February – May 2017, Documentation campaign

Albania – Kucova / Tirana

The documentation campaign in Albania (Tirana-Kucova) was an important step and a challenge for us from the beginning, as the National History Museum is based in Tirana, and the city of Stalin / Kucova is in the Berat district. So, because of the distance between the two cities, it was a challenge both for finding volunteers and for identifying materials during the Stalin period of Kucova.

After publishing the press release of the project, 28-29 January 2017, in the national newspapers in Albania, and the opening, at the same time, the facebook page of the project „Une kam qeneteraar I Qytetit Stalin” were received the first positive feedbacks.

Some people who were born in Kucova came to the National History Museum and were very curious to learn more about the project and how they could help. We remember the very first volunteer who came to the museum. His name was Mr. Rusladi, about 60, is born in Kucova, but now lives in the USA with his family. He was in Albania only for a few days, and that day he read the newspapers and found information about his birthplace and was so happy as he came immediately to the museum to contact the Albanian coordinator. He has given us many names of historians who lived in Kucova and who could help with information about the economic and political situation of Kucove in the 1950s and later unconditionally they supported us.

Then people started asking the Facebook page how they might be involved in this project. Also from the virtual space, they learned about the project and the over 20 young people living in Tirana, but they were born in Kucova and whose families are still living there. They could provide us with more information. More than 50 people were approached, 40 of them contributing materials.

We also managed to secure a big number of pictures (100 copies) of Stalin City which were never exposed before for the public from the Albanian Telegraphic Agency.

The historical images were used in the temporary exhibition under the project.

Bulgaria – Varna


For this documentation campaign, the Regional History Museum of Varna first organised a campaign to recruit the project volunteers. Almost 20 people, most of them young, responded to this appeal. Most of them were students. But there were also seniors: the oldest volunteer was a 60 years old lady. Through their involvement in the project, the volunteers discovered many things about the history of their home town in a period which was insufficiently documented.

The materials were collected by the middle of the year and then a selection of the most active volunteers was made. Further on, 8 students continued to get involved in the project activities. They had the greatest contribution to the gathering of documents, interviewing of older citizens and participation at various activities.

Following the campaign promoted on the project’s local Facebook page they collected a large number of documents and photographs coming from different spheres of lives and activities. Also, they collected newspapers and the volunteers made 20 audio and video recordings of people having lived in those days when our town was named Stalin. More than 1000 people were informed about the project and the campaign for collecting historical pieces. Following the campaign, 55 people contributed with valuable historical material about the Stalin City.

Besides the materials collected from the volunteers, the Contemporary History Department of the Regional History Museum of Varna researched its own collections. The museum holds a very large number of photographs, items and documents from the days of the Stalin Town collected throughout the years by curators and donors.

Within the project digitalization campaign, so far they collected almost 500 digitalised materials.

Some of these digitized materials have been used in organizing a thematic exhibition.
A facebook page was created in Bulgarian language, which offered the opportunity to promote the documentary campaign and project activities.

In the local press 10 articles about the project appeared.

Poland – Katowice


In Katowice the project was launched in February 2017 with the information campaign about the procurement of archive materials from the days when Katowice was named Stalin.

With the help of the media (radio, press) we made an appeal to the locals to contribute with their memories and souvenirs. As a result, we contacted and discussed with over 100 people (witnesses and collectors) and 55 of them shared their memories and private ollections.

I was quite difficult because the town held the name of Stalin for 3 years and a half. Most of those who could have remembered this story are gone and those who are still here were children back then. At the same time, those who contacted us were very interested by the project; however, there was some reluctance in talking about those days. The most frequent types of materials that we received were school certificates, identity documents, work registers, personal documents or birth certificates.

The documentation campaign covered both the media from those days and the collections of several museums and cultural institutions, by 18 specialists and 3 volunteers. Among the institutions which contributed to the images of our collections were Museum in Chorzów, Museum of History of Katowice, Museum of Mining in Zabrze, Upper Silesian Museum, Bytom Museum (Muzeul Bytom), Museum of Sport and Tourism in Karpacz, Branch of Archives of Institute of National Remembrance in Katowice, National Archives of Poland – Katowice branch, Archive Katowice Town Hall, Archdiocesan Archives in Katowice, Silesian Theater, Silesian Library, Silesian Planetarium, Karta centre.

The documentation campaign was implemented since the start of the project in Katowice (February 2017) and lasted for the whole project. As a result, we managed to collect a couple of hundreds of historical artefacts.

At the same time, while looking for these traces of the Stalin times, we launched a campaign of popularization of the Stalin period in our town’s history. This objective was achieved through media presentations as well as the organization of public meetings held by researchers and experts from various fields. This part of the project lasted from March to May 2017. During that period six events were organized where we collaborated with various scientific institutions from Katowice:

  • 14 March 2017, Discussions panel “When Katowice was Stalinogrod” with the participations of historians from the Institute of National Remembrance Dr. Adam Dziuby, Dr. Bogusław Tracz, Dr. Sebastian Rosenbaum with the attendance of 50 people.
  • 28 March 2017, Lecture of professor Krystyna Heski-Kwaśniewicz, Ph.D., from the Silesia University – “Gustaw Morcinek’s Works” attended by 60 people.
  • 29 March 2017, presentation of the book “Literature of the planned worlds. On Socialist Realistic Prose in Upper Silesia” with the participation of the author Dr. Katarzyna Kuroczka and of literary critics from the Silesia University in Katowice, attended by 30 people.
  • 11 May 2017, “Common Day of the Stalinists”, lecture by dr. Zygmunt Wozniczka from the Silesia University in Katowice, attended by 40 people.
  • 17 May 2017, Screening of “Here Stalinogród” directed by Maciej Muzyczuk, attended by 30 people.
  • 31 May 2017, “Avant-garde in Stalinogrod”, lecture by Natalia Kruszyny, an art historian from the Katowice History Museum, attended by 30 people. 

Access was free to all of these events. More information about these events may be found on the website of the Institute of National Remembrance in Katowice and on the project Facebook page www.facebook.com/miastostalina

Part of the documentary work was presented in a thematic exhibition that will remain open until 2 February 2018.

Romania – Braşov


Our documentation campaign focused on recovering the memories of citizens who lived during the time when the town of Brasov held the name of Stalin Town and on identifying and digitalizing those archives which contain relevant documents about the history of Stalin town.

The campaign was launched on 9 May 2017 through a meeting with the students of the School of Sociology and Public Relations of the Transylvania University of Brasov organised in Casa Sfatului; at this meeting the students were familiarised with the project topic and invited to get involved in the upcoming activities as volunteers. In addition to the 25 young participants, representatives of the local media were also invited at the meeting, and then they distributed information about the project and the documentation campaign (6 press articles and 2 TV news).

The mobile stand of the project, set up with the aim of informing, promoting and attracting the locals who have memories from the days when Brasov used to hold the name of Stalin was introduced in premiere during the international cultural event entitled the Long Night of Museums in the Sfatului Square in Brasov, on 20 May 2017. 2551 people attended at the event.

Another promotional action, organized with the involvement of the Mioritics Association, took place at the Reduta Cultural Centre in Brasov on the occasion of a theatre performance entitled How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients by Trap Door Theatre from Chicago, USA in the presence of director Matei Vișniec. 350 people attended at the event.

Taking into account the intense cultural activity of the cultural centre and the participation of numerous locals from different generations, the project stand stayed in the cultural centre between 17 June and 20 September 2017. During this time, compared to the number of participants in the organized events, more than 1,000 people were informed about the theme of our project.

Then, for 10 days further the stand was available to those interested in three workers’ districts in Brasov: Astra (former Steagul Roşu), Tractorul and CFR-Triaj.

At the stand there were museum experts from the Brasov County History Museum and project volunteers who talked about the days when Brasov used to be named Stalin Town, challenging the others to come with their own memories, photographs, documents or items to have them digitalised or exhibited temporarily in the museum for the Stalin Town Exhibition.

Over 1000 people visited the stand in those 10 days.

The project team collected, digitalised and recorded dozens of documents and photographs. Items such as radios, speakers, telephones, clothes, books, newspapers, pictures, maps, travel documents, personal documents and so on were donated or given in custody for the exhibition.

Over 100 items of museum value were recorded/digitalised.

Another component of the documentation campaign focused on the involvement of pupils in the identification and promotion of items of material and immaterial heritage; this came in response to the need of identification, public information, preservation and valorisation of a decade (1950-1960) which irremediably marked the history of Brasov and determined the current structure of its community. More than 170 pupils and teachers from the Brasov gymnasium schools participated in the non-formal education module.

As a result of the promotion and documentation campaign carried out through the non-formal education module, more than 150 people contributed with documents, objects and testimonies to the creation of archive of documenta „Stalin City”

A presentation of the project was carried out by the project manager, Mr. Nicolae Pepene, on 19 of October 2017, in front of the 30 specialists who participated in the workshop on Speech for Supporting the Museums of Communism in Romania.

The archive investigation led to the setting up of an archive of documents entitled Stalin Town which now comprises 3345 digitalised documents selected from the funds of the Central National Historical Archives. 10 specialists were involved in the research project.

A facebook page was created in the Romanian language of the project, which offered the opportunity to promote the documentary campaign and project activities.

Hungary – Dunaujvaros


Our Hungarian coordinating partner, the University of Dunaújváros focused its documentation campaign on the Facebook page entitles I was citizen of Stalin Town (Sztálinváros polgára voltam).

It’s on the project Facebook page that they posted the digitalised photographs, items and artefacts. All study visits to the project partner cities were also documented here, just like the workshop and the exhibition held at the University of Dunaújváros.

All the citizens in Dunaújváros were invited to contribute with materials to this page by sharing their own memories and documents from the days of the Stalin town. In consequence, most of the photos posted on the Facebook page came from private collections. During the campaign, over 350 people found out about the documentary campaign, of which 100 people contributed with documents, objects, photos and testimonies to the project archive.

Over 12 newspaper articles in local newspapers and publications in university magazines which also documented the project activities. The national radio station also broadcasted a show which included interviews with the Hungarian project coordinators, members of the project team and locals who contributed to this project.

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