Conference on Rudolf Kucera, Charta 77 and the Idea of Central Europe

"Reclaiming Our History"

The Heritage of Rudolf Kucera and the rebirth of the Idea of Central Europe

Conference and Roundtable Discussion

Time: 14 October 2019 2 pm

Venue: Ludovika Campus, National University of Public Service

István Borsody published a book with the title „Közép-Európa tragédiája” [Tragedy of Central Europe] in 1980. Three years later, Milan Kundera wrote his famous essay "The Stolen West or the Tragedy of Central Europe" that brought the notion of Central Europe in the focus of attention and that willy-nilly emphasized the necessity of decolonizing the region. From this time on it became clear for the intellectuals with a non-conformist attitude that Central Europe will regain its full legitimacy if it takes its history back and, thus, redefines itself. Rudolf Kučera Czech historian and political scientist, an activist in the Charta 77 movement and the Czechoslovakian journal called Střední Evropa (Central Europe) played a pioneering role in freeing the history of the nations of Central Europe from taboos. The articles that appeared in the samizdat publication facilitated self-awareness of Czechs and Slovaks as well as to help them understand their neighbors, including Hungarians and Poles.

The papers of the conference will present the impact of the Czechoslovak Charta 77 movement in Hungary, its relation to Central Europe. Moreover, they analyse Rudolf Kucera’s well-known essay (Right to History) and the circumstances surrounding the birth of the journal Střední Evropa, its impact and importance. A round table discussion will follow the presentations that will revolve around the relationship between Charta 77 movement and the Hungarian opposition and the Hungarian minority living in Czechoslovakia.

Papers to be presented:

Petr Placák: Rudolf Kučera Right to History (Rudolf Kučera Právo na dějiny)

Petruška Šustrová: The Charta 77 and Central Europe Közép-Európa (Charta 77 a střední Evropa)

Adam Drda: The importance of the journal Střední Evropa (Význam časopisu Střední Evropa)

"The Charta 77, Hungarian opposition and the Hungarian minority in Czechoslovakia": a roundtable discussion

Participants: György Varga, Iván Gyurcsík, László Szarka, Miklós Mitrovits

As a way of closing the event we will screen the Czech documentary about the Charta 77

"Charta 77 – the beginnings" (Charta 77 – Začátky)

(Czech documentary, directed by: Angelika Haunerová, 1997,  duration: 60 minutes)

The film is about the first ten years of Charta 77 when, in the midst of hopelessness that the „existing socialism” meant,

Kucera's book in Hungarian

some people defined a declaration that called on the communist party to respect human rights.