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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 1, 2010

Politics of Memory in Post-communist Europe

Meike Wulf
Pages 245-267
DOI: 10.7761/HCE.1.245

Politics of History in Estonia: Changing Memory Regimes 1987-2009

In this article I examine three separate landmarks of Estonia’s contemporary “historical culture” that are all examples of the continuous reinterpretation of historical facts that has taken place since the society underwent political reframing; 2 namely 1) the work of the “Estonian Occupation Museum”; 2) the “Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes against Humanity”; and 3) the conflict over memorial monuments to different veteran groups in Estonia. All these cases concern public ways of dealing with the enduring ambiguities of Estonia’s recent past; particularly with the controversial issues of indigenous collaboration and complicity with the Soviet regime and the Nazi occupiers, as well as with traumatic memories of the war and post-war years. Within the realm of “memory politics” they represent attempts at agreeing on a codification of how to officially remember Estonia’s past. In the background of my discussion stands the question of what makes them instances of “historical revisionism”. To scrutinize this question, I consider “historical revisionism” in relation to five different “public uses” of history, namely the moral, ideological, political, existential, and emblematic dimension of history.

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