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The Unfinished Revolution

The Unfinished Revolution: Making Sense of the Communist Past in Central-Eastern Europe

JAMES MARK
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5vksnn
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  • Book Info
    The Unfinished Revolution
    Book Description:

    While the West has repeatedly been sold images of a victorious people's revolution in 1989, the idea that dictatorship has been truly overcome is foreign to many in the former Communist bloc. In this wide-ranging work, James Mark examines how new democratic societies are still divided by the past.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-17011-5
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-xxviii)

    On 12 June 2007, the Monument to the Victims of Communism was unveiled in Washington, D.C. It was dedicated to the memory of the many millions of Communist citizens who died in the Soviet Gulag, the Ukrainian Famine, Mao’s Great Leap Forward, Ho Chi Minh’s terror in Vietnam and other catastrophes caused by, and atrocities committed under, Communist dictatorships worldwide. Lee Edwards, one of the leading historians of the American conservative movement, and prime mover behind the memorial, viewed the commemoration of Communism’s victims as a necessity in the western world, where, he believed, an unhealthy amnesia had settled over...

  6. CHAPTER ONE THE UNFINISHED REVOLUTION
    (pp. 1-26)

    In 1989, scenes of West and East Germans vandalizing and crossing the Berlin Wall becametheimages denoting the collapse of Communism in central-eastern Europe. This was in part because they seemed to conform to what a popular anti-Communist revolution was expected to be: crowds borne along by the desire to be free and to overthrow a spent dictatorship. Moreover, the Berlin Wall had beentheemblem of Cold War division; its destruction by ‘the people’ became a powerful symbol of the end of a bipolar world. These pictures were to become a global visual shorthand for the popular defeat...

  7. CHAPTER TWO COMPLETING THE REVOLUTION: HISTORY COMMISSIONS AND INSTITUTES OF NATIONAL MEMORY
    (pp. 27-60)

    Until the 1980s, it was not obvious to the architects of new democratic political systems that ‘dealing with dictatorship’ required open, public and official ‘truth-telling’ procedures that addressed the experience of past criminality, violence and social complicity. The end of the Nazi regime, though accompanied with punishment for its elite at the Nuremberg Trials, was not followed by wider research into its functioning, or its relationship with German society.¹ Nor did the elites who stewarded the democratic transitions in southern Europe that followed the collapse of right-wing authoritarian regimes in the mid-1970s instigate such processes: the death of General Franco...

  8. CHAPTER THREE CRIMINALIZING COMMUNISM?: HISTORY AT TERROR SITES AND IN STATUE PARKS AND NATIONAL MUSEUMS
    (pp. 61-92)

    The widespread public exhibition of the dictatorial past in central-eastern Europe after the collapse of Communism was a novelty in the history of Europe’s gradual process of democratization in the second half of the twentieth century. The newly democratic systems that followed the collapse of Fascist regimes at the end of World War II and right-wing authoritarian regimes in southern Europe in the 1970s did not at first explore the recent past in museums or memorial sites to any significant degree.¹ After 1989, a few museums sympathetic to the Communist past emerged, notably sites that idealized dictators² or displayed nostalgia...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR CONTAINING FASCISM: ANTI-COMMUNISM IN THE AGE OF HOLOCAUST MEMORY
    (pp. 93-125)

    Alongside Ethiopia, central-eastern Europe is the only part of the globe that has experienced Fascism as well as Communism. In the 1930s, many eastern European elites had looked to the authoritarian right to provide solutions to both the economic and political pressures that followed the crisis of the Great Depression and the continued fear of Soviet expansionism. Hungary, Romania, Croatia and Slovakia all saw the rapid growth of ultra-nationalist and quasi-Fascist movements in the late 1930s. Even where Fascists themselves had less direct influence on political life, the threat of radicalism from both left and right often pushed conservative elites...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE REMAKING THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY: COMMUNISTS AND THEIR PASTS
    (pp. 126-164)

    In the post-Communist period, some former party members, such as the former Slovak partisan Tomáš, found their life stories difficult to talk about. Faced with a new political world in which they might be demonized as criminals, ex-Communists had to consider how they wanted to come to terms with their past lives: some defended their actions or resorted to silence, while others began to consider the extent to which they should create new autobiographies that were both morally and politically acceptable for a new political age, in which they atoned for their mistakes, criticized themselves for having supported dictatorship or...

  11. CHAPTER SIX VICTIMS’ STORIES
    (pp. 165-193)

    The stories of those individuals and groups who were victimized and excluded under Communist regimes took centre stage in post-Communist central-eastern Europe. For some, the late 1980s marked the moment when the stories of the oppressed could finally be recovered after years of public silence. The collection of these life stories was seen as providing a direct link to the realities of life under Communism; a growing fascination with biography, combined with a suspicion of public narratives, led to a valorization of the individual story of suffering as a means of gaining access to previously hidden truths about the Communist...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN THE AFTERLIFE OF ATROCITY: REMEMBERING RED ARMY RAPE AFTER 1989
    (pp. 194-214)

    It was not just the memory of victims of Communist regimes that was revived in 1989 in central-eastern Europe: the experiences of those who had suffered under the Red Army occupation of central-eastern Europe at the end of World War II were also highlighted. In particular, the mass rapes committed by the Red Army in 1944 and 1945 became an object of interest for various political and professional groups who sought to revive the story of the millions of women whose experiences, they claimed, had previously been hidden. The number of victims is hard to determine accurately. Conservative estimates suggest...

  13. CONCLUSION: DIVIDED SOCIETIES, DEMOCRATIC MEMORY?
    (pp. 215-221)

    The idea that the past was something to be overcome was key for the new cultures that emerged after 1989 in central-eastern Europe. History could not simply be left behind: it demanded to be reworked and mythologized so that the painful legacies it had left for the present could be mastered. Post-Communism was a culture of historical reinvention, in which political parties, state-sponsored historical institutions, cultural sites and individuals packaged the meanings and memories of dictatorship to meet the needs of a new political system. New institutions such as institutes of national memory and history commissions were established to construct...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 222-269)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 270-290)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 291-312)