Rudolf Mihle (1937-2008) was one of the most important Czech amateur filmmakers, and from the late 1950s was an active member of the Czech Club of Amateur Filmmakers (Český klub kinoamatérů). In 1983 Mihle began work on his three-part documentary film “The Glory and Fall of the Czech Club of Amateur Filmmakers” (Sláva a pád ČKK) about the history of the Czech Club of Amateur Filmmakers (ČKK) from its foundation in 1935 to its forced dissolution in the early 1980s. The trilogy depicts the activities of the ČKK members as well as the technical facilities at the disposal of amateur filmmakers at the time.
- Lakitelek Felsőalpár 3, Hungary 6065
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The term “repartition” – the act of assigning a professional job to university graduates requires some explanation. Prior to 1989, university graduates in Romania were assigned to a workplace by the Ministry of Education through a centralised system. The position assigned as a result of “repartition” could not be abandoned by the new graduate for three years (or two years in the case of those who had an overall grade over 9 out of 10), otherwise the person in question could not continue working in his/her field. “Repartitions” were carried out in accordance with a list of workplaces compiled by the Ministry, and fresh graduates could choose a place of work upon consideration of their accomplishments and other points of view. Quite often this led to the destruction of projected marriages, as couples could not get places together unless they were already married before the “repartition.” (Cs. Gyimesi 2009).
In order to understand the importance of the selected feature item it is necessary to provide details regarding the context. Hungarian students of Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Faculty of Philology, almost exclusively opted for Hungarian paired with a foreign language, or for a foreign language as major paired with a minor in Hungarian language. In 1985, graduates in Hungarian and a foreign language (English, German, French, Russian) were offered five places in Transylvania (two of these in cities) and sixteen positions in the other regions of Romania, all of them in the severely deprived countryside. In fact, most teaching positions for university graduates in communist Romania were in remote places in the countryside, since all major cities were “closed,” which means that no working place in those cities was available in the 1980s. When it came to occupying the two more advantageous positions in Transylvanian cities it turned out that these were listed only as a trick, as these positions were not made available to Hungarian candidates on the grounds that they were “high responsibility positions” that fell within the competence of the Securitate. The nominal list of advertised positions shows that graduates majoring in Hungarian were assigned to posts exclusively in schools located in the so-called Old Kingdom of Romania (i.e. Wallachia and Moldavia, regions where there was not a significant Hungarian element in the population) or in Romanian-medium schools in Transylvania, where they were forced to teach their secondary academic discipline (Russian, German, etc.) to Romanian children. Not a single position was offered to these graduates in the counties of the overwhelmingly Hungarian-populated Székely Land in eastern Transylvania, although there was a clear shortage of Hungarian teachers and also despite the fact that schools in these counties forwarded their demand for about 30-40 newly-graduated Hungarian teachers to the central authorities. It would have served as an alleviating circumstance in this respect if the Hungarian graduates had been given the possibility of teaching the foreign languages they had studied as a secondary academic discipline subordinate to Hungarian in the settlements they were sent off to. However, most of them did not have this opportunity, as the schools of the listed localities beyond the Carpathians did not even have departments for the foreign languages these graduates had been forced to accept, or they were given only a few classes of foreign languages together with classes of gymnastics, handicrafts, music, etc. in order to make up the twenty-two weekly classes required for a full-time position.
Encouraged by their tutor, Gyimesi, the 1985 graduates issued a protest against the official procedure by collective absence from the place-selection meeting. They submitted their complaint to the Ministry of Education in a memorandum signed by all of them, requesting the modification of repartitions that had in the meantime been resolved ex officio. Many prominent Hungarian personalities in Romania also protested against the discriminatory repartitions in a joint petition (Edgár Balogh, Sándor Kányádi, György Beke, etc.); nevertheless, collective action yielded no results whatsoever. Freshly graduated teachers were vigorously called upon to compulsorily occupy the jobs imposed on them – failing to do so leading to their dismissal and the payment of a fine.
The extensive repartition manipulations had repercussions on Romanian higher education in Hungarian. As a result of the repartitions, the number of university applicants for Hungarian language and literature saw a considerable decrease, as the Hungarian teaching profession had no future under the given circumstances. At the same time the number of advertised university places was also reduced. By the academic year 1985–1986 the number of available places sank to just seven, a third of the number in previous years. Beginning with 1986, Romanian grammar was introduced as a compulsory subject at the entrance examination, which made things even harder for candidates from purely Hungarian-inhabited regions who had a poor command of Romanian. Moreover, after the entrance examination, at the start of the academic year it was announced that instead of the foreign language – which had also been a subject at the examination – the Romanian language would be the secondary discipline subordinate to Hungarian, and, similarly, a foreign language as a major was paired with Romanian instead of Hungarian as a minor. This practically meant that Hungarian students majoring or minoring in Hungarian language had no possibility of becoming qualified in a foreign language. A Hungarian student could only study English, German, French or Russian if he/she chose Romanian as a major.
Repartitions in the Old Kingdom of Romania affected not only philology graduates. In the same way hundreds of teachers of other subjects, engineers, doctors, etc. were placed in settlements beyond the Carpathians. The most striking case in this respect was that of the graduates of the University of Medical Studies of Târgu Mureș, predominantly Hungarians, who could only occupy jobs outside Transylvania, according to a centrally established territorial placement plan. The equivalent of this process in the opposite direction was that many graduates from the Universities of Bucharest, Iași, or Craiova received often repartitions in Transylvania. The undisguised trend unfolded according to the so-called homogenisation concept that was promoted nationwide. It was evident that the chances of students wishing to continue their studies in Hungarian gradually diminished, since their background of increasing educational deprivation in the Hungarian language represented a serious disadvantage in higher education. As a consequence of the central dispositions, many Hungarian teacher positions were occupied by unqualified substitutes lacking a degree. Children of Hungarian nationality were offered a single chance for advancement: if they stopped using their mother tongue. All this foreshadowed the disappearance of Hungarian intellectuals, the marginalisation of Hungarian language and culture, and gradual assimilation (ACNSAS, I017980/6, 136–144).
Under the given circumstances Gyimesi, who had endured harassment on multiple occasions, turned to Deputy Minister of Education Viorica Nicolau, with whom she had made acquaintance after the latter – along with the Cluj university rector and the central party secretary – had attended the disciplinary meeting on 10 October 1987. In the three-page memorandum deliberately dated 8 March 1988, the International Day of Women, Gyimesi tried to win over the deputy education minister as an ally in her efforts to find a more just and equitable solution to the repartition of graduates while making an appeal to the empathy of a women/mother in defending innocence (ACNSAS, I017980, vol. 1, 247–249; I017980/5, 70–73). The letter was broadcast on Radio Free Europe as well, with the obvious intention of drawing the attention of foreign forums to the defence of minority rights in Romania. Several Romanian colleagues expressed their feelings of sympathy to Gyimesi and conveyed their congratulations (Cs. Gyimesi 2009).
In February–March 1977, the Baptist ministers Iosif Țon, Pavel Nicolescu, Radu Dumitrescu, and Aurelian Popescu, the Pentecostal minister Constantin Caraman and the Christian Evangelical minister Silviu Cioată (a member of the Christian Evangelical Church of Romania – a Plymouth Brethren protestant religious denomination) drafted a letter of protest concerning the infringements of human rights in Romania focused on cases of infringement of religious freedom affecting those religious denominations to which its authors belonged. The letter was sent to several Western embassies and to Radio Free Europe. The latter broadcasted the open letter in April 1977. Due to the criticism of the communist regime expressed in the document, those signing it were arrested and interrogated by the Securitate.
This was the very first public document issued by the émigré Hungarian student movement, this brief message to fellow students who remained in Hungary. Its purpose is quite clear: to reaffirm the union of all Hungarian students and to affirm a pledge that those who had fled Hungary for the West, however distant they may be from their homeland, would remain loyal to their country in spirit and never abandon the ideas of the revolution and the goal of an independent Hungary.
No more than half a year had passed since the great Hungarian exodus of late 1956 when, of the overall 200,000, refugees some 7,000–8,000 students fled to the West. (According to the official statistics, all in all some 29,000 students pursuing higher education remained in Hungary in early 1957, which meant that the country had lost some 20 or 25 percent of its students, which constituted a great demographical loss and a great intellectual loss.) The personal links of the members of the younger émigré generation to their native country remained vivid and strong, as did memories of the tragic moments of the revolution. Their losses are still painful: the loss of home, family, friends, comrades, and fellow revolutionaries, but at the same time, those who fled faced the challenge of starting new lives in the West and making shows of their unity as a new émigré community for the sake of their homeland. They had only just begun their mission, and they clearly felt a profound sense of responsibility. The declaration was read in Vaduz at the Chancellors’ Hall of the Lichtenstein Principality on Pentecost Sunday of 1957 with the solemn statement: “We do not want to represent You, but rather to serve You and our Homeland” and: “We also know that our freedom gives us more obligations.”
The opening speech of the Founding Congress held by Béla Jankó, the Union’s President, began with an homage to fellow students who had died as victims of the fighting in the streets of Budapest. (“It is hard to remember you all, dead friends, all 51 who lie there in the garden of the Medical Clinics. I could hardly identify your faces, and hardly remember all your names. 51 Hungarian students died there, and none of them was older than 24.” Magyar Diák / Hungarian Student 2 July 1957; a special issue published for the Founding Congress of the Union.) However, this grave motive returned at the end of the Open letter: “we will never forget our comrades who fell or were executed.” Instead of lamenting over the losses and victims it is more important to express the main points of the message sent to the fellow-students in Hungary: to declare the unconditional loyalty to and the patriotic as well as the emotional unity with them.
Open letter to our fellow students remained in Hungary
Dear Hungarian Fellow-Students,
We, Hungarian university students having been forced to leave our homeland have joined into a union of alliances, representing thousands of students in 14 countries worldwide. With our first world from the founding congress of our union we turn to you.
Instead of representing we wish to serve You and our Homeland. We are fully aware of the fact, that the storm has not passed yet over our country and we are lucky to have reached an asylum. Therefore we may have the second world only. However, we do know that our freedom can only multiply our range of duties.
We promise to work for the future freedom of Hungary with all our efforts, talents, and abilities. We will preserve the revolutionary spirit, which the Hungarian youth and the whole Hungarian people expressed last October, under all circumstances, and nothing can change our devoted efforts to do so.
We wish to give a voice to your silenced just case, and we will never forget our comrades fallen in the fights or executed. However distant we may be, in spirit we remain together with you.Vaduz, Lichtenstein, 1 July 1957
- Budapest Dohány utca 74, Hungary 1074
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