A European Memory

A European Memory: Contested Histories and Politics of Remembrance

Małgorzata Pakier
Bo Stråth
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 372
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  • Book Info
    A European Memory
    Book Description:

    An examination of the role of history and memory is vital in order to better understand why the grand design of a United Europe-with a common foreign policy and market yet enough diversity to allow for cultural and social differences-was overwhelmingly turned down by its citizens. The authors argue that this rejection of the European constitution was to a certain extent a challenge to the current historical grounding used for further integration and further demonstrates the lack of understanding by European bureaucrats of the historical complexity and divisiveness of Europe's past. A critical European history is therefore urgently needed to confront and re-imagine Europe, not as a harmonious continent but as the outcome of violent and bloody conflicts, both within Europe as well as with its Others. As the authors show, these dark shadows of Europe's past must be integrated, and the fact that memories of Europe are contested must be accepted if any new attempts at a United Europe are to be successful.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-813-3
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. x-x)
    Małgorzata Pakier and Bo Stråth
  5. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Introduction A European Memory?
    (pp. 1-20)
    Małgorzata Pakier and Bo Stråth

    The French and Dutch rejection of the European Constitution in 2005 was, among other things, a rejection of the historical grounding for further integration as it was formulated in the proposal. The grand design of a United Europe with a common foreign policy and a common market, which was simultaneously to be sufficiently diverse so as to allow for cultural and social differences, was turned down.

    The historical motivation for the constitution contained vague references to ‘cultural, religious and humanistic traditions’ and emphasised the necessity to overcome old divisions. The Enlightenment heritage and the tradition of a particularly social Europe...

  7. Part I Europe, Memory, Politics and History:: A Normative and Theoretical Framing
    • Section 1 Normative Perspectives and Lines of Division of European Memory Constructions
      • Chapter 1 On ‘European Memory’: Some Conceptual and Normative Remarks
        (pp. 25-37)
        Jan-Werner Müller

        In recent years, a number of politicians and intellectuals have openly expressed the wish to see the formation of a kind of ‘Europeanisation’ of collective memory or even a clearly discernible ‘supranational European memory’.¹ Jorge Semprún, for instance, has claimed that European enlargement can succeed culturally and existentially only ‘when our memories have been shared and brought together as one’ (Leggewie 2007). Yet this wish for oneness has been shadowed by the suspicion that a specifically German model ofVergangenheitsbewältigung, or coming to terms with the past, might be imposed on the rest of the continent, or that a pan-European...

      • Chapter 2 The Uses of History and the Third Wave of Europeanisation
        (pp. 38-55)
        Klas-Göran Karlsson

        Problems concerning the practices and politics of remembrance and the uses of history in Europe belong to a third wave of the European integration process. The first wave, well on the road to completion, is economic integration, while the second, notably less successful, is political unification. The third wave, cultural Europeanisation, includes complex and strongly disputed processes such as linguistic homogenisation and the inculcation of a ‘European’ amalgam of knowledge, attitudes and values. The aim is to bring Europeans closer to each other in terms of everyday associations and life experiences. In addition, there is an obvious parallel objective to...

      • Chapter 3 Halecki Revisited: Europe’s Conflicting Cultures of Remembrance
        (pp. 56-63)
        Stefan Troebst

        Images of textiles are among the most popular metaphors for the profession of the historian. In hisFin-de-siècle Vienna, Carl Schorske (1981: xxii) describes the ‘diachronic thread’ as ‘the warp, the synchronic thread, the woof in the fabric of cultural history’ and the historian as ‘the weaver’. According to Carlo Levi’s famous definition, history is the pattern wovenex postinto the chaos. Sometimes the patterns of rather remote historical subjects resemble each other to such a degree that the question arises as to whether sheer coincidence is at work or whether there is a more substantial connection. This recalls...

      • Chapter 4 Iconic Remembering and Religious Icons: Fundamentalist Strategies in European Memory Politics?
        (pp. 64-76)
        Wolfgang Kaschuba

        This chapter offers some preliminary thoughts on the issue of European remembrance. These thoughts are especially concerned with two developments: firstly, national and European forms of collective remembrance after 1989, which could be described as having conventional formats; and, secondly, newer tendencies of globalisation and fundamentalisation in memory politics. In the past few years, these latter tendencies have also come from within Europe, where they have become visible in new cultural formats, often religious ones. My impression and my hypothesis is as follows: we are dealing with a new and fundamental ‘iconic turn’ in visual politics, or the politics of...

    • Section 2 Towards a Fluid Conceptualisation of Memory Constructs
      • Chapter 5 Culture, Politics, Palimpsest: Theses on Memory and Society
        (pp. 79-86)
        Heidemarie Uhl

        In 1971, the Reichstag in Berlin was the site of an exhibition entitled ‘Fragen an die deutsche Geschichte’ (Questions about German History). The project was representative of a critical-historical self-enquiry, while the reconstruction of the building at that time, in purposely omitting the original cupola that had been destroyed in 1945, served as a memorial for the destruction of parliamentary democracy by National Socialism. The location of the building, immediately next to the Berlin Wall with a view of the Brandenburg Gate in the ‘capital of the GDR’, also recalled the continuing influence of the past on the Federal Republic’s...

      • Chapter 6 Damnatio Memoriae and the Power of Remembrance: Reflections on Memory and History
        (pp. 87-97)
        Frederick Whitling

        Ours is a time characterised by the redefinition of academic boundaries as well as the role of historians in society. The following comments and reflections have sprung from discontent with the terminological confusion and lack of conceptual definition in the ongoing debate on collective memory. The capacity of memory is closely linked with consciousness and is indeed a prerequisite for the idea of thinking historically. In the words of Jan-Werner Muller (2002a), ‘memory matters’.¹ Without the human faculty of memory, history could not be imagined. This chapter discusses history in relation to conceptualisations of memory and identity, focusing on the...

      • Chapter 7 Seeing Dark and Writing Light: Photography Approaching Dark and Obscure Histories
        (pp. 98-114)
        James Kaye

        The daguerreotype process, named after Luis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, was the first commercially viable, practical and reliable chemical process by which images could be fixed on a surface. Human vision recognised the resulting images as identifiable objects, the subjects of which were perceived to be both accurate and of scientific value. Stable visions of the past could now be preserved during an ever-shifting present created by visual interpretations and changing discourses. The longevity of Daguerre’s name was secured with the naming of the daguerreotype, yet his discovery was not patented, nor was it kept private or used for the maximisation...

  8. Part II Remembering Europe’s Dark Pasts:: Four Fields of Commemoration
    • Section 3 Remembering the Second World War
      • Chapter 8 Remembering the Second World War in Western Europe, 1945–2005
        (pp. 119-136)
        Stefan Berger

        In his speech in 2005 commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made explicit the link between German responsibility for the war and Germany’s willingness to work with its European partners for a better future. Schröder proudly recalled his invitation from French President Jacques Chirac to attend the D-Day commemorations in Normandy on 6 June 2004, as well as further invitations from the Polish president, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, to participate in the commemoration of 60 years of the Warsaw Uprising on 1 August 2004 and from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to take part...

      • Chapter 9 Practices and Politics of Second World War Remembrance: (Trans-)National Perspectives from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe
        (pp. 137-146)
        Heike Karge

        The memory of the Second World War, it would seem, has not come to rest in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.¹ It was not only during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s that the media in this area and abroad displayed images resembling the memories and symbols of the Second World War. Similarly, in other parts of Eastern Europe, depictions of the past retain a clear presence.² Although these findings may well allow for a perspective that is entirely concentrated on only one region of the European continent, namely, the East, I will argue that the developments which...

      • Chapter 10 A Victory Celebrated: Danish and Norwegian Celebrations of the Liberation
        (pp. 147-160)
        Clemens Maier

        The experience of war, occupation and liberation by a foreign force left deep wounds in Denmark and Norway. As with other European nations, there was an urgent need for patriotic memories to support the process of reconstruction (Lagrou 1997: 194), and the most widespread patriotic memory was one of a resistance that had defended the nation (Flacke 2004a: 8). Governments and political movements nationalised and glorified the resistance, claiming the merits of the relatively small proportion of the population that had actively resisted during the last years. This often required a denial of the actual experience of the majority of...

    • Section 4 Towards a Europeanisation of the Commemoration of the Holocaust
      • Chapter 11 Remembering Europe’s Heart of Darkness: Legacies of the Holocaust in Post-war European Societies
        (pp. 163-174)
        Cecilie Felicia Stokholm Banke

        In his recently published book,Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, British historian Tony Judt (2005) argues that it is only now that Europe is recognising the horrors that took place during the Second World War, and that this phenomenon can be observed in the many memorials and commemorations instituted in European countries during the past one or two decades. Why did it take so long? What happened between the war and this recent recognition? And what has brought Europe closer to this part of its past – a part that was first neglected, then confronted and finally, at...

      • Chapter 12 Holocaust Remembrance and Restitution of Jewish Property in the Czech Republic and Poland after 1989
        (pp. 175-190)
        Stanisław Tyszka

        The point of departure for this chapter is an observation of a close connection between the issue of restitution of nationalised property and processes of collective remembrance in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of communism. On the one hand, the programmes of restitution adopted by the post-communist governments were an element of the reintroduction of private property rights into these societies within the general processes of denationalisation of their economies. On the other hand, they were meant as a means of redressing the wrongdoings of the previous regimes, and as such have become an important element of coming...

      • Chapter 13 A Europeanisation of the Holocaust Memory? German and Polish Reception of the Film Europa, Europa
        (pp. 191-203)
        Małgorzata Pakier

        Can it be said that narratives abuse events in the mere act of telling them? The idea that our knowledge of the past is largely conceived of as a text/narrative – as we have learned, for example, from Hayden White – touches on the most problematic issue in the study of cultural representations and remembrance of the Holocaust: the (im)possibility of conveying a traumatic event like the Holocaust within narrative frames. The Holocaust is said particularly to resist integration into narrative stories since narratives imply some sort of ‘mastery’ over the event, while it is precisely this traumatic event that...

      • Chapter 14 Italian Commemoration of the Shoah: A Survivor-Oriented Narrative and Its Impact on Politics and Practices of Remembrance
        (pp. 204-216)
        Ruth Nattermann

        In July 2000, the Italian Parliament unanimously welcomed the establishment of a Giornata della Memoria in commemoration of the Shoah. The date of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1945, 27 January, was chosen as a suitable day of remembrance. At first sight, the decision to commemorate the Shoah on the date of the liberation of the largest National Socialist extermination camp (where most of the deported Italian Jews were murdered) seems obvious and convincing. Why, then, did Law 211 of 20 July 2000 meet with considerable criticism on the part of Italian public opinion and, in particular, on the part...

    • Section 5 Coming to Terms with Europe’s Communist Past
      • Chapter 15 Managing the History of the Past in the Former Communist States
        (pp. 219-232)
        Arfon Rees

        An assessment of the communist legacy in those countries that were part of the Soviet Union and those that were its satellites in Central and Eastern Europe reveals many paradoxical and differentiated reactions. These variations indicate very different responses, both at the level of governments, corresponding to different strategies of regime legitimisation and different priorities concerning state and nation building, and with regard to public opinion and popular memory. The perception of the communist past has changed over time and, to a significant measure, has been shaped by the post-communist experiences of these countries. These highly significant differentiations contradict in...

      • Chapter 16 Eurocommunism: Commemorating Communism in Contemporary Eastern Europe
        (pp. 233-246)
        Péter Apor

        On 25 February 2002, the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán inaugurated the House of Terror museum. The government at the time was led by the Fidesz-Magyar Polgári Párt (Fidesz-Hungarian Civic Party), which had originally been a radical anti-communist liberal party and later became a radical anti-communist conservative party. It was claimed that this museum was built to commemorate the victims of dictatorial rule in the country. The spectacular opening ceremony preceded the general elections by just two months and was part of the electoral campaign of the ruling conservative party. The personal presence and inauguration speech of the prime minister,...

      • Chapter 17 The Memory of the Dead Body
        (pp. 247-259)
        Senadin Musabegović

        The disintegration of Yugoslavia as a socialist federation can be interpreted through the political use of symbols. In uniting the former country, communist symbols drew inspiration from war motifs. In destroying the communist order, nationalist symbols also fed on fantasies of war. This begs the question: in what way did the symbols of the powerful totalitarian body create a new consciousness about society and the future?¹

        The communist body was represented through the figure of the ‘warrior-worker’. This line of representation implied that the new society of workers was created through war, but also that class enemies were defeated through...

      • Chapter 18 Neither Help nor Pardon? Communist Pasts in Western Europe
        (pp. 260-272)
        Kevin Morgan

        ‘History to the defeated – May say Alas but cannot help nor pardon’, read the closing lines to British poet W. H. Auden’s poemSpain(1937: 12). Auden’s sentiments are worth revisiting in the context of communism and the politics of remembrance, since his poem exemplifies the compulsion felt by many in the 1930s to ‘take sides’ in what seemed a battle of epic simplicity. Spain was the crucible: Europe’s front line between progress and reaction, democracy and fascism, culture and barbarism – every human value and its antithesis. The international resonance of the Spanish Civil War (1936–9) was...

    • Section 6 Coming to Terms with Europe’s Colonial Past
      • Chapter 19 Politics of Remembrance, Colonialism and the Algerian War of Independence in France
        (pp. 275-293)
        Jan Jansen

        Since the final wave of decolonisation in the 1950s and 1960s, ‘colonialism’ and ‘imperialism’ have been considered part of a European – as well as worldwide – historical heritage.¹ But unlike the two world wars and the Holocaust, they have not yet found their place in the various national or shared European cultures of remembrance. This relates not only to the fact that colonialism ended relatively recently but also to its spatial distance. The ‘great events’ of colonial history did not take place inside Europe; rather, colonialism left its most significant marks in remote and ‘exotic’ regions. Despite great efforts...

      • Chapter 20 Memory Politics and the Use of History: Finnish-Speaking Minorities at the North Calotte
        (pp. 294-308)
        Lars Elenius

        With the shift of focus from history production to memory production, there has also been a shift of initiative from professional historians to amateur historians. This has signalled not only a change of positions within the field of history, but also an epistemological change: new kinds of groups create new kinds of memory places (Nora 2001: 365ff.; Wertsch 2002: 30ff.). One example of this phenomenon is the Sámi and Finnish-speaking minorities in the North Calotte region.¹ Neither of these groups dominated ethnically in the Scandinavian kingdoms of the early modern period. Subordinated to the Scandinavians, they had little influence on...

  9. Conclusion Nightmares or Daydreams? A Postscript on the Europeanisation of Memories
    (pp. 309-320)
    Konrad H. Jarausch

    In an era enamoured by technological futurism, the extent and intensity of the current memory boom have come as somewhat of a surprise.¹ Eyewitnesses to historical events, who previously bemoaned the lack of interest in their suffering, now appear constantly on talk shows or in documentaries. Business people have discovered that money can be made by hawking memorabilia or sponsoring heritage tourism. More and more politicians are justifying their policies by appeals to their own sanitised versions of the past. Many countries recently liberated from dictatorship are renationalising their collective recollections. Other states see themselves forced to apologise for prior...

  10. References
    (pp. 321-346)
  11. Index
    (pp. 347-356)