More Than Three Decades Living with Oral History

Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Hojjatoleslam Saeed Fakhrzadeh was born in August, 1963. His father was Mohammed Reza and his ancestors were from Golpayegan. He was hired in Shahrbani in Khuzestan. He served also in C.I.D Police of NAJA for some time until he was transferred to the traffic police after Islamic Revolution and retired from the same military command.

Mother's family of Fakhrzadeh lived in Arak, and his mother's grandfather owned a soap factory in that city. For this reason, his mother came to Arak in early 1963 to spend her childbirth period there. Saeed was born in Arak, and his Identity document was issued in the same city. After a while, his mother returned to Khuzestan, and Saeed passed primary school training in that area. Then he came to Malayer with his family and completed his middle and high school there. In these years during summer holidays, he worked in the market to help his family through low income he earned often in working as a footboy. Whatever, Saeed got a diploma from Technical College in Electrical Engineering, and he also did technical jobs alongside education. For example, he did wiring for buildings, or he installed door phone, which was known at that time to all by name of FF. Occasionally he repaired radio and television sets.

Saeed Fakhrzadeh became a member of Scout Organization in his youth and went to camps or climbing tours along with a group of his friends. He was also interested in sports and was mostly involved with football and martial arts (Kung Fu). In addition to these activities, he went to Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults, and spent most of his time studying books, especially historical and literary books. The first book he read in this period and enjoyed its study was six-volume book of Imam Ali (AS) by Abdul Fattah Abdul Maqsood. He got acquaintance with someone named Hamzeloi who was his relative too. Fakhrzadeh says: "Before the revolution, we had a relative who was based in Arak, with surname of Hamzeloi, who was of relatives of my father. Most of them were fighters. If this gentleman had ten children, seven of them were anti-government fighters. Mr. Hamzeloi, who died, came to our house more about 1356 (SH), and as he saw my interest in books and reading, he slowly gave me religious books; books of Dr. Shariati, Engineer Bazargan and Ayatollah Motahhari. I was thirteen years old who he gave me the first book: Fatemeh Is Fatemeh. Then book of "Yah, Brother, That’s the Way it was!" as we approached the revolution I began to read Mr. Motahhari's books. Well, I remember he covered books with newspaper and hardly gave me, for example, from a closet behind himself and I read it and then returned. In this way, we became acquainted with various issues. On the other hand, my younger uncle, who was a political activist during his student period, was imprisoned. In fact, our family space was space of fighting. My older uncle, a clergyman, opposed to the government. His son was one of political activists who later died a martyred in the war. He was somehow connected and recruited members. All of this spontaneously gave us an anti-regime mentality. My father was a policeman, and when I attended in demonstrations, my dad said, avoids to be arrested in order not to hurt my job position. Of course, some of constables who followed me knew me and ignored for the sake of my dad."

Fakhrzadeh, in an interview with Islamic Revolutionary news agency Center (, also mentioned his activities during victory of the revolution: "I was junior in high school when revolution occurred. At this time, almost the first guarding we did was by wood. Then gradually we were given gun. Organizational gun was M1 Grand. Sometimes it was also vz. 24. I chose vz. 24 because I loved it and it was a good gun. As we were the first people who had team, I was responsible for a team that guarded in different places. I had a friend, my classmate, who was responsible for several groups. He was much more religious than me and now is very religious too. For a while, he became in charge of political-ideological of IRGC, Sardar (general) Sajedifar, later he went to the war. He was very helpful to me. I have a lot of memories of these guarding. In the very first months of the revolution that I was at high school, I participated in Basij. As a result, I soon became a member of Basij and I collaborated with Office of Islamic Republic Party. Later, I would go to villages for jihadi works."

Fakhrzadeh added that he was not officially a member of Islamic Republic Party, but he was more involved as an honorary member: "Because I studied a lot, I engaged more in scholarly and intellectual discussions. Until a few months after the revolution, Mr. Motahhari died a martyr and Marxists invaded more against religious thought. That's why I read more books of Mr. Motahhari. I was very familiar with thoughts of Ayatollah Motahhari and I was very interested in him. Then, I felt that we should work more in field of thought. I felt it was much better to be a theologue. In other words, I had to be a Motahhari."

He came to Tehran in 1980, guided by a family relative, Ayatollah Shirazi, who had history of political activity and had been imprisoned in early 1960s, and attended in religious studies in school of Mr. Mojtahedi. But due to difficult conditions of the school, after a short time, he went to Valiasr Hawza, which was located in Mosque of Hamza Seyyed-Al-Shohada (Shadman Street) and under supervision of Ayatollah Shahmohammadi. In this Hawza, he encountered a number of thologues who most of them were Basij members, and did continuous activities in Basij bases: "Basij and theologs of the school scintillated in the place and the region. They were very active and encountered very well in dealing with political groups. I enjoyed their activities. One of the people I met him there was Mohammad Rahimi, a student at Mojtahedi school and came to Valiasr (as) too. He was responsible for recording memories of IRGC, which we became familiar in one of the operations. He took me to the area war, to record memories. There I became interested in this work and I was missioned and participated in several operations, such as Kheibar, Badr and Ramadan. Method of our participation was that order was issued under name of Mohammad Rahimi and they registered our name as a partner under commission. That is, we accompanied him and there was nothing at all to make a file. We went to the area and they just gave us plate when we wanted to get into the area. Sometimes Mr. Rahimi himself did not come because any sentence was issued in our names, we did not have any mission; they issued sentence in name of Mr. Rahimi and we acted under his sentence. We would go to the war area with that command without his presence."

About purpose of this measure, Fakhrzadeh explained: "his idea was that events of the war should be recorded. So they first created a diary; a great diary that is always a memento among old warriors; a 40-50 pages notebook that they had asked the owner to write a testament too, like a letter to a friend, a message or something else, with a photo and details; as well as points of great men about importance of the front and memory writing. One million copies of it had been printed and distributed; at different stages, among all the warriors. It didn't not matter who the audience was. Often the guys also took this booklet as a quota, like plate. But maybe a few of them were returned. Most of the guys did not write, or if they wrote they would keep it for themselves."

Fakhrzadeh was missioned to be in Kurdistan for three months since 1982, and established department of "Recording Kurdistan Memories". In his opinion, the main reason for this was strange events that took place in Kurdistan. The three months lasted to six months, six months also to one year, which inevitably he left his education in Hawza, and in Kurdistan interviewed the warriors: "Most of people I interviewed were from IRGC and Basij. There was also Jundallah, a mix of law enforcement, for example, gendarme with Basij. I went to almost all cities of Kurdistan. Sardar Izadi and Sardar Lotfian accompanied very well. But sometimes the work was proceeded hardly. Even at one time, IRGC protection captured us and told what do you do? What are you recording? We said we record the memories. They said what is memory recording? They arrested us, but in garrison not in jail. Until they sent a letter from the center that our activities had been coordinated. Then they freed us. I have these letters now. When I came back from Kurdistan, they said did the same measure in the south. I said, please, I should continue my education. They said this is a priority. I myself was really motivated to do that. I went to the south for six months. When I came back, they entrusted me all measures of recording memories for three months. There they made a file for me. They told you have to be there full-time. I also felt I could continue my education in the afternoon. So since then, I've been doing this work until now."

In addition to these activities, Fakhrzadeh pursued study of seminary science and was clad in clergy cloak in 1986. He continued his university studies until BA degree in economics. But he continued to record memories of the warriors. Even after the end of the war, he did not leave it and put recording memories of the holy defense in the top priority. He went to Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs that were separated in those years: "I spoke with them and set up oral history of families of martyrs and veterans. I transferred them my experience in order to know what they should do. When Azadegan (Freedmen) were released in 1990 and Azadegan headquarters was established, I helped Oral History Office of Azadegan headquarters to be set up. There was a gentleman named Mr. Dargahi who was cultural officer for Azadegan headquarters. I have also a very nice memory of Mr. Dargahi. One of the things we did during the war was that we had created a notebook for families of martyrs and prisoners. The captive families wrote their contents about their captives; then if they have a correspondence they had added it too. I read some of notebooks which were full of contents. I read Mr. Dargahi's notebook and saw he had a lot of great memories. He had been very active during his military service and had interesting memories. There were also memories of the front and war, which was later captured. I went to his room and after greetings, I said, "Do you know me Mr. Dargahi?" He said, unfortunately, I do not remember. I said, "I was soldier in your command, we were together, but at that time I was not clad in cloak." He told, what is interesting, what is your family? I said Fakhrzadeh. I do not remember at all. I said do you remember that Sergeant? He said yes, I remember. I said that lieutenant who came and we went to establish the shed for the mosque? He wrote all these and I knew. So I went on and said I did that action in academy, I said about himself too, about his birthday, I was giving information.  He told, "We were so close together, sir, why I don't remember?" I reviewed my memories many times during captivity in order not to miss my memories, it is strange; I do not remember you. I said that's how it is, people do not remember inferior when they become superior. Dargahi was really disturbed that I show the notebook. I said, maybe I really did not have contact with you at all, but when I read the memories as if I lived with you as I caused even yourself to suspect. It is importance of memories. He said: "Sir, you gave me the best explanation." What can we do to get memories of Azadegan? It was start point of recording memories of Azadegan headquarters and that how to collect memories. I remember I went to my friends several times, and persuaded Mr. Sayyad Shirazi to record his memories. But Mr. Mohsen Rezaee talked two sessions and then stopped. We started the war commander plan; I talked to Mr. Rashid, Mr. Yahya Rahim Safavi, Mr. Aziz Jafari, and Mr. Fathollah Jafari. After the war, Mr. Chamran became head of the Foundation for Preserving Works and Publishing Relics of Holy Defense and invited me to receive memories of senior commanders of the war. We started the work too. More than 400 hours of interviews with warlords were done, all of which are available in General Staff of the Armed Forces. But after two years, I came to Hozeh Honari due to static space which was created in the work. Director of Hozeh Honari in those years was Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Ali Zam; I spoke with him and said that we want to make oral history of the revolution. Mr. Zam introduced me with Mr. Morteza Saranghi. I had a tape recorder, and Mr. Sarhangi also gave a tape and said start. We started oral history of the revolution since 1993; inside a shelter in courtyard of Hozeh alongside with dears Sarhangi and Hedayatullah Behboodi."

Saeed Fakhrzadeh participated in Education Board of the War too and was an honorary member: "Education Board of the War was established in 1994 alongside 2nd brigadier general Riahi, Mr. Sayyad Shirazi, 2nd brigadier general Hesham Hashemi, and later Mr. Amir Arasteh and others." Also on the thirtieth anniversary of victory of Islamic Revolution, he created a staff in Hozeh Honari which among its programs are equipping specialized library of Islamic Revolution (Library of Office for Islamic Revolutionary Literature) and establishment of provincial offices of Hozeh Honari.

Of other activities of Fakhrzadeh in this field is memories of Akbar Barati, who has recorded it himself. He has also recorded Hadi Ghaffari's memories. He interviewed with Ali Sayyad Shirazi which was edited and published by Ahmad Dehghan. But memories which were gotten by him and published in an independent book are memories of Ali Jannati, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance in the first administration of presidency of Dr. Hassan Rouhani.

Fakhrzadeh believes that all his life is tied to oral history. Therefore, he said: "If my family name was changed to Saeed Tarikh Shafahi (oral history), I would be more pleased." He concluded interview with Islamic Revolutionary News Agency ( "My main concern is memories and oral history. Officials trusted us. I have ideas that are useful for promoting culture and values ​​of revolution and the sacred defense. Such as idea of Islamic Revolution Portal or content support of young generations that unfortunately they do not respond to these ideas. I ask authorities to allow me or give me an opportunity to present my own experiences, my ideas, and finally my life. If I wanted to get a position somewhere, I would have done it until now, I had the opportunity too. But all my life has been and is tied with oral history. I was not looking for a name and fame. So trust and allow me to serve in this area and be able to apply my commitments and experiences."

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