In memoriam Ion Raţiu (1917 - 2000)

17th January 2017

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Today, 17 January, we commemorate 17 years since we lost Ion Raţiu (1917–2000) – ‘the best President Romania never had’ – as he is often remembered, a patriot who fought all his life for a democratic and socially just Romanian society. 2017 also marks the Ion Raţiu centenary and we feel the best way to pay our respects to him is to celebrate his life and his legacy carried on through the efforts of his family and supporters.

One of the main projects Ion Raţiu started, together with his wife and partner Elisabeth Raţiu (1921–2016), is the Raţiu Family Foundation (RFF), based in London, which has been supporting further education and research projects, both in Romania and the UK, since its establishment in 1979. RFF has also been supporting the work of the Romanian Cultural Centre in London (RCC) in promoting Romanian culture and current affairs by placing them in a broader, multicultural context.

Ion Raţiu’s democratic beliefs are reflected today in the activity of The Raţiu Democracy Centre (CRD) – a non-governmental, non-profit organization based in Turda, Romania. Besides having a good regional and national outreach, CRD is also involved in the prestigious annual Ion Raţiu Democracy Award & Workshop organised in association with the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Another important example of Ion Raţiu’s legacy is the work carried out by Relief Fund for Romania, one of the organisations he set up in 1990 in order to help Romanians in need. The Charity continues its work today.

Ion Raţiu Archive
Today, we are left at the Raţiu Foundation in London with a huge archive of vast importance for understanding the Romanian exile. A well-organised man, Ion Ratiu filed almost every one of his papers starting from the late 1930s, continuing up to his death in 2000. The London archive contains over 2,000 folders, amongst which correspondence with numerous important Western politicians, personalities and journalists, members and leaders of the Romanian diaspora from the UK, Western Europe, USA and Australia, and a great number of documents and letters covering the work the exile groups with which Ion Raţiu was associated: the Romanian Students Association, the Free Romanian Movement, ACARDA – the British Romanian Cultural Association, and the World Union of Free Romanians (whose elected president was Ion Ratiu), as well as a wide range of documents relevant to the international Romanian diaspora's social and political movements and Ion Ratiu's own human rights activism, unique material which will add to a better understanding of recent history.

The Ion Raţiu Archive had been carefully curated over decades, but had never been catalogued by a professional archivist. That is why, in order to make sure we offer the best access to the archives and to a wider audience, The Raţiu Family Foundation and The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER) have signed a protocol of collaboration committing both parties to working on professionally archiving and digitizing the Ion Raţiu Archive. This will be opened to the public later on this year. Details to follow.

Ion Rațiu's Diaries 1st Volume 1940–1954
This June, in Turda, the Raţiu Centre for Democracy will launch the first volume of Ion Raţiu’s Diaries (1940–1954). Therefore, we are presenting below an excerpt from his daily notes, which are relevant today as they were in the early 1940s. A committed observer, Ion Raţiu’s love for his country and his people never faltered.

Click on the image below to access Ion Ratiu's Diary entry from January 5th 1942. (Text in Romanian)