The Ukrainian Museum-Archives in Cleveland, OH has in its possession an OST-Arbeiter patch that belonged to Iwan Shuljak, the live in caretaker of the building where the museum is now located. This item is part of a vast collection brought to Cleveland from Deported Persons Camps in Germany. The materials include not only personal items such as the OST-patch, work papers, correspondences, journals and other publications, but also hitherto unseen memoirs that describe a relatively unknown chapter of European history—the experiences of Ukrainian refugees during and after WWII.
Shuljak was a fixture of the Ukrainian Museum-Archives, living in a spare room on the second floor of the museum. He sat on the porch reading, cleared the snow in winter, cut the grass in spring and summer, in order to show that someone cared for the UMA and its staggering collection of memorabilia, documents, books and artifacts. A lifelong bachelor, Shuljak was born in 1911 to a family of farmers, he lived through collectivization, the famine, as well as brutal arrests and interrogations from being designated a “class enemy.” He carried scars for his entire life where a Checkist had cracked his skull with a revolver, depriving him of hearing in his right ear. Once the Terror subsided, he was released to work on the railroad. After the Nazis invaded the USSR in 1941, Shuljak, along with 2 million other Ukrainians, was taken to work in the German economy. Shuljak’s experiences are important, as they show why diaspora communities were often staunchly anti-Soviet in their outlook and why they expended so much energy and effort in documenting and preserving their heritage.
Shuljak’s blue and white OST patch identifying him as a forced laborer is now part of the UMA’s permanent collection. Stateless when he moved to the US, he never became an American citizen, nor was he a citizen of Ukraine. With the help of the Ukrainian community in Cleveland, who lobbied on his behalf to expedite the process, he became a Ukrainian citizen at the age of 95 and finally made it home.
- Cleveland Kenilworth Avenue 1202, United States of America 44113
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Gábor Klaniczay’s collection of vinyl LPs consists of albums released in the 1970s and 1980s, CDs, and tapes of concerts of music by Hungarian New Wave bands.These records include some pirated discs, for example, Patti Smith’s Canine Teardrop (1982). This is an important item in Klaniczay’s music collection. He acquired it thanks to his trips abroad and his connections. This LP was banned in Hungary.
Pavel Doronin started his “anti-Soviet” activities in November 1967, when, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution, he produced a short leaflet with a message criticizing the regime and considered “subversive” by the Soviet authorities. The content of this text – Кто Продаёт Свою Совесть / Кто Причиняет Стране Страдания (Who Sells One’s Consciousness / Who Causes Suffering to the Country) – represented an acrostic with the first four letters of each line forming the initials of the Soviet Communist Party – КПСС / CPSU). Thereafter, Doronin constructed seven typeset-stamps in his apartment (each one coinciding with a word of the acrostic), which he then used to print twenty-four leaflets. Doronin spread the leaflets by, on the one hand, distributing six copies throughout Chișinău and, on the other hand, by sending the rest of the leaflets by post to various Soviet institutions, factories, and religious organizations. Another form of expressing his discontent was the drafting of caricatures and letters that he sent to various Soviet newspapers. Thus, in May 1970 Doronin creatively altered an anti-American caricature published in the Soviet journal Krasnaia zvezda (Red Star), the official organ of the Soviet Ministry of Defence, by inserting Breznhev’s portrait instead of the original image of the American president and by writing the initials of Czechoslovakia, Egypt and Vietnam against the background of heavy weapons, initially intended to refer to US war-mongering. Although during the preliminary inquiry the defendant insisted that he only intended to show the discrepancy between the official Soviet rhetoric of peace and the reality of Soviet military involvement abroad, the interpretation that the KGB investigators favoured emphasized the more serious accusation that Doronin in fact viewed the whole foreign policy of the USSR as more aggressive than that of the US. Finally, in a series of letters that he sent to the Soviet central newspapers Pravda and Izvestiia in October 1970, Doronin criticized various sensitive aspects of Soviet official policies and everyday life. Besides several short texts focusing on the ”Jewish question,” he also reacted to the debate around Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s nomination to the Nobel Prize for Literature. Reacting to the writer’s condemnation by the official Soviet press, Doronin wrote: “The journalists of a newspaper that is called Pravda (Truth) should be ashamed of spreading all sorts of baseless calumnies and of mocking a man who deserves only recognition, honour and respect from the Soviet people and all other peoples! And this is happening in a country where everyone is boastfully talking about Man as the main value? After all this, how can one believe in a Socialist future?” In another note he sent to Pravda, referring to a trial of a black marketer (spekuliant), Doronin harshly criticized the corruption and inequality within Soviet society, claiming that some party members were becoming a privileged class of “exploiters” instead of providing worthy examples of honesty and hard work. Despite the occasional, isolated and sporadic character of Doronin’s acts of defiance, this case is a fascinating example of how personal, social and political grievances could combine to stimulate an individual’s critical acumen beyond the limits usually tolerated by the regime. Doronin certainly did not fit the typical image of an anti-Soviet dissident or oppositional figure. However, the authorities took his “ideological deviation” seriously enough to spend considerable efforts in order to investigate his case and to condemn him for his “dangerous” views, despite his “sincere repentance” during the trial.
The several hundred pages that make up the manuscript of the book Tortura pe înțelesul tuturor (Torture made intelligible to all) have been in the possession of the Sighet Memorial for seven years. The original manuscript was donated after the publication of the second edition of the book by the Civic Academy Foundation. “The first edition of the book was published in Chişinău; for the Romanian edition, he chose us, and on that occasion he gave us the original manuscript of the book, partly with a view to the preparation of an exhibition of manuscripts. Since 2011, it has been the property of the Sighet Memorial,” explains Ioana Boca, the executive director of the Civic Academy Foundation, the historian of this donation.
Like the other memoirs of the Romanian Gulag, this book whose manuscript is in the Museum was in fact written after the fall of communism. Before 1989, such memoirs were only written in exile. In comparison with other memorialistic works of the same type, this book deserves special attention, because it enjoyed an impressive critical reception. In his Istoria critică a literaturii române (Critical history of Romanian literature), Nicolae Manolescu remarks that the book is an outstanding example of the literature inspired by communist detention in Romania: “Two things are striking in Pavlovici’s recollections, apart from his immense literary talent: the capacity to suggest, without a trace of emphasis or of the desire for revenge, the banality of evil, as it was characterised by Hannah Arendt; and the pince-sans-rire humour, often black, that the author proves himself capable of, even in the face of the most horrible atrocities. His arrest and his passage through all sorts of evil places are very close to the absurdities of Kafka. However the neutral tone, the voice that is never raised, the ironic commentary, irreverent but never cynical, bring out of bestial behaviour and terrible experiences not only salutary lessons, but also a bearable, positive appreciation of human nature, which is never irreversibly corrupted.” Ruxandra Cesereanu too appreciates that “the exceptional merit of Florin Constantin Pavlovici is that it presents the infrastructure (minutely analysed from a psychological and socio-political point of view) of the apparatus of repression in communist Romania with the narrative tools of a refined intellectual. His story has subjective value, but it also offers the matrix for an understanding of what the Romanian Gulag was and how it functioned.”
The pages making up this original manuscript of the book Torture Made Intelligible to All are displayed in Room 70 of the Sighet Memorial, on the second floor of the building. This room is dedicated to “The Memory of Manuscripts,” those texts that for the communist regime constituted “hostile writings.” The Museum guide characterises the collection of manuscripts in this room as follows: “Whether they were confiscated, or circulated clandestinely, or led to the sentencing of their authors, or mark their destiny in the prison system, they are linked by that purity of expression that is the mark of true literature. Together with the manuscript donated to the Sighet Memorial by Florin Constantin Pavlovici, Room 70 also houses, original manuscripts or copies of Jurnalul fericirii (Journal of happiness) by Nicolae Steinhardt, Testamentul din morgă (Testament from the Morgue) by Remus Radina, Așteptând ceasul de apoi (Waiting for the day of judgement) by Dinu Pillat, Drumul crucii (The way of the Cross) by Aurel State, and Istoria Partidului Național Țarănesc (The history of the National Peasant Party) by Ioan Marta. It also houses correspondence of Gheorghe I. Brătianu, Silviu Dragomir, Corneliu Coposu, Cicerone Ionițoiu, and Mircea Carp.
- Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania 435500
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After a three year long rehearsal period, the performance One Day in the Life of Ignac Golob by the theatre company Coccolemocco premiered in 1977. Preparations for the performance took so long, among other things, due to problems with the rehearsal space, which was finally found in the premises of the Society of Amateurs in Culture and Arts Vinko Jeđut. 25 people participated in the show, most of them from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Branko Matan wrote the libretto, Branko Brezovec was in charge of the direction, Tihomir Milovac made the props, Božo Kovačević provided the voice for Ignac, while Mladen Blaić provided the voices for other puppets. The main backbone of the performance were gigantic three-meter tall puppets, designed and made by Jadranka Fatur.
The performance follows the life of a factory worker, Ignac Golob, through a series of images from his everyday life: Ignac at Work, Ignac at Home, Ignac in a Shop, Ignac and the Sun, ... and finally Ignac and Death. The text by Branko Matan was subtitled "morality play on contemporary life," and engages in a dialogue with the book by Wilhelm Reich, Listen, Little Man! The theme of the "little man", unconsciously concealed in all of us, signifies "that model of ‘non-freedom’ which is the only one still needed by the crazed mass production of consumption" (cited from the program booklet), both in capitalism and socialism. Socialism failed to deal with the contradictions and deceptions of banality of everyday life before which the "little man" Ignac Golob, a factory worker, is helpless and ineffective, but primarily lacks responsibility. His diagnosis of the world is "Let it be what needs to be!"
The performance questions the idealized image of Yugoslav socialist society and through the portrait of the "little man" Ignac Golob and its co-responsibility for the social conditions of the society he lives in, it comes to the diagnosis spoken up by an actor on stage: “(...) if an individual lets the world come out of him, then nobody has a chance anymore.” The performance talks about the responsibility of the little man for “the death of all our languages”.
Gordana Vnuk cut the newspaper articles about the show and stored them in her collection, along with the program booklet, tickets for the show, and other documentation related to One Day in the Life of Ignac Golob.