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Tag: history

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

Remembrance, history, and justice. Coming to terms with traumatic pasts in democratic societies

A review of Remembrance, History, and Justice: Coming to terms with traumatic pasts in democratic societies. Editors: Vladimir Tismaneanu and Bogdan C. Iacob. Publisher: Central European University Press, Budapest, 2016.

May 8, 2020 - Juho Nikko

Poland becomes a convenient target in Putin’s memory crusade

An interview with Ernest Wyciszkiewicz, director of the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding. Interviewer: New Eastern Europe

NEW EASTERN EUROPE: On December 20th 2019 Vladimir Putin delivered a speech where he blamed Poland for the outbreak of the Second World War. These remarks caused outrage in Poland. The ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement in which it blamed the Russian leader for undermining joint efforts to find a way to truth and reconciliation in Polish-Russian relations. As director of the Polish-Russian Centre for Dialogue and Understanding in Warsaw, what was your institution’s response?

ERNEST WYCISZKIEWICZ: First let me start by saying that I was not outraged because what took place in December 2019 was actually nothing new. In the past ten years Poland has often been under historical – sometimes a bit hysterical – pressure from Russia. Periods of peaceful coexistence were rare and were quickly followed by stormy exchanges. So we have been there before. Yet, what we have been witnessing since Putin’s infamous comments in December is a new level of aggressiveness in Russian historical propaganda, as well as the fact that Poland was specifically chosen as enemy number one in this domain.

April 6, 2020 - Ernest Wyciszkiewicz

Jáchymov. A little spa town and the horrors of forced labour in communist Czechoslovakia

A review of Jáchymov. Jeviště bouřlivého století (Jáchymov. A Theatre of the Stormy 20th Century) By: Klára Pinerová (ed.). Publisher: ABS, Prague, 2019.

April 6, 2020 - Josette Baer

Ukraine 101

A review of Ukraine in Histories and Stories: Essays by Ukrainian Intellectuals. Edited by Volodymyr Yermolenko. Publisher: Internews Ukraine / Ukraine World, Kyiv: 2019.

January 27, 2020 - Margarita Novikova

Is hot air mightier than states?

The big Central European history of a little tail (ogonek)

December 12, 2019 - Tomasz Kamusella

Russia’s historical amnesia

How can we understand how Joseph Stalin, one of history’s most notorious dictators, is not only tolerated, but oftentimes defended in present-day Russia? Is this a failure of history? Who or what is fanning the flames of this modern Stalin-cult?

Recent months have witnessed some important anniversaries in the history of the Second World War. On January 27th 2018, the city of St Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, celebrated the 75th anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad. The Nazi siege of the city, which lasted some 900 days, intended to starve the city out of existence. Though ultimately unsuccessful, over one million of the city’s residents died as a result, whilst many more experienced over two years of pain and suffering.

November 12, 2019 - Joshua Kroeker

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