Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR, v.v.i.
In recent years, the issue of complaints and letters from citizens to political and administrative authorities and their representatives in communist countries has come to the attention of historians. In the absence of a plurality of opinions and independent media, the leading power bodies served here as one of the few more relevant sources of information about the moods among the population. At the same time, they served as a kind of soft stabilizer of power, a corrector of the policy of the respective regime. They also represent an invaluable source for the current analysis of the system functioning, especially the setting of society and the problems that resonated in it, as well as the interactions between citizens and party, state, territorial administrative and trade union bodies.
The presented monograph aims to contribute to the knowledge of the phenomenon of letters and complaints of citizens in communist dictatorships and the causes and circumstances of the collapse of the normalization regime in the late eighties in Czechoslovakia. It is based on an edition of forty documents – periodic excerpts from letters addressed to the Central Committee of the Communist Party and its Secretary General, Miloš Jakeš, respectively to the Central Committee of the KSS and its first secretary Ignác Janák. The individual documents are equipped with a note-taking apparatus, which brings a number of additional information and, using an extensive and hitherto neglected collection of surviving complaints, and it also presents a number of specific cases in more detail. An integral part of the book is an introductory study, which presents the issue of letters from citizens addressed to the party leadership in a broader thematic scope and a longer time perspective, covering the entire period of so-called normalization. The authors analyze in more detail some of the key topics, such as housing policy, social security, economic problems, embezzlement, party policy and German war graves in Czechoslovakia, as well as complaints that did not get into the seductive information at all because they crossed the variable border of “constructive criticism” and gained the stamp of “hostile rabble-rousing”.
PAŽOUT, Jaroslav – VILÍMEK, Tomáš. Barometr nálad, studnice informací. Dopisy občanů vedoucím představitelům a orgánům Komunistické strany Československa v letech 1988–1989. Praha: Ústav pro soudobé dějiny AV ČR, v. v. i., 2020. 520 s. Sešity Ústavu pro soudobé dějiny, sv. 54. ISBN 978-80-7285-255-0.