Victor Frunză was a Romanian writer and journalist, who became known in 1978 for opposing the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu. Later, he became a major figure of the Romanian exile community, where he actively participated in the mediatisation in the West of the repressive or aberrant policies of the communist regime, in supporting dissidents in the country and, in particular, in the struggle of the exile community for the observance of human rights in Romania. On these themes, he published a series of articles in exile publications, took part in the broadcasts of Radio Free Europe, and wrote the first uncensored History of the Romanian Communist Party in 1984, as well as the volume For human rights in Romania.
Born in 1935 in Râmnicu Sărat, Victor Frunză graduated in Journalism, starting his studies in Bucharest in 1952 and completed them in Moscow in 1953–1958. He was a member of the Romanian Communist Party from 1956, an editor and performer of cultural programmes at Romanian Broadcasting and Romanian Television (1958–1978), and a lecturer at the Journalism Faculty of the Ştefan Gheorghiu Academy in Bucharest (1972–1978). Between 1958 and 1978 he made a number of trips abroad for work and as a tourist in the USSR, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, the GDR, and France. This last visit to France took place between 18 August and 11 September 1978, when he went to Paris with a tourist visa. During this time, he took two actions that radically influenced his later biographical trajectory. First, he wrote a letter and handed it to a representative of the Reuters Agency, leading to its publication in Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung and its broadcasting by Radio Free Europe. A copy of the letter was also sent by Victor Frunză, by post, to Nicolae Ceaușescu. Essentially, his letter was a critique of Ceausescu's dictatorship. The personality cult of Ceaușescu, the violation of human rights and the low standard of living of the population in Romania were the main issues raised. The second thing he did on the same occasion was to clandestinely pass the manuscript of his history of the Romanian Communist Party to a foreign publishing house for publication. The book had been written between 1971 and 1975, the sources used being texts that were either postponed or withdrawn after their publication, together with works in the Library of the Romanian Academy. The content of the book he transcribed on cigarette and Bible paper, with a very fine pencil, in letters that could only be read with the magnifying glass. At the time of his departure to France, he took the manuscript with him hidden in the pockets of a suit. Upon reaching Paris, he contacted several French publishers, receiving a positive response from the Flammarion publishing house. Although the book was announced in the autumn of 1978 to be launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1979, it did not appear at that time, but a few years later under the aegis of Victor Frunza's own publishing house, which he founded after his emigration.
He returned to Romania on 11 September 1978. He was not arrested, but only investigated for a month and a half. He was considered a "traitor" and was expelled both from the Communist Party and the Journalism Faculty, without the right to take up a job in his specialism anywhere in Romania. After his exclusion from the educational system, he occupied for a while various jobs that were not related to his training, and for a time he chose to remain unemployed. Until his departure from the country, he spent his time studying in the Romanian Academy Library. During this period, the Romanian political police set up a surveillance network for him and his family, installed surveillance equipment in his home, and intercepted his correspondence and phone calls. The aim of the Securitate was to create both in his family and in his entourage a state of disapproval towards his actions in order to isolate him, as well as tempering and discouraging him from taking actions similar to those he had taken in France.
In August 1979, following an invitation from the University of Tours (France) to teach journalism courses, he filed a request for departure with his family, which was initially rejected by the Communist authorities, but accepted after several delays. He left Romania on 21 August 1980, but the Securitate kept him under surveillance until March 1990. Victor Frunză settled in Aarhus, Denmark. Regarding his activity outside the country, during 1982–1989 he was a collaborator of the newspaper Curentul, in which he published both book reviews and political analyses that radiographed the situation in Romania, focusing on: the personality cult of Nicolae Ceaușescu, the violation of human rights, the low standard of living of Romanians, censorship, political police, the intimidation of foreign correspondents who came to Romania, and the situation of Romanian emigrants. He set up his own publishing house – Editura Nord – where he published his books: For Human Rights in Romania (1982) and History of the Romanian Communist Party (1984), and also some books by Romanians in exile; he published a journal focusing primarily on the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceaușescu, The Marathon Runner; and he offered a series of interviews to Radio Free Europe and read at the microphone of this radio station from his writings. He returned to Romania in January 1990, and founded the Victor Frunză Publishing House, where he published several volumes of poetry, prose, plays, and history, together with books by other authors. Also during the year 1990, at the initiative of Gabriel Liiceanu, the Humanitas publishing house published the second edition of his book History of the Romanian Communist Party, whose title was modified to History of Stalinism in Romania, a volume that is to be found in specialised bibliographies on the topic. Immediately after his return to Romania, he drew attention to the existence of censorship in the country and of only a certain state of freedom, and especially to the presence of Communists in power. He died in Aarhus, Denmark in 2007.
- Aarhus, Denmark
Director, screenwriter and director Nikša Fulgosi was born in Split in 1919 and died in Zagreb in 1996. He is remembered as the talented creator of the remarkable body of films which testifies to the culture of dissent in socialist Croatia and Yugoslavia.
He studied law, worked as a journalist, columnist and screenwriter. He started his career as a sports journalist and comic strip writer. At the beginning of the 1950s, he began to work as a maker of educational films. In 1955, his first movie, Little Jole, was suspended by decision of the then board of directors of Jadran Film. In the period from 1957 to 1963, he made about thirty educational films for Zora Film and Zagreb Film, of which the films about traffic safety are particularly notable. At the end of the 1960s, he began to work for the Documentary Department on TV Zagreb.
In his works, Fulgosi did not incorporate explicitly political or directly subversive messages that could be associated with open opposition. However, as chroniclers of Croatian cinema noticed, many of his film and television works dealt with universal aspects of human behaviour, such as irresponsibility, indifference and hypocrisy, which in and of itself challenged the idealized matrices of socialist society. His short black and white films recorded in Zagreb and Belgrade, even though educational, were full of "typical Fulgosian humour."
Among filmmakers, he is best known for his polemic documentaries. He made the noted documentaries presented on TV Zagreb, Sto ljepotica na dan [A Hundred Beauties per Day], Sto zaduženja Betike Gumbas [The Hundred Duties of Betika Gumbas], Stokletvi na dan [A Hundred Curses per Second], Šund naš svagdašnji [Our Everyday Trash], Batine jučer i danas [Drubbings Yesterday and Today], etc. and the "locked-away" series on sexual education entitled Ljubavni problemi Pepeka Gumbasa i Marijete Buble [The Romantic Problems of Pepek Gumbas and Marijeta Buble] from 1978. Due to its "provocative" approach, the series was removed from the programming schedule; 13 (out of 37) episodes have been preserved and restored.
The contemporary "rehabilitation" of Nikša Fulgosi was carried out in part by a former editor of TV Zagreb, Nataša Kalinić Ahačić, film critic Željko Luketić, archivist and director Mladen Burić and others. In 2014, HTV presented the documentary film Tko je taj Nikša Fulgosi? [Who is that Nikša Fulgosi?] directed by Danko Volarić.
- Split, Croatia 21000
- Zagreb, Croatia
Born in 1953, originating from petite bourgeoisie of Toruń, Waldemar Fydrych is one of the co-founders of the New Culture Movement, the author of the Manifesto of Socialist Surrealism, and the leader of the Orange Alternative. Fydrych, graduate of history and history of arts, organised happenings, painted, authored several books, and eventually created the Museum of Orange Alternative.
Fydrych was one of the principal creators, leaders, and theoreticians of alternative culture in Polish People's Republic. In order to avoid conscription after graduating from sugar production technical school Fydrych decided to study history at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń. During his studies he developed interest in student comedy shows and avant-garde theatre. After his third year of studies he moved to Bolesław Bierut University in Wrocław, seeking a more diverse and tolerant milieu. There he came across the Open Theatre Festival (Festiwal Teatru Otwartego), took part in an internship at Jerzy Grotowski's Laboratory Institute, and most importantly joined the hippie movement, dynamic at that time in Wrocław. After the death of Stanisław Pyjas in 1977 he became engaged in the activities of the local Student Committee of Solidarity. Along with history, he took up history of arts studies. The intellectual capital accumulated throughout the prolonged education period enabled Fydrych to overcome his humble origins – his father was a tailor and mother a telephone operator – and ascend to a position of a leader of a radical students’ movement and a performative artist.
In 1980 Fydrych, already known as “Major”, registered together with his friends the New Culture Movement, a student organisation constituting an alternative for the Socialist Association of Students of Poland (Socjalistyczne Zrzeszenie Studentów Polskich) and the Independent Students’ Association (Niezależne Zrzeszenie Studentów). Also in 1980 Fydrych published the Manifesto of Socialist Surrealism. In autumn 1981 he participated in student strikes earning the position of the leader of the radical, anarchistic faction. During martial law Fydrych cultivated “tactical painting”, i.e. painting dwarfs over spots left after removing anti-government slogans. He also converted to Buddhism. In 1986 he resumed artistic performances and starting from the spring of 1987 proceeded to organise street happenings that combined elements of folklore, theatre, music, and parades. In 1988 Fydrych received the Prize of Solidarity’s Independent Culture Committee (Nagroda Komitetu Kultury Niezależnej) while the anti-governmental Kontakt magazine characterised him as “opposition's celebrity”. In spring of the same year he was arrested for two months, only to be released after three weeks, under the pressure from intellectuals, as well as youth and student activists. After unsuccessfully running in senate elections of 1989, and in the light of radical political changes, “Major” decided to emigrate to France, where he earned a living with physical labour (i.a. as a decorator) while enjoying the air of a dissident and an opposition artist.
In 1999 he returned to Poland as a mature artist and the custodian of the Orange Alternative’s heritage. Fydrych ran three times for the president of Warsaw, attempting to continue the political happenings of the late 1980s; simultaneously “Major” wrote articles, delivered lectures, and painted. In 2007 he founded the Orange Alternative Foundation and began to organise the movement’s archive, after which he proceeded to work on the Museum of the Orange Alternative, which he opened in 2011. In 2012 Fydrych obtained a Ph.D. at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In the meantime he continued to publish books dedicated to the Orange Alternative movement and his own achievements.
From the very beginning of his activities, which combined arts and social activism, Fydrych documented the happenings by collecting newspapers, leaflets, posters, and photographs. As early as 1989, together with Bohdan Dobosz he published the first book dedicated to the movement: Hokus Pokus czyli Pomarańczowa Alternatywa. In 2001 Fydrych published individually Żywoty Mężów Pomarańczowych, and in 2006 Krasnoludki i gamonie – a book dedicated to his emigration period. In 2008, with Bronisław Misztal Fydrych published an album titled Pomarańczowa Alternatywa. Rewolucja krasnoludków and finally, in 2013, an autobiography titled Major. In the 2000s several expositions documenting the Orange Alternative were organised (i.a. in 2005 in the European Parliament in Brussels, in 2011 at Centre 59 Rivoli Gallery in Paris, and at the International Cultural Centre in Cracow), as well as individual workshops; in both cases the majority of exhibits belonged to Fydrych’s private collection, which were later passed on to the Orange Alternative Foundation. “Major” is the initiator, the author of the concept, and the main creator of the Museum of the Orange Alternative. The first version of the Museum was completed in 2009 and the second in 2011.
Waldemar Fydrych, Bohdan Dobosz, "Hokus Pokus or the Orange Alternative", Wydawnictwo Aneks, Wrocław 1989.
Waldemar Fydrych, "The Lives of the Orange Men", Fundacja Pomarańczowa Alternatywa, Warszawa 2010.
Waldemar Fydrych, "Dwarfs & Dolts", Fundacja Pomarańczowa Alternatywa, 2006.
Waldemar Fydrych, "Major", Narodowe Centrum Kultury, Warszawa 2013.
- Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland