2016 Press Releases

UCC investigates secret police archives

4 Nov 2016
Dr James Kapaló, Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religions, University College Cork. Photo: Emmet Curtin

The Heads of two of Eastern Europe’s secret police archives will be in UCC today (Nov 4) for an innovative project that presents a new perspective on the secret service archives.

The four-year project, headed by Dr James Kapalo from the Study of Religions Department at UCC brings together a team of researchers from Hungary, Romania and the Republic of Moldova and will explore will explore the creative lives of minority religious communities under totalitarianism through the archives. The secret police archives in post-communist Eastern Europe are extremely controversial, one politician in Hungary referred to them as “the immoral documents of an immoral regime” (Economist 2011).

The latest political scandal to emerge in 2016 involves accusations of collaboration levelled at Lech Walesa the communist-era leader of the Polish opposition, based on evidence from secret police files. Dr Kapaló’s project will use the archive in a new way to explore the ‘Hidden Galleries’ of confiscated artworks, literature and photographs to present more inclusive cultural narratives on a period of history dominated by a fascination with the misdeeds of the political and religious elites, both communist and post-communist.  The project is being funded by the European Research Council.

Ukraine, in the midst of its ongoing conflict with Russia, was the latest country to decide to open it KGB archives to researchers with the express aim of de-communisation and democratization of society. The secret police files in the region are an object of dark fascination but, according to Dr Kapalo, they also an important resource for understanding and transforming societies that have undergone traumatic histories.

A one-day workshop takes place today (Friday 4th) where the project leader, Dr James Kapaló will outline the significance of the project for contemporary society in Eastern Europe. He will be joined by Heads of two of the Secret Service archives from Romania and Hungary as well as the Vice-Chair of the Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Regime in the Republic of Moldova.

Workshop participants include:

  • Dr James Kapaló, Senior Lecturer in the Study of Religions, University College Cork, Project Principal Investigator
  • Prof. Dr. Dragoş Petrescu, Chairman of the Board The National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (CNSAS), Bucharest, Romania
  • Dr Gergő Bendeguz Cseh, Head of Department of Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security, Budapest, Hungary
  • Dr Igor Caşu, Vice-Chair Commission for the Analysis of the Totalitarian Communist Regime in the Rep. of Moldova


This year marks the 60th anniversary of the popular Hungarian uprising which UCC's History Professor Geoffrey Roberts writes about in today's Irish Examiner - see article in Tweet below.


For further information contact Ruth Mc Donnell, Head of Media and PR, Office of Marketing and Communications, UCC Mob 086-0468950


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