A symposium politics of remembrance, revisionism, and anti-fascist resistance in the Alps-Adriatic Region, organised by the Interregional Forum of the Party of the European Left in the Alps-Adriatic Region, with the participation of transform! europe.
Following the end of the confrontation of the Eastern and Western Blocs, we are confronted with historical revisionism in the politics of remembrance, attempting to push the history of fascism in Europe into the realm of reinterpretation or invisibility at large. At the backdrop of this, we find the decade-long reign of neoliberalism, far beyond Europe, and its attack on the achievements of social movements, destroying rights and social state securities.
The situation is ambiguous. On the one hand, we do see positive change in how the Shoah is being addressed in politics of remembrance, on the other hand we see a resurgence of forms of nationalism providing a fruitful soil for sowing or regrowing antagonistic conflicts of remembrance. The ideological condemnation of fascism that has been established after World War II is at stake. In 2019, European Parliament adopted its “Resolution on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe”, legitimising Poland’s aim to internationally establish new, revisionist politics of remembrance, contesting the fact that the sole responsibility for the extermination war of Nazi fascism in Germany and Austria lies with them and erasing the role the left and the labour movement, in particular of the communist kind, played in the resistance against Nazism and fascism.
In the countries of the Alps-adriatic region (and Europe as a whole), varying backstories make room for varying antagonistic conflicts of remembrance. Yet, we notice similar tendencies in all of the region, not to foster a close or critical examination of anti-fascist resistance, but to deny its relevance and legitimacy at large.
In Italy, on an institutional level, the Giorno del Ricordo attempts to undermine the remembrance of the collaboration with Nazi Germany and the participation in fascist crimes. Here we must take note of an alliance between neo-fascism and right wing conservative politics of remembrance with the goal of discrediting anti-fascist partisan resistance.
In Croatia, since the disintegration of Yugoslavia, we can observe how the remembrance of fascist crimes is being systematically reinterpreted on the highest state level through the rehabilitation of collaborators of the Ustasha regime responsible for the concentration and extermination camp Jasenovac. The annual gathering in Bleiburg/Pliberk in Kärnten/Koroška is not only supported by clerico-fascist forces, but also in government circles.
In Slovenia, we do find criticism of the “unprecedented historical revisionism” in Italy by PM Marjan Šarec, however revisionism of Yugoslav anti-fascism is at work here, too. Firstly, the word “reconciliation” (sprava) is back in discussion and a Study Centre for National Reconciliation has been founded – for the sake of offering a reinterpretation of the crimes committed by armed Nazi collaborators. Secondly, partisan resistance is reduced to a national liberation movement and exploited for a nationalistic reframing of Slovene identity, denying and erasing the social emancipatory dimension of partisan resistance.
In Carinthia/Koroška (Austria), double speak has been at work for decades, recognizing the crimes of the Nazi regimes while rendering its own involvement invisible. On top, a culture of remembrance predominates in which members of Nazi fascist parties are reinterpreted as victims of anti-fascist resistance, and thus anti-fascist resistance is being reinterpreted as a history of crime.
With all these conflicting politics of remembrance in mind, we pose a number of questions:
- How can we counter revisionist endeavours?
- What are the specifics of the Alps-Adriatic region?
- What is the role of local groups looking at anti-fascist resistance as well as regional renditions of fascism?
- What is the potential of pedagogical approaches to regional renditions of fascism and anti-fascist resistance movements in preventing right-wing extremism?
- How do we conceive of the relation between historical forms of fascism and current mobilising of neo-fascist and/or right-wing populist forces, neo-racism and nationalism?
- How do we intend to deal with ambiguities within historical anti-fascist resistance, when they are at the core of ideological attacks by revisionist endeavours? Does it suffice to call out the revisionism at work, or do we have to consider the restrictions conditions of war posed to the idea of universal social emancipation?
- While calling out revisionism, how do we avoid uncritically adopting the historical figure of the heroic male partisan? How can we raise awareness of a day-to-day kind of resistance, in particular of women?
- How do we make sure to not mistake current calls to action for the historical conditions of anti-fascism, and avoid all too hasty analogies?
- Who is our preferred audience for which aspects of historical anti-fascist resistance? What are connections to current struggles, that are not only marked by a revival of right-wing extremism, but by new challenges to peace building politics? And how do we react to the exploitation of remembrance of anti-fascist resistance (e.g. in current Corona debates)?
To discuss these questions and contradictions, we invite you to an anti-fascist Alps Adriatic assembly in Klagenfurt/Celovec.
Join us online for the inputs and discussion on Saturday, 14th (audio). To register, please write to el.interreg.alpeadria[at]gmail.com, you will then receive the login data.
Languages: English, German
Saturday, 14 May
10:15 Welcome by the representative of the Party of the European Left, Fabian Figueiredo
10:30 Introduction: Markus Gönitzer
10:45 Input Croatia: Milena Ostojić: Memory politics and liberal revisionism
11:45 Coffee break
12:00 Input Slovenia: Ana Hofmann: Activist Memorialisations of Yugoslav Antifascist Resistance in Slovenia
13:15 Lunch break
14:30 Input Italy: Piero Purich: The Italian-Slovenian contradictions in the historical resistance of the region
15:30 Coffee break
15:45 Input Carinthia: Klaus Schönberger, Antagonistic conflicts in the politics of memory
Sunday, 15 May
10:00 Presentation of ideas for intensified antifascist cooperation in the region by protagonists from the regions
12:00 Plenary, declaration of intent regarding further interregional cooperation and European option in this regard
13:00 Closing remarks by the representative of the Party of the European Left and the upcoming host
About the speakers
Musicologist and anthropologist. Her research focus includes music, sound and politics in socialist and post-socialist societies, with an emphasis on memory, affect and activism. In her current project focused on post-Yugoslav activist choirs, she uses both archival and ethnographic methods to examine the politics of memorializations of socialism after Yugoslavia. She works as a researcher and lecturer at ZRC SAZU Postgraduate School, Ljubljana.
Graduate of Sociology and French Language and Literature at the Faculty of Arts, University of Zagreb. Activist and organiser of several anti-fascist and feminist groups and initiatives. Research for the Lupiga portal on revisionism and politics of memory (through memorialisation in public space, history teaching and school textbooks). Co-author of the Antifascist Guide to a Better World. Co-founder and editorial board member of Antifašistički vjesnik.
Historian and musician, graduated in Triest University under the guidance of Jože Pirjevec. After graduation he studied in Ljubljana and got PhD at Klagenfurt University (supervisor Karl Stuhlpfarrer). His main interest is in migrations, forced exoduses and use of propaganda to move populations, expecially in the North Adriatic area. In 2014 he produced a musical-historical theatrical drama about deserters and mutinies during IWW. He wrote several books and articles in european reviews. In 2017 he took again his original surname, italinized in Purini during fascism. Nowadays he is teaching history in the Gymnasium Carducci-Dante of Triest.
University Professor for Cultural Anthropology at the Institute for Cultural Analysis at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt/Celovec. Since 2016 board member of the Institute for Cultural Analysis. Main research interests: Working culture/s, workers & workers’ culture, social history, folklore, audiovisual media, cultural heritage, Alps-Adriatic region, historical anthropology, ethnography, European ethnology, cultural anthropology, cultural heritage, cultural history, cultural studies. Board member of the WertStattMuseum in the Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky Haus (Klagenfurt/Celovec).