The politics of history has been one of the constitutive elements of the new democracies in east central Europe after 1989. ‘Coming to terms with the communist past’ was especially important as a means of securing the legitimacy of new democratic regimes. The communist past increasingly became a field of political struggle with distinct variants of politics of memory being used as expedient political tools. The most visible of these was the anti-communist memory politics symbolized by newly created, powerful Institutes for National Remembrance, which strove to repair and recreate the ‘memory of the nation’ and provide impetus to anti-communist patriotic education. The lecture will outline this development based on Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak examples and show how it relates to the recent rise of national populism in the region.
Michal Kopeček is the director of the Department of Late- and Post-Socialism at the Institute of Contemporary History in Prague and co-director of Imre Kertész Kolleg, Friedrich Schiller University in Jena.