Historical Memory of Central and East European Communism


Klub techniků
Novotného Lávka 202/11
room 418



Historical memory belongs to well established disciplines within the historical research. It represents an important part of the identity of every political movement or group. In case of communist movement in central Europe it came through important transformations during the century particularly in its relation to nationalism and to the own deeds/mistakes in the pasts.

Considering its historical memory, the communist movement related itself originally to the project of future and to the international working class without a significant need to articulate the politics of history. This changed however as the internal conflicts in the movement spread out. The interpretation of history of Leninist party and revolution become a weapon against the opponent. The interwar years also brought a development of “national communism” ideology reinterpreting the national history in leftist-nationalist way in order to gain popular support. The “national communism” gained an importance as a mobilizing tool in the anti-Nazi resistance, during the post-war years in order to justify “national ways” to socialism and after 1956 in the attempts to come out from the influence of the Soviet Union. The victory in Second World War become the crucial event in the history of movement overshadowing the October revolution but since 1956 being questioned, as the crimes of Stalinism have been made public.

Since the 1960s the communist regimes started to base their legitimation more and more on the past but the heritage of Stalinism and its central European crimes (Katyn, Budapest 1956, Prague Spring), contributed to the regime crisis and led in the 1980s to attempts to reformulate or even to reject the own communist identity. After 1989 the movement adopted a certain “culture of defeat”, attempted to come to terms with the past and formulate its apologies.

Its new legitimization was based either on to its positive role in the democratization of the late 1980s, adopting the social democratic identity or becoming a fierce critique of renewed capitalism. In order to discuss this topics a dozen of social scientists mainly historians but also literary, film or political scientists from Central European countries will be invited for one day conference. Particularly welcomed are contributions on Poland, Czech and Slovak Republic, Hungary and Romania.


Marie Lukáčová
Association for Leftist Theory SOK


Saturday, 14 November

8:30 – 9:00 Registration

9:00 – 9:10 Welcome (Stanislav Holubec)

9:10 – 10:20 Key note speech: Communism and anti-communism as ideologies of the intelligentsia (Tomasz Zarycki)

10:30 – 12:00 Official Politics of Memory before 1989 (Chair: Ondřej Daniel)

Oksana Klymenko: Constructing Memoirs about the October Revolution in the 1920s

Agnieszka Mrozik: Spinners of the (post)revolutionary reality. Constructing history of the Left in the memoirs of Polish communist women in the 1960s

Catalin Parfene: Historical Memory of Communist Romania’s Sports: Between Nostalgia and Romanianization

12:00 – 13:00 Lunch break

13:00 – 14:00 Official Politics of Memory before 1989 II. (Chair: Michael Hauser)

Ondřej Daniel: “Comrades, the Comrades are Right!” History of Movement on the Screens of Late Socialist Television

Ugnė Marija Andrijauskaitė: Inventing the Communist Party of Lithuania as a labour movement. The narratives in Soviet historiography

14: 15 – 15:45 Identities of anti-Stalinist left before 1989 (Chair: Kristina Andělová)

Florin Poenaru: Identities of anti-Stalinist Romanian communists

Jakub Szumski: What happened in 1980? Official and popular memory of the Polish Communist Party after martial law

Senol Arslantas: The Most Long-Lasting Trauma in the Memory of the Turkish Left: The 1980 Military Coup and Its Destructive Consequences in Turkey

16:00 – 17: 00 People´s memory of communism after 1989 (Chair: Joe Grim Feinberg)

Eszter Bartha: András Tóth – Contrasting the Memory of the Kádár and Honecker regimes

Kalina Yordanova: Post-memories of socialist Yugoslavia. The place of the parents’ past in their children’s identity

17:15 – 18:45 Identities of post-1989 left (Chair: Vítězslav Sommer)

Csilla Kiss: “Of the past let us make a clean slate”. The lack of a left-wing narrative and the failure of the Hungarian left

Thorsten Holzhauser: Learned nothing from the past? Historical memory of German post-communists and its functionalization after 1989

Antony Kalashnikov: Historical apologetics and factional differences in the Russian communist party (CPRF), 1993-2004


Sunday, 15 November

9:00 – 10:00 Identities of post-1989 left (Chair: Martina Poliaková)

Kristina Andělová: The Ongoing Legacies of 1968 and 1989 are Two Related Challenges of Our Future. Czech Socialism, Memory of Czech “Totalitarianism” and the End of History

Walter Baier: Austrian communist experiences interpreted from post-1989 perspective

10:15-11:45 Right-wing memory of communism after 1989 (Chair: Stanislav Holubec)

Ekaterina v. Klimenko: Politics of oblivion and the practices of remembrance. Repressions, collective memory and nation-building in postsoviet Russia

Oleksandra Gaidai: Nationalism versus Sovietism? Politics of Memory towards Communist Heritage in Ukraine after 1991

Ittipol Jungwatanawong: The Use of Historical Memory by the FIDESZ Party in post-communist Hungary

12:00 – 12:45 Lunch break

12:45 – 14:15 Places of Memory after 1989 (Chair: Josef Švéda)

Aleksandra Kuczyńska-Zonik: The contemporary value of Soviet monuments in East Central Europe

Aleksandra Đorđević: Contested Histories and Monumental Past: Serbia’s Culture of Remembrance of Army Headquarters Building

Stanislav Holubec: Places of socialist and post-socialist memory in the Czech republic and former GDR – Case of Hradec Králové and Jena

13:30 – 13:45 Closing of the conference