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Conference "Memory of Central European Communism": abstracts

Historical Memory of Central European Communism

Prague November 14-15, 2015

Place: Klub techniku, Novotneho Lavka, Old Town

Organizer: Association for Leftist Theory SOK


Oksana Klymenko: Constructing Memoirs about the October Revolution in the 1920s


Year 1917 was a turning point to the Bolsheviks in their history or rather a starting point. The politics of history of the October Revolution began forming shortly after it. And it was organized and controlled by the State Commission on the history of the October Revolution and the history of the Communist Party (Istpart). Gathering memoirs about the October in the 1920s was one of the main activities of Istpart. Writing memoirs was a way to construct a new «right» history. However, memoirs about the revolutionary events on the territory of Ukraine have not yet become a subject of research, although the process of writing memoirs could demonstrate the politics of history of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union in the 1920s.

This paper attempts to describe the role of Istpart in constructing soviet history in the first half of the interwar period. Istpart sent the letters to participants of the revolution requesting to write down the memoirs about the revolution. These requests provided the detailed instructions of what and how to write. Writing memoirs by special schemes provided writing the «correct» memoirs. The rules of writing memoirs were published in the specially developed recommendations such as the «Abstract minimum for memoirs» by Nikolai Baturin (1921)[1] and the methodological essay «How to write memoirs» by Joseph Gelis (1925)[2]. The level of execution of the rules is also shown on the example of memoirs which were published in the magazine of All-Ukrainian Istpart Litopys revolucii») and in special collections of memoirs.

As a result, this study raises broader question: what was the politics of history in the USSR in the 1920s? This issue will be discussed in connection with the implications arising from the observations of the study.

.Agnieszka Mrozik: Spinners of the (post)revolutionary reality. Constructing history of the Left in the memoirs of Polish communist women in the 1960s

When on the wave of riots in October 1956 Władysław Gomułka took over power in the Polish United Workers' Party and thus in the State, a lot of members of the previous – Stalinist – ruling team found themselves on the margins of political life. Among them there were many women: communist activists, who after the war and during the whole period of Stalinism held high public functions in the spheres of science, culture, education, media, but also in the security apparatus. After 1956 they were forced into political retirement, which for them was not, however, the time of rest, but further activity. They became authors of a huge number of commemorative works – autobiographies, diaries, biographies – published in the 1960s. The memoirs described the authors’ life, as well as the activity of their female and male comrades: members of the communist movement in pre-war Poland. The authors appeared as chroniclers of the history of the workers’ movement – the medium through which this (hi)story could be transferred to the next generations – but also as makers of the story about the events they actively used to shape.

The aim of the paper is to analyze the mechanisms of constructing the history of the Left in the memoirs of Polish communist women in the 1960s. I focus on the contents openly expressed by the authors, as well as those silenced or spoken indirectly, in monosyllables, Aesopian language, ironically, sarcastically (for example the texts’ obvious taboo is the 1930s purges, as well as the Stalin’s decision to dissolve the Communist Party of Poland in 1938). It is significant that most of the memoirs end with the description of the outbreak of the Second World War, or (in few cases) its end in 1945. The entire post-war period, when the new order was established, is struck dumb. I claim that the post-war (1944/45-1948) and Stalinist (1949-1955) period is silenced in the memoirs not only because of the violence used by the authorities of that time, but also because of values?? and norms they sought to bring to life: internationalist, universalistic (including the field of gender policy), materialistic. After 1956, when Gomulka started to build the “Polish road to socialism”, as well as reconstruct the traditional model of family and gender roles both in the private and public (i.e. the number of women in decision-making positions decreased), former slogans proved to be uncomfortable. Memoirs of the “retired” communists “smuggle” the contents admittedly inconsistent with the current Party line, but still present in the memory horizon of the “old communists”, being part of their pre-war ethos. The memory of the authors of analyzed texts can be identified – referring to Michel Foucault’s terminology – as counter-memory, namely the memory that resists the dominant historical narrative, which under Gomułka took institutionalized form and became an important political tool. I consider the memoirs of communist women a sort of palimpsest, in which some prohibited contents were hidden under the official layer; contents  uncomfortable for the authorities, as breaking the coherence of their message.

Analyzing the 1960s memoirs of Polish communist women, which occurred as part of a wider European phenomenon (at the same time memoirs were written by the Soviet, Spanish and Italian communist women of the first, revolutionary generation), I follow traces of memory of revolution in the post-revolutionary times. I ask if it still had its place in the new order.


Ugn? Marija Andrijauskait?: Inventing the Communist Party of Lithuania as a labour movement. The narratives in Soviet historiography

From the first days of the occupation of Lithuania by the Red Army in the summer of 1940, the attempts were made to show it as a legal action which was supported by the local citizens and political powers. After the WWII, the occupation was also legitimised in writing the history of  Lithuania (1918-1939). However, the Communist Party of Lithuania (CPL) at that time was a marginal political party, so there was a need to introduce a new view on the communists of Lithuania before 1940.

An interesting choice were made when the history of CPL was written as a history of organised labour movement in Lithuania. Most of the studies on workers and labour unions written in 1945-1968 searched for connections of CPL and labour movement, analysed the impact of CPL on the workers and unions, and sometimes used the terms “workers” or “labouring men” as a synonym for members of CPL. According to Soviet historians, labour unions, strikes, workers and the whole organised labour movement which sympathised with Moscow, helped to gain influence among the citizens of Lithuania prior the occupation in 1940.

This paper will analyse and present how the history of the Communist party of Lithuania was constructed as a history of organised labour movement in Soviet historiography and what are the outcomes of it in relation with contemporary historiography and the today's perception of labour movement itself.


Ondřej Daniel: “Comrades, the Comrades are Right!” History of Movement on the Screens of Late Socialist Television

Paper proposal to the conference Historical memory of the Central European communism, Prague, 14 November 2015 My paper will be dealing with ways of interpreting the past of Communist movement in two television series produced in late state socialist Czechoslovakia – Gottwald (1986) and Rodáci (The Natives, 1988). Both series are based on the literary script of author Jaroslav Matějka (1927-2010) and set to the region of Brno in the interwar, war and post-war years. In the period of late state socialism, these series were meant to legitimize the bureaucratic regime through references to grassroots social and workers movement of the 1930s, its involvement in the anti-Nazi resistance as well as its seizure of power after 1945 and 1948. Any of the series did not succeed to gain popularity among the Czechoslovak television audience and can be understood as last desperate attempts of state socialist regime to openly relate to the topics related to the history of the Movement. They can also be interpreted as an attempt of the hardliners to counterbalance the reformist cultural production in the context of perestroika. In my paper I will with the help of Marxist Autonomist theory identify several recurrent motives such as the profile of a Communist militant, the role of the Party, economic and political roots of the Movement and the ways the Class was depicted. Finally, I will argue that the series were trying to gain spectators' popularity through the exotisation of the Region.

Catalin Parfene: Historical Memory of Communist Romania's Sports: Between Nostalgia and Romanianization

Two are the most defining features of the Romanian sport during the Communist regime: the long list of performances, both at clubs' and national teams' level, and the various policies of Romanianization implemented by the State. While the former is still strongly rooted in the historical memory, being part of the nostalgic discourse regarding Romanian Communism, the latter is basically absent from the same historical memory, only to be present sporadically in the works of several young social scientists who study the relationship between national identity, politics and sports during the Communist regime. On the one hand, the Communists’ grass-roots policies, investments, and encouragement in sports, as well as the establishment of the two departmental clubs in the capital Bucharest, Steaua (associated with the Ministry of National Defense) and Dinamo (associated with the Ministry of the Interior), clearly elevated the performances and made from the Romanian clubs and national teams a force in several sports on the world or European scene. On the other hand, the abovementioned factors that contributed to all these performances had a strong political and national dimension in the sense that sports became the ground for implementing several policies of Romanianization: both during Gheorghiu-Dej and Ceausescu regimes, Romania had to be represented internationally by ethnic Romanians or at least by persons bearing Romanian names. The Romanian national football team is one of the examples in this direction: composed throughout the interwar period mainly of minority representatives, primarily Hungarians and Germans coming from Transylvanian clubs, the team’s status of a national symbol determined an ardent debate around squad’s Romanianization. Despite the political framework characterized by integral nationalism, Romanianization and centralization, the football Romanianization eventually failed in the interwar period, irrespective of the State’s implication and regulations, only to be achieved during the Communist regime.


Jakub Szumski: What happened in 1980? Official and popular memory of the Polish Communist Party after martial law.

“Polish Crisis” of 1980-81 brought major disruptions into the inner life of Polish United Worker’s Party (PZPR). More than one million people (one third of its members) immediately left the party after 1980 August strikes. The ones that remained often engaged in genuine and spontaneous political initiatives. More than 500,000 joined “Solidarity” Trade Union. Many rank and file members – against the Party statute - launched informal cooperation between party committees – either with a prodemocratic and liberal program or, on the contrary, based on orthodox Marxist-Leninist ideology. Those movements often united workers, managers, academics and party secretaries. Political experiments within PZPR were abruptly shut down with the introduction of martial law in December 1981. Many party rebels were expelled, some even jailed as political prisoners. In my presentation I would like to compare the official narrative of 1980-81 PZPR political life with the popular memory of its actors. In Party’s official enunciations published in Central Committee’s documents, journals and books the period between August 1980 and December 1981 is presented as chaotic and dangerous. The Party was losing its influence, “counterrevolution” instigated by the opposition was threatening the sole existence of the socialist state. Martial law as historical necessity restored order. Archival research and interviews I conducted with PZPR grassroots activists revealed an alternative version of the events. Informal movements within the party were a form of rehearsing democracy. Unsupervised discussion, in which party-members and the general public could voice their concerns increased the level of trust and cooperation. After the imposition of martial law the hopes for authentic reforms in state socialism were gone. Jakub Szumski (1990) - PhD candidate at the Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, University of Warsaw graduate. His scholarly interests include Polish social and political history, intelligence studies, inner relations within communist party. 2015 Polish Historical Debut of The Year award winner.

Senol Arslantas: The Most Long-Lasting Trauma in the Memory of the Turkish Left: The 1980 Military Coup and Its Destructive Consequences in Turkey

In this proposal, we seek to underline how the most traumatic and destructive event in the memory of the Turkish left, the 1980 military coup, has affected the development and the mindset of the Turkish left. Though started to flourish during the Ottoman times, the Turkish left had stayed at the margins until 1960s, when the 1961 constitution set the basis of its revival. The Cold War climate and the strong appearance of the Soviet experience, the growing translation of socialist literature, high level of industrialization, urbanization, and commercialization in the 1950s and 1960s, and the emergence of the Cyprus have accelerated the strengthening of Turkish left. During 1970s, Turkish politics dragged into a civil war like situation as the killings started to take place in the streets between the revolutionaries and ultranationalist commandos. In this period, nationalist and authoritarian coalition government tried to implement neo-liberal program, yet it backfired due to the opposition of the Turkish left. Under the so-called threat of communism and a civil war, the Turkish military took the control of the country in 1980. The results of the coup were destructive: hundreds of thousands of people were detained; all parties and organizations were banned; and the left was forced to go underground. The 1980 military coup disrupted political settings in Turkey, led to depolitization, and introduced hot topics of today’s Turkish politics: the cleavage between Islamists and seculars, and between Kurds and Turks. Since the military coup’s main target was the Turkish left, the power of the left demised as syndicated were weakened and supporters were put into a jail. Also, the Turkish constitution was changed in line with the interests of military ruling. Meanwhile, military regime started to implement the previously resisted neo-liberal economic program. At the international level, the IMF and the US supported the coup, while the European Community condemned the coup for its arbitrary and coercive use of power and the human rights violations. Based on the arguments presented above, it is argued that the 1980 military coup is the most long-lasting trauma in the memory of the Turkish left.

Csilla Kiss: The lack of a left-wing narrative and the failure of the Hungarian left

The Hungarian political right is eager to employ politics of history and establish a narrative it would like to enshrine as the whole country’s decisive memory: in fact it does not even shy away from including it in the constitution. At the same time, the political left is bent under the burden of the so-called communist period (or under the lack of left-wing traditions during the 20th century - with the exception of the Hungarian Soviet of 1919, which does not feature as a proud memory). Thus, besides a few meek efforts at “reconciliation”, the left (the Hungarian Socialist Party) has tried to transform itself into a “pragmatic” “third way” party focusing on “solving” practical issues, treating the whole country as a big household, in a way similar to what Hannah Arendt described in The Human Condition. At the same time, former prominent members of the communist party [Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party] (like Imre Pozsgay) now claim they have never been communists and can today be found around the right-wing. The new organizations that try to replace the socialists or be part of the new opposition come up with all kinds of ideas that could be regarded as left-wing (e.g. unconditional basic income), but do not address the issue of class, neither do they have a coherent narrative regarding any left-wing traditions in the country. Worse, they do not give a left-wing answer to the political right’s approach to national history, only offer some watered-down ireadings that are not in essence different from that of the mainstream right-wing interpretations. Thus Jan Kubik’s way of seeing memory politics “as a field of struggle between various factions of the elite to capture the support of the ruled” gives a very lopsided picture in Hungary, and in the paper I will show that the Hungarian left, despite some weak efforts, has not managed to create its own narrative that could counter that of the right. I will try to account for this fact and show how this contributed to the lack of success of the left in the post-transition politics of the country.

Thorsten Holzhauser: Learned nothing from the past? Historical memory of German post-communists and its functionalization after 1989 paper proposal

Throughout the history of the united Germany politics of memory played a crucial part in the public debate on post-communism and its position in the political system. From the beginning, the leadership of the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) had to choose between a logic of party system integration and a competing logic of party identity. While the first meant to accept the political consensus of the West and condemn communism as a totalitarian ideology, the latter meant to stick to communist ideals and to defend the historical legitimacy of the GDR – especially in a public discourse that was seen by many as being triumphalist and anti-communist. As the two logics had different strategic implications the PDS tried to find a balance and use historical memory as a means of both identity and power politics. Relying on public as well as archive sources the paper will discuss German post-communists’ memory politics in the 1990s and early 2000s. It will focus on its functionalization in the process of political integration: How did the PDS’s attempt to become an accepted force in the German party system affect its historical memory? And how did the party’s image in the public change? While in the first years after the fall of communism historical memory clearly dominated the PDS discourse, this changed, when the party opened up for government participation and developped a somewhat pragmatic realpolitik. By adopting certain elements of the western consensus the party leadership managed to overcome its isolation without fundamentally changing its politics of historical memory. However, historical memory of post-communism has remained an unresolved question in Germany’s political discourse up to our times.

Antony Kalashnikov: Historical apologetics and factional differences in the Russian communist party (CPRF), 1993-2004


From the moment of its inception to the present day, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) wholeheartedly embraced the Soviet legacy, underscoring its connection to: its predecessor party, the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, and in general the Soviet past. This decision stemmed from various strategic rationales, but also carried significant risks and drawbacks. Specifically, associations with the Soviet order could hurt the Party in the eyes of those disaffected by the Soviet regime. Consequently, the CPRF mobilized apologetic narratives in order to neutralize and forestall such negative reactions.


Carrying out a discourse analysis of various Party documents and press (in the period 1993-2004), I find that apologetic narratives were not simply defending the Party’s gamble on the Soviet past. Rather, apologetic historical narratives differed significantly between orthodox Marxist-Leninist, social-democratic, and nationalist factions in the Party. These narratives were used as vehicles to promote a given factional ideology and the political direction they desired the Party to take. This paper responds to scholarship which has ignored the factional dimension of historical memory in the CPRF. This literature has either viewed CPRF historical narratives as ‘incoherent’, or has carelessly reduced these narratives to the rhetoric of the Party’s loudest faction (the nationalists). I demonstrate the importance of recognizing the variations within CPRF apologetic narratives, and situating these in the context of internal Party dynamics.


The paper will focus on factional narratives of the last years of socialism. Memory of this period posed particular problems to the Party: it undercut the promises of the Marxist-Leninist ideology (by questioning the promise of socialist victory), it exposed the hardships of everyday life under Soviet socialism, and it discredited the final generation of Soviet leaders (many of whom were now in charge of the CPRF).


Kristina Andělová: “The Ongoing Legacies of 1968 and 1989 are Two Related Challenges of Our Future”: Czech Socialism, Memory of Czech “Totalitarianism” and the End of History

As famous Czech philosopher Karel Kosík declared, Prague Spring represented in the Czech political development a unique attempt to build a new type of democracy that would overcome both “modern political paradigms” – the Western type of liberal democracy and the Soviet dogmatic socialism - and would create a so-called third way between Western capitalism and Soviet socialism, based on political pluralism and the socialist vision of market economy (mixed economy). In 1968 during so-called Prague Spring the project of socialist democracy generated an exceptional political consensus within the Czechoslovak society and was supported by the dominant part of various social sectors, both from above and from below. Twenty-two years after Prague Spring was interrupted by the Soviet occupation, the bases of socialism found themselves heavily under attack. After 1989, the political concept of socialism became a tainted word, which was perceived if not as a synonym for “totalitarianism”, at least as an outdated term. Furthermore, collapse of communist regimes instigated a strong belief that liberal democracy was the sole democratic model that should constitute a new political order. This conviction was closely connected with the new reinterpretations of national histories and rediscovery of new “national traditions”. In the Czech case, a new dominant liberal-conservative interpretation of Czech historical development appeared, which was based on emphasizing liberal democratic traditions and the Czech affiliation to the West. However prevailing this interpretation was, alternative voices existed in Czech society as well which refused such conceptions of Czech historical development and provided an alternative historical interpretation. My paper will attempt to answer the question what was the reason of the political failure of socialism in the time of “the End of History” and why the project of democratic socialism lost its horizon of expectation for future political negotiation.  


Eszter Bartha - András Tóth: Contrasting the Memory of the Kádár and Honecker regimes

The article analyzes the process of the formation of new working-class identities in today’s Hungary in the light of life-history interviews and focus group discussions with organized, well paid, skilled workers of a large multinational enterprise, who live in one of the most developed areas of Hungary (Gy?r-Moson-Sopron county).

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The paper is based on two oral history projects in East Germany (Jena 2002-2004 and Halle, 2014) and Hungary (Győr 2002-2004; 2015) conducted with blue-collar workers, who were socialized in the state socialist regime and lived through the change of regimes as young adults. We argue that the Party’s policy towards labor in both the GDR and Hungary was based on a social compromise with the working class – in Hungary after 1956 and in the GDR under Honecker, the essence of which was the awkward encouragement of consumerism (the continuous increase of working-class wages, housing policy and generous social welfare provisions). This policy was successful in the short term – in none of these countries we can observe effective working-class resistance to the regime after the end of the Stalinist years. While the Party loudly condemned capitalism, in fact – certainly in Hungary – it encouraged a petty embourgeisement of the working class, thus rendering them susceptible to the capitalist ideology. Since the Communist Party in all state socialist countries excluded left-wing alternatives from the public sphere, Eastern European workers were defenseless against neoliberal capitalism when it became obvious that the plan economy cannot satisfy consumer needs the same way as capitalism can in the developed countries. These negative experiences in Hungary did not, however, challenge capitalism as such. While it was generally believed that something went wrong with the implementation of capitalism in Hungary, workers would typically expect the state to intervene and control capital, and they would place their trust in a strong leader. There are many reasons for why the political left lost support in this circle, which is also shown by surveys. During the analysis of the interviews we seek to identify the most important factors and explain why the political left failed to benefit from the “good” memory of the Kádár regime. It is worth stressing that while biases existed even before, in the previous research the “Roma question” was not an issue for most of the interview partners. The shift in this respect suggests a further erosion of the symbolic capital of the working class and that of the traditional, “old-fashioned” left-wing political values such as solidarity or universal emancipation.

Kalina Yordanova: Post-memories of socialist Yugoslavia: the place of the parents’ past in their children’s identity

Memory is an organizing phenomenon for both individuals and societies. Memory allows us to organize our past and ensure our belonging to a group. Memory plays a central role in the shaping of contemporary identities because it helps us re-construct our identity in relation to our past. How does the second generation ‘remember’ the socialist past of their parents? By using data collected in 26 families from Bosnia and Herzegovina and interpreted from an interdisciplinary perspective which combines psychoanalysis and anthropology, this paper examines how the identity of the second generation is being shaped by their parents’ late socialist and wartime experiences. In contrast to the parents’ memories of socialist Yugoslavia as the place of freedom, safety and enjoyment, their children’s imagery the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is quite ambivalent. Romantic relationships that started during youth work actions, free education for all, brotherhood and unity are some of the tropes which are still used by the generation of the parents. This rather idealized version of history is shaped by the violent destruction of the country against which postsocialism is often matched. For children the Yugoslav past was governed by clear norms and principles, but these principles are labelled as ‘old-fashioned’. They often consider the socialist government of Yugoslavia to have been oppressive and authoritative. While searching for a reason to explain the outburst of violence that followed the ‘happy Yugoslav times’ (in their parents’ wording), children opt for the notion of envy. They use envy to explain internal struggle and hostilities before and during the war. In sum, the notion of Yugoslavia is re-constructed by the wartime generation by muting the disadvantages Yugoslavia ultimately had. This silencing of significant parts of the recent past and the time distance feed into children’s perception of the notion of Yugoslavia as an empty trope devoid of the meaning it had to the previous generations.


Ekaterina Klimenko: Politics of oblivion and the practices of remembrance. repressions, collective memory and nation-building in post-soviet Russia

The collapse of the Soviet Union, resulting in the establishment of a number of independent (nation) states, induced or intensified the processes of constituting nations – understood as imagined political communities represented in the minds of their members as at the same time internally homogenous and distinct from others. Nation-building – as well as building national identities – presupposed “inventing” national histories and constituting “collective memories”. The emphasis was often put on the memories of repressions survived during the Soviet rule. The historical narrative of a nation as a victim of persecution became a means of constituting nation as such; “ethnicization” of repressions became a mechanism applied in the process of such a constitution. Russia – as well as other Post-Soviet countries – was and is exploiting history (or, to be more precise, – the specific historical narrative) as the material for building the nation; narrating the history of repressions may be considered as the significant part of this process. During the last thirty years various strategies of conceptualization of repressions were developed: “accepting the responsibility”, “self-victimization”, “legitimization”, “oblivion”. The postcolonial ressentiment and the rise of imperial ambitions leading to emphasizing the narrative of “building the powerful state”, as well as the reaction to the “ethnicized” historical narratives of the repressions evolving in many of the Post-Soviet countries may explain Russia’s drift from the attempts to constitute the nation’s collective memory of repressions towards the efforts to suppress it. This paper examines the evolution of the strategies of representation of repressions in the official discourse of Post-Soviet Russia, as well as various practices of their commemoration. The emphasis is put on the way the narrative of repressions is exploited in nation-building and constituting national identity.

Oleksandra Gaidai: Nationalism versus Sovietism? Politics of Memory towards Communist Heritage in Ukraine after 1991

To the latest time Ukrainian scholars and politicians were particular proud of the Ukrainian peaceful withdrawal from the Soviet Union. It was presented as a core stone of national historical narrative and legitimation of power of the political elites who changed its communist rhetoric to the nationalist. Was it the strength or rather a symptom of social frustrated of early nineties caused by the deep economic crisis and not formed national identity on the space of strong regional division.

The former political system does not vanish completely, as it left behind the immense material and cultural resources. So, eliminating or preserving elements of the former regime is an act of historical policy, representing national needs and expectations. Given that monuments had been the visual embodiment of the political regime, they were the first to destroy after the political upheaval in accordance with the principle “new times- new heroes”. Therefore surprising that along with the establishing of a new national narrative, the majority of the monuments to Lenin were preserved in Ukraine till 2013. This research endeavors to delineate the ways Soviet heritage preserved and remembered in Ukraine.

After a brief overview of official politics of memory, the analysis examines the attitudes of the population to this kind of Soviet heritage. Including how political events in Ukraine in winter 2013-2014 changed the collective memory and historical evaluations of the citizens of Ukraine. For this purposes the research uses the in-depth interviews and the data of sociological survey conducted in Ukraine in 2013. Also it argues that mass destruction of the monuments to Lenin in February 2014 must be examine within the concept of cultural trauma (using the definition of Jeffrey C. Alexander) and not only as the outcomes of the historical politics.

Ittipol Jungwatanawong: The Use of Historical Memory by the FIDESZ Party in post-communist Hungary

In Communist Hungary, historical memories of Hungarians seeking freedom from foreign dominations were undermined by the communist regime, particularly the 1956 uprising. But the political transformation to democracy in 1989 revived the memories of the past events. Political parties used those memories as a tool to not only delegitimize the communist regime but also its opponents. This strategy was largely used by the FIDESZ party; a good example is the criticism against the socialist government of the MSZP Party in 2006 by linking the socialist regime to the communist one. After FIDESZ won the elections in 2010, the New Fundamental Law of Hungary was adopted. It recited historical events from the foundation of the country to the revolution of 1848 and 1956 within the law. It is considered to be an attempt to represent historical memory of the Hungarian nation, and link contemporary Hungarians to historical national heroes. Concurrently, FIDESZ placed blame on past leaders like the Communist Party for leading the nation into the hands of foreign rulers. This paper thus examines the representation of national history by FIDESZ through the Constitution of Hungary and via the speech of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán; it argues that the party tries to subvert the memory of the Communist Regime and its legacy like the socialist party, while at the same time to legitimize itself in governing the country and create national unity by arousing Hungarian nationalism.

Aleksandra Kuczyńska-Zonik: The contemporary value of Soviet monuments in East Central Europe


After the fall of communism, most of the socialist monuments were destroyed or dismantled. Surprisingly illegal statuettes painting, started in 1990 in Prague by David Cerny, has become to some extent new East Central Europe tradition. This vandalism began the debate about the future of communist monuments that have become one of the permanent elements of state policy in Central East Europe. The involvement of the Russian Federation propaganda in defense of Soviet monuments increased, for which monuments removal is an expression of hostility towards Russia. The situation in Estonia in 2007 could be a good example. An attempt to move the Bronze Soldier monument led to riots. The issue of commemorating Soviet presence in East Central Europe is now very sensitive and controversial. However, according to recent studies, this type of monuments is seen to be a part of city architecture and environment. Sometimes residents even oppose to remove them because they become a part of the city heritage and historical identity. Their opponents (mostly extreme right-wing politics), consider these memorials as a sign of terrorism Stalinist era.

In particularly cases some Soviet monuments’ contemporary life continues in museums of socialist (socialist realism) art, which collect the relics of the former regime, by saving them from destruction and oblivion. Despite their controversy they help see communist monuments as heritage, a kind of public art and show official communistic art of post-soviet states to future generations.

The goal of the article is to present how states from East Central Europe cope with the remnants of the former regime. I would like to answer the question about contemporary and the future (historical, artistic, axiological) value of Soviet monuments (historical, artistic, axiological).


Aleksandra Đorđević, Contested Histories and Monumnetal Past : Serbia's Culture of Remembrance of Army Headquarters Building

    Public monuments are perhaps the moust readily visible examples of a country's culture of remembrance, and are therefore also often at the center of controversies during period of political transitions.  Socialist Yugoslavia built thousands of monuments, statues and memorial plaques to the commemorate the Partisan victory  in the Second World War and more specificsally, to provide legitimicy for the postwar regime. This paper focuses on genesis of historical, architectural and ideological discourse of the Army Headquarters building (Building of Federal Ministry of Defence DSZPNO).  The building was built in  between 1954 and 1963  by Serbian architect Nikola Dobrović. The building is divided by Nemanjina Streat and the design of the building  is meant to resemble a canyon of the Sutjeska river (where one of the most significant battles of the WWII in Yugoslavia was fought), with the streat as a river divided the two sides.  Serving as the seat of  Yugoslav People's Army  from its completition in 1965 until the NATO bombing  in 1999  the monument was well-maintened. The Complex was included into prelimirary list of National Registeer in 1996. and fully recognized as a national monument of Serbia in 2005 regardless to its rememmbrance on the partisan victory. However, traces of the wars of the 1990s are hard to find Belgrade, except of course for the gaping ruin of the ex Yugoslavian/Serbian Army headquarters. The building was hit by several time during the NATO campagne but the bombing it self was primarly of simbolics importance, as all essential command functions had already been evacuated to a secure location. After the end of hostilities one segment of the building which was not severely wounded has remained in the use of Army, while the rest has bean abandoned, so it could remains  and represent  the bombing  to this day. Of course that was the period when the one partisan batle from WWII couldn't  represent a new serbian state. Even doy its destruction was largely simbolics, the building its self  continued to represent the  state of disrepair.  For many Serbs, the destroyed army headquarters has become a monument to the lost war, and a morbid tourist attraction for foreign visitors. It is very possible that the Complex is about to be sold bu the end of the year to investors who will built hotel on that place.  The present moment and the destiny of Army Headquarters  building are  in constant symbolic and political dialogue with WWII and wars of the 1990s and the outcome of the wars and also representing the new revisionism in serbian historiography where there is no place for partisan victory in WWIIand there is onlz place for serbian victims. 

    We could see the building now as an attempt of authentic interpretation of basic principles of creation of one of the most important examples of the 20th century architecture in  Serbia, as well as a shift to decade of long problematization during the 1990s  and as well its future existence, role, symbolism,  and a lose place in history concept of a new serbian state.

Stanislav Holubec, Places of socialist and post-socialist memory in the Czech republic and former GDR: Case of Hradec Králové and Jena


As the topic of my presentation I have chosen the comparison of the memorial landscapes in two countries, former German democratic and Czechoslovak Socialist Republic before and after 1989. I was primarily concerned on the question of the differences between the socialist official memory in both countries and on post-socialist changes in the public memory and what are these differences saying about both societies. I originally planned to concentrate on commemoration of two symbolic figures of communist movement Lenin and Marx in former GDR and Czechoslovakia, but then I realized the topic is to large, so I decide to do the micro study concentrating on the socialist and post-socialist memorial landscape and street names in two to some extent similar Czech and German cities, Jena and Hradec Králové. In the second part it will be discussed what are the crucial factors modifying the pre and post-1989 public memory in both countries and their experiences will be put into larger central European frame.

[1] ??????? ?. ????????-??????? ??? ???????????? // ????????? ????????. ? 1921. ? ? 1. – ?. 11-12.

[2] ????? ?. ??? ???? ?????? ???????????? (???????????????? ?????) // ???????????? ?????????. ? 1925. ? ? 7. ? ?. 197-212.


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