PDC Homepage

Home » Products » Purchase

History of Communism in Europe

Volume 1, 2010

Politics of Memory in Post-communist Europe

Vladimir Tismăneanu
Pages 15-20
DOI: 10.7761/HCE.1.15

Coming to Terms with a Traumatic Past: Reflections on Democracy, Atonement, and Memory

The collapse of communism and the subsequent transition to democracy of the Central and South-East European countries have been characterized by a dynamic approach towards their recent past. In those countries having pursued some legal and extra-legal remedies, ranging from criminal trials and truth commissions to lustrations, parliamentary inquiries, compensations, restitutions or governmental based investigations, the transitional dynamic has been hugely analysed in a tremendous corpus of literature. Such clear „signs” as carried out measures and their nature are on the other hand the sheer evidence of some shaken order and of the attempt on re-establishing the trust. Besides the trauma of the early Stalinist period, all the countries in the region (Romania included) had and still have to deal with “the grey veil of moral ambiguity” (Tony Judt) that was a defining feature of really existing socialism. These societies and most of their members have an uneasy conscience in relation with the past: complicities are often covered by the thick veil of denial, collaborationism is presented as an inevitable choice, and resistance is underestimated.