István Bakos (1943), a Hungarian scholar of culture, was an opposition activist. He graduated from the agricultural technical college in Szentlőrinc. Beginning in 1963, he worked as an agronomist in the New Life Collective Farm in Peterd. Between 1964 and 1969, he studied Hungarian language and literature and cultural program organization at Loránd Eötvös University, and he organized student life at the József Eötvös College. He finished his studies in 1969. For one year he was the student president at the University’s Arts Faculty. Between 1970 and 1973, he worked at the Academic Management Institute of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, before taking a position at the National Council of Collective Farms. From 1975 to 1978, he worked at the Commission of Academic Policy of the Hungarian Government. Between 1979 and 1994, he worked at the Ministry of Culture. As a member of the national opposition, he was one of the initiators of the Gábor Bethlen Foundation (1980), whose aim was to protect national minority rights and advance minority cultural life. He contributed to the organization of the Lakitelek Meeting, a major event of the nationalist-populist opposition in 1987, and the creation of the political party the Hungarian Democratic Forum. From 1994 until 1999, he served as the elected secretary-general of the World Federation of Hungarians (WFH), and until 2004 he was the head of department at the National Schoolbook Publisher. Between 1999 and 2007, he served as the president of the Gábor Bethlen Foundation.
- Budapest, Hungary
Poet, performer, musician, visual artist. Studied in a music primary school in Budapest and then worked in an animation studio in East Berlin. Later, attended an evening high school in his hometown. At the end of 1968, he joined the freshly formed, later legendary Kex (Cookies), where he was the singer and frontman. The band became very popular among young intellectuals. They played frequently in clubs, but could record only one single during their active years. The secret police started to keep him under surveillance.
Due to the conflicts related to the investigation, he emigrated to West Germany in October 1971. He studied at the graphic department of the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen (two semesters). Later, he attended the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, where he studied in the painting and graphic art department (twelve semesters).
In 1975, he published a picture-book (Olimpi, et cetera Literarischer Verlag). In 1977, he completed the pastel series Der Weg der Materie, depicting “the karma of the universe” on forty-five plates. He started to build sculptures and jewellery out of ceramics, and he created a series of silk paintings. He also became involved in the creation of musical landscapes.
In 1978, he moved to West Berlin, where he lived and worked for decades. He founded a Native American and a samurai school, and since then worked under the pseudonym Prince January as an artist-parson. In the beginning of the 1980s and in the late 1990s, he took research trips to North America. Over the course of the decades, he created numerous paintings, drawings, and sculptures, and he staged slide series and an array of diary-like poetic writings and musical pieces, meant to be shown interconnected.
In addition to his exhibitions in Düsseldorf and Berlin, upon invitation he presented his works in Budapest at the Dorottya Gallery (1996), the Éri Gallery (2001) and in Székesfehérvár at the King St. Stephan Museum (2007), accompanied by a catalogue. A book on his work was published in Hollywood entitled Terra Forming (Klasky Csupo Publishing, 2000), in which, with images, text-meditations and the accompanying music, he informs his reader that it is worthwhile to interpret the world around us in a wider, cosmic context.In 2012, he became seriously ill, and he is now in a rehabilitation institute.
- Stuttgart, Uhingen, Germany
Balázs Sándor (born Cluj, 4 April 1928) is a Transylvanian Hungarian philosopher, university professor, and politician. His father was a railway worker, his mother a seamstress and his only sister was a clerk. He studied philosophy at the Faculty of Letters of Bolyai University, graduating in 1952. In his last year of academic studies, in 1951 he was assigned as an assistant lecturer to the chair of dialectical and historical materialism and a year later he was sent to the A. A. Jdanov Higher School for Social Sciences in Bucharest from which he graduated in 1954. From then on he worked as a university lecturer and maintained his position also after the unification of the two Cluj-based universities in 1959, which resulted in the establishment of Babeș-Bolyai University. He obtained his PhD degree in 1971. As of February 1978 he worked as an associate professor at the chair of philosophy-sociology in the Faculty of History and Philosophy in Cluj. (ACNSAS, I161638/1, 227fv). Beginning in 1945 he became a member of the Union of Communist Youth and in June 1956 a member of the Party. According to his secret police file he received the distinction “in honour of the completion of agricultural collectivisation.” From the early 1970s, he held several low-ranking positions in local Party organisations. Beginning with 1979 he was a member of the board of censors within the University Syndicate Committee. In 1986 he was a propagandist of the Cluj-Napoca Municipal Party Committee (ACNSAS I161638/1, 228).
As of the 1970s he was mainly preoccupied with the Hungarian philosophical-sociological-theoretical literature of the interwar period. He published and wrote the introductory notes to Dimitrie Gusti’s volume entitled A szociológiai monográfia (Sociological Monography, 1976). In his work entitled Szociológiai és nemzetiségi önismeret (Sociological and National Self-Understanding, 1979), he explored the influence of Gusti’s ideas and presented the various Hungarian sociography workshops existing in Romania in the interwar period, such as Erdélyi Múzeum, Korunk, Erdélyi Helikon, Erdélyi Fiatalok, and Hitel. He translated from Romanian and published some works of the philosopher and sociologist Constantin Rădulescu-Motru and of the diplomat Nicolae Titulescu. Alongside his work as a teacher and manifold professional activity, in 1975 he became a member of the board of editors of the daily paper Igazság (Truth) (Statement of Sándor Balázs). His first wife, Kornélia Lőrincz, a teacher, passed away in 1959. They had a daughter born in 1955. In 1960 he remarried; his second wife, neé Rozália Bíró was an associate professor at Babes-Bolyai University, Faculty of History and Philosophy, Chair of Scientific Socialism. He was allowed to travel abroad on a number of occasions. In 1972 he travelled to Italy, in 1974 to France, and in 1978 he visited the German Democratic Republic (ACNSAS I161638/1, 425).
On 15 January 1987, having been authorised by the Party structures, the Cluj-Napoca Securitate started to investigate his case. Two weeks later, On 5 February they opened an informative surveillance file on him under the code name “Sociologul” (The sociologist) and subjected him to close observation. Soon they clarified his activity within the Limes Circle as well as the nature of his relationship with the Cseke family. They intercepted his home phone calls and closely monitored his relationship with Emil Popovics, the Hungarian consul in Cluj-Napoca. Apart from using the informant network and the operative technique, they also resorted to street shadowing. On 2 June 1987 he was summoned for a warning by the first secretary of the Cluj-Napoca Municipal Party Committee, in the presence of the secretary of the University Centre Party Committee, for displaying an unacceptable attitude to “certain things” in the company of “certain persons,” for publishing writings in Hungary without the approval of the Romanian authorities and institutions and for maintaining “undesirable contacts” with foreign citizens. A few days later, on 6 June, Balázs himself made his “self-criticism” also in writing (ACNSAS I161638/1, 390; I161638/2, 166–171). On 9 January 1988, the rector of Babeș-Bolyai University issued another warning to him (ACNSAS I161638/1, 275), accusing him, among other things, of saying ambiguous things during his lectures.
During the Romanian Revolution of 1989 Balázs took an active part in the drawing-up of the call known as Hívó Szó (Calling Word), which declared that the Hungarian community in Romania needed to organise itself. The call was drawn up on 24 December 1989 in the home of the sociologist-philosopher Ernő Gáll. On the following day, 25 December, Balázs was among the gathered members of the Cluj-Napoca Hungarian intellectual elite who agreed, in the editorial office of the daily newspaper Szabadság (Freedom), formerly known as Igazság (Truth), to establish a political organisation (Fodor 2014). His idea was to establish a Hungarian political organisation similar to a party which would participate in elections. In his conception, the civil organisations would have persisted, and the party would not have been concerned with issues such as theatre, newspapers, or education, which would have remained independent. However, in the meantime an agreement was reached between Ion Iliescu and Géza Domokos and the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania [DAHR – Hungarian: Romániai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség (RMDSZ); Romanian: Uniunea Democratică a Maghiarilor din România (UDMR)]was founded, which was not a party but an alliance that, as an umbrella organisation, became an autocratic entity both in cultural and political representation (Statement of Sándor Balázs). In the 1990s Balázs was a politician representing the DAHR. On 24–25 February 1990 the national assembly of DAHR delegates elected their National Provisional Committee in Sfântu Gheorghe and Sándor Balázs was appointed to one of the vice-president positions of the eleven-member presidency. Between 1990 and 1995 Balázs served as chairman of the Bolyai Society, which to date has among its goals the support and representation of legitimate and well-grounded community needs regarding the creation of an independent Hungarian higher education institutional framework in Romania, including the establishment of a public university. From the change of regime till his retirement and for another ten years he continued to work as a consultant at Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, specifically as a PhD candidate tutor (Statement of Sándor Balázs). The scientific and public activity of the professor-philosopher exploring the philosophical questions of minority existence is covered to date by his numerous writings. His most recent volume, entitled Emlékeim személyekről – újraközlésekkel (My recollections of persons – with republications) was published in May 2018.
- Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Ivo Banac was born on 1 March 1947, in Dubrovnik. In 1959 he emigrated to New York where he finished the Jesuit Loyola High School. Later, he studied at the Jesuit Fordham University where he graduated in 1965. He obtained a master's degree in 1971 and completed his doctoral dissertation in 1975 during postgraduate studies at the University of Stanford in California. From 1977 to 2009, he taught the history of East and Southeast Europe at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. There he retired in 2009 as a professor emeritus at the department tied to a special foundation named after Bradford Durfee. He worked as a university professor at the Central European University in Budapest from 1994 to 1999, where he managed the Institute for Southeast Europe. Since 2008, he has been a university professor at the Department of History at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, and since 1990, he also has been a corresponding member. Banac is the author of numerous books, essays and articles such as The National Question in Yugoslavia. Origins, History, Politics (1984, “Wayne S. Vucinich” Award, American Association for Promoting Slavic Studies), With Stalin Against Tito: Cominformist Splits in Yugoslav Communism (1988, the “Josip Juraj Strossmayer” Award at the Interliber Book Fair in Zagreb) and Hrvati i crkva : kratka povijest hrvatskog katoličanstva u modernosti (Croats and the Church: A Short History of Croatian Catholicism in Modernity) (2013).
In his young years, Banac frequently met up with Radica in New York, while living among the Croatian diaspora in that city. After Radica left New York and went to Stanford University in California, they rarely kept in contact. However, when Banac wrote his first book on the issue of Croatian statehood within Yugoslavia and started working at Yale University, they again came into contact with each other. Radica praised Banac's historiographical work and wrote very positively about him. Subsequently, he decided to donate a part of his collection through Banac to the Yale University Library. After Radica's death, that part of the collection in the Yale University Library was digitised while the hardcopy materials from the collection, thanks to Banac, were transferred to the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb.
Ivo Banac originated from those families that did not get along with the communist regime. His grandfather (on the mother’s side) perished in prison at Lepoglava in 1948, after the authorities sentenced him twenty years in jail. Because of all this, his family left Yugoslavia, first his father in 1947, and then he and his mother in 1959. Banac was under the surveillance by the Yugoslav Secret Police because of his work as a historian. At the time of the Croatian Spring in 1971, Banac resided in Zagreb doing research for his dissertation. Nevertheless, because of his career as a historian, he did not speak out against the regime publicly. This did not that mean that he did not oppose the Yugoslav communist regime, as he did meet privately with émigrés like Radica and dissidents like Tuđman. His book National Question in Yugoslavia was translated into Croatian in 1988 and lead to a negative reaction by the Communist Party and its Marxist intelligentsia. Even some people in the Yugoslav government wanted to ban the book. However, they relented, and finally, the book was printed. Milošević's Belgrade and Šuvar's Zagreb noticed the deconstruction of Greater Serbia and the Yugoslav idea in Banac’s book.
Banac believes that exiles had a significant role in the democratisation of communist regimes in Croatia and in the rest of Eastern Europe as played a role as the cultural opposition, especially regarding the work of the Polish émigrés. He also asserts that it is not possible to view post-WWII Croatian history without referring to the political activity of the Croatian diaspora. He thinks that the influence from the Croatian diaspora was crucial in nurturing the idea of an independent and democratic Croatian state. Likewise, the dissident Franjo Tuđman, from the early 1960s began communicating intensively with Croatian émigrés, both openly and secretly. Banac divides the history of Croatian political emigration into two periods: from 1945 to the Croatian Spring of 1971 and the period following that year. There appeared in the Croatian diaspora a new generation raised under strict Marxism, which was not the case with the previous generation. Given that talking about Croatian history in the communist regime period after 1945 is not possible without politically referring to the Croatian diaspora, Banac concludes that Radica is one of the central figures of postwar Croatian emigration. For this reason, he regards the collection as crucial for researching the history of cultural opposition because Radica had a lot of contact with the political world of the Croatian émigrés and dissenters.
- Zagreb, Croatia