The anticommunist memory entrepreneurs

As Diana Johnstone wrote in ‘Revanchism in Germany

Memory as weapon.

As an aspect of anticommunist lustration, or purges, Eastern European states sponsored “memory institutes” devoted to denouncing the crimes of communism. Of course, such campaigns were used by far-right politicians to cast suspicion on the left in general. As explained by European scholar Zoltan Dujisin, “anticommunist memory entrepreneurs” at the head of these institutes succeeded in lifting their public information activities from the national, to the European Union level, using Western bans on Holocaust denial to complain that while Nazi crimes had been condemned and punished at Nuremberg, communist crimes had not.

The tactic of the anticommunist entrepreneurs was to demand that references to the Holocaust be accompanied by denunciations of the Gulag. This campaign had to deal with a delicate contradiction, since it tended to challenge the uniqueness of the Holocaust, a dogma essential to gaining financial and political support from West European memory institutes.”

Here are some excerpts from Dujisin’s paper:


This article invites the view that the Europeanization of an antitotalitarian “collective memory” of communism reveals the emergence of a field of anticommunism. This transnational field is inextricably tied to the proliferation of state-sponsored and anticommunist memory institutes across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), but cannot be treated as epiphenomenal to their propagation. The diffusion of bodies tasked with establishing the “true” history of communism reflects, first and foremost, a shift in the region’s approach to its past, one driven by the right’s frustration over an allegedly pervasive influence offormer communist cliques. Memory institutes spread as the CEE right progressively perceives their emphasis on research and public education as a safer alternative to botched lustration processes. However, the field of anticommunism extends beyond diffusion by seeking to leverage the European Union institutional apparatus to generate previously unavailable forms of symbolic capital for anticommunist narratives. This results in an entirely different challenge, which requires reconciling of disparate ideological and national interests. In this article, I illustrate some of these nationally diverse, but internationally converging, trajectories of communist extrication from the vantage point of its main exponents: the anticommunist memory entrepreneurs, who are invariably found at the helm of memory institutes. Inhabiting the space around the political, historiographic, and Eurocratic fields, anticommunist entrepreneurs weave a complex web of alliances that ultimately help produce an autonomous field of anticommunism.

Embroiled in a cumbersome effort to come to terms with its Nazi past for decades, Europe is now haunted by the specter of a new memory. The Holocaust’s singular standing as a negative founding formula of European integration, the culmination of long-standing efforts from prominent Western leaders (Levy 2010; Troebst 2010), is increasingly challenged by a memory of communism, which disputes its uniqueness. The Platform of European Memory and Conscience (henceforth Platform) conveyed this message in its exhibition “Totalitarianism in Europe: Fascism—Nazism—Com- munism,” open between 2012 and 2016. The exhibit travelled to museums, memorials, foundations, city halls, parliaments, cultural centers, and universities in 15 European countries, stretching from Ireland to Romania, and was purported to “improve public awareness and education about the gravest crimes committed by the totalitarian dictatorships” (Platform 2013).

The exhibit’s panels alternated between communist and Nazi “totalitarian crimes” in several countries, depicting war crimes, victims, the faces of perpetrators, and the number of condemnations. These numbers alerted the public to an alleged double standard between the justice given to victims of Nazi totalitarianism—epitomized by the Nuremberg trials—and those of communism. Affirming “a clear historical connection between Nazism and Communism,” the organizers implicitly deem the entire communist experience grimmer, as it “continued to perpetrate international crimes … until the very end of its existence.” Furthermore, while claiming to mirror the “current state of knowledge, based on research in the countries presented” (Platform Platform 2012a), the exhibition mentioned none of the local drivers of communism, a burgeoning area of historiographic research.

Download ‘A history of post-communist remembrance: from memory politics to the emergence of a field of anticommunism’ here.

Quote of the week: “A university is not a kindergarten. . . “

“A university is a community of scholars. It is not a kindergarten; it is not a club; it is not a reform school; it is not a political party; it is not an agency of propaganda. A university is a community of scholars.”

 Robert Maynard Hutchins (1899-1977), who became President of the University of Chicago at only 30 and served for 16 years, adding an additional six years as Chancellor.

More about Hutchins here.

“How exotic”

D’you remember the story of a visiting dignitary’s wife attending a military review of the Rhodesian Army?
“Could you tell me, my good man,” she inquired of her escort,  “What is the racial composition of your Army?”
“Ma’am,” he responded: ” White officers, black privates.”
“How exotic”, murmured the distinguished guest.

Der deutschen Justiz krampfhafte Bemühung nicht ausländerfeindlich zu erscheinen

und es geht dann, wie nicht anders zu erwarten, in die Büchs.

Man tritt nun wirklich offene Tore ein, noch explizit feststellen zu müssen, zum Jurastudium ist keine sonderliche Intelligenz Voraussetzung. Es bewahrheitet sich einfach immer wieder. Und nicht nur das, sondern auch dieser bekannte institutionelle Rassismus in Deutschland und insbesondere Behörden. Es gibt diese ‘Formen und Funktionen der Verneinung von Rassismus‘ und natürlich muss dann oft die Logik auf der Strecke bleiben. Die bemerken ihren Blödsinn nicht einmal. Siehe in meinem Fall mit Richterin Walters seltsamen Begründung.

Hier Auszug aus einem Thread zum NSU Prozess:

“Laut Gericht im #NSU20-Prozess könne der vom NSU 2.0 bedrohte Deniz Yücel nicht „ausländerfeindlich“ beleidigt werden, weil er juristisch nicht als Ausländer zu werten sei. Dabei sprach die Richterin Yücels Namen falsch aus.”