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Past in the Making

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Michal Kopecek

In Search of “National Memory”

The Politics of History, Nostalgia and the Historiography of Communism in the Czech Republic and East Central Europe

Michal Kopecek

Texte intégral

1The complex process of transition from communist dictatorship to democracy in Central and Eastern Europe also involved the transformation of historiography which, during the communist dictatorship, served to a large extent as a means of legitimization of Communist Party rule. On the basis of strict Marxist-Leninist rules, historians were expected to interpret the socialist revolution and communist government as the highest and most progressive stage of historical development. This kind of historiography was to undergo far-reaching changes, from a centrally controlled and ideologically driven towards decentralized and pluralist academic dis-course. Have the historians and academic managers in Czechia and other post-communist countries succeeded in this respect?

2Only up to a point, I argue. Generally, the political changes of 1989 brought about an extraordinary expansion of research areas, especially in contemporary history, where a large number of taboos were broken. However, the introduction of new research topics did not necessarily mean the introduction of new problems or the elaboration of new methods. The development of Czech and other Central and East European historiographies was significantly determined by the rehabilitation of the nation-state in the political realm and the process of democracy building, with the obvious need to legitimize the existence of both.

3The chapter starts by examining the role and achievements of the historical profession vis-à-vis the societal and political ways of dealing with the legacy of the communist dictatorship. Further it dwells on how this is linked to the redefinition of national identity and the concept of national history and how it relates to the internal restructuring and development of the historiography of recent history. The concluding sections turn to the debates around the so-called institutes of national memory or their possible establishment in East Central Europe. Concentrating mainly on Czech developments, it attempts to draw a broader picture and base the argument on comparisons with other countries in the region, primarily Poland.

DEMOCRACY BUILDING AND THE LEGACY OF COMMUNISM

  • 1 Cf. Dealing with the authoritarian and violent past as a world-wide phenomenon in e.g., A. Kenkman (...)

4Every new political order has to deal with the legacy of the ancien régime, since the legitimacy of the new one depends to a great extent on rejecting the old one and coming to terms with its legacy.1 The new democracies in East Central Europe were surely not an exception. Hence, one of the principal questions for the new regimes has become how to deal with the communist past. To be sure, we can find the communist past and different memories of it playing an active role on all possible levels of political and social life, from the most comprehensive level of public political dis-course down to the subjective level of personal memories. Every postcommunist country in East Central Europe has witnessed spectacular political campaigns playing on the supposed or real collaboration of prominent public figures with the former communist secret services. More importantly, however, it was a politically generated picture depicting the whole postwar period in the black-and-white of totalitarian theory, which played a major role, especially during the first years after the fall of communist rule.

  • 2 For an analysis of the legal handling of the communist past in the Czech republic and how this con (...)

5One of the most significant aspects of this kind of legitimization strategy was the relevant legislation, which was often regarded as the main tool in the politics of de-communization. In the Czech Republic—which in a certain sense took the lead among the former communist countries in their efforts to come to terms with the communist past by means of law— it has taken various forms, beginning with the total rehabilitation of political prisoners in 1990, through the 1991 Screening Act (lustrace) barring former communist functionaries and secret police agents from holding any public office in the new regime, through the 1993 Act on the Lawlessness of the Communist regime, to the restitution of private property confiscated after the February 1948 communist coup d’etat, and to several legal arrangements concerning the accessibility of archive records from the communist period.2 The “exemplary” Czech case is, however, heavily relativized by the legal existence and successful political survival of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, the proud successor of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia.

  • 3 Cf. Andrzej Paczkowski who deals with this question in the context of the Polish approach to the c (...)

6A similar, simultaneous process to that in the political realm was taking place in the symbolic organization of the public space. Regardless of how closely the ordinary people followed the debates of politicians or historians about screening procedures or the crimes of Stalinism, everybody noticed the obvious change of traditions with the renaming of countless streets, parks, squares, and public buildings, as well as the reconstruction or rebuilding of old statues and monuments.3

  • 4 Cf. R. Jaworski, “Geschichtsdenken im Umbruch. Osteuropaische Vergangenheitsdiskurse im Vergleich” (...)

7Understandably, the legitimacy of the new democratic order has been based on the rejection of the communist past as a whole. This picture— shared however in its entirety only by few—treats the communist period as an integral unit and depicts Communism in a grossly simplified way as a historical distortion, an interlude, an aberration from the supposed natural path of national history, an “Asiatic despotism” imported from the “East.” The obvious advantage of this interlude theory is that depicting the whole period as the result of foreign interference somehow helps to exculpate both the ordinary citizen and the cultural and political elites from their responsibility for the communist dictatorship.4

  • 5 See P. Kolař and M. Kopeček, “A Difficult Quest for New Paradigms: Czech Historiography after 1989 (...)

8Obviously, historians do not usually subscribe to this simplified version of history, but if we look closely at the results of recent historical research in the Czech Republic we can see how historians have in fact unwittingly contributed to this picture. So far, historical research on the communist period has been distinguished by a strong preponderance of political history with its emphasis on the main political events such as the February 1948 communist takeover, the communist reform movement of 1968, the formation of Charter 77 and democratic dissent, and finally the Velvet Revolution in 1989. This kind of historical research includes the decision-making of the communist party and analysis of political change; research on the apparatus of repression and the terrorist activities of the state against its citizens; studies on labor camps, political trials, the functioning of the secret police; the suppression of the resistance movement, democratic dissent and so forth.5

  • 6 Cf. J. Tesař, Zamlčená diagnóza [Withheld diagnosis] (Prague: Triada, 2003).

9To be sure, these are all indispensable topics if we are to understand the nature of the communist dictatorship, and historians were quite right to focus on these areas. Moreover, there are still many forms of political and social repression still far from being satisfactorily researched and described by historians, such as, for instance, the abuse of psychiatry against political opponents and lesser-known dissenters during the 1970s and the 1980s.6 But on the whole the emphasis on these topics makes the overall picture of the postwar period rather one-sided, depicting the communist dictatorship as a period of constant struggle, repression, and terrorist actions by the secret police and the arbitrary rule of the Communist Party, which invokes the totalitarian paradigms of Orwellian imagination and seemingly leaves no space for collective and individual memories that do not coincide with this image.

10Nevertheless, even in the first few years after 1989 the picture of the recent past was never as dark as it may seem from the above description, and there are many reasons for this. To deal with some of them, I would first like to draw the reader’s attention to the internal structure of historical scholarship devoted to the interpretation of the 1968 Prague Spring on the one hand, and the methodological innovation on the other hand. Second, there is a more general phenomenon that refers to an interplay—if not clash—between scholarly-produced and politicallysupported historical knowledge, with a rich variety of historical memories reflecting the abundance of political, social and cultural identities in the democratizing society.

THE ’68 GENERATION: THE RESISTANCE OF MEMORY

  • 7 Cf. F. Mayer, “La prison pour passe, la resistance pour memoire: La Confederation des anciens dete (...)

11There is a peculiar generational constitution among Czech historians, which shows itself most clearly in the realm of recent history. To put it simply, after 1989 academic work in this field of historical research was conducted mainly by the generation born around 1930, whereas many of the younger generation beginning their work in the 1970s and the 1980s left academia after 1989. Historians from the youngest generation—born around 1970 and completing their education already under the democratic regime—have only recently started to publish their first books, leading to more frequent clashes of opinion between them and what is now the oldest generation of historians. The latter is largely identical with the “Generation of 1968” or the “Sixty-eighters”: those who were active participants in or witnesses of the Prague Spring and who, after its suppression, went into exile or took an active part in the democratic opposition movement. In most historical writing after 1989 their memory and historical representation has visibly prevailed, for instance, over the memory of the representatives of the “third resistance movement” (active anti-communists) and the victims of the Stalinist purges.7

  • 8 Cf. V. Kural, et al., Československo roku 1968, I. Obrodný proces; II. Počátky normalizase [Czecho (...)

12Theirs is a specific historical narrative, picturing Czechoslovak Communism as having been established with the help of the Soviets, albeit with significant domestic support, at the end of the 1940s; going through its first major political upheavals after the death of Stalin in 1953; attempting a peculiar reform in the name of “socialism with a human face” during the Prague Spring; and being fully discredited only after the Soviet-led military intervention in 1968 and the subsequent establishment of the “normalization” regime represented by the Brezhnevite Gustáv Husák from 1969 to 1989. The bone of contention is naturally the interpretation of the events of 1968. After its suppression, these authors strove to defend the Prague Spring both against the official Husákian communist interpretation, which depicted the reform as a counter-revolution supported by the imperialist West, and against those who were highly critical of the political project of “socialism with a human face” and castigate the exclusivity, insufficient democratization, and unrealistic expectations of the Dubček leadership. The “Sixty-eighters” usually emphasize the democratic nature of the movement and its resemblance to Gorbachev’s later concepts of perestroika and glasnost; some of them defend the notion of the “third way” between capitalism and socialism. Regardless of political implications, these historians, former reform communists themselves, nevertheless managed to achieve a well-balanced representation of the political and social context of the Prague Spring, which hints at the complex dynamics of the historical development in 1968.8

  • 9 Even though I stressed the peculiarity of the Czech situation with respect to the historical refle (...)
  • 10 See the more elaborated version of the argument in J. Cuhra and M. Kopeček, “L’historiographie tch (...)

13Their own political interests notwithstanding, these witness-historians have been at pains to conceptualize the dynamic changes in the communist politics and to stress the differences between respective periods. Consequently, whereas the political rhetoric and legitimizing strategy of the nascent democratic order after 1989 spoke the dichotomous language of democracy versus totalitarianism, freedom versus oppression, the historiography strove to produce a more differentiated and nuanced analysis, free of direct links to current politics. It matters little to what extent it was the ethos of critical historical enquiry and to what extent it was their own political identity that made the generation of 1968 reluctant to accept the vocabulary of the traditional totalitarian theory that dominated the political discourse of the 1990s.9 Hence, while the historiography of contemporary history was contributing to the de-legitimization of the communist regime through its overall research agenda, the individual historians’ rhetorical stance was opposed to the mainstream historical legitimization strategy of the new political regime, which had an impact on the public cultural-historical discourse.10 Nonetheless, the Sixty-eighters’ historical narrative was hardly able to establish any historical consensus in Czech society and lately this interpretative framework has been called into question by a number of younger historians.

THE HISTORY OF THE NATION AS THE NORM

14In recent years, there has been a certain shift towards subtler and less centralized facets of the recent past as Czech historians offer a gradually increasing number of works devoted to topics other than political history. In social history, along with more traditional approaches focusing on major institutions or social structures such as, for instance, the churches, new works have appeared that try to deal with everyday life, consumer culture, social mobility, and migration under state socialism. Similarly, there has been a growing interest in the approaches of oral history, gender history, or environmental history, written mainly by younger historians, historical sociologists, cultural anthropologists and literary historians, usually educated abroad and inspired by French, German, or American historical scholarship and methodological innovations. The contribution these approaches have made to academia lies in their having helped to create a new space, where the prolific dialogue among various historical accounts, perspectives, and theoretical positions can take place. The “mastering of” or “coming to terms with” the recent past (Vergangenheitsbewältigung) which prevailed at the beginning of the transition period might—along with the stabilization of the democratic order—allow more space to less directive and more conversation-like ways of dealing (Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung) with this past.

15Yet, so far, as much as the stability of the democratic order in the former communist countries could be questioned, the methodological and theoretical innovations in these countries have come mainly from individual scholars, and instead of subtle, expert debate we are witnessing a renewed tendency to politicize recent history. Theoretically-based, methodologically-innovative research is still in a conspicuous minority in most fields of historiography and surely marginal in the field of contemporary history. Throughout the region there is an obvious shortage of autonomous research institutions that would support new methodologies independently of the mainstream national research centers, and thus stir up methodological discussion and carry out such theoretically-based historical research. “Transnational history” or “the history of concepts” still sound to most of Czech historians more like a waste of time than a serious historical undertaking. In general, the thematic expansion of Czech historical studies since 1989 has not been accompanied by innovations in methodological reasoning; rather, the main driving force has been the aspiration to fill in the “blank spaces,” especially in the recent past. This approach has strengthened political history at the expense of other fields.

  • 11 One of the few initiatives striving to change the situation in Czechia has been the establishment (...)

16Thus, the “liberalization” of historical studies after 1989 brought about the restoration of old conceptual models rather than the introduction of new ones11.

  • 12 Cf. P. Kolař and M. Kopeček, “A Difficult Quest for New Paradigms.”

17There is a clear lack of the kind of self-critical reflection about historiography’s role and entanglement with the former communist state that would go beyond bitter ad hominem controversies and lead the way towards badly needed theoretical self-examination of the discipline. Marxist historical materialism has been quite thoroughly assessed by medieval and early-modern historical research, where the Marxist tradition was understood as a serious partner in the discussion. In contrast, in recent history the Marxist tradition has either been totally ignored or one-sidedly dismissed as mere “ideology.”12 Owing to the insufficient examination of the legacy of Marxism, new theoretical approaches coming from the new cultural and social history are often suspected of representing a disguised return of Marxism, and, thus a “violation of history.” These works potentially challenging the one-sided picture of the totalitarian past are sometimes charged with whitewashing the communist dictatorship and are thus understood as “revisionist” in the negative sense of the term. The belief in value-free research and the possibility of separating “lies” from “the truth” is constitutive of most Czech historiography, a phenomenon present in many other post-communist countries. This has resulted, particularly in the case of contemporary history, in descriptive, event-oriented history writing, whose explanatory modes are often derived unconsciously from a simplified form of the theory of totalitarianism.

  • 13 E. Schmidt-Hartmann, “Forty Years of Historiography under Socialism in Czechoslovakia. Continuity (...)

18The lack of reflection on historiography’s past has made the continuity of certain explanatory models and concepts of thought possible. Adapted to the new conditions prevailing after 1989, some interpretative patterns beyond the explicitly ideological have proved to be unexpectedly durable. In 1988, Eva Hahn pointed out a certain similarity between official Marxist-Leninist and unofficial dissent historiography. Both were indebted to the nation-centered narrative, the monistic and teleological notion of history, and involved an extremely polarized representation of the past.13 With a tradition reaching back to the 19th-century nationalist movements and enhanced by the return of nation-state-centered politics, for many fellow historians—consciously or not—the old national history paradigm became the only way out of the ideological abyss after the collapse of the communist dictatorship.

  • 14 R. Jaworski, “Geschichtsdenken im Umbruch.” For a broader context of the redefinition of national (...)

19The reconstruction of national history and the rehabilitation of partly suppressed, partly distorted aspects of national history and traditions were urgent tasks in all Central and East European countries after 1989. The difficulties of historical scholarship were greatly increased by the complex post-communist political-economic reform that in a way subordinated the reconstruction of historical cultures to state- and (in some cases) nation-building processes. The “reconstruction of the national historical sovereignty”—to use R. Jaworski’s term—became an obvious priority for historians in Central and Eastern Europe. Liberation from the Marxist-Leninist strait jacket did not lead to a critical assessment of the persistent national historical narratives or recognition of an essential diversity of historical experiences under the surface of seemingly unified national histories.14

20This trend takes various forms among historians, beginning with a concerted effort to cultivate a “national historical consciousness,” promote the “positive conception” of national history and solidify national identity in the context of European enlargement, and ending with the unconscious but no less problematic approach of historical analysis that takes the nation-state, if not the ethno-culturally defined national community, as its natural, unquestioned point of departure.

21Few historians of recent history (in the Czech context usually defined as the period after 1938) would subscribe to the militant nation-defending position, but the second case, the unproblematized acceptance of the nation-centered paradigm of history, is very common among them. An ex-ample is the lack of supranational perspective in the historical research agenda. There are almost no comparative research projects other than the numerous bilateral or multilateral conferences where representatives of the various countries present their own “national cases.” This is even more striking in the history of Czechoslovakia, where Czech historians very often put aside the Slovak part of the story with the justification that this should be the concern of their Slovak colleagues. Similarly, the Slovak experts are engaged with the Slovak part of the Czechoslovak history, and as far as the “Czechoslovak” context is concerned they effectively confine themselves to references to the Czech historical production.

COMPETING NOSTALGIAS

  • 15 P. Nora, “Gedachtniskonjunkur,” [The conjuncture of memory] in Transit, No. 22 (Winter 2001/2002): (...)

22The “absolutist” rule of the national history paradigm is unequivocal. At the same time, it coincides with the lively and growing “memorialism” of the late 20th and early 21st century, the world-wide “upsurge of memory,” as Pierre Nora put it, and the concomitant democratization and autonomization of historical memory in modern society during the last twenty years.15

  • 16 See F. Mayer, Les Tchéques et leur communisme: Mémoire et identités politiques. [Czechs and their (...)

23No doubt the democratizing effect of the numerous grass-root initiatives striving to give voice to the so-far silent witnesses of historical events is visible in Czechia and surrounding countries too, and this is true above all in the realm of recent history. The public political and cultural discourse reflects a variety of historical memories mirroring the relative plurality of political and social identities within Czech society, though not all these memories are equally represented. At any rate, the immense variety of memories present in society has often not corresponded with clear-cut and often politically driven historical narratives during the 1990s.16

24This also constitutes the social background of the phenomenon of Ostalgia, or nostalgia for the former East, the lost security and seeming simplicity of life under the paternalistic regime of late socialism. The living memory of a relatively tranquil and predictable way of life contrasts sharply with the sometimes wild capitalist conditions that the neo-liberal free-market transformation has created since 1989 and, simultaneously, with the dark vision of the totalitarian hell of the Stalinist kind dominant in the public cultural discourse. Mere common sense, capacity for realistic assessment and agreeable photos in the family albums are enough to realize that life in the former state socialist country was more complex and less unpleasant than the imagined evil empire with secret agents hiding behind every corner.

  • 17 See P. Cooke, “Surfing for Eastern Difference. Ostalgie, Identity and Cyberspace,” Seminar—A Journ (...)
  • 18 Cf. P. Betts, “The Twilights of the Idols. East German Memory and Material Culture,” in The Journa (...)
  • 19 For the Czech situation see M. Franc, “Ostalgie v Čechach” [Ostalgia in Bohemia] in A. Gjuričova a (...)

25Ostalgia originated in East Germany, the former German Democratic Republic, partly as a reaction to the identity crisis of the East German population after its unification with the Federal Republic of Germany. As a way to articulate the German–German difference it has been substantially enhanced by recent advances in communication technology, especially the Internet.17 As a phenomenon of the turn of the century with its highest peaks represented by the 2002 bestseller Zonenkinder (Children of the Zone) by Jana Hensel and the 2003 hit movie Good Bye, Lenin! by Wolfgang Becker, the nostalgic view of the late socialist past with its ironic twist found plenty of enthusiastic fans in other former communist countries. As much as the political roots of Ostalgia are discernable in its various representations, however, it could hardly be interpreted as a “last stand of GDR (or, in fact, East European) anti-Western resistance,” or a yearning for the return of socialism as it really existed.18 Some of its analysts understand Ostalgia, especially outside the specific German context, rather as a manifestation of postmodern cultural mystification and harmless counter-culture provocation, even though it generally holds that literary texts, movies or other works of art as much as sophisticated webmuseums or nostalgic e-shops could never fully untie themselves from political power and its language.19

  • 20 S. Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic Books, 2001).

26From this point of view Ostalgia belongs to “reflective nostalgia,” to use Svetlana Boym’s term.20 Wistful, ironic and playful by definition, reflective nostalgia does not follow direct political aims, but dwells on the ambivalence of human longing and belonging. By opening a multitude of historical potentialities it tries to mediate between history and the passage of time. Reflective nostalgia in contrast to “restorative nostalgia,” Boym claims, does not shy away from the contradictions of modernity but casts doubt on the absolute truths of political and ideological programs. So Ostalgia, far from being a political program in any sense, does not follow a single plot and instead explores ways of inhabiting many places at once and imagining different time zones; it draws away from clear-cut political symbols and deliberately immerses itself in the details and material traces of the past. At its best, reflective nostalgia presents an ethical and creative challenge to mainstream cultural and/or political discourse.

  • 21 See one of the most recent expressions of this line of criticism in Czechia, A. Drda and P. Dudek, (...)

27The basically understanding, forbearing view of Ostalgia is not, however, shared by many political activists in the region. Ostalgia’s successful international tour from the ex-GDR throughout East Central Europe, encouraged by the widespread revival of late socialist pop-culture kitsch, has aroused a counter-movement involving numerous former anticommunist activists and dissidents, and also many young intellectuals and politicians. They feel the need to oppose the “soft” version of the story of the communist rule, which stresses the majority’s seemingly unproblematic way of life in the late socialist period and which—from the point of view of its critics—in fact covers up the complicity of a significant part of the population with the criminal regime. In the Czech case this feeling is considerably strengthened by the unprecedented persistence of the unreformed Communist Party, which for more than 15 years has won the majority of protest-votes in every general election. It is not only staunch anticommunists who are offended by their revisionist panegyrics about the beneficial effects of the paternalistic, state socialist welfare state, ignoring the political and social repression that took place, and by their direct vocal support for various present-day dictators.21

  • 22 See ibid., pp. 149–167. The authors stress the political dimension of the nostalgic cultural comeb (...)

28The political frustration caused by the existence of the political entities with more or less confessed roots in the totalitarian party-state leads to harsh criticism of the Ostalgia that allegedly obscures the watershed between then and now, and obliterates the deep moral failings of the former communist rule. From this point of view, Ostalgia constitutes an unacceptable form of relativization, no matter whether the motives are political in nature or rather feed on popular retro-fashion and counter-cultural incentives.22

  • 23 Cf. the brilliant study focusing on Hungary’s symbolic politics both prior and after 1989, I. Rev, (...)

29In the last two or three years a new and urgent round of the debate about the politics of history has begun in East Central Europe that parallels, not by chance, the growing anti-communist political sentiments. Not surprisingly, the legacy of the 1989 Velvet Revolutions has always been an apple of discord between various political forces, and the images of the communist past which are drawn largely from the files of the communist secret police, have been a hotly contested issue since the reestablishment of democracy in the region.23 After the formation of the Polish coalition government lead by Law and Justice in 2005, the politicization of the communist past has reached a new climax. The heated Polish controversies about the Third Rzeczpospolita, and the fervent rightist criticism of the 1989 round-table compromise between the old and new political elites, symbolize the rift in memories of the communist period and its political explosiveness.

  • 24 See Rafal Stobiecki’s chapter in the present volume and also works such as D. Gawin and P. Kowal, (...)

30The contest about the past in Poland is the most distinctive and illustrative in East Central Europe. Owing to the broad social background of the Solidarity movement and the role played by the Roman Catholic Church, various political formations lay sole claim to the legacy of the Polish anticommunist resistance. At the core of the discussions that are conducted at the intersection of various cultural fields such as historical scholarship, political education, the legitimacy of democratic political order, and, last but not least, the redefinition of national identity, there is the question of how far the state should intervene in the interpretation of history. One side, consisting mainly of right-leaning and conservative authors, argues that the state has to take the politics of history (polityka historyczna) seriously, and must make an effort to promote a positive historical interpretation with a clear moral view of the recent past in society. They claim that the lack of such a policy after 1989 and the skepticism of the political elites of the Third Republic towards collective historical memory and national identity effectively jeopardized the project of liberal modernization and the legitimacy of the democratic order. In contrast, the other side of the debate, composed mainly of historians and left-wing intellectuals concentrated around the daily Gazeta Wyborcza, warns against what they see as an instrumental understanding of the past, in which history is used predominantly as a tool in a collective identity-building project. They accuse the promoters of active politics of history of bringing back the 19th-century nationalist fantasies and criticize the concomitant moralization of historical discourse.24

  • 25 See the typical discussion at the Institute of National Memory in April 2006, particularly the pro (...)

31Without going into details about the Polish debate, which is analyzed in the present volume by Rafał Stobiecki, my intention is to draw attention to the nostalgic rhetoric employed by the partisans of active state politics of history. They are convinced that both the self-understanding of Poles and their image abroad are distorted by the communist propaganda and the hitherto negligent political and cultural elites of the Third Republic. Consequently, they argue, the national historical heritage should be thoroughly reconstructed on the basis of a “true and correct understanding of history” and stripped of communist lies. They feel the need to defend the Polish romantic tradition, stress the traditional national allegiance to Roman Catholicism and the Church, and to promote the image of Poles as European freedom fighters (represented by the Home Army anticommunist resistance, post-1945 émigrés, democratic dissent, and Solidarity) against despotism and totalitarianism of both right and left.25

  • 26 S. Boym, The Future of Nostalgia; cf. also the classic work on the modern use of traditions E. Hob (...)

32These motives and rhetorical figures, as well as the main intention of actively cultivating the national memory, testify to a powerful nostalgia for the supposed national golden age: a combination of pre-partition Poland and the interwar Second Republic. This kind of politics of history clearly corresponds to Svetlana Boym’s other category of nostalgia: “restorative nostalgia,” which attempts the transhistorical reconstruction of the lost home in the name of a return to the origins. In contrast to its reflective counterpart, restorative nostalgia regards itself not as nostalgia, but as truth and the reconstruction of the true tradition, a way of dealing with history that protects absolute truths against supposed misinterpretations. Weaving together two main strands, the return to origins and conspiracy theory, restorative nostalgia treats history as a simple modern story of conflict between good and evil, a narrative in which the ambivalence and complexity of history and the specificity of modern circumstances are omitted.26 Some of the current Polish supporters of active state politics of history are conscious promoters of the interlude theory, which treats the communist period as an inorganic, foreign distortion of national history, which has to be rectified.

  • 27 In the Czechoslovak context the most famous example, which stirred up a long-lasting discussion wa (...)

33Such tendencies can be traced not only in Poland, where they are most apparent, but all over East Central Europe. The strong politically and culturally motivated anti-communist sentiments, merging with the unreflected national history paradigm and the upsurge of memorialism, result in the vague notion of national memory with clearly nationalist underpinnings, which is becoming an indispensable part of the public political discourse in the whole region. This is not to say that the concept of national memory has only just appeared; it clearly has a pedigree reaching back to the anti-communist dissident movements, where a significant part of the opposition regarded the cultivation of national memory as an important tool in opposing the amnesia of the official communist historical master-narrative and the unscrupulous political manipulation with historical research and education.27 However, with the existence of the so-called institutes of national memory in Poland and Slovakia, and the expected establishment of a similar institution in the Czech Republic, the concept has gained a new dimension. In contrast to the period before 1989 when the strongly moralizing concept of “national memory” with distinctively conservative features has been raised as a banner in the struggle of the “powerless” dissidents against the despotic power, today it becomes a part of an organized, state-driven politics of history.

NATIONAL MEMORY NEW STYLE

34The main aim of the institutes of national memory is to collect and process the almost unmanageable quantities of archival material produced by the secret police and other repressive institutions of the totalitarian state, which in Poland and Slovakia as well as in the Czech draft bill (after heated dispute) comprises not only the communist period, but also the Second World War. These institutions and their supporters find their model in the Gauck-Behörde in Germany, which was established in 1990 and nicknamed after the first Federal Commissioner for the Records of the National Security Service (the German acronym BStU) of the Former GDR, the pastor and civil rights activist Joachim Gauck. This specialized office organized and processed the records of the Stasi (Staatssicherheitsdienst), the best-documented communist secret police force in the former Eastern bloc. Despite references to the German partner and the claims of the adherents of the new institutes that the notion “national memory” in the name of the institution is only a catchword with no significant meaning, the very name as well as the time and political context makes them quite different from the German model.

35The BStU regards itself as a documentary and archival institution whose role is above all the elaboration of the history of the Stasi, the former communist secret police. As to its social and civic activity, it strives to play an important part in general political education, since by showing “the structure of dictatorships, how people live under a dictatorship and how they might also become perpetrators themselves is of considerable importance for the formation of democratic convictions and competencies.”28 The BStU is a governmental office with clear competencies which has no intention of adopting the role of historical research institution, still less of setting itself any kind of political or identity-building agenda. This however is hardly the case with the other East Central European institutes of national memory. The mission statement of the Polish Institute of National Memory (INM) in particular, as well as the Czech draft bill on such an institute, define their mission in terms of remembering—and in Poland prosecuting—“crimes against the nation,” communist and Nazi crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity and preserving the “patriotic tradition of the fighting against invaders, Nazism, and Communism.”29 The framing of this specific and, by any standards, necessary historical research into the emotionally charged nationalist rhetoric and black-andwhite historical meta-narrative indicates the difference between these institutes and the BStU.

36Nevertheless, easy as it might be, it would be quite misleading to dis-miss the institutes of national memory in East Central Europe as just the latest nationalist inventions. Several aspects of the problem need to be distinguished in order to understand better both the aims and the impact of the institutes in recent political discourse and local historical cultures.

  • 30 The webpages providing sections (far from complete) of the Czech public discussion are www.aktualn (...)

37The goal of the supporters of the INM from the practical point of view is to gather, declassify, electronically process, and make accessible the archival resources from the archives of the communist or totalitarian repressive apparatus. The Czech supporters of the INM argue correctly that access to many of these materials (usually under the control of the key ministries) has been very difficult until now, often available only to a select few. They claim that the quantity and complexity of the materials call for a completely new organizational activity; thus a new institution with substantial financial support from the state ought to be established. Arguably, the work of the existing research institutions with their very limited financial and human resources has so far been very unsatisfactory in this respect, especially in the Czech and Slovak cases.30

  • 31 See the last interview with Jan Langoš before his tragic death: “Chceme se zaměřit na pachatele” [ (...)
  • 32 A comparison between the truth commissions and institutes of national memory is beyond the scope o (...)
  • 33 J. Gauck, “Akten und Gerechtigkeit. Gedanken zum Umgang mit der Vergangenheit.” [Files and justice (...)

38There is also a moral and political motive that has been a guiding principle for Joachim Gauck and for the founder of the Slovak INM, the former dissident Ján Langoš. Namely the need to reverse the logic of the procedures followed hitherto, which stigmatized the victims of crimes against human and civic rights rather than the offenders: the officials of the secret police.31 This should be possible only after a thorough electronic systematization of the files, which would enable partial reconstruction of the bulk of the files destroyed during the messy times of the bloodless revolutions in 1989. In the opinion of its supporters, the INM should create a clear statement about the criminal machinery of the communist state as well as the individual culprits, which would serve for future generations as a memento of the dictatorial times. The unbiased handling and opening up of the secret police archives is from this point of view understood as an indispensable part in the post-totalitarian democratic development, a process functionally resembling the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commissions after apartheid.32 In Gauck’s conception the effort to remember is a therapeutic endeavor that might lead to collective learning and education essential for civic democratic responsibility and the sense of society as moral community. Simultaneously, he stressed that opening up the files must not mean new anti-communist witch hunts and that by recovering individual stories of collaboration, betrayal, complicity or resistance, and courage it was not “the justice and the truth” that is being established, but merely a bit more justice and a bit more truth with regard to the recent past.33

39There is also a social aspect of the whole situation that should not be neglected. A new generation of historians and researchers has grown up in recent years that has great difficulty finding jobs within the existing institutions. As is clearly demonstrated by the hundreds of new positions created by the INM in Poland for research into recent history, there are far more young university graduates than there are research and teaching jobs, which creates a natural generational conflict that sometimes takes the simplified form of young conservatives rising up against the allegedly complicit old (reform) communist academic officials who still hold positions with extensive decision-making powers.

40And finally, there is a conceptual aspect, which is the main concern of this paper and which arouses criticism in the countries of interest. Why should the concept of national memory be connected with a basically archival institution concerned with a very specific, highly problematic, and from the general historical point of view only partly relevant source base, i.e., materials produced by the communist security services?

  • 34 In the Central European context see, for example, M. Krol, Liberalizmus strachu a liberalizmus odv (...)

41From the most general perspective, the concept of a centrally organized and state-sponsored institution bearing this name is highly problematic. Liberal political philosophers beginning with John Locke and Immanuel Kant were skeptical towards the concept of historical memory. Liberal democracy is a horizontal political order whose development and stability depends on a certain historical amnesia on the level of the polis.34 Historical memory relates to identities and thus to basic values and norms. As a clearly vertical element historical memory could be represented and sustained in liberal democracy only by groups, political parties or movements, civic initiatives, families or individual citizens, but definitely not by the state or the nation as a whole. Thus a state-run institution whose main aim is to cultivate a national memory, whatever the source base might be, is a clear step towards a state-run cultural policy that potentially threatens to undermine the social positions and cultural background of groups and social or political strata who have no direct influence on the government.

42This brings us to the other facet of the problem, namely the possible abuse of such an institution by the authorities. Despite the arguments of INM supporters about the basically research-oriented and archival aims of the institution and its political neutrality, the very existence of an institution with such financial and human resources (in Poland the INM has 1,400 full-time employees) necessarily creates the temptation to promote it to the role of true arbiter of the historical memory of the nation, and to misuse it for political purposes. In the discussions after the establishment of the Law and Justice coalition government in 2005, many left-wing and liberal Polish intellectuals claimed that this precisely was the case in contemporary Poland. The initially mainly research and educational institution with numerous academic credentials (e.g., in the Jedwabne cause) and considerable expert research and writing has recently been misused in the cultural struggle on behalf of the conservative national government. Moreover, on the basis of a new law made up by young conservative deputies and to the horror of its many employees, the INM became an examining institution of the new round of the lustrations (screening procedures), unprecedented in its scale and questionable in its legal status. The vulnerability of such an institution proves also the case of the Slovak INM. Due to a political deal in the government coalition, the post of the director has been engaged by the nationalist, anti-Hungarian Slovak National Party. The new director became a historian Ivan Petranský in his thirties whose previous efforts included a partial rehabilitation of the Slovak pro-Nazi war-time state and its President Jozef Tiso. His first commission at the INM announced in the second day in function is a project of documentation of the persecution and eviction of Slovak population by the Hungarian authorities after the so-called First Vienna Arbitrage in November 1938.

  • 35 Cf. Andras Mink’s and Ferenc Laczo’s chapters in this collection.

43In contrast one might mention the Hungarian case, where recent history is as much a part of the current political struggle and ideological and political rhetoric as it is in Poland or the Czech Republic.35 Besides, as the unrest in Budapest streets in fall 2006 showed, the political rivalry over dominance in historical discourse and patriotic credibility assumes considerable intensity at times. Nevertheless, the Historical Archives of Hungarian State Security, with no national memory agenda mentioned in either its name or mission statement, works as an institution entrusted with the inspection and mediation of the documents of the communist security apparatus. So far, the Historical Archives has served mainly professional and legal interests and has not been directly involved in heated culturalpolitical clashes.

  • 36 The article has been submitted in March 2007. Later during the year, the Czech Parliament passed t (...)
  • 37 See Preamble of the draft bill, http://www.upn.cz/store/185.doc (downloaded on 7 December 2006).
  • 38 In all of these aspects the supporters of INM are quite far from Joachim Gauck’s language, which, (...)

44Last but not least, there is the connection—deeply suspect from the scholarly point of view—of political and cultural anti-Communism, the recovered national history paradigm, and the vibrant culture of memorialization. The Czech draft bill about the Institute of National Memory36 naturally refers to the 1993 Act about the lawlessness of the communist regime that symbolizes the basic legitimating strategy of the nascent Czech democracy towards the troublesome communist legacy in the early transition years. The diction of the draft bill itself, like many of its supporters’ public statements, is closely related to the political legitimating discourse of the early 1990s. The avowed aim is to found a state institution “aware of the need to come to terms (vyrovnat se) with the communist regime” that would provide society with an exemplary historical master-narrative bearing “the memory of the immense number of victims, losses and injuries that the Czech nation and other nations on the territory of the Czech Republic suffered in the period of non-freedom (nesvobody).”37 The document promulgating the draft bill, as well as the pronouncements of some INM supporters, draw on the dichotomous language typical of the simplified theory of totalitarianism and the mythical image of an integral, unified nation—the language of moral duty towards national community. Theirs are the moral-political concepts of crime, guilt, and suffering and, last but not least, the related conviction that it is possible to establish a real “historical truth.” Quite significant also is the shift in the notion of “coming to terms” with the communist past, where the previous imperfective “vyrovnávání se” has been replaced by perfective “vyrovnání se” which implies the possibility of steering this process towards a final stage, i.e., a post-revolutionary purge of the historical and thus also the public political discourse of all vestiges of the communist past.38 All this is evidence that the establishment of the Czech Institute of National Memory is above all a politically motivated project of specific collective remembering. Contrary to the claims of its supporters in academia, these projects are far from promoting the kind of detached, impartial and value-restrained historical analysis that strives to reconstruct and understand—though not to justify—past events, however disturbing they might be. The politics of memory is trying to replace serious historical scholarship, advancing a unified interpretation over sound arguments.

  • 39 H. Adam, “Divided Memories: Reckoning with a Criminal Regime” in Justice and the Politics of Memor (...)

45These initiatives cannot be dismissed as mere political, nationalist undertakings. Above all, it is clear that the memory of the suffering endured by numerous citizens and political, religious, and other groups needs to be better integrated into the historical picture of the communist period and thus become an integral part of political education. However, this cannot be done by constructing an official, state-sponsored national memory. “Only a pluralist interpretation of history may achieve a shared truth at best or reinforce divided memories at worst. History as an ongoing argument is still preferable to the myth-making of official collective memory.”39 Unfortunately as the analysis of the diction and conceptual background shows the Czech plan to establish a national memory institute, like its Polish counterpart, is heading precisely in this direction. In a way, it is a part of a broader phenomenon of the re-nationalization and legalization of history, which is appearing throughout Europe and beyond. As such, it is a small but noticeable step towards a society in which the pluralist, open-minded, and liberal historical culture formed within polemical academic discourse and the variety of historical memories in society might well be replaced by a normatively structured, sharp, majoritarian, and moralizing concept of this or that version of the so-called national memory.

Notes

1 Cf. Dealing with the authoritarian and violent past as a world-wide phenomenon in e.g., A. Kenkmann, and H. Zimmer, eds., Nach Kriegen und Diktaturen. Umgang mit Vergangenheit als internationales Problem [After wars and dictatorships. Coping with the past as an international issue] (Essen: Klartext, 2005).

2 For an analysis of the legal handling of the communist past in the Czech republic and how this connects to the legal system and legitimacy of postmodern democracy, see the brilliant study by J. Přibaň, Dissidents of Law: On the 1989 Revolutions, Legitimations, Fictions of Legality and Contemporary Version of the Social Contract (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2002). Cf. also J. Rupnik, “Politika vyrovnavani s komunistickou minulosti. Česka zkušenost.” [Politics of dealing with the communist past. The Czech experience], Soudobé dějiny 9, No. 1 (2002): 9–26.

3 Cf. Andrzej Paczkowski who deals with this question in the context of the Polish approach to the communist past, A. Paczkowski, “Was tun mit der kommunistischen Vergangenheit? Polen.” [What to do with the communist past? The Polish case] Transit, No. 22, No. 1 (2002): 87–107.

4 Cf. R. Jaworski, “Geschichtsdenken im Umbruch. Osteuropaische Vergangenheitsdiskurse im Vergleich” [Historical Thinking at a Turning Point. East European Historical Discourses in Comparison] in Umbruch im östlichen Europa. Die nationale Wende und das kollektive Gedächtnis [Turning Point in Eastern Europe. The National Turn and the Collective Consciousness] A. Cobrea-Hosie, R. Jaworski and M. Sommer, eds., (Innsbruck: Studienverlag, 2004), pp. 27–44.

5 See P. Kolař and M. Kopeček, “A Difficult Quest for New Paradigms: Czech Historiography after 1989,” in Narratives Unbound: Historical Studies in Post-Communist Eastern Europe, S. Antohi, P. Apor and B. Trencsenyi, eds., (Budapest: CEU Press, 2007), pp. 173–248.

6 Cf. J. Tesař, Zamlčená diagnóza [Withheld diagnosis] (Prague: Triada, 2003).

7 Cf. F. Mayer, “La prison pour passe, la resistance pour memoire: La Confederation des anciens detenus politiques,” [Prison as a past, resistance as a memory. The Confederation of the former political prisoners] in Mémoires du communisme en Europe centrale. (Prague: Cahiers du CEFRES, No. 26, 2001), pp. 121–158.

8 Cf. V. Kural, et al., Československo roku 1968, I. Obrodný proces; II. Počátky normalizase [Czechoslovakia in 1968. Vol. I, The Process of Regeneration; Vol. II, The Origins of Normalization] (Prague: Parta, 1993). For a more subjective and politically engaged view, see, for example, the recently published voluminous memoirs of one of the reform movement’s leading politicians: Č. Cisař, Paměti: Nejen o zákulisí Pražského jara [Memoirs: Not just about the backroom of the Prague Spring] (Prague: SinCon, 2005).

9 Even though I stressed the peculiarity of the Czech situation with respect to the historical reflection and elaboration of the Prague Spring, one can naturally find structurally similar phenomena in other former state socialist countries. Perhaps the closest in this respect is the Hungarian revolution of 1956 and its disputed legacy.

10 See the more elaborated version of the argument in J. Cuhra and M. Kopeček, “L’historiographie tcheque du communisme depuis 1989,” [Czech historiography of communism after 1989] in La Nouvelle Alternative, No. 60/61 (2004): 199–214.

11 One of the few initiatives striving to change the situation in Czechia has been the establishment of the programmatically theoretical historical journal Dějiny, teorie, kritika [History, Theory, Criticism] published in Prague by the Institute of T. G. Masaryk and the Institute of Contemporary History since 2003.

12 Cf. P. Kolař and M. Kopeček, “A Difficult Quest for New Paradigms.”

13 E. Schmidt-Hartmann, “Forty Years of Historiography under Socialism in Czechoslovakia. Continuity and Change in Patterns of Thought,” Bohemia, Vol. 29, No. 2 (1988): 300–324.

14 R. Jaworski, “Geschichtsdenken im Umbruch.” For a broader context of the redefinition of national identity in the early transition period see the cultural anthropologist L. Holy, The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation. National Identity and Post-Communist Social Transformation (Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1996).

15 P. Nora, “Gedachtniskonjunkur,” [The conjuncture of memory] in Transit, No. 22 (Winter 2001/2002): 18–31.

16 See F. Mayer, Les Tchéques et leur communisme: Mémoire et identités politiques. [Czechs and their communism. Memory and political identities.](Paris: Editions de l’Ecole des hautes etudes en sciences sociales, 2004).

17 See P. Cooke, “Surfing for Eastern Difference. Ostalgie, Identity and Cyberspace,” Seminar—A Journal for Germanic Studies, Vol. 40, No. 3 (September 2004): 207–220; M. Blum, “Remaking the East German Past. Ostalgie, Identity and Material Culture,” in The Journal of Popular Culture Vol. 34, No. 3, (Winter 2000): 229–253.

18 Cf. P. Betts, “The Twilights of the Idols. East German Memory and Material Culture,” in The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 72, No. 3 (September 2000): 731–765.

19 For the Czech situation see M. Franc, “Ostalgie v Čechach” [Ostalgia in Bohemia] in A. Gjuričova and M. Kopeček, eds., Kapitoly z dějin české demokracie po roce 1989 [Chapters from the history of Czech democracy after 1989] (Prague, Litomyšl: Paseka, 2007, forthcoming), pp. 189–212.

20 S. Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic Books, 2001).

21 See one of the most recent expressions of this line of criticism in Czechia, A. Drda and P. Dudek, Kdo ve stínu čeká na moc. Čeští komunisté po listopadu 1989 [Waiting for power in the dark. Czech communists after November 1989] (Prague: Paseka, 2006).

22 See ibid., pp. 149–167. The authors stress the political dimension of the nostalgic cultural comeback that in the Czech circumstances plays into the hands of the existing communist party.

23 Cf. the brilliant study focusing on Hungary’s symbolic politics both prior and after 1989, I. Rev, Retroactive Justice. Prehistory of Post-Communism (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2005).

24 See Rafal Stobiecki’s chapter in the present volume and also works such as D. Gawin and P. Kowal, eds, Polityka historyczna. Historycy—politycy—prasa [Politics of history. Historians—politicians—press] (Warsaw: Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego, 2005); R. Kostro and T. Merta, eds., Pamięć i odpowiedzialność [Memory and accountability] (Krakow-Wrocław: OPM, 2005); P. Kosiewski, ed., Pamięć i polityka zagraniczna [Memory and foreign policy] (Warsaw: Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego, 2006).

25 See the typical discussion at the Institute of National Memory in April 2006, particularly the pronouncements of the INM’s representatives Janusz Kurtyka and Jan Żaryn and the historian and editor of the journal Arcana Andrzej Nowak in “Czy Polsce potrzebna jest polityka historyczna?” [Does Poland need the politics of history?] Biuletyn IPN, 5 (64) (May 2006): 3–33. For a critique, see the pronouncements of Arkadiusz Rybicki, ibid., or A. Romanowski, “Kłamstwo I banał polityki historycznej” [Lies and banalities of the politics of history], Gazeta Wyborcza, 15 July 2006, downloaded from the gazeta.pl website on 8 August 2006.

26 S. Boym, The Future of Nostalgia; cf. also the classic work on the modern use of traditions E. Hobsbawm and T. Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983).

27 In the Czechoslovak context the most famous example, which stirred up a long-lasting discussion was the Charter 77 document “The Right for History” from May 1984, in Charta 77. 1977–1989. Od morální k demokratické revoluci [Charter 77. 1977–1989 From moral towards democratic revolution], V. Prečan, ed., (Scheinfeld-Schwarzenberg, Bratislava: Archa, 1990), pp. 254–257. Generally the critique of the communist dictatorship and the Czechoslovak years of “normalization” in particular as a “regime of forgetting” has, of course, a long history, perhaps the best known example being Milan Kundera’s famous novel of 1979: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

28 Cf. the official website http://www.bstu.bund.de/cln_042/DE/Home/homepage__node.html__nnn=true (downloaded on 7 December 2006).

29 Cf. www.ipn.gov.pl/index_eng.html, the Czech draft bill is on http://www.upn.cz/store/185.doc (both downloaded on Dec 7, 2006).

30 The webpages providing sections (far from complete) of the Czech public discussion are www.aktualne.usd.cas.cz/index.php, www.upn.cz/view.php?page=polemika.

31 See the last interview with Jan Langoš before his tragic death: “Chceme se zaměřit na pachatele” [To bend on the perpetrator] in A 2, No. 24 (2006), downloaded electronically from www.tydenika2.cz, on 30 August 2006.

32 A comparison between the truth commissions and institutes of national memory is beyond the scope of the present paper. Without idealizing the impact of the truth commissions, however, it seems obvious that there is a basic difference between attempts to create new forms of social solidarity and sense of community by organized truth-telling and procedures based on the documentary vestiges of the repression apparatus. See R. L. Nytagodien and A. G. Neal, “Collective Trauma, Apologies, and the Politics of Memory,” in Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 3, No. 4 (December 2004): 465–475.

33 J. Gauck, “Akten und Gerechtigkeit. Gedanken zum Umgang mit der Vergangenheit.” [Files and justice. Considerations on coping with the past], in Plädoyers für Gerechtigkeit [Pleas for justice] (Rostock: University of Rostock, 1994), p. 17.

34 In the Central European context see, for example, M. Krol, Liberalizmus strachu a liberalizmus odvahy [Liberalism of fear and liberalism of courage] (Bratislava: Kalligram, 1999), especially pp. 158–177.

35 Cf. Andras Mink’s and Ferenc Laczo’s chapters in this collection.

36 The article has been submitted in March 2007. Later during the year, the Czech Parliament passed the law envisaging the establishment of the institute in January 2008. There were several amendments in the law as a result of the concomitant public and political discussion. Many of the amendments concerned technical details sometimes of high relevance, such as the mechanisms of how the Institute’s board of trustees should be elected. Another was a change in the name of the institution from the Institute of National Memory to the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Only slightly less problematic than the previous one, the final name clearly was a partial concession to the vocal criticism that the project of INM aroused among academic as well as political public. Nevertheless, apart from the name, the main arguments, fundamental diction, as well as the general justification in the preamble of the law remained the same. Thus, despite the above mentioned changes, the main arguments of the present study concerned with the general development of the historical discourse and its broader cultural and political context keep their validity.

37 See Preamble of the draft bill, http://www.upn.cz/store/185.doc (downloaded on 7 December 2006).

38 In all of these aspects the supporters of INM are quite far from Joachim Gauck’s language, which, though morally and religiously based, is sophisticated and programmatically non-moralizing, allowing for the ambiguity and complexity of the historical reality and its representation.

39 H. Adam, “Divided Memories: Reckoning with a Criminal Regime” in Justice and the Politics of Memory—Religion & Public Life, Vol. 33, (2003): 8.

Auteur

Michal Kopeček is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Contemporary History, Prague. He has specialized in modern intellectual history and nationalism in East Central Europe, Communism and transition studies, and the history and theory of historiography. Apart from publishing various articles he is one of the editors of the series of volumes Bolševismus, komunismus a radikální socialismus v Československu [Bolshevism, Communism and Radical Socialism in Czechoslovakia] (Prague: ÚSDDokořán, 2003–2005) and of the Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770–1945): Text and Commentaries (Budapest, New York: CEU Press, 2006ff)

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