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EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES NO. 1 DECEMBER 2011
E ast European Memor y Studies CONTENTS
GHOSTS OF THE PAST
1 OP-ED: GHOSTS OF THE PAST Aleida Assmann 6 DIARY OF FORTHCOMING EVENTS 7 CALL FOR PAPERS: GULAG UNBOUND Cambridge 29-30 June
Let me start with a rather simple distinction between spirits and ghosts. Spirits are conjured up, they are called up; ghosts intrude, they come without bidding, they haunt us. How spirits are conjured up is described in an ironic way in a dialogue in Shakespeare’s Henry IV (III, I, 52 – 55), where Owen Glendower, the magician, boasts: “I can call spirits from the vastly deep.” To which Hotspur dryly replies: “Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?” Ghosts, on the other hand, represent something that returns from the past or the realm of the dead on its own will. This return is the symptom of a deep crisis; it is felt as a violent and threatening interruption of the present.
8 RECENT EVENTS: GERMAN VICTIMHOOD IN CONTEMPORARY EUROPE James Koranyi 10 STUDYING MEMORY IN THE POLISHRUSSIANUKRAINIAN TRIANGLE: SOME OBSERVATIONS Andrii Portnov
Something that had been deemed overcome and gone reappears to announce some unﬁnished business that needs to be addressed. The paradigmatic case is of course the ghost of Hamlet’s father appearing on the battlements of Elsinore castle or Banquo’s ghost at the feast of King and Lady Macbeth. Shakespeare was clearly interested in both manifestations of invisible and uncanny beings, in spirits as well as ghosts. Spirits and ghosts show a close similarity to two for ms of remembering: conscious recall on the one hand and non-conscious, involuntary and even countervoluntary summons on the other. I will start from this hint and examine more closely the connection between spirits, ghosts and memory together
the work of mourning cannot come to an end. Ruth Klüger: Still Alive. too: you can’t shake or alter the images engraved there. its tool is incantation. Used all over the world. Klüger ﬁnally found out some details about the last transport of her family members. the ﬂesh of the living. To conjure up the dead you have to dangle the bait of the present before them.” she writes. I wish I could write ghost stories. the client is asked to stage his/her family by picking individual persons from the audience. sounds.” (34) Her 2 Bert Hellinger: Addressing the Dead in Psychotherapy In the 1990s a new form of therapy was invented that claimed to be able to externalize and change deeply concealed memories. The stage on which this is performed is an externalization of the psyche and mirrors a family constellation that includes both living and dead members. According to the patriarchal rules. The concept goes back to Bert Hellinger. Memory for her is a trap and “a prison of sorts. Klüger meditates on this strong bond between aesthetics and magic. a self-made ritual.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES NO.) for instance took an active part in such spiritistic sessions. After the Great War. she trusts words more than places. . her poetry is tinged with this metaphysical quality of reaching out to former epochs. As a child. problem is aggravated by the fact that as a Jewish woman she is not entitled to the ritual outﬁt with which male Jews are provided in the Jewish tradition.” she writes. the Kaddish. “has become an unredeemed ghost. There is an obvious connection between violence. uncanny. a Catholic priest who worked in South Africa. Ruth Klüger refers to two family members that haunt her memory. the living try to establish some form of contact across the borderline between the world of the living and the dead. Wherever there is a sudden and alarming rise in the population of the dead. The passive memory. is not to be recited by a female voice.2 Her father and her brother were murdered in the Holocaust. media and mechanisms. The American poet Hilda Doolittle (H. She deploys the only real power that she has at her disposition which is the power of words. The art historian Aby Warburg believed in mnemic waves that emanate from a distant past and could be received by those who were endowed with a seismographic sensibility.D. this therapy is called ‘Aufstellung’ (this German word contains semantic elements of “putting up”. Klüger describes the memorial sites of the death camps as a kind of bargain that the living offer to the ghosts of the dead. Only many years later. “summoning” and “mobilizing”). the pain of being haunted is answered by an active effort. in her research and reconstruction of the events. a proof of which is the strong interest that arises in spirits and ghosts after wars and battles. 8 DECEMBER 2011 with its contexts. art and ritual in playful words: “Remembering is a branch of witchcraft. many individuals tested their own spiritual powers or relied on persons who acted as a medium to establish some form of communication with family members that had recently fallen in battle. which is perhaps the most archaic function of art. What makes their memory so troubling is not only the uncertainty about the circumstances of their death but also the fact that they could not take leave from one another in peace. “staging”. she composed poems to shield herself from the ultimate terror with the help of words. In the concentration camp Groß Rosen. “My father. However. to coax them out of their inertia. rhymes and meter. “Without a grave.” This passage blurs the difference between ghosts and spirits. the prayer for the dead.” (34) She is therefore compelled to keep up a long and painful dialogue with her father that revolves around the trivial events of their last hours together. In a room ﬁlled with other therapists who witness the process. trauma and “ghosting”. traumatic past that confronts the present with something that refuses to simply vanish or disappear. Exorcising the Dead In her Holocaust memoir. she made use of regular patterns to create a counterpoint against chaos – a poetical and therapeutic attempt to confront the abyss of destruction with rhyme and structure. In the second part of my paper I will focus on photography as a carrier of an unknown.
I am concerned here mainly with the second function in which a moment is r e s c u e d f r o m t i m e. It directs us not only to the future but also toward the past. The ﬁrst one is the documentary function of providing accurate evidence of an otherwise inaccessible past. and in particular for those whose death is shrouded in trauma. In this case. freezing a moment and simulating a form of eternity. not only for those who maintain an embodied memory of the past but also for those who have acquired this memory via narratives or mute gestures in a shared living context. Staging the constellation creates an imaginary space in which such forms of impact can be identiﬁed and answered by symbolic action.3 In their primary memorial use. in their secondary use. a memento. Though both messages are clearly related. this material object gains the additional value of a sacred aura. Such “memory icons” assume the character of a fetish. extending it to the second generation that has no empirical knowledge of the persons involved. and assumes a ghostly presence. Individuals do not give up their sense of distinction. It is often what is transmitted only indirectly and unconsciously that shapes the intra-familial relations across the generations. from individual autonomy to a more integrated view on family and history. photos act as external props for an embodied memory. may have its source in the posttraumatic situation.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES NO. To emphasize the importance of family photos as “transitional objects” or “missing links” that connect family members across generations. she has focused on photographs as stand-ins for dead family members. the family staging comprises a transindividual time span of three (and sometimes more) generations which are interlocked in an “interactive ﬁeld”. the photo is not only an externalized memory but an object that is re-embodied through conscious and unconscious forms of transmission. its close relationship to death has been frequently emphasized. . but they accept family inﬂuences as part of their identity. These forms of transmission and tradition prolong an embodied memory beyond the limits of experiential memory. It becomes therefore a m e d i u m o f m e m o r y. the memorial function re-afﬁrms the documentary function of the photo. as “postmemory”. In the theoretical writings on photography. which means that the object itself 3 becomes the last piece of evidence that this person had ever existed. they refer to two rather different functions. and it teaches us to listen to the voices of ghosts. We cannot open ourselves to the future without having listened to the voices of the past and having appeased the claims of the ghosts. If the photo is the only relict of a family member who died a violent death. Photographs and Ghosts A photograph makes two distinct statements: ‘This was once there’ and ‘this is no longer here’. Roland Barthes wrote that the moment of shooting the photo is itself conceived as a “shock” that produces an effect of mortiﬁcation: it mutes and ﬁxates vibrant and bustling life. Hirsch has coined the term “postmemory”. We may detect an interesting parallel in the change of a therapeutic model on the one hand and the new literary genre of German family novels on the other. This change. In her book Family Frames. Marianne Hirsch has opened up a new approach to the memorial function of photography by investigating the context of traumatic family memory. The second one is the memorial function of providing an affective material trace of something that is absent or lost. The therapeutic model of family staging is thus based on a transindividual concept of identity that privileges long-term generational integration over separation and confrontation. Like the family novels. the photo itself becomes the replacement of the missing person. 7 8 NOVEMBER 2011 DECEMBER Hellinger thus transfor med therapy from a synchronous to a diachronic model. reckoning with pressures emanating from absent and dead family members which may or may not have been known to the client. In these cases. t o b e transfor med into a lasting monument that remains the object of continued attention and meditation.
his ghostly other. but what they expose is less remembering than forgetting. The novel ends with a meeting in which the mother. ghosts of the past and reality. Boltanski exposes photographs as ghostly remnants and revenants. leaving him with a diminished or ghostly presence. each photo stands for an individual life. The photo-album belongs to the material items that Anne Fuchs has classiﬁed as ‘memory icons’. Within Western culture the photograph is celebrated as a cultural practice that is able to rescue the e p h em er a l i n d i v i d u a li ty o f humans from the clutches of death.-U. Der Verlorene (The Lost One). the “memorial dimension” of photographs depends on their being embedded in a sociocommunicative frame. cannot come together. almost invisible. while the present son is (almost) absent from the photos. the lost one holds a central place in the familial mourning.museumsjournal. Instead. a family fetish that deprives the younger brother of a life of his own. Memory and the present. nor does he engage in memorial projects. Without such a family frame. As we saw in the case of postmemory. the persons are less and less r e c o g n i z a b l e. In his art. while the one who is actually there is disregarded.4 It is told from the point of view of a boy born after the war whose brother was lost when the family was ﬂeeing from Poland. The acts of remembering. which I call the “memento mori function”. The melancholy search for the lost son is ended at the very moment when their paths have ﬁnally crossed. he is suddenly confronted with his doppelganger. The photo assumes a presence in itself. This inverted relationship accurately represents the way in which both brothers ﬁgure in the family consciousness and memory. who is stuck in the past. fails to recognize her former child in the grown-up boy. whether amateur shots or studio prints. The younger brother is barely visible. deals with the life of a German refugee family after the Second World War in the 1950s. 7 8 NOVEMBER 2011 DECEMBER H. documenting and a rch i v i n g a re m e t i c u l o u s l y brought to the fore. on the contrary. function of photography. has been dissolved. which had once framed and supported these photographs. Treichel: Der Verlorene The novel by Hans Ulrich Treichel. N o t h i n g n e s s shimmers through the amorphous black and white grains. In other words: the document of memory becomes a monument of forgetting. devoid of a cultural or familial frame of remembering which are the necessary prerequisites of both memory and postmemory. Treichel seems to suggest. Boltanski shows that material perseverance in itself image: www. this memory icon inverts the order of the real: the absent son is highlighted in the center where he has an overwhelming presence. on top of the documentary and memorial. photos cease to be props of memory.5 In Treichel’s novel. affection and longing. The son. When they turn up at ﬂea markets after the dissolution of a household or an estate. is struck by a shock of recognition. they provide evidence for only one thing: that the family memory. it becomes an idol. Boltanski works primarily with photographs from the private or family sphere. rightly emphasizing their central importance in recent family novels. he makes us sharply aware of the futility of collective and cultural memorial practices and institutions. faces that can neither be identiﬁed nor recognized are transformed into ghostly apparitions. The novel begins with the description of a photo-album which shows a picture of the lost elder brother. Boltanski introduces a third 4 . It is this myth that Boltanski explodes.de Christian Boltanski: Photographs as Memento Mori Christian Boltanski does not concern himself with the documentary status of photographs. His obsessive interest focuses on human faces.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES NO. He often reworks and enlarges the original photos in such a way that their documentary value gets lost.
image: 2. nothing before it came. he sees those photographed as eaten away by time. Jahrhunderts. 1997. Der Verlorene. the project of culture was to transform the transient into the permanent. until recently. again nothing after it has gone. “Für eine Archäotopik der Erinnerung: eine Releküre von Horst Bieneks Gleiwitz-Tetralogie im Kontext der Debatte um Flucht und Vertreibung. Mass: Harvard UP.bp. the conditions for such transubstantiation seem to be in d e c l i n e. 225-240. 211. Konzept Osteuropa. However. Sebald – as a thoroughly melancholy artist.” in D Lorenz & I Spoerk (eds). ﬂooding cultural memory.terminartors. 3 Hans-Ulrich Treichel. 2 Marianne Hirsch. Photography. 2001.blogspot. A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered. Narrative. Family Frames.1. image: www. 22. Still Alive. 5 Friedrich Nietzsche. New York: Feminist Press. “It is a matter for wonder: a moment. 1998.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3 NO.” 6 Nietzsche’s motto sums up the various forms of “ghosting”. Der „Osten“ als Konstrukt der Fremd. In the context of postmemory. photographs assume a ghostly presence. Ruth Kluger. Frankfurt a M: Suhrkamp. Cambridge. What he highlights instead is their memento mori function. as future dead. Boltanski has located his art on exactly this threshold. Bauman speaks of the present as a “liquid modernity”. G. He describes himself – very much like W. Ruth Klüger developed verbal magic to exorcise her ghosts while a new form of family therapy mixes preand post-moder n rituals to address the ghosts. He collects and stages photographs which have irreversibly fallen out of the frames of family memory and are recurring as ghosts. where the desire for stability and memory ﬂows into nothingness. 7 8 NOVEMBER 2009 DECEMBER 2011 FALL 1 cannot secure the memorial function of the photo. from the unconscious. d e s p i t e t h e e ve rexpanding capacity for storage. 4Anne Fuchs. be they fetishised as in Treichel’s novel or thinned out as in Boltanski’s installations. Werke in Drei Bänden. from the dead. Untimely Meditations. München: Hanser 1962. Bd. returns as a ghost and disturbs the peace of a later moment.com 5 . now here and then gone. According to Zygmunt Bauman. Wuerzburg: Koenigshausen und Neumann.” in Daniel Breazeale (ed). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1997.com Boltanski’s artistic use and recycling of family and portrait photographs emphasizes the erosion both of their documentary and memorial functions. to assume a ghostly presence and haunt the quiet of a later moment.und Eigenbestimmung in deutschsprachigen Texten des 19. “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life. Like Treichel’s narrator. 60. We have seen how images return from the past. and Postmemory. und 20. from the forgotten.
Cambridge. 6 . This event will be broadcast live at http://uttv. Cambridge co-organised Reading with University of For CFP. please see page 7.10 December 2011 For the programme. Cambridge co-organised with Passau University The programme is currently being ﬁnalised and will be available on our website soon. ‘How Many Ukraines? Understanding Regionalism and the Politics of National Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine’ February: Julie Fedor (University of Cambridge). 7 8 NOVEMBER 2011 DECEMBER DIARY OF FORTHCOMING EVENTS image: shutterstock. January: Peter Rodgers (University of Shefﬁeld). please see our website. ‘Re-Playing the Stalinist Past’ and Galina NikiporetsTa k i g a w a ( U n i v e r s i t y o f Edinburgh/University of Cambridge). ‘Memory and Postmemory in Polish Jewish Fiction’ and Andrei Zorin (University of Oxford). ‘ N at i o n a l i s i n g t h e “ C o m m o n Vi c t o r y ” i n t h e Ukrainian-Russian Borderlands: Political Uses of WWII Memory in Kharkiv and Belgorod’ Fe b r u a r y : G e r n o t Howanitz (University of Salzburg). ‘The Tandem’s Anti-Soviet Turn: New Memory Projects in Contemporary Ru s s i a ’ a n d Ta t i a n a Zhurzhenko (Univer sity of Vi e n n a ) . ‘The Manezhka Affair and the First Steps of Russian Mnemonics’ ✦1 5 ✦1 ✦ 18 February: Nelly Bekus (University of Warsaw). Events at MAW Partner Institutions Tartu CONFERENCE: Hard Memory.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES NO. Soft Security: Competing Securitisation of the Legacy of Communism in Eastern Europe 9 .com Events in Cambridge EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES RESEARCH GROUP SEMINAR CRASSH. U C L ) . ‘Memory and Forgetting in Two Post-Soviet Capitals: Minsk and Astana’ and Anna Krylova (Duke University). All seminars begin at 5:00pm.ee/esileht MAKING SENSE OF CATASTROPHE: Postcolonial Approaches to Postsocialist Experiences 2 4 & 2 5 Fe b r u a r y 2 0 1 2 . ‘Neither “Erased” nor “ Re m e m b e r e d ” : A c a d e m i c M e t a p h o r s a n d I n t e r p re t i ve Challenges of Soviet Post-War Literature and Memoirs’ M a rc h : K atarzyna Z e c h e n t e r ( S S E E S. ‘Lydia Ginsburg on the Lening rad Blockade: Mechanisms of Forgetting and Repression’ ✦1 4 ✦ 29 THE GULAG UNBOUND: Remembering Soviet Forced Labour 29 & 30 June 2012.
This story is “bound” to the compelling narrative of suffering of the i n t e l l e c t u a l i n t h e G u l a g. How can we evaluate the factual validity.org. and we are confronted with almost unbearable choices. cultural studies. and will be pre-circulated to workshop participants. and ideological aims that underpin these documents? How far can we trust the archival documents of the managers of the Gulag? With the issue of trust coming to the forefront of empirical research. with support from both institutions. religious. sabotage. those who imagined. Inmates responded to 7 their particular condition by developing equally speciﬁc means of artistic creativity. 8 DECEMBER 2009 FALL 2011 CALL FOR PAPERS THE GULAG UNBOUND: REMEMBERING SOVIET FORCED LABOUR Cambridge. 29-30 June 2012. these narratives had been the principal prisms through which we saw the Soviet forced labour. medical. religious ritual.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3 NO. entertaining. and maintained the forced labour camps. The enormous paper trail generated by the security apparatus and its massive penal bureaucracy now challenges historians to consider the Gulag through the eyes of the perpetrators. author of The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements (Oxford & New Yo rk : O U P. and pedagogical aspects of the life in the Gulag need to be discussed in conjunction – or counterpoint – with its archival history. and other disciplines who work with these unbound – documentary. . and history as a discipline? Is there anything to learn from comparison with other penal-colonial systems such as transportation to Australia? Is the paradigm of inter nal colonization and the broader context of postcolonial studies productive for understanding and remembering the Gulag? Means of the resistance. While colonial anthropology has developed sophisticated means of identifying “weapons of the weak”. We invite papers examining these themes to be presented at a workshop to be held at Cambridge University. and erotic behaviour. 29-30 June 2012 Dan Healey Alexander Etkind The history of the Gulag is conventionally understood as a story of enormous injustice and heroic endurance. University of Toronto. the Gulag developed its ways of healing. Gulag historiography is only beginning to apply such analysis to the archived documentation of the camps. exempliﬁed by the classic accounts of its highly literate survivors or mourners of its victims. Until recently. To propose a paper. the state archives of the Gulag have gradually been made available to scholars and this ﬂood of documents must be weighed against the memoirs of survivors. M e m o r y a t Wa r P r o j e c t . Our conﬁrmed keynote speaker is Professor Lynne Viola. The workshop is org anized by Alexander Etkind of Cambridge University and Dan Healey of Reading University. bureaucratic rivalries. anthropology. The new bodies of source material compel us to reassess traditional narratives of Stalinist violence. Papers should be original unpublished work. and folklore – archives of the Gulag. memoiristic. info@memoryatwar. L i m i t e d ﬁnancial assistance for participants may be available. Like any long-term system of life management. and educating its population. How far should historians attempt to “reconcile” the diverging picture of the Gulag found in survivor memoirs and in ofﬁcial documents? How do we evaluate the economic consequences of Gulag activity? What moral and philosophical problems arise when we compare Soviet camps to those organized by the Nazi regime or Communist China? What is the place for the experience and testimony of Gulag employees and criminal prisoners? How far does the new material available to us challenge commemorative practices? What do the politics of memory in Russia and other post-Soviet states teach us about history of the Gulag. and its g reat moral prestige fuelled opposition to the Soviet system. please send a 300-word abstract and 2-page CV to Jill Gather. Since the 1990s. by Friday. 24 February 2012. 2 0 0 7 ) . The narrative of intellectual martyrdom was powerful. These aesthetic. moral and philosophical problems o f i n ter p ret ati ve j u d g e m e n t become more pertinent than ever. built. The purpose of this symposium is to reﬂect on the challenges currently confronting history. and subversion in the Gulag and other Soviet “corrective institutions” need more research.
In the context of Romania’s EU accession. and ethnic Germans from eastcentral Europe ought to regard their role in Europe as “a living link between the two continents” (ein lebendiges Bindeglied zwischen den Kontinenten). James Koranyi’s paper entitled ‘Romania. Transylvanian Saxons. Hans-Peter Kemper. explained his understanding of German victimhood in contemporary Europe. On 2 November 2011. In it. a s a w a r n i n g o f Ro m a n i a ’s 8 . As such. the Memory at War series opened up to the topic of German victimhood. he traced the development of Romanian German victim stories from parochial and marginal in both (West) Germany and Romania to a transnational success story. the commissioner for the Federal Republic of Germany for Issues concerning German Resettlers and National Minorities (Beauftragter der Bundesregierung für Aussiedlerfragen und nationale Minderheiten). 7 8 NOVEMBER 2011 DECEMBER RECENT EVENTS James Koranyi and Bill Niven on GERMAN VICTIMHOOD IN CONTEMPORARY EUROPE James Koranyi Bill Niven At the Heimattag der Siebenbürger Sachsen (Homeland Day of Transylvanian Saxons) in 2005. he viewed the construction of German memories as a challenging and arduous task in light of “ﬂight. These attempts were highly successful. Romanian Germans. emigration and integration” in the twentyﬁrst century.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES NO. t o o. Brücken bauen). the post-communist period ushered in attempts to transform the standing of these memories into one of the central issues for German and Romanian society. expulsion. building bridges” (Tiefen überstehen. While Romanian German discourses during the late Cold War period were concerned with recognition in West Germany. They allowed Romanian Germans to reafﬁrm existing cultural hierarchies that marked out Romanian society as untrustworthy and in need of critically assessing its role in the disappearance of Germans from Romania. Referencing the motto of the Heimattag of “Overcoming lows. Professor Bill Niven from Nottingham Trent University and Dr James Koranyi from the University of St Andrews presented their papers on contemporary memories of German victimhood in Germany and south-eastern Europe. this s e r ve d . and Contemporary Memories of German Victims’ compared the different legacies of ethnic Germans in Romania and Serbia. Serbia. Yet the difﬁculties of placing German memories of victimhood have hardly been surmounted with such ease.
The public engagement with the Saxon and Swabian heritage and the memories of German victimhood has provided a useful way for Romanian politicians and public ﬁgures to demonstrate their deserved inclusion into the West. Integration). the German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum) attempted to solve this dilemma by containing images of the Holocaust and World War Two (i. Whether this is a meaningful way of addressing German victimhood in museum 9 remains open. Vertreibung. The last three decades h ave b e e n m a rk e d by t h e disintegration of Yugoslavia. the Danube Swabians depict life and society in their former homelands beyond the end of their community in those regions. international ostracisation and a NATO bombing campaign in 1999. this may be a good thing: The absence of any real engagement with ‘difﬁcult victims’ such as Germans or Hungarians has also meant more commemorative space for the Yugoslav civil wars. It has made little sense to reassess the role of German victims in Yugoslavia/Serbia – a society that has undergone a distinct inward turn since the 1980s. The commemorative topography of cities such as Novi Sad bears witness to that. i. In the meantime. German victimhood has been back on the agenda in Germany since the late 1990s. It is this acknowledgment of continuity that may be a valuable way of embedding German memories in a transnational context. Yet. In Serbia. civil war. In a web of expulsion. While German society has been confronted with the intricacy of these memories for a longer period of time (some might say since the inception of the Federal Republic of Germany). or the pressing issue of Gypsies in Romanian society in past and present. and Danube Swabians from south-eastern Europe on the other. such as the Holocaust in Ro m a n i a . The Holocaust does not sit alongside the narrative of German victimhood. Expulsion. While the former groups’ museums tend to end their stories with ﬂight and expulsion. Yet as his paper demonstrated. Furthermore. the politics of memory surrounding these two topics have made the public depiction of this in museums all the more ch a l l e n g i n g. German victim stories have become a valuable currency in Romanian society. More recent developments. point to a widening debate on where these memories can be placed in a European topography of memory. these memories are not merely fascinating case studies for scholars but challenging stories in European societies. these processes have been rather different. however.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3 NO. One can interpret this in several ways: It provides a context while refusing to establish a hard causality between the two issues (Holocaust and German expulsion). 7 8 NOVEMBER 2009 DECEMBER 2011 FALL unpreparedness to join ‘the West’. has been regarded as a sleight of hand for ignoring the context of these expulsions. in the EU and NATO.e. He presented a plethora of case studies searching for a ‘good template’ for combining the two issues. Integration (Flight. of German crimes) in a tunnel situated at the entrance to the exhibition. Bill Niven’s talk was concerned with the complexity of museum exhibitions in portraying ﬂight and expulsion and its relationship with the Holocaust. D e p i c t i n g t h e Holocaust alongside stories of German victimhood has led to accusations of relativism. sanctions. resettlement. Russia and the Czech Republic on the one hand. James Koranyi . on the other hand. but it is also not absent. by contrast. migration. however. Lithuania. Instead.e. the anti-fascist narrative concerning World War Two has remained strong and still governs the way in which the 1930s and 1940s are remembered. counter-expulsion. In this way. In its exhibition Flucht. war and ideology. this public comingto-ter ms-with-past vis-à-vis German victims has been used as a way of ignoring other difﬁcult pasts. A noticeable difference in museum exhibitions exists between the expelled ethnic Germans from Poland. The absence of the Holocaust in exhibitions on German victimhood. it is the very places where these contested periods occurred that are now encountering the impact of these legacies. thereby avoiding accusations of relativism. the open-air exhibition Missing Lives in Belgrade in 2010 can be seen as an opening for debates surrounding the end of Yugoslavia in Serbia. t h e q u e s t i o n o f complicity during communism.
The same could be said about Belarus and Ukraine. The latter include the dynamics of identity formation and identity debate in post-Soviet Ukraine. The ﬁrst quite common misleading tendency is rationalization. on the one hand. In the Ukrainian case we should be very c a u t i o u s i n a t t r i bu t i n g a ny conscious strategy to the history politics conducted by Kuchma. Quite often (if not on a regular basis) this politics has been highly spontaneous. Yushchenko or Yanukovych.in. and consistent and coherent strategies. but I see it rather as an interdisciplinar y ﬁeld of research.ua web site. Russia and Belarus as well as post-communist Poland. even if we keep in mind the shift in Lukashenka’s ofﬁcial speeches from “the Victory of the Soviet people in the Great Patriotic War” to the “Victory of the Belarusian people”. usually promoted and constantly supported by the mass media. but also carries a high level of responsibility. In this article. the rich diversity of political and cultural attitudes within the “Russian- . I set out to identify and challenge some common misconceptions characteristic of East European memory studies. are very different things. and situational. I would even argue that Kuchma tried to follow his intuition by avoiding any potentially “dangerous” issues and tended to accept different variations of 10 memory among different parts of Ukrainian society. of the 1932-33 Holodomor. given how closely and inevitably it is intertwined with politics. especially in the last years of his presidency. whereby the state politics of history in these countries is presented as the result of a conscious strategic decision by the elites. but civilizational lines. But personal feelings or deep emotional connections. Sometimes it is claimed that memory studies should be a separate discipline with its own methodology. The ﬁeld of memory studies is not only fashionable and exciting. Portnov Andrii Portnov is a Research Fellow at the Ivan Krypiakevych Institute for Ukrainian Studies. Yuschenko’s politics. and Editor-in-Chief of Historians.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3 NO. internally contradictory. he was a Memory at War visiting fellow in Cambridge. 7 8 NOVEMBER 2009 DECEMBER 2011 FALL STUDYING MEMORY IN THE POLISH-RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TRIANGLE: SOME OBSERVATIONS Andrii V. the village–city difference in terms of language practices. I would rather agree with Ilya Kalinin that to portray Putin’s authoritarianism as a re-mastering of the Soviet system and a “return” to Soviet symbols would be to attribute integrity to something that is in fact disjointed and f r a g m e n t a r y. ﬁrst and foremost. the emerging civic (political) Ukrainian identity. The best example here is the notion of “two Ukraines”. a n d t o i nv e s t ideological meaning into something that is rather a political technology. This image of two homogeneous conﬂicting groups within Ukrainian society overshadows a wide range of g e n u i n e l y i n t e re s t i n g s o c i a l phenomena. In March 2011. d e s c r i b i n g President Lukashenka’s policies as “re-Sovietization” explains very little. before going on to sketch out a future research agenda for the ﬁeld. were highly determined by his deep personal involvement in the memory of certain historical events. The second common trend is the essentialization of certain explanatory formulas. In the B e l a r u s i a n c a s e. on the other. There are numerous stereotypes and common places in thinking about the politics of memory in post-Soviet Ukraine. suggesting a country that is deeply divided along not just linguistic.
Last but not least. Omer Bartov’s book. why the city of Dnipropetrovsk has two very different memorials dedicated to the same historical event – the mass shooting of the Jews.4 Next. the preparation of maps of memory sites. but it fails to identify any dynamics of memory. blogspot.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES INVESTOR NEWSLETTER ISSUE N°3 NO. a closer look at Polish and Ukrainian media discourse on the Volhynian events of 1943. Attempts at the re-construction or selective rewriting of Soviet symbols are of special interest here. we usually know very little how they are perceived by real people. 11 . Other potentially fascinating topics here might include a comparison of Polish and Russian policies towards Ukraine. or how the Soviet literary canon has inﬂuenced the promotion of Ukrainian or Belarusian literature and culture after the collapse of the Soviet Union. an acknowledged specialist on the Holocaust. sites of atrocities and persecution now converted into parks. Critical attention must be paid to the phenomena of Soviet politics and its long-lasting impact. As Timothy Snyder rightly stress in his Bloodlands. we need serious research into attitudes and perceptions.com We need a wide variety of comparative and interactive studies. First. has written a book on a very important issue. any account of events in inter-war or present-day Eastern Europe that is based solely on attention to one single group is bound to fail.5 Lviv Citadel image: cambridgeculturalmemory. We need to analyze the Soviet politics of history in order to understand. consider. or Bezieungsgeschichte. in which he offers up a disturbing picture of the continuity in rejecting and destroying the “traces of Jewish Galicia” in Soviet and post-Soviet Ukraine. Another task is the cataloguing of sites of forgetting: of the football stadiums built on top of cemeteries. can serve as an illustration of this point. Even when we know what monuments or what state holidays are in existence. and even luxury hotels built at former Nazi concentration camps for Soviet prisoners-of-war (eg the case of Lviv Citadel). or analysis of the ways in which Russian ofﬁcials have adapted the Katyn story for internal and external use. for example. to use the German term. The issue of “invisible” monuments is of crucial importance here. such an approach would enable serious analysis of the regional dimensions of memory in Ukraine. oral history projects. Erased. For the American or Israeli reader Bartov’s book will be excellent proof of the stereotypes of “Ukrainian anti-Semitism”. 7 8 NOVEMBER 2009 DECEMBER 2011 FALL speaking” group (quite often wrongly described simply as “Russian”). The third tendency is what I will call here the decontextualization of description. for example.3 Thinking about the prospects for memory studies in the Polish-Russian-Ukrainian triangle. or why the deSovietization of East Galician urban landscapes has itself so often involved the revival or reconstitution of Soviet aesthetics (see eg the new Stepan Bandera monuments). or the reconceptualization of the 1918-21 Civil War in current Russian movies. We need to ask: why does public debate comparable to the Polish controversy over Jan Tomasz Gross’s Neighbours seem to be impossible in Belarus and Ukraine? Why is the Ukrainian Institute for National Memory so different from its Polish or Lithuanian counterparts? We should keep in mind the fact that the actors in such interactions are usually not equal. and analysis of the memory wars on the internet and in the printed media. it proposes no comparison of Galicia with the rest of Ukraine. I would highlight a number of possible directions for future research. the creation of the “Stalin Line” park near Minsk. and that the interaction itself is usually assymetrical.2 Bartov. rather than the usual method of ascribing some features of Lviv to “West” Ukraine and of Donetsk to the “East”. it shows no particular knowledge of local history. and continuation of the research started by German scholars who have collected information on Holodomor memorials in Ukraine. there is a crucial and urgent need for the collection of empirical data. and the variety of local memories within the proposed general notions of “East” and “West” Ukraine. Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine. as are the analysis of public opinion. or attention to Polish places of memory. Bartov’s account is highly emotional. When we decided to discuss Bartov’s book in Ukraina Moderna it proved difﬁcult indeed to criticize this publication without neglecting or relativizing the fundamental importance of the issues raised in his book.
2010). Andrii Portnov Il’ia Kalinin. Georges Mink.VR and The European Community FP7 2007-2013. Daniela Koleva (Bern: Peter Lang. For an English translation of this and other memoryrelated articles from the leading Russian intellectual journal Neprikosnovennyi zapas visit: www. and the issue of the languages of Western discourses (the plural is always very helpful in memory studies!) about the East.blogspot. 2011).memoryatwar. the native city of current prime minister Donald Tusk. such as the controversy between the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising created by Warsaw-born Lech Kaczyński and the Museum of World War II soon to be opened in Gdańsk. DASTI. RANNIS. Additional topics for research include museums as a memory battleground. or the lighting of candles on Holodomor Memorial Day. 6On which see further: http:// cambridgeculturalmemory. George’s Ribbon on Victory Day (inﬂuenced by the Orange ribbon widely used during the Orange Revolution in Ukraine). 5 Anna Kaminsky. especially newly invented rituals like the wearing of the St. by Nicolas Hayoz. Gisements méemoriels et actions historicisantes en Europe centrale et orientale. 187–202. Vanishing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine (Princeton University Press. Mémoire et mémoriaux de la “Grande Guerre pour la Patrie” en Belarus. East European memory studies should also engage with language as a memory battleground. EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES To subscribe or to submit an item to East European Memory Studies. FNR.org MEMORY AT WAR CAMBRIDGE TEAM Alexander Etkind Project Leader and Principal Investigator Uilleam Blacker Julie Fedor Research Associates Rory Finnin Matilda Mroz Galina Nikiporets-Takigawa Harald Wydra Project Members Judy Brown Molly Flynn Rolf Fredheim Simon Lewis Tom Rowley Tanya Zaharchenko PhD candidates Jill Gather Administrator Memory at War Department of Slavonic Studies University of Cambridge Cambridge CB3 9DA UK www. Hrsg. the phenomenon of situational post-Soviet bilingualism. AKA. HAZU.EAST EUROPEAN MEMORY STUDIES NO. ETF. such as: the Russian language outside Russia.org/resourcesnz/ 2 Andrii Portnov. the usage and images of Belarusian and Ukrainian in Belarus and Ukraine. Finally.memoryatwar. This topic is of special interest in postcommunist Poland where we can observe a real competition of museums. 4:15 (2009). 2007).html 1 12 . Erinnerungsorte an den Holodomor 1932/33 in der Ukraine (Berlin. Pascal Bonnard (Paris: Michel Houdiard. 6 (2010). 2008). 4 See Ukraijna Moderna. RCN. 369-381. IRCHSS. ‘Post-Soviet Ukraine and Belarus Dealing with “The Great Patriotic War”’. Expectations. Moldova et Ukraine: quelques observations pour établir des comparaisons. Neprikosnovennyi zapas. 7 8 NOVEMBER 2011 DECEMBER Rituals of memory provide rich material for research. 20 Years after the Collapse of Communism. Le Passé au présent. FWF. MHEST. And the continuation of the discussion in: Ab Imperio 1 (2010). Ed.org The project Memory at War is ﬁnancially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme which is cofunded by AHRC. 3 Omer Bartov.com/2011/03/ historian-andriy-portnov-on-sites-of. Leszek Jesień. achievements and disillusions of 1989. French version: Andrii Portnov. Dirs. Erased. NWO. under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanities programme. please email: info@memoryatwar. Pamjat` jak pole zmahan`. There are many potentially fascinating research topics here. ‘Nostal’gicheskaia modernizatsiia: sovetskoe proshloe kak istoricheskii gorizont’.
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