Ion Raţiu (b. 6 June 1917, Turda – d. 17 January 2000, London) was born into a Greek Catholic family belonging to the Transylvanian gentry. His family became known during the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth century because of their involvement in the Romanians’ movement for civil and political rights in Austria-Hungary. His father, Augustin Rațiu, was a member of the National Peasants’ Party and mayor of Turda in interwar Romania. After he obtained his degree in law from the University of Cluj in 1938, Ion Raţiu worked at a law firm. In February 1940, he was employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and two months later he was assigned to the Romanian Legation in London as a “chancellor” (cancelar diurnist). At that time, the Romanian Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the United Kingdom was his uncle, Viorel Virgil Tilea, a diplomat and a leading figure in the National Peasants’ Party. Known for his hostility towards Nazi Germany, Tilea was revoked from his position in September 1940, after the rise to power of the National–Legionary State. Raţiu resigned from his position at the Romanian Legacy in London and requested political asylum in England. Continuing to live in Great Britain after his resignation, the young Ion Raţiu earned a scholarship at St. John’s College in Cambridge, where he studied economics during the following three years. In 1957, Raţiu started his own business in the field of maritime transport.
After the rise to power of the communist regime in Romania, Raţiu decided not to return to his country as long as it remained under dictatorship. Starting from the 1940s, he became involved in the organisations of Romanians living in exile in the West. He was a member of the executive committee of the Movement of Free Romanians, an organisation which after 1940 opposed from exile the alliance between Romania and Nazi Germany. He was the founding president of the Association of Romanian Students in Great Britain. Later on, he was one of the founding members of Amnesty International, which played an important role in the fight against the violation of human rights by the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. He was one of the initiators of the World Union of Free Romanians, created in exile, and was elected its president in 1984 at the first congress of the organisation held in Geneva. This organisation of the Romanian exile became known for its opposition to violations of human rights by the communist regime in Romania, and attempted to unite the organisations of Romanians in exile around democratic values. During the Romanian revolution of 1989, Raţiu launched a campaign to support Romania, which was emerging from a period of severe poverty and suffered from shortages not just of consumer goods but also of medicines. After 1989, Ion Raţiu chose to return to his native country and to take part in the democratisation of Romania. He contributed to the recreation of the National Peasants’ Party, a historical party of the interwar period, under the title of National Christian Democratic Peasant Party (PNŢCD). In 1990, he ran for President of Romania as the PNŢCD nominee, but without success. However, he was elected to the Romanian Parliament in 1990, 1992, and 1996.
At the start of his exile in Great Britain, Raţiu began his activity as a journalist and in the 1940s he was correspondent of the American news agency International News Service. Between 1940 and 1951, he also collaborated with BBC radio, and in the years 1952–1955 he was a programme assistant at the BBC. During the 1950s he also worked for other Western radio stations, such as Radio Free Europe and Voice of America. In 1955, he started to publish a weekly news bulletin in English entitled Free Romanian Press, with the aim of informing Westerners about the situation of Romania. Raţiu was appreciated as a political analyst of the communist regime in Romania and on topics relating to the Eastern Bloc in general. His expertise in the problems of the communist regimes is reflected in his work Policy for the West published in 1957, a critical analysis of Western policies towards the Soviet Bloc. In 1975, when Ceauşescu still enjoyed the goodwill of Western countries, Raţiu published the essay Contemporary Romania, in which he contested a series of positive clichés through which the Western press and political milieus perceived the Ceauşescu regime. One of Raţiu’s most appreciated works entitled Moscow Challenges the World was published in 1986 at the Sherwood Publishing House in London. The work, drafted for the first time at the end of the 1940s, represented a complex analysis of the political, economic and social system of the countries in the Soviet Bloc, as well as of its ideological origins, and a plea for democratic values.
- London, United Kingdom
Maik Reichenbach was bassist of the Leipzig punk band ‘L'Attentat’. After prolonged prison stays, he left the GDR in 1988. He assists the 'Substitut' archive in Berlin by digitizing images, text and sound.
- Leipzig , Deutschland
As the GDR was founded in 1949, Brigitte Reimann was 16 years old. After graduating from high-school in 1951, she began work as a teacher. Her authorial debut came in 1955, in works which expressed enthusiastic support for the development of socialism. With publication of her short story, "Ankunft in Alltag" in 1961 she was celebrated in the GDR as a pioneer of a new literary current, the so-called "arrival literature". However, it was not before long that she encountered difficulties arising from the narrow-mindedness and dogmatism of many party functionaries. She was alarmed by the growing militarization of society, and ultimately repulsed by the suppression of the Prague Spring in August 1968. She desired to coexist in true socialism oriented along human needs. From her birthplace of Burg (near Magdeburg) she moved in 1960 to Hoyerswerda before finally settling in Neubrandenburg in 1968. There, she devoted herself entirely to writing "Franziska Linkerhand ", one of her most notable works. In 1973 she succumbed to cancer.
- Neubrandenburg , Germany undefined
Martin Reiner (formerly Pluháček) is a Czech poet, writer and publisher. He attended military grammar school, and then studied at the military university. However he did not finish his studies. After he refused to participate in a military exercise, he spent eight months in prison. Reiner has dealt with the life and work of Czech poet Ivan Blatný over a long period of time. He got acquainted with Blatný’s poems in 1986, at a time when Blatný’s books could not be found in Czechoslovak libraries. As Reiner later stated, Blatný’s poetry “bewitched” him. Reiner was so fascinated by Ivan Blatný, that he eventually visited him in England in October 1989, shortly before the end of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. In 1990, he arranged the transfer of Blatný’s manuscripts written in exile to the Museum of Czech Literature. A quarter of a century later, Reiner finished a voluminous book dealing with Ivan Blatný entitled Básník: román o Ivanu Blatném (Poet: A Novel about Ivan Blatný) which received the Czech award “Magnesia Litera” for the best book of the year in 2015.
- Brno, Czech Republic
Smiljana Rendić was a Catholic journalist, writer and poet, born in Split on 27 August 1926. From 1933 to 1940, she attended primary school and after that the gymnasium in Split, where she joined the Croatian Catholic Movement before the outbreak of World War II. In 1948, the communist authorities in Split expelled her and her widowed mother from their flat because of the family's opposition to the new regime. In the 1950s, she worked in the factory Jugoplastika in Split and in 1960 moved to Rijeka. There she was employed in the administration of the maritime affairs magazine Pomorstvo, where she worked until forced retirement in 1972.
In Rijeka she also worked for the magazine La voce del popolo. However, after being discovered as a practical believer, she was dismissed from the magazine, as it was under the control of the Communist Party. In 1963, she began collaborating with the bi-weekly newspaper Glas Koncila, the most prominent Catholic publication in socialist Yugoslavia. In the beginning, she published stories with an autobiographical character under the pseudonym Berith (Heb. covenant), in which she narrated her personal life and the lives of her contemporaries at a time of overall atheisation and the erasure of national identity. Also in 1963, she began working as a journalist for the periodical Glasnik sv. Antuna Padovanskog, writing under the pseudonym Vjera Marini.
Due to the article “Izlazak iz genitiva ili drugi hrvatski preporod“ (‘Departure from the genitive or the second Croatian national revival’) published in 1971 in the journal Kritika, she was prosecuted by the communist authorities under Article 118 of the Criminal Code. During her trial in 1972, she was prohibited from appearing in public and writing for a year, and was sentenced to one year in prison. The next year, after an appeal process, Rendić's verdict was commuted by the Supreme Court to a conditional sentence of one year in prison, but she was still punished by a one-year ban on writing and public activity, with mandatory retirement.
As of 1973 she lived as a retired person in Rijeka, but continued her journalistic and literary work primarily in Glas Koncila. Interestingly, at the time of the emergence of the Polish Solidarity Movement at the beginning of the 1980s she was the first journalist who reported on Poland in Croatia and Yugoslavia, where such processes did not suit either the regime or the media under its control.
In 1988 she was granted a special prize by Glas koncila, the ‘Golden Quill’. Although not formally educated, Rendić acquired deep theological knowledge through her intellectual work. It may be said that Rendić was among the most important Croatian Catholic journalists in the second half of the 20th century.
She died in Rijeka on 26 May 1994 at the age of 68.
- Rijeka , Croatia
- Split, Croatia 21000