Public Beneficiary Society (1999─2001)
The Society was founded on 15 December 1998 through the transformation of the ČSDS Foundation, and inscribed in the business register of the Municipal Court on 26 January 1999. The founders of the Society are Vojtěch Čelko, Václav Kasík, Jiří Oberfalzer, Vilém Prečan, Karel Schwarzenberg, Jiří Suk and Jiřina Šiklová.
According to the founding agreement of the Society its public beneficiary services are in particular:
- the management of a non-governmental research, documentation and study centre for the history of the anti-totalitarian resistance at home and abroad;
- the collection of source material, personal testimonies and documentation from sources at home and abroad, including the organisation of the archives to make them available to the general public and for research by scholars from home and abroad;
- the maintenance and management of a specialised library;
- the publication of specialised periodicals and special publications;
- contributions to the society-wide debate about the history of the Communist era in Czechoslovakia;
- the support of international comparative studies focusing on independent thought, samizdat literature, the forming of civic society, and civic activities in the context of the totalitarian system.
Over the three years from 1999─2001 the ČSDS received a grant for the realisation of the project Czechoslovak Political and Cultural Exile 1948─1989, shared with the Institute for the Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic and the Centre for Exile Studies of the Palacký University in Olomouc. The aim of the project was to make sources for the study of the Czechoslovak political and cultural exile in Western countries in 1948─1989 available in a systematic way and to lay the foundations for research into exile institutions, groupings and communities in accordance with the changes in the international context and the political situation in Czechoslovakia.
Research was carried out in the context of the project and evidence obtained of sources in foreign archives and libraries in the USA, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and South America. There were extensive collections of sources, legacies and other sets of written material on the history of exile in the Czech Republic. Copies of source material abroad were acquired in addition. Extensive collections were arranged, inventoried and catalogue. Dozens of interviews including valuable personal evidence from eyewitnesses were recorded.
An extensive bibliography of books published abroad by Czech and Slovak authors (in exile) 1948─1989 was prepared for publication, as well as the index of a two-volume factual and biographical encyclopaedic handbook. Many papers for seminars and academic conferences, two books, and 20 articles and studies were published, and three further volumes prepared for printing.
- Commencement of the project Czechoslovak Political and Cultural Exile 1948─1989.
- In 1998─99, participation by the ČSDS in the international project East European Revolution 1989 supported by the National Security Archive in Washington. On 14─16 October 1999, a successful international academic conference, The Democratic Revolution in Czechoslovakia 1989/90 in Prague, concluded the Czecho-Slovak part of the project. In the context of the project, seven notebooks of study materials were published in cooperation with the Institute for Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, and an anthology of documents in English was prepared for conference participants: The Democratic Revolution in Czechoslovakia. Its Precondition, Course, and Immediate Repercussions, 1987─89. A Chronology of Events and a Compendium of Declassified Documents, Briefing Book for an International Conference, Prague, 14─16 October 1999, ed. Vilém Prečan with Derek Paton. (Prague: National Security Archive; Czechoslovak Documentation Centre; Institute of Contemporary History, 1999. ─ 382pp.)
- The ČSDS acquired the extensive legacy of Antonín Vlach of Hamburg, an exile journalist and publisher of the first exile literary review Sklizeň (published from 1953 to 1964).
- The collections were moved from Scheinfeld to the present seat of the society in Dobřichovice (September 2000).
- Substantial new archive collections were acquired: the archive of the Charter 77 in Stockholm and the last part of what is called the Swiss archive of the Social Democrats in exile.
- Copying began of the written and recorded material of the Czech and Slovak editorial office of Radio Free Europe.
- The ČSDS contributed items to an exhibition of samizdat in Budapest (Open Society Archives) in December 2000.
- The ČSDS cooperated on the preparation of a television serial about samizdat.
- The series Documentation of Czechoslovak Exile 1948-1989 began publication. Radomír Luža’s book Československá sociální demokracie. Kapitoly z let exilu 1948─1989 (Prague─Brno 2001, 360 pp.), prepared for publication by the ČSDS in 2000 and 2001, was published in the series.
- The book Im Dienst der gemeinsamen Sache. Wolfgang Scheur und Prag 1981─1989 = Ve službách společné věci. Wolfgang Scheur a Praha 1981─1989. Edited by Vilém Prečan and Milan Uhde in cooperation with Ludger Udolph. (Brno: Atlantis, 2001. ─ 336 pp., 20 pages of illustrations) was prepared and published on the initiative of the ČSDS and with its cooperation.
- Among the most significant acquisitions by the ČSDS in 2001 were microfilms from the Blažej Vilím collection from the British Library in London, purchased by means of the foundation Pater František Rochla Fund in Great Britain (a total of five thousand pages of written material).