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 and the National Memory Institute in Bratislava. 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


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...


Václav Havel Library

Václav Havel Library

Václav Havel Library - collects, researches, disseminates, promotes and advocates the spiritual, literary and political legacy of a great figure of modern European history. It also focuses on people, events and phenomena related to the legacy of Václav Havel and strives to place them in the context of the times and of the present.

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Czech National Film Archive

Národní filmový archiv

Národní filmový archiv is an active member of notable international associations (FIAF, IASA, founding member of ACE). It is one of the 13 institutions participating on European Commission project FORWARD (Framework for a EU-wide Audiovisual Orphan Works Registry). At the national level NFA coordinates the Creative Europe Desk and the Media Sub-programme, focuses on research projects in cooperation with Czech universities (in both technical and artistic fields), and has an extensive internship programme.

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European Solidarity Center

European Solidarity Center

The mission of the European Solidarity Center is:

  • To commemorate, maintain and popularise the heritage and message of the Solidarity movement and the anti-communist democratic opposition in Poland and throughout the world.
  • To inspire new cultural, civic, trade union, local government, national and European initiatives with a universal dimension.
  • To share the achievements of the peaceful struggle for freedom, justice, democracy and human rights with those who are deprived of them To actively take part in the building of the European identity and new international order.

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The Nation´s Memory Institute

The Nation’s Memory Institute

The Nation’s Memory Institute (NMI) is a public-law institution founded by the Act of the National Council of the Slovak Republic No. 553/2002 Coll. Its mission is to provide the access to yet undisclosed records of activities of the repressive organs of the period of oppression 1939-1989. Main roles of the NMI are to provide complete and unbiased evaluation and research of the totalitarian regimes of the past century, to publish and make these information accessible to the public through different media, as well as to analyse the reasons and ways of losing the freedom. Moreover, the NMI seeks the best ways of presenting the real values of democracy and protection of human rights by pointing out to crimes being committed on innocent people during Nazi and Communist era. It does so through recording and archiving oral history testimonies and using them for various purposes as: documentary film production, internet publishing of biographic victims´ portraits, media reports, etc.

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National Széchényi Library

National Széchényi Library

The National Széchényi Library has always been highly valued and eminently placed in the system of Hungarian research institutions, and is renowned for promoting high-level education.

One of its special departments is the Collection of Historical Interviews, the audiovisual collection of the national library. In the second part of the 20th century the idea emerged that in recording the memories of witnesses in audio and video we should not only cater for the needs of today but, as far as possible, document the history of our century for the researchers of tomorrow as well. The Collection of Historical Interviews, taking into account the demands of new data media,considers its main task to create video-memoirs, life interviews with the principal figures of Hungarian history, public life and culture since 1985. Our collection of video interviews has a number of over 1300.

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Bautzner Straße Memorial in Dresden

Bautzner Straße Memorial in Dresden

The Bautzner Straße Memorial is the former remand prison and regional office of the East German Ministry of State Security (Stasi) in Dresden. Until 1989, people were arrested for political reasons and they were interrogated by the Stasi. The memorial includes also a soviet underground prison. 1945 – 1953 it was used by the Soviet occupation force for political prisoners.

The association “Erkenntnis durch Erinnerung e. V.” (“Recognition by Remembrance e. V.”) is the operator of this memorial site. The memorial works with witnesses - those affected by political persecution and imprisonment 1945-1989 and witnesses of the Peaceful Revolution 1989.

The Bautzner Straße Memorial recalls the victims of political persecution in the communist dictatorship 1945-1989, collects and documents the experience of contemporary witnesses, strengthens the antitotalitarian consensus in society through historical and political education. In addition, interesting offers like innovative exhibitions, workshops and events are created for national and international visitors.

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Visegrad Fund

The project is co-financed by the Governments of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia through Visegrad Grants from International Visegrad Fund. The mission of the fund is to advance ideas for sustainable regional cooperation in Central Europe.

The International Visegrad Fund is an international donor organization established by the governments of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia). Its aim is to support closer understanding and cooperation among people in the V4 region, as well as between the V4 region and other countries and regions, particularly in the non-EU neighbourhood of the Eastern Partnership countries and in the Western Balkans. The fund does fosters the development of civil society by financing joint grant projects and by awarding university scholarships and artist residencies. The fund’s annual budget of €8 million consists of equal contributions by the V4 governments.

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Europe for citizens

The aim of the Europe for Citizens Programme is to contribute to citizens' understanding of the EU, its history and diversity and to encourage the democratic participation of citizens at EU level. The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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Czech Ministry of Culture

In 2019, the Czech Ministry of Culture supported financially the Národní filmový archiv, Prague in order to work at the digitalisation of the material.

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