Katalin Somlai – historian
I was researcher at the 1956 Institute between 1992 and 2019 and leader of the Oral History Archive of the same organisation in its last decade. I’ve worked for the 1956 Institute Foundation, the successor (private) organization (est. 2019) continuing the mission of the former 1956 institute with a focus on contemporary history. I am a member of its board of trustees. As a historian I studied the history of the 1956 Hungarian revolution focusing on events in the countryside. Furthermore I’ve been exploring the cultural relations of post-revolutionary Hungary with the West and the so-called Third World. As leader of OHA, I organized and was active participants in various oral history projects and international cooperations, including projects on the democratic opposition to the communist regime; Hungarian emigrants in France; refugees over the green border; right-wing politicians after 1989. I created and served as editor of the website visszaemlekezesek.hu, making public contents collected at OHA in a structured form, organised into historical and private life topics as well as providing photos and documents to researchers.
Besides continuing with oral history interviews for the Archive of the State Security with those both observed and enrolled, currently I’m involved in two major research projects. One focuses on the elites and subelites in a Soviet-type regime, while the other looks into the history of work in 20th century Hungary.
Photo: Hanna Alma Turi