Born in 1911 to a Bulgarian family in the village of Tresonche in Macedonia (then Ottoman Empire, today Republic of Macedonia), Hristo Ognyanov grew up in a region with an ethnically mixed population. This region was contested by Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and the Ottoman Empire. After the Balkan Wars, the village was included in Serbia. Hristo Ognyanov graduated from the Serbian elementary school in Tresonche, but was forced to interrupt his education and worked as a servant in various places in Skopje. In 1926, he left for Stara Zagora in Bulgaria, where he graduated from the National State School in 1932, while working in the building sector. During this period, Ognyanov joined communist circles, at the same time becoming a member of the Macedonian Youth Organization "Gotse Delchev". This was the time when his interest in literature formed. He started writing poems, collaborated with Eho, Svetulka [Firefly] and other magazines.
In 1932, Ognyanov became a student of law and state economics at the State University in Sofia. Influenced by his brother, he joined the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and became a member of the Secretariat of the Union of Macedonian Youth Cultural and Educational Organization. He also joined the Macedonian Student Society "Vardar". These organizations were banned after the May 1934 coup d'état. In 1936 Ognyanov became volunteer assistant of the journal Obzor, “a weekly for politics, literature and public life”. Under the pseudonym "Ognyan", he wrote feuilletons and pamphlets, mainly devoted to national issues, especially on the Macedonian question. He opposed the idea of an independent Macedonian nation and language. He also published poetry.
In 1937 Ognyanov graduated from higher education and started working as an attorney-at-law. At the same time, he became reporter for one of the most prestigious Bulgarian newspapers at the time, Zora. In 1939, he printed his first poetry collection Yuzhni vetrove [“Southern Winds”], which was well accepted by the critics. In the same year, Ognyanov was accepted as an auxiliary member of the Journalists' Society and won a Humboldt Scholarship for studying international law in Germany. This coincided with the outbreak of the Second World War. Ognyanov was sent as a correspondent of the Zora newspaper in Berlin. In Berlin in 1940, he married his long-time partner Margarita Hristakeva. In January 1944 Hristo and Margarita Ognyanov moved to Zagreb, where Ognyanov became the secretary of Ivan Mihaylov. I. Mihaylov, head of IMRO, was closely related to German and especially Italian intelligence, and supported the idea of creating an autonomous Macedonian state or a "Macedonia attached to Bulgaria". In Zagreb, Ognyanov compiled his second poem collection "Pateshestvia. Stihotvorenia [Journey. Poems]".
In the middle of September 1944, days after the establishment of the new power in Bulgaria, Hristo Ognyanov managed to reach Vienna. His wife Margarita, though, remained in Bulgaria. After several years of unsuccessful attempts by Ognyanov to withdraw her to Austria, they divorced. IMRO was declared by the new regime a "fascist organization" and its agents – "enemies of the people". Ognyanov was convicted by the People's Court because of his “active fascist and pro-German activity" in absentia. He was also excluded by the Society of Metropolitan Journalists.
In Austria Ognyanov enrolled at the Insbruck University and married the opera singer Inge Mueller. Led by his patriotic views, in 1951 Ognyanov went briefly to Rome for service for Ivan Mihaylov, making research in archives and libraries for the "Macedonian Bulgarians". He recorded the memories of Ivan Mihaylov and other figures of the pro-Bulgarian Macedonian nationalist movement. In 1952 he was invited by the head of the Bulgarian department of The Voice of America in Munich (Alexander Dimitrov) to work at this radio, becoming responsible for the Bulgarian issues. In 1956 Ognyanov was sent to a one-year specialization at the headquarters of The Voice of America in the United States. There he also worked for the Macedonian Tribune newspaper, an organ of the Macedonian Patriotic Organization (MPO) in the United States, and as a lecturer in Bulgarian language at the Syracuse University. In the United States, he joined the circles of Bulgarian political émigrés and developed broad publicist and cultural activities.
In the 1960s Ognyanov began working for Radio Free Europe. There he led numerous programs on the history of Bulgarian literature and culture, in which he presented authors and their work that were banned by the communist authorities. In parallel, Ognyanov began the series "Bulgarian Literature under Communism", in which he critically assessed current developments and events in Bulgaria. He tried to reveal the lies of party propaganda. Among his wide activities were reviewing books and critically presenting articles from the Bulgarian press and broadcasts from Radio Sofia. Ognyanov’s program "Eleven Centuries of Christianity in Bulgaria" received an award by The Catholic Broadcasters Association of America. Under the name "Religion and Atheism in Bulgaria under Communism," he delivered a series of lectures in 1974. In Bulgaria, Ognyanov's activities, including those on religious subjects, were considered by the authorities as "subversive propaganda".
In 1965, the "Petar Beron" Bulgarian Academic Society (BAS "Petar Beron") was established in his home in Munich, with the purpose of uniting Bulgarian scholars working in the West. The society launched the book series "Schriftenreihe zur Bulgarienforschung" and organized numerous conferences. In 1981, in connection with the 1300th anniversary of the Bulgarian state, the society organized cultural events also in the US and Canada. Ognyanov was also a member of EXIL-P.E.N. Zentrum der Schriftstellerinnen und Schriftsteller im Exil in den deutschsprachigen Länden (Centre of Writers in Exile in the German-Speaking Countries). Ognyanov, thus, played an important role in unifying Bulgarian political emigrés, working closely with people from different generations, such as Petar Uvaliev (pseudonym Pierre Rouve, who worked for the BBC in London) as well as the younger émigrés of the 1970s, such as Dimitar Bochev, Dimitar Statkov, and Georgi Markov.
After the political changes of 1989 Ognyanov returned to Bulgaria many times; he was awarded the Madara Rider order, the third most important decoration awarded by the Republic of Bulgaria. His poems and essays were now finally also published in Bulgaria.
Ognyanov passed away in Salzburg, Austria, in 1997.
- München, Munich, Germany
- Zagreb, Croatia
Petko Georgiev Mihaylov-Ogoyski was born in Ogoya village on 1 November 1929. He studied in his native village, started a high school education in the town of Svoge, moved to Sofia and graduated from the 5th Sofia Male High School in 1948. In 1949-1950 he was on compulsory military service, but in March 1950 he was arrested for the dissemination of political appeals. Ogoyski was sentenced to five years in prison for "enemy poems and conspiracy", and served the sentence in conditions of extreme in various prisons and in the First and Second Object of the Belene Forced Labor Camp on Persin Island. After his release in 1953, due to serving the sentence, considered in working days, he served his soldier service. As a former political prisoner, Ogoyski was allowed to work only in manual industrial jobs. He worked in agriculture, as a drilling worker at state enterprises, and construction painter.
In 1955 Petko G. Mihaylov-Ogoyski married Yagoda Petkova Danova-Yusova from the village of Chepintsi, in 1956 was born their first son Petko; in 1959 – their daughter Maria.
In this period Ogoyski began a history study at the Faculty of History and Philosophy at the Sofia State University, but his graduation was thwarted by his repeated condemnation of "enemy verses" and imprisonment in 1962. After the discharge from prison in 1963, he became a member and chairman of the literary club at the house-museum “Yavorov” in Sofia, which was purged in 1970 after two of its members, Ogoyski’s friends, escaped to the West.
In 1966, the third child of Petko and Yagoda Ogoyski – a son, Hristo, was born. In the 1970s and 1980s, Ogoyski was a painter and worked in a storehouse in which he became a “chief warehouse of paints and tools”. In his free time, he conducted local ethnographical research. Ogoyksi became a member of the Sofia regional literary society and of the Union of the Regional Ethnographers (kraevedi). Some of his texts critical of the regime were published in newspapers and magazines under pseudonyms such as Mitso Gitsin, Petko Murgashki, Dragoslav Bratski, Yaroslav Persinski.
After the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, Ogoyski was among the founding members of the restored Bulgarian Agrarian National Union “Nikola Petkov”, which became part of the Union of Democratic Forces, the main anti-communist coalition consisting of several political organizations. In 1990 Ogoyski was elected member of the Seventh Grand National Assembly of Bulgaria (from 10 July 1990 to 2 October 1991), which adopted the new Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria. He also became a member of the Union of Bulgarian Writers and of the Bulgarian Historical Society. He was appointed as editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Zemedelsko zname" ["Agrarian Banner'], the daily newspaper of the re-established Bulgarian Agrarian National Union (BZNS) "Nikola Petkov" (1991-1993). Texts of Petko Ogoyski are included in the School Reader "Zabranenite pisateli" ["Banned Writers"], a joint publication of the Hannah Arendt Center, the Centre for European Studies and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Sofia in 2013. In 2015 Petko Ogoyski, together with Bulgarian politicians (mayor of Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova; Bulgarian Ombudsman Konstantin Penchev), journalists (Georgi Koritarov), historians (Ivaylo Znepolski, Antonina Zhelyazkova, Valeri Todorov), the writer Georgi Gospodinov, and other public figures was honoured by the magazine “Zaman Bulgaria” for his “contribution to public peace and ethnic understanding in Bulgaria” - http://zaman.bg/bg/vzamanv-vratchi-edinstvenite-nagradi-za-prinos-kam-obshtestveniya-mir/
A biographical study is dedicated to Petko Ogoyski (Ivanova 2012); with a film about him in 2014, the documentary series of the Bulgarian National Television "Open Files" by the investigative journalist Hristo Hristov started.
- Bulgaria, 1554, Sofia, Chepintsi, ul. Nadezhda 3
Valdur Ohakas was an Estonian artist. He studied at the State School of Industrial and Pictorial Arts in 1942–1943, but was called up into the German army in 1943. After that, in 1944–1948, he studied at Tartu State Art Institute, but he did not complete his studies there either. He and others were arrested in 1948 for being members of the Tartu Circle, and sent to a prison camp in Karaganda in Kazakhstan. He was released in 1956. Afterwards, he returned to Tartu and worked as a freelance artist. As a member of the Tartu Circle, he turned to abstract art. In 1959, he became a member of the Estonian Artists' Union.
Oleskandr Oles (Kandyba) was a Ukrainian symbolist, dramatist, poet, and essayist, born in 1878 in the town of Bilopillya, in the Kharkiv guberniia of the Russian Empire (now located in the Sumy region of Ukraine). The Kandyba family were descendants of a well-known Cossack lineage, which meant Oles’ viewed the Bolshevik Revolution with considerable scepticism. In 1917 he had published a volume of poetry in which he had articulated his desire for the restoration of Ukrainian statehood. After the coup, Oles’ remained in exile from 1919 onward, living in Budapest, Vienna, Berlin and Prague. He published many volumes over the course of his lifetime, most of which focused on his longing for Ukraine. His son Oleh Olzhych (Kandyba), born in 1907, became a member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in 1929, staying loyal to the Melnyk faction (OUN-M) after the split in 1938. Olzhych returned to Ukraine in 1941 to help form the Ukrainian National Council. The later years of Oles’ life were difficult. Not only did Hitler divide Czechoslovakia, Oles’ own son Olzhych was captured by the Nazis and tortured to death in the concentration camp Sachsenhausen in June 1944. Oles’ himself died shortly after learning of his son’s death, succumbing to his battle with cirrhosis.
- Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Jerzy Onuch (born 1954) is a world-renowned artist, lecturer, curator, and diplomat. In 1976, together with Janusz Bałdyga and Łukasz Szajna, he created the Dziekanka Workshop group, in which he operated for the next few years. In 1979 he became the co-director of the Student Center for Artistic Communities, then the Dziekanka Workshop, and held it until 1986, when he went to the USA and then to Canada. In the 1990s, in addition to the presentation of his own work, he engaged in the study and promotion of young Ukrainian art. From 1997 to 2004 he was the director of the Center for Contemporary Art in Kiev, then - in the years 2005-2010 - the director of the Polish Institute in Kiev, and from 2010 to 2015 - the director of the Institute of Polish Culture in New York.
In the 1970s, Onuch studied painting and graphics at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts. In 1976, together with Janusz Bałdyga and Łukasz Szajna, thanks to the offer of director of Dziekanka Wojciech Krukowski, they started to use a camera to carry out their own work. The show of Onuch, Bałdyga, and Szajna resulted in an invitation to permanent cooperation submitted by Krukowski. In such circumstances, the three young artists founded Dziekanka Workshop, a venture focused on an open creative process, experimentation and self-study work. From 1979, after Krukowski left, Onuch and Tomasz Sikorski took over the rudders of the Dziekanka Student Center of Artistic Communities, which in 1981 transformed into Dziekanka Workshop - an autonomous unit in the ASP structure (previously the SCŚA functioned under the umbrella of the SZSP).
In his own art pieces, as in the organizational work, Onuch was interested in the art of new media, installations, and performances. He also conducted theoretical investigations. In the 1980s, he organized over seventy exhibitions and other artistic events. In 1986 he was invited to a conference in Vancouver; he did not come back from this trip, choosing to stay in exile and settle in Toronto after a year in the USA. He continued his artistic, educational and curatorial activity.
In the mid-nineties, Onuch returned to Poland, where he regularly came with lectures and took part in exhibitions (for example at the Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw). At the same time, he began to deal with young Ukrainian art, acting as a curator of exhibitions and a juror in competitions. In 1997 he became the director of the Center for Contemporary Art in Kiev, bringing to the city the works of world-renowned avant-garde artists and promoting young Ukrainian artists engaged politically. Then, Onuch took the position of director of the Polish Institute in Kiev (2005-2010), and finally - from 2010 to 2015 - the director of the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.
In the time of state socialism in Poland, Onuch created and exhibited progressive, independent, experimental art that undoubtedly went beyond the framework defined in the official assumptions of cultural policy. However, the niche nature of this activity did not attract repressions, although it was associated with modest and uncertain means.
- New York, United States