The communist regimes instilled sufficient fear in most inhabitants to convince them to pass over in silence information that could compromise the regime or question its historical right to rule. Individuals who had spent months and years in prisons scarcely mentioned their experiences even to their families for fear that their revelations might become known and bring harm to their loved ones. Women who underwent state enforced medical procedures did not dare mention in public this intrusion into their bodies. On occasion, a few non-approved words were dropped here and there, images slipped into poems, novels, plays, and movies. However, these hints at reality could not be a faithful picture of social and political developments in the past or the present. By the end of the 1980s, party-enforced omissions and half-truths had so thoroughly tarnished the historical process that the educated public harbored a deep distrust for all historical sources. Views derived from private experience and everyday life essentially disappeared from the heavily censored public space.

            Following the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, history is no longer exclusively controlled by the state and used for legitimating the regimes in power. Direct interview research can now be employed to reclaim the history suppressed by the state, to assess the totalitarian past, and to encourage the free sharing of ideas that is the cornerstone of an open, democratic society. While some oral history projects have begun in the region, the research method is still new to Eastern Europe. 

This is the first oral history archive to focus on the life of ordinary citizens in Brasov, Romania.  The interviews included in this database were conducted in the summer of 2001 with subjects of various educational, ethnic, religious, and regional backgrounds, men and women, but who all lived their adulthood under communism.  Some were also old enough to have lived the period of World War II as adults, others remember it more vaguely, as young people.  Not all of those interviewed are originally from Brasov, but they all lived most of their adult life in this city.  Therefore, we consider their stories as part of the history of the city, especially through the traumatic years between 1948 and 1989. 

This project was initiated by the Aspera Educational Foundation of Boston, Massachusetts ( and Maria Bucur, Ph.D., assistant professor at Indiana University, USA ( It was  funded by Aspera with additional logistical support from Indiana University and Universitatea Transilvania, Brasov.  The coordinators of the interviews on-site were Florentina Scarneci, Stefan Ungurean, with additional help from Carmen Huluta, Jill Massino, Clio Dumain, and Mircea Ivanoiu.