Publications feature heavily among the religious materials found in secret police archives or itemized on lists of confiscated materials. Most religious communities in the twentieth century promoted their ideas through the publication of religious periodicals, pamphlets and booklets which could be cheaply produced and easily distributed. Many of these items were published cheaply in shorts runs by local presses. During periods of totalitarian rule, state authorities tried to regulate or ban the production of such materials. The secret police intercepted materials sent in the post, confiscated them in house searches or uncovered them at the border when individuals attempted to smuggle them. Due to their generally small size, however, booklets and leaflets could be easily concealed. They were generally distributed through underground religious networks, both nationally and internationally, or in some cases they were distributed and sold by colporteurs (salesmen of religious literature) on markets, on trains or at pilgrimages. Many of the religious booklets and pamphlets we find in the secret police archives, which had little value for mainstream libraries and archives, are extremely rare and can be found nowhere else in state collections. Some of these materials have immense value for religious communities that were divested of their sacred materials by the state.
James A. Kapaló
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme No. 677355