Interviews behind
the Iron
from the Late 80s


The Other Europe is the name of a six-part series, shot in 1987–1988 in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, especially Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Poland and Romania. It was produced for the British Channel Four by the former company Panoptic. The author and guide through the series is the political scientist and publicist Jacques Rupnik. It was directed by Tom Roberts and produced by Nick Fraser. Jacques Rupnik published a book under the same title to accompany the series. The Prague-based Václav Havel Library received an acquisition from the British Imperial War Museum which is extraordinary both in terms of its contents and scope: the complete footage shot for the series. The National Film Archive in Prague has undertaken to digitise it.

Other partners who are to prepare their language versions and subtitles are the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk, Poland; the National Széchényi Library in Budapest, the National Memory Institute in Bratislava and Gedenkstätte Bautzner Straße in Dresden. The film materials contain authentic testimonies of representatives of the anti-communist opposition both at home and in exile, representatives of the party nomenclature, culture and completely unknown citizens describing the reality of life behind the Iron Curtain in the latter half of the 1980s. The people do not recount their memories on camera but speak of the everyday life they lived, with no idea that the Iron Curtain would fall in a couple of years. The historic authenticity is emphasized by the extraordinarily broad international context.

Special thanks to Imperial War Museum, Jacques Rupnik, Tom Roberts and Nick Fraser.
Other recordings will be added here in the following months once they have been processed, ultimately making up a total of around 100 videos


Czechoslovakia Hungary East Germany Poland

Václav Havel

Václav Havel20. 1. 1988 | Prague, Czech Republic

Playwright, writer, essayist and thinker, human rights advocate, one of the first three spokesmen of Charter 77, a leading figure in the Czechoslovak opposition to totalitarian communist power and a political prisoner. In November 1989, the leader...

Gábor Demszky

Gábor Demszky10. 12. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Gábor Demszky was born in Budapest, on August 4, 1952. His parents were economists; his sister Anna is a special education teacher. He married five times, and is a father of four. He graduated from Kafka Margit High School in 1970, and in the...

Zdena Tominová

Zdena Tominová21. 7. 1988 | London, United Kingdom

A Czech writer, translator, dissident, after the arrest of members of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted in 1979 also one of the speakers of Charter 77. As a result of persecution she and her entire family were forced to...

Milan Šimečka

Milan Šimečka20. 1. 1988 | Prague, Czechoslovakia

Czech and Slovak philosopher and literary reviewer. He graduated in Czech and Russian literature from the Faculty of Arts in Brno in 1953 and worked as an assistant at the Comenius University in Bratislava, where he lectured in Marxist philosophy at...

Jiří Němec

Jiří Němec1. 1. 1988 | Vienna, Austria

A Czech Christian philosopher, clinical psychologist, translator, editor, initiator and signatory of Charter 77, the husband of Charter 77 signatory Dana Němcová, with whom he had seven children. Having begun his studies at the Medical Faculty of...

Heda Margolius Kovály

Heda Margolius Kovály10. 1. 1988 | New York, USA

Czech translator and writer. At the beginning of the Nazi occupation, she married the lawyer Rudolf Margolius, with whom she was deported to the Lodz ghetto in 1941 and further to the Nazi extermination camps. It was a miracle that they both...

György Konrád

György Konrád12. 10. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

György Konrád was born on April 2, 1933 in Debrecen but spent the first eleven years of his life in Berettyóújfalu. His father was a wealthy iron trader, his mother came from a middle-class Jewish family in Nagyvárad, his sister Éva is a biologist...

Elemér Hankiss

Elemér Hankiss2. 7. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Elemér Hankiss was born May 4, 1928 in Debrecen. His father, János Hankiss was a literary historian and professor at the University of Debrecen. He graduated from Eötvös Loránd University as an Eötvös College student in 1950, he majored in English...

Dénes Csengey

Dénes Csengey10. 10. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Dénes Csengey was born on January 24, 1953 in Szekszárd. He was a writer, a poet, and a politician, who died young at the age of 38 in Budapest on April 8, 1991. He is known as one of the emblematic figures of the regime change in Hungary. He...

Monika Maron

Monika Maron25. 9. 1987 | Berlin, Germany

Monika Maron was born on June 3, 1941 in Berlin. Her maternal grandfather was a Polish Jew who had converted to Baptism, who moved from Lodz to Berlin with his wife, a Polish Catholic who had also converted to Baptism, in 1907 in order to build a...

Lech Wałęsa

Lech Wałęsa18. 10. 1987 | Gdańsk, Poland

Lech Wałęsa (born 29 September 1943) is a Polish statesman, a leading figure in the Polish opposition against the totalitarian communist power and a political prisoner during martial law, the leader of Solidarity Trade Union...

Jiří Menzel

Jiří Menzel18. 1. 1988 | Prague, Czechoslovakia

Film director, actor and writer He graduated from the Film School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. His very first feature film made him one of the most important representatives of Czechoslovakia’s New Wave of film in the 1960s. Closely...

Lutz Rathenow

Lutz RathenowBerlin, Germany

Lutz Rathenow was born in Jena in 1952. From 1973 he studied German philology and history in Jena. He was the founder and leader of the opposition working group "Literature in Jena", which was banned in 1975. In connection with the expatriation of...

Jiří Sláma

Jiří Sláma28. 1. 1988 | Munich, Germany

Economist After finishing grammar school, he enrolled at the University of Industry and Chemical Technology in Brno (1945–1949), from where he switched to the Faculty of Economics at the University of Political and Economic Sciences in Prague...

Antonín J. Liehm

Antonín J. LiehmPrague, Czechoslovakia

Literary and film reviewer, translator and journalist After grammar school, he graduated from the Political and Social University in 1949. After the war, he contributed to the Kulturní politika [Cultural Policy] weekly, which was later banned. In...

Jacek Woźniakowski

Jacek Woźniakowski?

Jacek Woźniakowski (1920 - 2012) is a Polish art historian, journalist, writer, publisher, curator, translator of literature, a social and political activist, soldier during World War II in Polish Home Army, one of the leading figures in...

Sára Karig

Sára Karig28. 6. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Sára Karig was born in Baja on 13 June 1914 and died in Budapest on 2 February 1999. Her parents were teachers raising three children. Her mother laid great emphasis on her children’s progressive education. Sára Karig attended schools in Baja,...

Anna Heinrich

Anna Heinrich13. 10. 1987 | Kazincbarcika, Hungary

Mrs. Anna Heinrich, a widow from Kazincbarcika, started a hunger strike on Christmas Eve of 1981 to protest against social injustices, the debauchery of the rich, and the destitution of the poor. She hung a poster in her window demanding pay...

Miklós Tamás Gáspár

Miklós Tamás Gáspár12. 11. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Miklós Tamás Gáspár, Hungarian philosopher, political commentator / public intellectual, was born on 28 November 1948 in Kolozsvár (today Cluj-Napoca). He married twice and had four children. His father, Tamás Gáspár, was a Transylvanian-born...

László Antal

László Antal2. 7. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

László Antal, a world-renowned economist, was born on 22 January 1943, and died on 26 September 2008 in Budapest. He graduated from the Karl Marx University of Economics in 1967 with a degree in finance. After graduating, he began his career in the...

János Berecz

János Berecz15. 6. 1988 | Budapest, Hungary

János Berecz, Hungarian politician, was born on 18 September 1930 in Ibrány, a small town in Szabolcs County. He married twice and had three children from his first marriage. His parents were poor peasants farming on one or two acres. He completed...

Sándor Demján

Sándor Demján2. 7. 1987 | Budapest, Hungary

Sándor Demján, businessman and entrepreneur, was born on 14 May 1943, in Börvely, a town close to the Hungarian border, today part of Romania, and died in Budapest on 26 March 2018, at the age of 75. His father disappeared during the Second World...

Bronisław Geremek

Bronisław Geremek30. 10. 1987 | ?

Bronisław Geremek (1932 - 2008) is a Polish historian, a statesman, one of the leading figures in the Polish opposition against the totalitarian communist power and a political prisoner during martial law, expert and adviser of Solidarity...

Jana Stárková

Jana Stárková27. 1. 1988 | Vienna, Austria

Historian, translator, publicist A graduate in History and Slavic Studies from the University of Vienna (Dr. phil.), she worked for the Czech section of Radio Beijing (1979–1981), was a co-founder of the Helsinki International Federation for Human...

Bogdan Lis

Bogdan Lis30. 11. 1986 | ?

Bogdan Lis (born November 10, 1952) is a Polish politician, industrial equipment mechanic, Inter-factory Striking Committee member, Solidarity activist, an organiser of Polish underground during the martial law period, Round Table Talks...

Agnieszka Wróblewska

Agnieszka Wróblewska30. 11. 1999 | ?

Agnieszka Wróblewska (born 16 December 1933) - journalist, studied at Warsaw University. In 1956-1981 a member of Polish communist party PZPR, she joined after October 1956 as a student and resigned in protest against the introduction of martial law...

Jan Krčmář

Jan Krčmář26. 1. 1988 | Vienna, Austria

Journalist and translator Born in Cologne into the family of a Czechoslovak diplomat, he completed primary and secondary school in London as his father had been transferred to Great Britain in 1936. After returning to Prague in 1947, he continued at...

Andrzej Wajda

Andrzej Wajda20. 5. 1988 | Paris, France

Andrzej Witold Wajda (6 March 1926 –  9 October 2016) - Polish film and theatre director, Oscar laureate (2000), one of the creators of the "Polish Film School". President of Polish Filmmakers Association (1978-83). He supported Solidarity...