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161. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Cristian Vasile Mihail Ralea between the Ministry of Arts and the Romanian Communist Cultural Diplomacy
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Mihai Ralea was a university professor and prominent representative of the Romanian interwar literary intelligentsia. M. Ralea taught psychology, sociology and aesthetics, and was at the same time the director of a reputed literary magazine (Viaţa românească-Romanian Life). Ralea was also a politician, initially an important member of the National Peasant Party, representing its centre left wing. In his case, one may notice the contradiction between his moral arguments in public and his deeds after he reached positions of power (Minister of Labour under the royal dictatorship, Minister of Arts under the pro-communist Petru Groza government, etc.). Ralea was also called “the moralist without morals”, and the compromises he made – manifested through his adherence to anti-democratic regimes – can be documented by numerous archival documents. Due to strong political connections, Ralea survived in the high ranks of cultural bureaucracy even during cultural Stalinism. He maintained important positions both at the University of Bucharest and with humanities research institutes of the post-1948 Soviet-style Romanian Academy of Sciences. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he also gained posi-tions of international cultural representation with the Romanian branch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNES-CO) and the Romanian Institute for the Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (IRRCS, the Romanian VOKS). His survival (as a professor of psychology after 1948) had a significant price – Ralea’s collaboration with the Stalinist regime. Using open sources and also newly declassified archival documents, the article is an attempt to approach M. Ralea’s case of survival in the high cultural bureaucracy in the East European context.
162. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Enis Sulstarova An Albanian Hemingway: Petro Marko’s Recollections of the Spanish Civil War
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Petro Marko (1913-1991) was an Albanian journalist, writer and communist activist, who volunteered in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War. Afterwards, he was imprisoned in the island of Ustica by the Italian occupiers of Albania during the Second World War and was briefly imprisoned by the communist regime of Albania in the late 1940s. Afterwards he worked as a journalist and a writer, being closely surveyed by the communist regime. The Spanish experience was the most important formative period throughout Marko’s stormy life, through which he was able to stay faithful to his communist and internationalist beliefs in the face of fascism and one of the most totalitarian and isolationist regimes in Europe. Marko wrote about the International Brigades in his most prominent novel, Hasta la Vista, and in his posthumously published autobiography. This paper will investigate these works by putting them in the historical context of the events themselves and of the time of the writing process. The aim is to look into how internationalism moulded his own identity, but also how this ideal was presented publicly under a communist regime that was becoming more and more isolated and xenophobic.
163. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Ana Theodorescu Theodor Vasilescu – The Dancer Who Took the Romanian Folklore all over the World
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The main theme of the proposed paper concerns the professional training and artistic activity of Theodor Vasilescu, choreographer and dancer, specialized in folk dance, with a rich international activity during the communist regime. The analysis will focus on illustrating how the artist’s biography was influenced by a new trend in the satellite states of the U.R.S.S., namely that of transforming traditional dance into art with a political substratum. Also, the main thread of the article will consist in revealing the specific type of relationship between the artist and the regime, dominated by a permanent awareness of the mutual benefits of this partnership: for the dancer Theodor Vasilescu it was the chance to develop a successful career, which for the propaganda apparatus implied a strong image campaign for Romania, abroad. Regarding the temporal framework, the analyzed period will focus on the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu, 1965-1989, relevant in Theodor Vasilescu’s career path, as well as in the dissemination of his work results. There are three important aspects that will be analyzed in this article: first, the recovery of an important cultural trend in Romanian history, when, through the influence on the Soviet chain, folklore and traditional dance became an art form strongly subsumed to an ideology. This aspect led to the foundation of many Folk Ensembles with a specific type of artistic manifestations, including folk dance. At the same time, it will be illustrated how the regime was involved in financing and promoting this type of dance, by including it in the development of the most important national performances, by encouraging research in this field and creating professional opportunities through training and also by organizing an International Folklore Festival, “Romania 69”. This approach definitively changed the professional career of Theodor Vasilescu. The last aspect consists in presenting the international career of the choreographer, as a direct result of the increased interest that the communist regime had in promoting Romania’s image abroad. This made the Romanian folk dance very popular in countries such as Netherlands, Japan, Canada, Germany. Also, the frequent tournaments con-tributed to the increase of the Securitate’s interest in his daily activity. The main categories of sources for documentation will consist of: my personal archive which contains two interviews with Theodor Vasilescu, documents in the funds and collections of the National Archives of Romania (The Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party, Propaganda and Agitation Section, Organizational Section), also those of the National Council for Studying the Securitate Archives.
164. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Ana-Cristina Irian, Valentin Maier Picturing the West – A Slideshow of a Private Production in Communist Romania
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The purpose of this paper is to present and analyse the biography of a passionate 20th century Romanian tourist who lived in Bucharest and travelled across Europe, bringing his (subjective) travel experiences of Western countries to private and public audiences curious about the unknown “abroad” during the 1980s. This case study is about the life and travel experiences of Vasile A. Marinescu, and deals with their visibility and interpretation during the communist era. The research is based on unpublished sources – visual and audio sources, as well as manuscripts (between 1970 and 1980), interviews – and other already published archive materials. The research describes, in particular, how the West was perceived and presented in those semi-private shows, and how (and which of) those unofficial sources influenced the imagination of Romanians, aside the official propaganda.
165. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Manuela Marin Sean Eady, Four Color Communism: Comic Books and Contested Power in the German Democratic Republic
166. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 11
Notes on the Contributors
167. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Božica Slavković Mirić Drač-Elbasan Railway – “Railway of the Yugoslav-Albanian Brotherhood”
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After the end of World War II, Yugoslavia and Albania continued the cooperation that had been established during the war. The economic cooperation between the two countries began after the signing of the Friendship and Assistance Agreement in mid-1946. Part of the cooperation were joint ventures between the two countries and one of them was a railway company. The first Albanian railway, Drač-Elbasan, represented the result of Yugoslav-Albanian reconciliation. Its construction began in early 1947 and completed in November the same year. A plan for the Drač-Tirana railway also existed and was to be implemented as a joint project, but due to the crisis of the relations between the two countries, it never materialised. Yugoslavia and Albania discontinued their cooperation after Albania’s acceptance of the Informbureau Resolution in mid-1948.
168. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Editors’ Note
169. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Dalia Báthory Editor’s Introduction: Socialist Solidarity and East-East Relations in the 20th Century
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The current section of issues 12/2021-13/2022 of History of Communism in Europe deals with East-East and East-South relations among socialist countries and countries of the Global South. Exploring local specificities and global ambitions, the papers bring to light the beginnings of the socialist developmental projects, and bilateral relations that overcome the strict framework of the monolithic socialist bloc.
170. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Daniel Filip-Afloarei The “Solidarity” Crisis and the Poles of Suceava in the ’80s
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In this paper, I will explore the relationship between the Romanian Socialist leadership and the Polish minority in Suceava after the outbreak of the “Solidarity” crisis, in August 1980. Although the Polish community in Suceava was small, it had close connections with the Polish tourists who visited Romania, whose number reached almost one million every year in the early ‘80s. These connections aroused many suspicions among the authorities in Bucharest. Particularly, this paper has three major objectives: it investigates the extensive surveillance campaign targeting the Polish minority in Suceava after the emergence of the “Solidarity” Trade Union in Poland, it analyses the methods used by the Communist authorities to counteract the alleged effects of this crisis and it depicts the Romanian leadership’s perception of the Polish crisis of the ‘80s, beyond the official statements. Ultimately, as a general framework of this paper, I will study the bilateral relations between Romania and Poland. To these ends, I will use the archives of the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives, corroborated with sources from the National Archives and the consular reports of the Romanian Embassy in Warsaw. For a more informed perspective I will also employ information from the Archives of Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The interviews featuring the persons with Polish contacts or monitored by the Securitate will complete the documentary sources.
171. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Dalia Báthory Romanian Solidarity with Countries in the Global South. Development, Trade, Training
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This paper deals with the Romanian experience as a developer of projects and investor of resources in the countries of the Global South during the 1970s. It follows the country’s grand narrative in its Communist Party’s documents, as compared to that of the statements of the international meetings of the commu­nist parties in the 1960s and 1970s and to that present in the party’s newspaper Scinteia, and in contrast to documents of the political executive committee of the Romanian Communist Party collected from the Romanian National Archives and the Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives. The purpose of this research is to analyse the Romanian solidarity messages in the party discourse, their degree of compliance with the solidarity messages of the rest of the countries in the socialist camp, actual actions of humanitarian assistance in the countries of the Global South, and how those actions and messages were filtered and transmitted to the Romanian readers of print press. The results indicate a discrepancy between public discourse and archival discourse on the one hand, and the nature of information disclosed to the public, on the other.
172. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Daniel Filip-Afloarei Editor’s Introduction: Youth in Communism: between Compliance and Deviance
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All research agrees that youth was an important social category for the communist regimes. At the beginning of the Cold War, youth was perceived in literature as a subject under the regimes’ total control. Later on, scholars understood that gaining the support of young people was a political priority for the Communists. To follow this complicated relationship between youth and the communist regime, I first looked at the complexity of the concept. Second, I have moved beyond the Manichean perspective of the Cold War and sought to study it in its complexity and continuity within generations. Ultimately, this contextualisation helps readers better understand the works in the current issue, which examines the problem of youth from several perspectives.
173. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Adrian Popan Rock’n’Roll and the Discontents of Communism: The Scandals that Rocked the Scene
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The literature on rock music in socialism oscillates between presenting it in opposition to the socialist society and being part of it. This article tackles the same question by looking at the moments where rock musicians found themselves at odds with mainstream morality: the scandals. Three cases have been selected for analysis: the media campaign against the band Chromatic in 1970, the publication of Ceauşescu’s Theses of July in 1971, and the continuing stream of defectors, including from the rock music scene. The analysis concludes that both sides tended to avoid open confrontations. Rock musicians were no dissidents; they preferred to make music using the available institutional means. Authorities would rather close an eye to problematic events to keep up appearances. Mid-level authorities served as mediators while working for their own benefit.
174. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Sofia Lopatina Courtyard Groups: Youth Collective Practices and Soviet Visions of Social Control (1960-1965)
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This article takes a closer look at two seemingly contradictory developments of the early 1960s – the broadening of socialist participation and proliferation of social control – and their impact on young people. It also aims to go beyond the state-society dichotomy by introducing the concepts of youth collective practices and control culture. The analysis will show that multiple state and non-state agents controlled courtyard groups. They developed different, contesting interpretations and practices. While the courtyard groups were diverse and many of them did not break any laws, the agents of control culture viewed them as deviant. However, it was not only the apparent or supposed “deviance” of some courtyard groups that put them in the spotlight but also their uncontrollability and estrangement from Soviet leisure venues and practices.
175. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Cristian Vasile Albatros – a Publishing House for the Romanian Communist Youth, 1970-1989
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This paper examines the profile of the Albatros Publishing House in Bucharest (specialising in youth literature) and the activity of its director, writer Mircea Sântimbreanu. He held this position for almost two decades and recounted his experience in a volume of memoirs. I tried to explore these memoirs mainly in parallel with accounts from archival documents and secondary literature. The Albatros Publishing House was a micro-universe for assessing the impact of successive ideological offensives by the Romanian Communist Party on book production and on the youth in general (mainly the July 1971 Theses and the other party directives of the 1970s, as well as the Mangalia Theses of 1983). By the 1980s, the regime’s propaganda had acquired ultra-nationalistic nuances. This paper will also exemplify such developments by discussing the scandal generated by the 1983 publication of Saturnalii by Corneliu Vadim Tudor, a volume of poems with strong antisemitic tenor. Using mainly diaries, journals, secondary literature and archival documents, this article also analyses the strategies deployed by the communist regime in order to coerce the young generation – through the agency of publishing houses – to assume the new literary-political ideology of revolutionary humanism (the Socialist Realism of the Ceaușescu era).
176. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Lucica Nicoleta Păcurar S.R. Romania’s Western Border - the Battlefield between Two Categories of Young People: The Fugitives and the Border Guards
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The young generation of the ’80s was born and entirely educated under communist ideology. And yet indoctrination failed for some of these young people, who saw the West as a symbol of a better society to aspire to. In order to escape from S.R. Romania, some of them risked their lives in the “adventure” of crossing the border illegally. The main opponents of the fugitives, the border guards, were part of the same age group. In many cases, they behaved brutally toward the fugitives. Did they come to see them as traitors, or was it just the context in which this adversity manifested itself mixed with the soldiers’ fear of their superiors’ punishments? The study is part of a more extensive research regarding the phenomenon of illegal border crossing during Ceaușescu`s dictatorship. Through this study, I aim to analyse the two situations in which some of the young people of the ’80s could find themselves: opponents of the regime (when fleeing to the West was a form of protest) and involuntary “servants” of the system, such as border soldiers, respectively. Also, I focused on identifying the reasons for the conflict between the two categories of young people belonging to the same generation.
177. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Ioana Ursu To be Young and Spiritual during Times of Communism: Students and the Burning Bush of Antim
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The “Burning Bush” was the name of a cultural circle in Bucharest in the 1940s, comprised of clergy and intellectuals who met periodically to discuss theology, philosophy, literature and to learn about prayer. Some of the most significant members of this group were arrested during the second repressive wave by the Romanian communist regime (1958); along with twelve elderly monks and intellectuals, four students who kept in touch with them were also arrested. Their names were George Văsâi, Șerban Mironescu, Nicolae Rădulescu, and Emanoil Mihăilescu. Using memoirs, oral history interviews and documents from the Securitate archives, the paper will address the interactions between the young students and the elder members of the Burning Bush group of clergy and intellectuals. The narratives of the informative and criminal files of the Securitate regarding the content of their meetings will also be depicted, all inside a larger context of the regime’s repressive measures and relations with the Romanian Orthodox Church.
178. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Iulia Cindrea Nagy “The Propagandists are Younger Women”: How Old Calendarist Women Contributed to the Forging of a Religious Identity
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The 1924 Church reform, through which the Romanian Orthodox Church decided to adopt the Revised Julian Calendar, led to dissent movements, mostly comprised of peasants, especially in the villages of Moldavia and Bessarabia. Considering the calendar change a heresy, these groups soon developed into religious communities that came to be known as Old Calendarists, or “stylists,” followers of “the old-style calendar.” Led by defrocked priests and monks who rejected the reform, the groups very quickly became the target of the secret police and the Gendarmerie. What also drew the attention of the authorities and the Orthodox Church was that women, especially the younger ones, seemed to play important roles within the communities, not only in terms of membership, but also in preserving and spreading the Old Calendarists’ beliefs and religious ideas. As many members of the communities were being arrested, and their churches were destroyed, these women also suffered imprisonment, monastic incarceration, or were forced to hide from the authorities in caves or huts that they built in the woods. Though subjected to various forms of persecution, which continued through the communist period, the majority of them held strong to their beliefs and contributed to the forging of a religious identity. Using archival documents, in the forms of letters, postcards, photos, and declarations as primary sources, and drawing on interviews conducted with contemporary nuns and members of the Old Calendarist communities, the present article explores the personal stories of young Old Calendarist women. Building upon the work of Anca Șincan, this article challenges the notion that transmission of religion was the exclusive prerogative of older women.
179. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 12/13
Notes on the contributors