Bringing the Dark Past to Light
The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe
Publication Year: 2013
Despite the Holocaust’s profound impact on the history of Eastern Europe, the communist regimes successfully repressed public discourse about and memory of this tragedy. Since the collapse of communism in 1989, however, this has changed. Not only has a wealth of archival sources become available, but there have also been oral history projects and interviews recording the testimonies of eyewitnesses who experienced the Holocaust as children and young adults. Recent political, social, and cultural developments have facilitated a more nuanced and complex understanding of the continuities and discontinuities in representations of the Holocaust. People are beginning to realize the significant role that memory of Holocaust plays in contemporary discussions of national identity in Eastern Europe.
This volume of original essays explores the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish past in postcommunist Eastern Europe. Devoting space to every postcommunist country, the essays in Bringing the Dark Past to Light explore how the memory of the “dark pasts” of Eastern European nations is being recollected and reworked. In addition, it examines how this memory shapes the collective identities and the social identity of ethnic and national minorities. Memory of the Holocaust has practical implications regarding the current development of national cultures and international relationships.
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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List of Illustrations
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Preface and Acknowledgments
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In 1945 few grasped the extent of the destruction of Eastern Euro-pean Jews and their civilization, and the implications of this loss for the region. Among the first who mourned the loss were the Jewish survivors and eyewitnesses, as illustrated by the poem “Untitled 1” of the January 1945 Novyi mir cycle by the Russian Jewish poet Ilya ...
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...pelling preoccupation of sociologists, historians, public intellectu-als, and artists. The French scholar Henry Rousso has pointed out that “memory has become a value reflecting the spirit of our time.”1 We live in the era of memory and delayed remembering of traumatic experiences, and it is accompanied by two interwoven developments—...
1. “Our Conscience Is Clean”: Albanian Elites and the Memory of the Holocaust in Postsocialist Albania
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Albanian Elites and the Memory of the Holocaust in Postsocialist AlbaniaCompared to the contentious postsocialist debates over the Holocaust that have occurred in the other countries of Eastern Europe, the war-time history of prewar Albania’s 156 native Jews has generated scant public attention and scholarly research both in Albania and abroad.1 ...
2. The Invisible Genocide: The Holocaust in Belarus
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The current borders of the Republic of Belarus are a Soviet con-struction—the result of Lenin’s and Stalin’s nationalities policies. Rather than having been established in response to the demand from a mass nationalist movement, the borders were implemented by Soviet authorities in accordance with “expert advice” from Soviet ethnog-...
3. Contemporary Responses to the Holocaust in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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This chapter, on the contemporary responses of members of various national groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina (hereafter Bosnia) to the Holocaust, inevitably overlaps with other chapters in this book. I say “inevitably” because throughout its history, Bosnia has been linked in one way or another to neighboring Croatia and Serbia, even while ...
4. Debating the Fate of Bulgarian Jews during World War II
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In November 2008 a Bulgarian-Israeli couple living in the United States organized a private initiative in which volunteers in five Bul-garian cities presented passersby with a total of forty-nine thousand carnations. The act was meant to commemorate the sixty-fifth anni-versary of the saving of Bulgaria’s Jewish population during the Holo-...
5. Representations of the Holocaust and Historical Debates in Croatia since 1989
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Croatia’s postcommunist transition has been inextricably associated with Yugoslavia’s violent dissolution. The “rebirth of history” and tious ideological debates. Reinterpretations of the past, whether of the precommunist or communist periods, were accompanied by divisive debates over the meaning of the 1991–95 “Homeland War” and par-...
6. The Sheep of Lidice: The Holocaust and the Construction of Czech National History
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During the night of 9–10 June 1942, a unit of Gestapo from the nearby town of Kladno completely destroyed the Czech village of Lidice, shot all men on the spot, and abducted all women and children into con-centration camps. The village was leveled and the bodies of murdered men buried in mass graves. In a similar act of revenge, another vil-...
7. Victim of History: Perceptions of the Holocaust in Estonia
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This chapter examines the perceptions of the Holocaust in contem-views on the Holocaust is to understand how Estonians conceive of their history. Ultimately, whatever Estonians think of the Jews as a group translates into their perceptions of the Holocaust and vice versa. Therefore it is essentially impossible to discuss what the Holo-...
8. Holocaust Remembrance in the German Democratic Republic—and Beyond
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German Democratic Republic (GDR) was uniquely positioned. It was one of the successor states of the Third Reich, and as such it occupied territory on which the Holocaust had been planned and from which it had been launched. This historical fact inevitably distinguished the GDR from its neighbors and allies to the east, where German geno-...
9. The Memory of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Hungary
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In 2004 the Budapest city council debated whether or not there should be a statue of former prime minister Pál Teleki erected in Hungary’s capital city. Born in 1871, Teleki was the scion of an ancient Transyl-vanian noble family. During the years between the two world wars, he used his training as a geographer to amass social and geographic ...
10. The Transformation of Holocaust Memory in Post-Soviet Latvia
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The Latvian Republic was annexed to the USSR on 17 June 1940. The period between summer 1940 and summer 1941 witnessed accelerated sovietization, manifested in the nationalization of all private busi-nesses, russification of the population, and prohibition of religious practices. The ethnic Latvian population called that period “the ter-...
11. Conflicting Memories: The Reception of the Holocaust in Lithuania
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The Shoah represents the bloodiest page in the history of modern Lithuania. The genocide of the Jews should thus logically occupy a central place in the memory of the nation’s twentieth-century expe-rience of wars and foreign occupations. Although perceptions of the Holocaust have changed considerably since the 1990s, the establish-...
12. The Combined Legacies of the “Jewish Question” and the “Macedonian Question”
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The territory of Macedonia is contested and has a history of division. That history has colored the legacy of the Holocaust in the region, especially as it relates to state-building projects of the war itself, but also to those of the postwar and postcommunist periods. The events of the Holocaust in this region are bound—or have subsequently been ...
13. Public Discourses on the Holocaust in Moldova: Justification, Instrumentalization, and Mourning
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The territory of today’s Republic of Moldova consists of two main parts: the bulk of it lies between the Dniester and Prut Rivers (Prut being the easternmost affluent of the Danube) in the historical prov-ince of Bessarabia, while on the eastern, or left, bank of the Dniester River there lies a narrow strip of land that is sometimes called Trans-...
14. The Memory of the Holocaust in Post-1989 Poland: Renewal—Its Accomplishments and Its Powerlessness
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...cle, “Hitlers europäische Helfer beim Judenmord,” which astutely discusses various official and nonofficial collaborators and volun-tary perpetrators in the murder of six million Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.1 The authors highlight the denunciations and bloody killings of Jews by members of local populations in wartime Latvia, Lithuania, ...
15. Public Perceptions of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Romania
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...12,500 Roma, and thousands of Ukrainian and Russian civilians died at the hands of the Romanian authorities.1 Most of them perished due to starvation, disease, death marches, death trains, and mass kill-ing operations.2 The toll of victims was the direct result of an inten-tional, state-sponsored and organized policy of ethnic cleansing ...
16. The Reception of the Holocaust in Russia: Silence, Conspiracy, and Glimpses of Light
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On 27 January 2005 Russian president Vladimir Putin stood in the circle of European and Western political leaders who had gathered at the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the liberation of the camp. Like his colleagues, Putin emphasized that the inhuman “fascist” ideas that ultimately had ...
17. Between Marginalization and Instrumentalization: Holocaust Memory in Serbia since the Late 1980s
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Comparative studies of the treatment of the Holocaust in postcom-munist Eastern Europe, published over the past two decades, have paid little attention to the countries of the former Yugoslavia, espe-cially in comparison to the interest shown for developments in, for instance, Hungary, Poland, or Romania. With the exception of the ...
18. The “Unmasterable Past”? The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Slovakia
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European identity, based on the principle of “unity in difference,” represents a contested terrain of multiple discourses. The histor-ical theme of the Holocaust stands out among these discourses as on mental, emotional, and political platforms.1 The Holocaust’s pow-erful moral imperative is expected to guard modern society against ...
19. On the Periphery: Jews, Slovenes, and the Memory of the Holocaust
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...something that did not really occur in Slovenia, a region with very few Jews. This notion of Slovene “exceptionalism,” in which the trends of East-Central European history tend to somehow pass Slovenia by, remains strong in Slovene popular consciousness. Slovenia’s recent escape from the worst of the Yugoslav wars and her rapid integration ...
20. The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Ukraine
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On the eve of World War II the bulk of what is today Ukraine con-stituted the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. This was a polity with little control over its own affairs, especially after the intensifi-cation of centralization under Stalin. Although the Bolsheviks pro-moted Ukrainian language and culture in the republic in the 1920s, ...
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This extraordinary new volume constitutes the first comprehensive and systematic examination of Eastern Europe’s attempts to grapple with its past following the fall of communism. The great advantage of such a survey of each political entity in this part of the continent is that it allows readers to grasp the range and nuances of responses in a ...
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Page Count: 736
Illustrations: 6 photographs
Publication Year: 2013