Respect for Historical Memory in Europe

The European Parliament joint motion for a resolution – approved by a large majority on 19 September – on the ‘Importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe‘, is a wrongheaded political and cultural act and should be vigorously rejected.

In the first place, it has to be said that it is not the province of an institutional or political organism to assert a specific reconstruction of history by majority decision. A use of history that wishes to impose a revisionist vision of the principal events of the last century to turn them into weapons in the current political battles should have no place in a true democracy.

In the second place, the statements about the history of the twentieth century in the resolution contain unacceptable errors and unilateral distortions and visions. It asserts that the pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the 23 August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, ‘paved the way to the outbreak of the Second World War’. This omits any reference to the enabling behaviour of the liberal democracies in the face of Nazi expansionism, which dates at least from the invasion of Ethiopia (1935) and the Spanish Civil War triggered in support of General Franco’s extreme right coup (1936) and continued with the ‘Anschluss’ of Austria to Germany on 12 March 1938, the appeasement at Munich (1938) and the consequent dismembering of Czechoslovakia not only by Germany but also by Poland and Hungary.

Moreover, the resolution does not mention the enormous contribution to the victory over Nazism, decisive for the very fate of Europe and of humanity, made both by the Soviet Union (with more than 20 million dead) and by those who, everywhere in Europe and the world, often guided by the ideals and symbols of the various currents of the international communist movement, fought Hitler’s troops and those allied to him. It ‘forgets’ Altiero Spinelli, Italian Communist and political prisoner between 1927 and 1943 and co-author of the Manifesto of Ventotene who is widely known as one of the founding fathers of the European integration and therefore rightly became name giver to one of the buildings of the European Parliament.

It manages to mention Auschwitz without saying that it was the Soviet army that liberated it and the prisoners destined for extermination. Or it deliberately forgets that in many countries (among them France and Italy but not only) the communists were the principal component of the Resistance to Nazism/fascism, making a major contribution to its defeat and the rebirth in those countries of a constitutional democracy that reaffirmed political, trade-union, cultural, and religious freedoms. Not to mention the decisive support that communist states and communist ideals gave to the liberation of entire peoples from colonial oppression and sometimes slavery.

Remembering these facts, which the resolution culpably omits, does not mean ignoring and being silent about the disgraceful aspects of what is generally called ‘Stalinism’, about the errors and horrors that also occurred in that camp. But these cannot erase a fundamental distinction: While Nazism/fascism, in giving birth to a ruthless dictatorship and in cancelling every space of democracy, liberty, and even humanity, in persecuting, including through proclaimed and planned extermination, religious, ethnic, cultural, and sexual minorities, was merely attempting to put into practice its openly proclaimed programmes, the communist regimes before and after the war, when they defiled themselves through grave and unacceptable violations of democracy and liberty, were by contrast betraying their own ideals and values and promises they had made. All of which needs to generate questions, reflections, and investigations but – taken together with the contribution made by activists and by the USSR to the defeat of Nazism – in no way permits the equating of Nazism and communism at the heart of this resolution of the European Parliament nor the identification, as occurs several times in the motion, of communism and Stalinism in view of the great variety of currents of thought and political experience to which the former gave birth.

These falsifications and omissions cannot be made the basis of a ‘shared memory’, still less become the basis of a common history syllabus in schools, as the motion recommends. It cannot become the platform for a ‘European day of remembrance for the victims of totalitarian regimes’ asked for by the motion. Nor can it provide the motivation for removing ‘commemorative monuments and places (parks, squares, streets, etc.), which, with the excuse of a struggle against an indistinct totalitarianism, is in reality an invitation to erase the clear and transparent pages of the history of those who contributed, through their own sacrifice, to defeating Nazism and fascism.

We note that the European Parliament’s motion necessarily contains unavoidable gestures at balancing its main thrust by affirming the wish to struggle against the ‘reversion to fascism, racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance’. But these justified calls to struggle against racism and fascism cannot be based on a distorted and even false use of history or on the declared intention to sever the roots of a fundamental component of anti-fascism, that is, the communist component. The peoples of Europe must not permit this.


Last name Name Institution Country
Baier Walter Political Coordinator transform! europe AT
Edlinger Fritz   AT
Mugrauer Manfred Alfred Klahr Society AT
Nikolic Alexander BOEM*.AT AT
Artinian Arto  member of the Institute for Critical Theories of Supermodernity; Borough of Manhattan Community College – City University of New York BG / USA
Deyanov Deyan Institute for Critical Theories of Supermodernity, Sofia BG
Deyanova Liliana Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski BG
Tsoneva Jana Centre for Collective Intervention, Sofia BG
Arsenijević Damir University of Tuzla BiH
Grigorov Emil Laval Universtiy Quebec CA
Birač Dimitrije     CRO
Čakardić  Ankica  University of Zagreb CRO
Đurašković Stevo University of Zagreb CRO
Horvatinčić Sanja University of Zagreb CRO
Hromadžić Hajrudin  University of Rijeka CRO
Gužvica Stefan University of Regensburg, Germany CRO/SRB
Jović Dejan University of Zagreb, former Croatian President advisor CRO
Kapović Mate University of Zagreb CRO
Klasić Hrvoje  University of Zagreb CRO
Mikulić Borislav  University of Zagreb CRO
Peović Katarina University of Rijeka CRO
Hudeček Jiří Charles University of Prague CZ
Keller Jan former MEP SD; University of Ostrava CZ
Švihlíková  Ilona    CZ
Bidet Jacques philosopher; University of Paris-Nanterre FR
De Cock Laurence historian FR
Larrère Mathilde historian; University of Parix XIII FR
Laurent Pierre senior Secretary General of the French Communist Party (PCF) FR
Le Hyaric Patrick Chairman of the board and Director of L’Humanité FR
Martelli Roger historian and Director of Regards FR
Popovic Milica Sciences Po Paris FR
Sève Lucien philosopher FR
Wurtz Francis senior Chairman of the group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) FR
Azzellini Dario Cornell University GER/USA
Buden Boris  Bauhaus University, Weimar GER
Dahn Daniela writer GER
Demirović Alex University of Frankfurt GER
Deppe Frank University of Marburg GER
Dörre Klaus University of Jena GER
Ernst Cornelia MEP, Party of the European Left GER
Gysi Gregor President of the Party of the European Left GER
Kessler Mario University of Potsdam GER
Rilling Rainer University of Marburg GER
Wolf Frieder Otto Free University of Berlin GER
Athanasiou Athina Panteion University of Athens GR
Benveniste Rika University of Thessaly GR
Douzinas Costas Director Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck University GR / UK
Golemis Haris Scientific and Strategic Advisor of transform! europe GR
Karpozilos Kostis Director Contemporary Social History Archives (ASKI) GR
Spourdalakis Michalis Dean School of Economics & Politics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens GR
Vaiou Dina National Technical University of Athens  GR
Krausz  Tamás Eötvös Loránd University Budapest HU
Artner Annamaria Academy of Sciences HU
Tamás Gáspár Miklós Central European University Budapest/Vienna HU / AT
Tóth Karoly Central European University Budapest HU
Acerbo Maurizio Secretary Partito della Rifondazione Comunista IT
Abramo Cinzia University of Perugia IT
Attardi Giuseppe University of Pisa IT
Attardo Elda University of Milano IT
Bertinotti  Fausto  former President of the Italian parliament IT
Boscaino  Marina    IT
Carella Donata Maria University of Rome IT
Castellina  Luciana  journalist, former MP and MEP IT
Ciofi  Paolo  Honoary President of Futura Umanitá. Associazione per la Storia e la Memoria of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) IT
Collotti Enzo  historian IT
Conti  Davide  historian IT
Cutrufelli Rosa Maria author IT
Di Luzio Flavia University of Bologna IT
Di Quarto Francesco University of Palermo IT
Falà Leila University of Bologna IT
Favilli  Paolo    IT
Ferrara  Gianni  former MP IT
Ferrero  Paolo  Vice President of the Party of the European Left IT
Forenza  Eleonora  former MEP IT
Fratoianni  Nicola  MP and Secretary of Sinistra Italiana IT
Gagliasso Elena University of Rome IT
Gianni  Alfonso  former MP IT
Lavenia Vincenzo University of Bologna IT
Levi Giovanni University of Venezia IT
Licausi Luciano University of Siena IT
Liguori Guido  University of Calabria, President of the International Gramsci Society IT
Mariani Giorgio University of Rome IT
Maselli  Citto  film director IT
Melandri  Lea    IT
Menapace  Lidia  former Senator and member of the Italian resistance IT
Mencarelli Fabio University of Pisa IT
Micheli Maria Rita University of Perugia IT
Mincer Aleksander (Olek) University of Genova IT
Modonesi  Massimo  Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico IT
Mordenti Raul University of Rome IT
Morea Roberto board member of transform! europe IT
Musacchio  Roberto  former GUE/NGL MEP IT
Napoletano  Pasqualina  former GUE/NGL MEP IT
Natoli Claudio University of Cagliari IT
Okić Tijana  University of Pisa IT
Petrella  Riccardo  economist and political scientist IT
Pomeranzi  Bianca    IT
Previtali Franco University of Milano IT
Punzo Luigi University of Cassino IT
Quercioli Mincer Laura University of Genova IT
Rinaldi  Rosa  National Secretary Partito della Rifondazione Comunista IT
Riolo Claudio University of Palermo IT
Rodano  Giulia  former regional councilor  IT
Romitelli Valerio University of Bologna IT
Ruggieri Franca University of Rome III IT
Rui Marina University of Geneve IT
Sampaolo Giovanni University of Rome IT
Soliani Riccardo University of Geneve IT
Spagnolo Luigi University of Siena IT
Spinnler Hans University of Milano IT
Suvin Darko  McGill University  IT
Tortorella  Aldo  Honorary President Associazione per il Rinnovamento della Sinistra IT
Violante Francesco University of Foggia IT
Vitiello Ondina University of Padova IT
Voza  Pasquale University Aldo Moro, Bari IT
Zunino Franco Associazione Ricreativa Culturale Italiana (Arci), Associazione Nazionale di Amicizia Italia-Cuba IT
Kolozova Katerina Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities, Skopje NMK
Cardina Miguel Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra PT
de Sousa Santos Boaventura sociologist, Emeritus Professor at Economy Faculty and Emeritus Director of the Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra; Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Global Legal Scholar at the University of Warwick PT
Flunser Pimentel Irene historian and researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History (IHC), Universidade Nova de Lisboa PT
Loff Manuel historian, Professor at the Department of History and Political Studies, University of Porto PT
Breznik Maja University of Ljubljana and Peace Institute SLO
Kirn Gal University of Dresden SLO/GER
Kržan Marko Institute for Workers’ Studies SLO
Mesec Luka party coordinator Levica SLO
Močnik Rastko University of Ljubljana SLO
Piškur Bojana Modern Galery, Ljubljana SLO
Tomić  Violeta party coordinator Levica SLO
Vrečko Asta University of Ljubljana SLO
Alonso Montero Xesús former President of the Royal Galician Academy, University of Santiago SP
Andrade Blanco Juan Universidad de Extremadura (Extremadura University) SP
Aragón Mariano Associació Catalana D’Investigacions Marxistes  SP
Barrio Alonso  Ángeles Profesor of Contemporary History, University of Cantabria SP
Bueno Lluch Manuel Trabajador Del Archivo Histórico De Ccoo De Andalucía, Excoordinador Sección De Historia Fim SP
del Arco Blanco  Miguel Ángel Profesor Titular de Historia Contemporánea, Universidad de Granada SP
Duarte Montserrat Ángel Profesor of Contemporary History, University of Córdoba SP
Erice Sebares Francisco Profesor of Contemporary History, University of Oviedo SP
Ferrer González Cristian Profesor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of Barcelona SP
Gallego Margaleff Ferran Professor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of Barcelona SP
Gálvez Biesca Sergio archivero, doctor en historia, Madrid  SP
García Carmen University of Oviedo SP
Ginard I Feron David Profesor Titular De Historia Contemporánea, Universitat de les Illes Baleares SP
Gómez Alén José Catedrático Jubilado De Historia De Enseñanza Media SP
Hernández Sánchez Fernando Profesor of Contemporary History, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid SP
Hernández Sandoica Elena Profesor of Contemporary History, Complutense University of Madrid SP
Hinojosa Durán José Profesor De Historia De Enseñanza Media, Doctor En Historia, Extremadura SP
López López Pedro Profesor of Contemporary History, Complutense University of Madrid SP
Mainer Baqué Juan Catedrático Jubilado, Coordinador De La Federación Icaria SP
Molinero Carme Profesor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of Barcelona SP
Núñez Díaz-Balart Mirta Profesor of History of Social Communication, Complutense University of Madrid SP
Puig Valverdú Guillem Profesor de Historia Contemporánea, Universitat Rovira i Virgili SP
Martín Ramos Josep Lluís  Professor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of Barcelona SP
Robledo Hernández  Ricardo Professor of Contemporary History, University of Salamanca/ Pompeu Fabra University SP
San Francisco  Matilde Eiroa Profesor Titular de Historia Contemporánea, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid SP
Sánchez Pérez  Francisco Profesor Titular de Historia Contemporánea, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid SP
Santidrián Arias Víctor Profesor De Historia De Enseñanza Media, Doctor En Historia, Galicia SP
Sanz Hoya Julián Professor of Contemporary History, University of Valencia SP
Saz Ismael Professor of Contemporary History, University of Valencia SP
Suárez Cortina Manuel Professor of Contemporary History, University of Cantabria SP
Vadillo Muñoz Julián Profesor De Historia Contemporánea, Universidad Carlos III SP
Vega Sombría Santiago Profesor De Historia Contemporánea, Complutense Universidad of Madrid SP
Viñas Martín Ángel  Catedrático Jubilado De Economía Aplicada Y De Historia Contemporánea, Complutense Universidad de Madrid SP
Ysàs Solanes  Pere Professor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of Barcelona SP
Bakić Jovo  University of Belgrade SRB
Balunović Filip faculty for Media and Communication, University of Belgrade SRB
Kuljić Todor University of Belgrade SRB
Manojlović Pintar Olga historian at the Institute for Recent History of Serbia, President of the Reconstruction Women’s Fund Managing Board SRB
Matković Aleksandar Regional Science Center, Novi Sad and University of Belgrade SRB
Pantić Rade faculty of Media and Communication, Singidunum University, Belgrade SRB
Samardžić Miroslav Zrenjanin Social Forum SRB
Štiks Igor faculty for Media and Communication, Belgrad SRB
Fraser Nancy New School NYC USA