What is Memory of Nation
This is an extensive collection of witnesses' memories gathered by individuals, non-profit organisations, education institutions, and governmental and semi-governmental agencies in Europe, which intend to share, compare, evaluate, and discuss their recordings, texts, photographs, and archival documents. We are enabling access to the memories of witnesses who gave their approval to use their memories for examining modern history and to make them publicly accessible.
All those who joined the effort with their collections became the members of the COMMUNITY OF EUROPEAN MEMORY. Project coordinators are invited to the Memory of Nation international symposia. If you want to contribute to the collection - with your witness, your own collection, or funds, please click here.
If you would like financially, or through other means, to support the work of this portal which gives meaning to the memories of witnesses, please contact the project's chief coordinator, Mikuláš Kroupa, (telephone +420 604 63 67 68). Bank account number for the Post Bellum association:
IBAN: CZ8001000000511707230277, Bank SWIFT (BIC): KOMBCZPPXXX.
What we want
We want to study the substance of the totalitarianism regimes of the 20th century through the memories of witnesses and with the help of all historical resources. Nazism and communism. We examine the phenomena that accompanied last century's totalitarian regimes. We are putting together a mosaic from the memories of thousands of individuals who found themselves in an extreme situation and can and want to share their witness. We are interested in the reasons why people behaved in certain ways, how their opinions and positions developed, and how their characters changed based on experience in life. We want to compare these memories and arrange them by historical epochs, anniversaries, years, and events to enable people to navigate them easily and understand them as much as possible.
The project leader
This portal - the Memory of Nation digitised archive of witnesses - was created in 2008 by three Czech institutions: the Post Bellum association, Czech Radio, and the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Post Bellum is an association of journalists and historians building a collection of witnesses' memories since 2001; Czech Radio is a major public mass medium possessing extensive sound achieves and equipment; and Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes is an authority that examines, analyses, and documents the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. Bound by an agreement, the three institutions created a team of specialists who prepared and launched this unique application. The portal went live on 28 October 2008.
The Community of European Memory wants to provide access to personal memories of the witnesses of the 20th century's major historical events - full recordings, samples of recordings, photographs, diaries, archival documents, and much more for researchers and general public in a clear and concise form. The more collections, portrayals and witnesses are saved, the more colourful and comprehensible the mosaic of the previous century will be.
We distinguish between common users and researchers. Anyone who completes the registration form and receives a certificate from the portal administrators may become a researcher. Every researcher granted access to all collections shall observe the rules and copyright and respect the witnesses' dignity.
Memory of Nation - the birth of the idea for the project
The idea of creating a digital archive of witnesses' memories resulted from the discussions held between the Czech implementers of oral history projects between 2006 and 2007 (the implementers included Post Bellum, Czech Radio, Institute of Contemporary History of the ASCR, Military History Institute, Jewish Museum in Praguek, Živá paměť o.p.s., Muzeum Ústí nad Labem). The attempts at finding a platform for sharing and comparing various research outputs led to the idea of the Internet portal, which you are visiting right now.
The www.pametnaroda.cz domain name was provided to the authors of the Memory of Nation portal free of charge in 2008 thanks to The Society for Moral and Legal Recognition of the Resistance to Communism, founded by students David Prokop, Pavel Bezděk, and Michal Kuchta in the late 1990's. We hereby thank them.
What is now available for the researchers of the Memory of Nation
For the time being, the digital Memory of Nation archive contains the memories of hundreds of witnesses primarily from the Post Bellum collection. These are the memories of soldiers - veterans of the 2nd World War, members of the Czechoslovak resistance between 1939 and 1945, holocaust victims, political prisoners from the 1950's, and the officials of the executive powers - agents of KGB, NKVD, StB, politicians, and others. Since 2008 the Memory of Nation initiative has been joined by dozens of projects from all over Europe. Project coordinators adapt their collections for the purposes of the Memory of Nation, digitise the recollections, translate them into English, and proofread and edited before loading to the Memory of Nation portal.
The full recordings from the collections are augmented with audio samples, biography texts, photographs, diaries, archival documents, links to media outputs, and other materials. The various witnesses are always ranked under historical epochs, anniversaries, and witness categories. We believe that the possibility of comparing as broad a spectrum of various witnesses as possible and putting them into historical context will enable both experts and general public to familiarise themselves with the events and phenomena of the 20th century in a manner that is as knowledgeable as it is attractive. We are obviously aware that subjective memories of witnesses cannot provide exhaustive historical knowledge - but they can enrich it in a substantial manner. Last but not least, we believe that knowing individual witnesses' unique stories can be a good way of enlightening the youngest generations of Europe's recent history.