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Heroes and Victims

Remembering War in Twentieth-Century Romania

Maria Bucur

Publication Year: 2009

Heroes and Victims explores the cultural power of war memorials in 20th-century Romania through two world wars and a succession of radical political changes -- from attempts to create pluralist democratic political institutions after World War I to shifts toward authoritarian rule in the 1930s, to military dictatorships and Nazi occupation, to communist dictatorships, and finally to pluralist democracies with populist tendencies. Examining the interplay of centrally articulated and locally developed commemorations, Maria Bucur's study engages monumental sites of memory, local funerary markers, rituals, and street names as well as autobiographical writings, novels, oral narratives, and film. This book reveals the ways in which a community's religious, ethnic, economic, regional, and gender traditions shaped local efforts at memorializing its war dead.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian and East European Studies


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xvi

The kernel of this book was planted in 1997. Visiting Romania for the first time since completing my dissertation on the history of eugenics, I looked forward to refocusing my attention on the publishing industry’s initial flourishing in the first decade after Communism. ...

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pp. xvii-xix

In the decade that has passed since I began work on this project, I have amassed so many institutional, intellectual, and personal debts in being able to arrive at this point that it is impossible to pay proper homage to all those who helped me along the way. ...

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Introduction: Memory Traces: On Local Practices of Remembering and Commemorating

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pp. 1-17

In 2006, the online journal Eurozine initiated a dialogue about the European memory of World War II. Enlightened public intellectuals from Europe and North America— philosophers, historians, sociologists, journalists, and psychologists—responded with various considerations about the meaning of the war in various places in Europe and at various points of time.2 ...

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1. Death and Ritual: Mourning and Commemorative Practices before 1914

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pp. 18-48

After the body was interred, for six weeks “a girl would be hired to bring water to different houses, for the soul of the departed.”3 At the six week mark, “when the second almsgiving [pomană] for the dead is to take place, the mother, sister, cousin, or another woman from the family takes an offering of warm bread, ...

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2. Mourning, Burying, and Remembering the War Dead: How Communities Coped with the Memory of Wartime Violence, 1918–1940

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pp. 49-72

The experience of total war between 1914 and 1918 was unmistakably life-altering for the populations of eastern Europe. The unprecedented magnitude of the front, the duration of the war, and the political outcomes confronted average people and elites with ἀnding new means to cope with loss and make sense of death. ...

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3. Remembering the Great War through Autobiographical Narratives

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pp. 73-97

Remembering World War I was only in part a matter of mourning the dead and coping with loss. While some worked to lay to rest their loved ones, others worked through their own remembrances of the war. In the interwar period Romania saw an explosion in autobiographical writing, much of it centered on the 1914–1918 period. ...

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4. The Politics of Commemoration in Interwar Romania, 1919–1940: Dialogues and Conflicts

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pp. 98-143

On a brilliant fall day, on the morning of 18 September 1938, a multitude of people descended upon the little town of Mărăşeşti. Thousands of peasants, working class people, schoolchildren, middle-aged women, soldiers, priests, along with numerous representatives of political parties and the government, all holding flowers and flags, ...

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5. War Commemorations and State Propaganda under Dictatorship: From the Crusade against Bolshevism to Ceauşescu’s Cult of Personality, 1940–1989

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pp. 144-193

In the fall of 1941, Nicolae Gheorghe Dumitrescu, a self-described devoted citizen from the village of Punghina, wrote to the Minister of Education to request permission for building a memorial to his son. Dumitrescu was the father of a lieutenant who had died while fighting in the bloody campaigns around Odessa ...

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6. Everyone a Victim: Forging the Mythology of Anti-Communism Counter-Memory

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pp. 194-222

If the official narratives about World War II were unwilling to engage in any dialogue with the voices that dissented from the ideological flavor of the day—whether pro-Soviet or ultra-nationalist Romanian—personal memories developed in divergent ways and tended to generate many counter-memories of the war. ...

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7. The Dilemmas of Post-Memory in Post-Communist Romania

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pp. 223-252

The fall of the Ceauşescu regime in 1989 opened up the floodgates of memory. In the following decade, the most important debates in politics and culture were about authenticity, rebirth, traditions, and truths that needed to be uttered and heard in order to restore moral order in a Romanian society deeply corrupted by the Communist regime.3 ...


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pp. 253-306

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 307-336


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pp. 337-352

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003911
E-ISBN-10: 0253003911
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353788

Page Count: 376
Illustrations: 24 b&w illus., 2 maps
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Indiana-Michigan Series in Russian and East European Studies