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Tag: history

The Baltic phoenix

The dissolution of the Soviet Union resulted in defragmenting of the world map into fifteen pieces – most of which were new entities. However, three of them somehow seemed particularly familiar – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, jointly known as the Baltic states. Their re-emergence in Europe created many legal questions as they all began to claim renewal of their previous statehoods existing in 1918-1940.

Anti-Soviet tendencies on the Baltic coast exploded at the time of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika. The desire for independence and the struggle for historical truth in the Baltic republics spawned social movements which emphasised the statehoods of the Baltic states, deprived as the result of the USSR’s invasion in 1940.

April 11, 2021 - Grzegorz Szymborski

Preserving Soviet-era mosaics in Georgia

A conversation with Nini Palavandishvili, a curator and researcher involved in the process of documenting and mapping Soviet-era Mosaics in Georgia. Interviewer: Natalia Mosashvili

NATALIA MOSASHVILI: Can you say a few words about the meaning of Soviet-era mosaics and why they are often reduced to propaganda of the Soviet system?

NINI PALAVANDISHVILI: I would like to start by saying that my position is the following: of course, these mosaics were created during the Soviet times, but they are not necessarily “Soviet” mosaics. During this period mosaics were created in Mexico, America, France, Spain, Portugal, and many other places. Emphasising them as "Soviet mosaics" is not right.

April 11, 2021 - Natalia Mosashvili Nini Palavandishvili

International law and the Soviet wild-goose chase

Soviet political proposals from before the war and the legacy of the United Nations established as a result of the Soviet victory over Nazism are often recalled in the Kremlin’s contemporary narratives. Yet, a look at the historical development of the Soviet understanding of international law reveals a chaotic and political, rather than legal, approach.

The 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the proclamation of the United Nations was a topic intensively exploited by Russian diplomacy which attempted to highlight the Soviet input into the triumph over the Nazis and the creation of an international organisation. The Kremlin’s rhetoric was expressed directly by Vladimir Putin twice last year – once thanks to an article published in The National Interest in June and then, via a speech delivered virtually during the annual summit of the United Nations, in September.

February 3, 2021 - Grzegorz Szymborski

An underappreciated contribution to European history

A review of Przegrane Zwycięstwo. Wojna Polsko-Bolszewicka 1918–1920. (Lost Victory. The Polish-Bolshevik War of 1918-1920). By: Andrzej Chawlba. Publisher: Wydawnictwo Czarne, Wołowiec, Poland, 2020.

February 3, 2021 - Zbigniew Rokita

Our common heritage

The region of today’s Central and Eastern Europe was mostly part of the eastern half of the Roman Empire. Its religion, writings, customs and traditions came from Byzantium rather than Rome. One exception is Poland, which was baptised in the western style and not by Cyril and Methodius. This fact, however, could be interpreted as the main cause of Poland’s great tragedy.

The world we came to live in today should not have come to us as a big surprise. Neither should the internal problems of the European Union, which, the late Polish science fiction writer, Stanisław Lem, even predicted some time ago. Earlier events such as the Arab Spring, or the weakening position of the United States, and Russia’s imperial aspirations should not have shocked us either.

November 17, 2020 - Jacek Hajduk

The fleeting memory of December 1970

In December 1970 violent riots broke out in the Polish cities of Szczecin and Gdynia, while in Gdańsk strikers surrounded the seat of the Polish United Workers’ Party. Clashes with militia erupted and the central committee of the communist party decided to brutally quell the rebellion. These events became an important founding myth for the struggle against the communist authorities. Fifty years later, how are these events remembered?

In December 1970, 14 years had passed since Wiesław Gomułka became the first secretary of the communist party in the People’s Republic of Poland. At that time, both the thaw of 1956, which allowed Gomułka to return to power, and hope for reforms that he promised (the so-called Polish way to socialism) were already a fading memory. It was not the right moment for a nostalgic journey to the past. And with Christmas just around the corner, everyone was busy stockpiling goods that were hard to come by.

November 16, 2020 - Piotr Leszczyński

The challenge of commemoration. Cases from Poland and Germany

The Second World War remains one of the most painful and conflicting episodes of the European nations’ memories. Present conflicts are embedded in history and in the use of history as a political tool. The cases of Poland and Germany illustrate how challenging it can be to commemorate history, especially in a politicised environment.

In Poland during the communist period and until 1989, it was nearly impossible to openly talk about the Second World War. First, due to friendship with the Soviet Union and later, after the fall of communism, Poland was busy creating its own government, introducing the democratic culture and fighting with an economic crisis in order to transform the country it became between 1989 and 2000. After this period, history and commemoration events started to play a very important role for the national and political identity of the country. Like in other Central and Eastern European states, Poland is an example of how history is used as a political tool in the museum narratives and exhibition forms, which also trigger conflicts.

September 3, 2020 - Kristina Smolijaninovaitė

Husband, father, war criminal: Chasing the memory of a Nazi fugitive across Europe

A review of The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive. By: Philippe Sands. Publisher: Orion books, London, United Kingdom, 2020.

September 3, 2020 - Maria Suchcitz

Save us all from the liberty, Emperor!

A review of The Union of Salvation. A film directed by Andrei Kravchuk, Moscow, Russia, 2019.

September 3, 2020 - Grzegorz Szymborski

The brief alliance, short memory

For a brief moment in August Poland will celebrate the centenary of the victorious Battle of Warsaw when Józef Piłsudski’s army managed to stop and push back the advancing Bolsheviks. Earlier, the Soviets were faced with an unexpected alliance of Poles and Ukrainians, which liberated Kyiv under the leadership of Symon Petliura. In light of this surprising development, what is the history behind this military alliance?

At the end of 1919 the Ukrainian People’s Republic was almost defeated by the Tsarist forces of Anton Denikin. On November 4th, some detachments of the Ukrainian Galician Army (UHA) switched sides and joined the “White General”. This event severely weakened the position of the Ukrainian Directorate, whose representatives were simultaneously negotiating with the Polish authorities in Warsaw.

July 7, 2020 - Grzegorz Szymborski

We are in fact writing about the present…

A review of The Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution. Illiberal Liberation 1917-1941. Edited by: Laura Douds, James Harris and Peter Whitewood. Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic, London 2020.

July 7, 2020 - Łukasz Jasina

A bridge that nobody crosses: history and myth regarding 1918–20 in Hungary and Romania 

An interview with historians Marius Turda and Ferenc Laczó. Interviewers: Csaba Tibor Tóth and Gáspár Papp.

June 25, 2020 - Csaba Tibor Tóth Ferenc Laczó Gáspár Papp Marius Turda

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