Dear Friends and Supporters of Independent Culture, Citizens’ Initiatives, and Civil Movements from the Days before November 1989!

The heritage of self-publishing activity in the years of ‘real-existing Socialism’, in the 1970s and 1980s, resides in vast collections of samizdat. These consist in true treasures of independent writing from all fields:

  • independent news, information, and commentary on politics, economics, society, the arts, and sciences in Czechoslovakia and the rest of the world;
  • samizdat books and articles on independent historiography, philosophy, sociology, religion, theology, literary criticism, history, and theory;
  • documents related to the activity of independent movements and initiatives by private citizens;
  • short stories, novels, plays, and verse.

Apart from the holdings of a few archives in Prague, collections of Czech and Slovak samizdat remain largely inaccessible to the public. Moreover, because of the relatively primitive technology that the makers and distributors of samizdat had at their disposal (mostly typed using carbon paper), these collections are at risk of deteriorating.

The creation of a pan-European database of samizdat on the Web is now within reach. It will contain collections of Czech and Slovak samizdat and be publicly accessible everywhere to anyone with an internet connection. An international group of institutions from Poland, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic, including the non-profit Czechoslovak Documentation Centre, is preparing a three-year project called DIDEROT (Dissidents’ Documents – European Repository Online) which is now applying for a grant from the European Union.

The number of pages of material we will be able to scan and place in the international Web database during the next three years depends also on how much money we ourselves will be able to contribute to the project. For every 1000 Kč (€40 or about US $50) that we invest in the project we will be granted 1600 Kč (€64 or about US $80) from the EU. If, for example, our annual investment is €10,000, we will be able to invest €26,000 per year in the project.

Dear Friends,

I am turning you with a request for a contribution and for disseminating our appeal amongst your friends and associates. Even a small amount can be a great help: after all, 100 Kč from one hundred donors is 10,000 Kč (€400) , which would make us eligible for another 16,000 Kč (€640 or about US $800) of EU funds.

But time is short. The application has to be in by 1 June, and by that time we should be ready at least to estimate what sort of budget we shall have for the project. We do not need funding immediately, but we do need pledges of support within the next ten days, including the names and addresses of the donors and the pledged amounts of funding available as soon as the project is approved by the end of Summer 2010.

We are establishing an internal account, called ‘DIDEROT – Samizdat on the Web’ with the names of donors, which we will also place on our website ( Each donor will of course receive a receipt for tax purposes.

If you cannot at this moment afford to support our collection, please at least keep your fingers crossed and hope that our project succeeds in getting a European Union grant!

If you wish to pledge your support, please write an email or send a letter to the following address:
ČSDS, Josefská 34/6, 118 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
Tel. +420 257 533 332 (Monday to Thursday 9 am to 12 noon) or

With sincere thanks and best wishes,

Vilém Prečan
Chairman of the Board, the Czechoslovak Documentation Centre, a registered non-profit organization.

Prague, 19 May 2010