Banning access to the National Archives. It is a refutation of the policy of openness that has been in the national archives since 2007, these are 15 years, and this action affects historical research, especially the understanding of what happened in the twentieth century. I must remind you that the National Archives is a structure within the Ministry of the Interior, and that it is not only subject to Law 16/1996 regulating its activity, but also to many customs and influences that come from various fields, including secret services.
What do you mean when you say customs?
I am explicitly referring to the fact that there has been an influence which, as far as I know, has grown, in recent years, from the General Directorate of Internal Protection, the Secret Service of the Ministry of the Interior, more commonly. A quarter, they formed this structure on the basis of the former security of the Bucharest municipality. My statement is not without legitimacy, because it shows an institutional culture that favors dueling, and a culture of secrecy, which limits access to historical sources, because people simply don’t understand the difference between a document that has, as I know, operational implications and a historical document.
Historian Dorin Dobrenko, in practice, at the moment, what else can researchers come up with? What was forbidden to them?
Documents with so-called hashtags were banned, whether they were produced during the communist period, during the war, during the interwar period or even before. From a historical perspective, it is necessary to search for documents that entered the archives of the National Archives, especially since these documents were under historical research, so we are not talking about existing documents in the administration of institutions such as secret services or I know what other institutions, but from documents that already exist, Even for decades, in the National Archives repositories which researchers can search until May 25 this year.
What are the effects?
The implications are already known, because researchers did not have access to these documents for a month. A notice was posted on the website of the National Archives on May 26, that since then, it can no longer be searched. The point is that a lot of time has passed, and there are many concerns about these restrictions or limitations. I think we will have a period that, on the one hand, will be subletting the National Archives, because it will have to manually declassify file by file, piece by piece, and secondly, researchers will have access to documents historically, it may simply invalidate their understanding of certain topics .
I think Romania had a little over 50 years of dictatorship in the 20th century. This means that we had a totalitarian communist regime, we had the Antonescu dictatorship, in part Carol II, many sensitive topics, related to oppression, crime and control of society, would not be able to satisfactorily research. That is why there is a need to respond from the point of view of the research body, from the point of view of public opinion in general, because, other than that, from the state we see that all kinds of initiatives come that limit access to documents. unacceptable.
Are you a historian, do you have experience, do such situations occur in the archives of other countries of the European Union?
In general, archival activity in the countries of the European Union as in Romania, as it has been until now, is regulated by law. The problem, so to speak, between former communist countries and countries with democratic regimes for decades or more is that we need this knowledge, this distance from dictatorships, and this means that we must have free access as in December 1989, historical research is everywhere Depends on the sources. If there are no sources, you cannot make history, or that means you need to have access to everything that falls within the provisions of the law, that is, we are talking here 32 years since the fall of the communist regime and we cannot have this limitation.
For example, in Germany, which was unified in 1990, there are no such restrictions on the documents of the communist regime, those of the GDR, if we want to present a model from Europe. There are no such restrictions in other former communist countries. Romania has a practice that made it a model after 2007. Now, we see that we have a regression, referring to the National Archives in particular. This can only bother us once, and secondly, it makes us think about what can happen in society with researchers, and then with others.