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"Exercițiu" la Școala de Vară
(Valeriu Antonovici)

Free Europe, Here

The public fund-raising campaign is over, but the “Free Europe – Here” project goes on.
IRIR will continue its efforts to implement the project by various means.

Free Europe – Here is a campaign meant to generate support and raise funding for a “Free Europe Center of Research and Documentation” to be established in Bucharest. The campaign project was initiated by the “Romanian Institute for Recent History” (IRIR) in cooperation with the former members of the RFE (Romanian Desk) team.

The U.S. financed Radio Free Europe has been Romania’s most important media phenomenon until 1989, and has played a decisive role in the recent history of this country. The premises for abolishing the totalitarian rule and embarking on the road to freedom and democracy in Romania are – to a great extent – the result of RFE’s broadcasts to this country. Launched in 1951, the broadcasting to Romania culminated in 1989 and was discontinued in August 2008.

The history of Romania in the second half of the last century and the tribulations of the Romanian society under the communist rule cannot be studied and understood without Radio Free Europe. RFE’s broadcasting archives (program scripts and tapes) are at the Hoover Institution in Stanford, California, thousands of miles away. Because of this, the archives are in fact out of reach for the people in Romania. The purpose of an “Free Europe Center of Research and Documentation” would be to acquire and house a complete copy of the Hoover archives, and to make it freely available to the public here, in Romania, so that the accessible Romanian media content of 40 years roughly (1951-1990) would not consist only of the domestic communist propaganda material. Reminding the Romanians of RFE’s outstanding significance and contribution to the freedom and prosperity they have gained, the campaign’s main goal will be to raise the funding needed for acquiring and processing (digitizing) an archive copy, and housing it at a dedicated center in Bucharest, permanently open for all those interested in studying these unique documents – students, scholars, journalists, historians, researchers and the man in the street. Within the future Center we also plan to initiate a radio school meant to carry on RFE’s professional standards and democratic tradition.

RFE’s broadcasts have been the major source of uncensored information, pertinent analysis, freely expressed opinion and, last but not least, of hope for the Romanian people throughout the Cold War. They have been described as the oxygen that allowed Romanians to breath and resist under communism. RFE has saved lives and influenced destinies. It was the greatest nightmare of Ceaușescu and his Securitate. Because of this, RFE’s Romanian Desk had its injuries and losses. In 2001, the Romanian State realized it would be appropriate to pay tribute to the importance and contribution of Radio Free Europe. President Ion Iliescu handed medals and diplomas to the RFE staff “as a sign of the Romanian people’s lasting gratitude and appreciation” (President Iliescu’s speech on Nov. 30, 2001).