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...