• Conference
  • Historical Memory of Central and East European Communism

  • 10 Nov 15
  • Historical memory belongs to well established disciplines within the historical research. It represents an important part of the identity of every political movement or group. In case of communist movement in central Europe it came through important transformations during the century particularly in its relation to nationalism and to the own deeds/mistakes in the pasts.

    Considering its historical memory, the communist movement related itself originally to the project of future and to the international working class without a significant need to articulate the politics of history. This changed however as the internal conflicts in the movement spread out. The interpretation of history of Leninist party and revolution become a weapon against the opponent. The interwar years also brought a development of “national communism” ideology reinterpreting the national history in leftist-nationalist way in order to gain popular support. The “national communism” gained an importance as a mobilizing tool in the anti-Nazi resistance, during the post-war years in order to justify "national ways" to socialism and after 1956 in the attempts to come out from the influence of the Soviet Union. The victory in Second World War become the crucial event in the history of movement overshadowing the October revolution but since 1956 being questioned, as the crimes of Stalinism have been made public.

    Since the 1960s the communist regimes started to base their legitimation more and more on the past but the heritage of Stalinism and its central European crimes (Katyn, Budapest 1956, Prague Spring), contributed to the regime crisis and led in the 1980s to attempts to reformulate or even to reject the own communist identity. After 1989 the movement adopted a certain “culture of defeat”, attempted to come to terms with the past and formulate its apologies.

    Its new legitimization was based either on to its positive role in the democratization of the late 1980s, adopting the social democratic identity or becoming a fierce critique of renewed capitalism. In order to discuss this topics a dozen of social scientists mainly historians but also literary, film or political scientists from Central European countries will be invited for one day conference. Particularly welcomed are contributions on Poland, Czech and Slovak Republic, Hungary and Romania.


    Marie Lukáčová
    Association for Leftist Theory SOK