Hojjatolislam Fakhrzadeh Celebration

Oral History; from recording memoirs to historiography

Maryam Rajabi
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2018-02-13


As reported by Iran Oral History website, a program titled “Say Saeed” which was a celebration of Hojjatolislam Saeed Fakhrzadeh’s celebration for his 33 years of efforts to record the events of the Islamic Revolution and the Holy Defense was held in the hall of Imam Sadegh Mosque in Felestin Square in Tehran by Tasnim news agency on 4 February 2018.

Hossein Javdoy, the cultural secretary of Tasnim news agency was the keynote speaker. He said: “In the first years of my carrier as a journalist when I started in a news agencies, I used to visit the Art Division a lot due to my interest in the Holy Defense and the Islamic Revolution, where I met many of my friends including Mr. Fakhrzadeh. During meetings Mr. Fakhrzadeh said: “I’m willing to sell my house and spend the money on cultural activities”; his tone and face showed that he was serious. He was willing to do this and spend that money to proceed cultural goals of the Islamic Revolution.”

 

Oral history prevents distortions

Javad Mansouri, a combatant of the Islamic Revolution was the next speaker. He has spent long years in prisons of the Pahlavi regime. He started his work as a diplomat and political analyst after the Islamic Revolution and is the author of numerous books on recognition of the revolution and contemporary history. The book “Salhaye Bigharar”[1] is well known narrating the memories of his fights. Mansouri said: “I dare to say that one of the results of the Islamic Revolution and the Holy Defense is the oral history; I don’t mean to say that it didn’t exist and emerged after the revolution but I mean that it was never in this quality, effect, effort and investment and it was very limited and those involved were agents of the regime. However, the oral history which prevailed after the revolution involved mostly the revolution fighters, the public and the dedicated forced. It evolved in time transforming from memory telling to a school and a faculty. The process was not welcomed at first due to some taboos and presence of Mr. Fakhrzadeh and his colleagues was very effective in breaking these barriers.

He added: “15 years after the revolution, nothing had been done about the revolution fighters; the intent was not even there to do anything and no one was making efforts. Focus was on Holy Defense. Gradually, the anti-government groups after the revolution were highlighted and then it moved to the events before the revolution. The most important point is that oral history evolved in years and its quality, depth and content were modified. The books published now are different from those published in the 90s; and several might be noted as credible history references; one of them is the book written by Ezzatollah Motahari (Glory of Kingdom) which perfectly analyzes the events before the revolution and some after. These books failed the story telling aspect to revive the past. Imam Khomeini (POH) in 1982 was concerned about distortion of the revolution and oblivion; hence he founded the Document Center and oral history prevented distortion which taught the anti-revolution forces to start historiography in a unique pose of fiction and radical memory telling. However, most important is that our governmental organizations have been ignorant of the fact so far including universities and academic institutions. Indeed, one or two universities have created the Islamic Revolution and Oral History faculties but it takes time to evolve and what other individuals persisted and pursued is indelible. Mr. Fakhrzadeh was in charge of management in this endeavor. They didn’t limit their work to the events of the 80s and 90s. Our development and status allows us to present our best practices in oral history as a scientific theory in historiography all over the world.”

Mansouri concluded: “Oral history shall not be perceived as a restricted and limited program. Oral history has the capacity to analyze many critical social events if the producers are knowledgeable of the facts. Other institutions besides the Art Division have pursued oral history but the Art Division has been influential. Mr. Fakhrzadeh is the pioneer in literature, historiography and our contemporary achievements.”

 

Various perspectives of oral history

Amir Nasser Arasteh was another speaker. He is in charge of War Education Board. He board was founded by martyr Sayyad Shirazi. He is also the advisor to the Commander of Armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He said: “Someone said: “we were frogmen that passed Arvandroud to conquer Fav; the cowards didn’t support us with even a bullet; they didn’t send air support; we did it on our own!” I told him that there are different perspectives in oral history. Those sitting in command posts see the war from a different perspective which varies from that of a soldier carrying an RPG. All these perspectives are valid but might be limited. The truth never escapes those involved in recording the events; the artists are those who collect all these facts and produce oral history. I told him that an air support would be very obvious and would compromise your mission. They started their operation elsewhere to drag the enemy facr from you so that you can cross the river and surprise them. The person who has to coordinate these perspectives and provide the facts with no distortion or exaggeration or limitation is Mr. Fakhrzadeh.”

There were many prominent features present in the ceremony.

Majid Rajabi Memar, the manager of the House of Artists, considered Mr. Fakhrzadeh to be an honest and influential clergy. Mr. Momeni noted that martyr Sayad Shirazi considered Mr. Fakhrzadeh to be an unpretentious person. Abbas Maleki spoke of Mr. Fakhrzadeh’s role in recording the social and political efforts of the students and faculty members of Sanati Sharif University and Ahmad Dehghan, author, stated that: “Mr. Fakhrzadeh in his interview with Sayad Shirazi acted professionally giving the opportunity to the audience to travel to the past and Sayad Shirazi recounted his memories as if he has just been appointed to command.” Mohsen Shah Rezayi, the General Director of the Office of Elite Appreciation said that Mr. Fakhrzadeh looks forward into the future and Alireza Kamari, author and history scholar said: “This event is to celebrate a veteran in search of stories and a loyal narrator of the Islamic Revolution and the Holy Defense.”

In the end, Tasnim news agency, the Art Division and other institutions expressed their gratitude and appreciation of his efforts.

 


[1] Restless Years



 
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