940s and during the 1950s, Pelikán held several other functions at various levels of the apparatus of the Party and its youth organisation. After February 1948, he was a member of the Action Committee of the National Front, responsible for the exclusion of thousands of university students based on their political views. He was a deputy in the National Assembly between 1948 and 1954 and later between 1964 and 1969. As general secretary of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Union of Youth (1953-55), he was the leader of the communist youth organisation; he was head of the International Union of Students between 1964 and 1969. Pelikán later became general director of Czechoslovak Television – from 1963 until October 1968 when he was forced to leave the position by the Soviets.
During the Prague Spring 1968, Pelikán was one of the active advocates for reforming the Party, he was, therefore, placed in a less high-profile position in the diplomatic service after the Soviet invasion and the beginning of Normalization. He worked as a cultural attaché at the Czechoslovak embassy in Rome; he refused to return to Czechoslovakia in 1969 and applied for political asylum in Italy.
He soon became involved in the exile activities in Italy. As a former active participant in the democratization processes during the Prague Spring, he started publishing the left-oriented magazine “Listy” in 1971. In the magazine, he endeavoured to truthfully and objectively inform people about public matters and political repression in Czechoslovakia, as well as give banned authors the opportunity to publish. He was granted Italian citizenship in 1977 and was a deputy of the European Parliament for the Italian Democratic Socialist Party (Partito Socialista Democratico Italiano) between 1979 and 1989. He was a very active participant in Czechoslovak exile activities. In 1986, he was a founding member of the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre of Independent Literature, which was founded in West Germany and led by the historian Vilém Prečan.After 1989, he lived in both Rome and Prague, where he also published “Listy” – the magazine has also had a Prague-based editorial board since 1990. Pelikán was the director of the East-West Institute in Rome from 1989. In 1990 and 1991, he was briefly an adviser to Václav Havel, the president of the Czech and Slovak Federation Republic. He was awarded the Medal of Merit in 1998. He died on 26 June 1999 in Rome.
- Metropolitan City of Rome, Rome, Italy
Anna Perczel (1942–) is a Hungarian architect. She graduated from the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University of Budapest in 1967. From 1967 to 2004, Perczel worked as a settlement planner architect at the Institute of Town Planning of Budapest. She then began working at the Office of Research and Monuments of the Scientific and Designer Institute of Urban Construction. In the 1980s, she became one of the founders of the Danube Circle, an environmental protest movement. She deals with the historical districts of Budapest. She is one of the founders of the Caution Association (2004), which tries to protect the Jewish Quarter.
The story of his emigration encapsulates his relation to the regime. On receiving an invitation to a conference on art pedagogy in Germany, Perneczky was provided with a service passport. He was a journalist at a weekly literal journal at the time, and the chief editor handed him the passport in person, saying “I have heard from ‘upper places’ that they would not be angry if you were not return from this journey, even your family would not be put at any disadvantage.” The editor in chief also said that, in his opinion, “you are young, you are talented, you are single, so I am sure you will succeed.”
After emigrating, Perneczky continued his artistic work with Concept Art, but he soon became disillusioned with the elitist approach of the gallery system. At the same time, got acquainted himself with people from the alternative scene of artistic publishing, which seemed a viable parallel universe. He joined the global mail art network, which was evolving at the time, and this led him to archiving and collecting. He became an active theoretician of the movement as well.
For decades, he taught drawing in a secondary school. In addition to authoring an array of publications on modern art, he also does artistic work with painting, concept art, photography, visual poetry, and artist books. His works have been shown in exhibitions in Europe and America. In the meantime, he established and maintained the Soft Geometry Archive. The brand Soft Geometry also publishes his books and bookworks.
Ferdinand Peroutka was a Czech journalist, writer and dramatist. After the First World War, he worked as an editor-in-chief of the Tribuna journal, and later wrote commentaries for the newspaper Lidové Noviny. In 1924 he founded the revue Přítomnost, and worked as its editor-in-chief until 1939. Peroutka was also the author of several books, for example the unfinished work Budování státu (Building of the State) about the birth of the first Czechoslovak Republic. Upon the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Peroutka was arrested and held in Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps until 1945. After the war, he was a member of the Czechoslovak Provisional National Assembly. Peroutka, who was an opponent of communism, was excluded from the Union of Czech Journalists and Union of Czech Writers in February 1948. Thus, he decided to emigrate to the West and he left Czechoslovakia in April 1948. He initially lived in Great Britain, and later moved to the USA. In the United States he participated in the foundation of Radio Free Europe, and in 1951 he was appointed director of its Czechoslovak section. He also became a member of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia, which represented Czechoslovak democratic politicians who left their country for exile after 1948. In exile, Peroutka continued with his literary activities as well. He published, among others, a novel entitled Oblak a valčík (The Cloud and the Waltz) based on his play of the same name. Nowadays, he is considered one of the most important Czech journalists of the twentieth century. Thus, since 1995 the “Ferdinand Peroutka Award” has been given to prominent journalists and publicists in the Czech Republic.
- New York, United States