Samizdat editions of Lidové Noviny go online
It’s twenty years since a group of anti-communist dissidents took the brave decision to revive the newspaper Lidové Noviny, once the spiritual home of the Czech nation’s most eminent journalists and essayists. The dissidents were searching for a way of getting uncensored news and views to a wider audience. For two years, from January 1988 until December 1989, they distributed a monthly “samizdat” version of Lidové Noviny, until the paper was revived as a regular daily in January 1990. An archive of those samizdat editions has now been put online.
Lidové Noviny was first published in 1893, and its early contributors included the Čapeks and Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. It quickly became known for its journalistic excellence, but fell victim to the periodic twists and turns of Czechoslovakia’s dark century. In 1952 it was shut down by the communists.
“The opposition movement against communism in Czechoslovakia had become elevated to a higher plane, and there was a need to create their own platform for written information which would bring these people together on a different level than the previous verbal or social interaction.”
All twenty-two samizdat editions – there was no Lidové Noviny in August 1988 or July 1989 – have now been put online on Lidové Noviny’s website. They make fascinating reading. February 1988’s issue features the headline “Rockets Rockets Rockets” and is a rundown of the two superpowers’ nuclear arsenals. So not that much has changed – today’s Lidové Noviny features the latest news on American plans to deploy parts of it missile defence shield in Central Europe, something bitterly opposed by her old Cold War enemy Russia.