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Teresa Kulak

Vroclav v histórii a pamäti Poliakov

21 August 2018
Tags
  • Poland
  • Solidarity
  • Breslau
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • Europe
  • Germany
  • History

Vroclav bol najväčším mestom v západnej časti Poľska (tzv. ziemie zachodnie), ktoré po boli II. svetovej vojne začlenené do hraníc Poľska a kde od roku 1945, v dôsledku migrácií po vojne, došlo k úplnej výmene populácie. Poľská administratíva sa so súhlasom sovietskych orgánov začala vo Vroclave organizovať 9. V. 1945 v ešte horiacom meste, po uplynutí sotva troch dní po kapitulácii nemeckého veliteľstva Festung Breslau (Pevnosť Vroclav). Nové orgány v ňom narazili na okolo 165 tis. Nemcov, z toho okolo 150 nemeckých Židov zachránených pred smrťou a takmer 3 tis. Poliakov pochádzajúcich ako z vroclavskej Polónie žijúcej tam pred vojnou, tak aj z mnohonárodnostnej obce niekoľkých desiatok tisícov robotníkov z nútených prác, ktorí v meste premenenom na pevnosť prežili dramatické dni obľahnutia vojakmi Červenej armády. Postupne Vroclav opúšťali, a akoby miesto nich prichádzali ľudia z iných častí Poľska, okrem iného z   pracovných a zajateckých táborov a nútených prác zvnútra Nemecka.

Príliv poľských obyvateľov sa zväčšil od augusta, keď začali prichádzať obyvatelia z najvýchodnejších vojvodstiev predvojnového usporiadania Poľska, ktorí boli nútení sa presídliť za „líniu Curzona”, čiže za novú štátnu hranicu so ZSSR, vytýčenú na rieke Bug. Nových obyvateľov vytrhnutých zo svojho rodinného prostredia, oficiálne - ale nezhodne so skutočným právnym stavom – nazývali „repatriantmi”.

Presídlenci neustále pociťovali smútok a túžbu za svojim predchádzajúcim bydliskom, okrem iného aj preto, že Vroclav vyzeral odpudzujúco vzhľadom na obrovské zničenia, ktoré v niektorých štvrtiach poškodili až 80% predvojnovej zástavby. Veľkým ohrozením boli ruiny, kde úkryt našli zlodeji a banditi, ale aj nemecké ozbrojené podsvetie. Okrem iného tam dochádzalo aj k excesom sovietskych vojakov. V noci, v meste ponorenom vo tme sa často stávali lúpežné útoky a neraz bolo počuť echo strieľania. Behom dňa ľudí obťažovali roje múch, zápach spáleniny a rozkladu ľudských tiel i zvierat v troskách, zatiaľ čo za súmraku z nich vyliezali tisíce krýs, proti ktorým bolo treba bojovať tiež v blokoch a kanceláriách či úžitkových priestoroch. Situácia v meste v prvých mesiacoch mieru nepomáhala v stabilizácii života - ako sa hovorilo - na „divokom Západe”. „Behom prvého roka - spomínal študent Vroclavskej univerzity z okolia Poznane – som vídaval vroclavčanov v zanedbanom oblečení, vyzerali - povedal by som - prechodne, dočasne. Zdalo sa, že každý z tých obyvateľov sem prišiel iba nakrátko a zanedlho znovu odíde tam, odkiaľ prišiel”.   Nových prisťahovalcov ubíjalo more ruín, pocit „hluchej mŕtvoty”, obrazy „prázdnych” námestí a ulíc „plných špiny a prachu” z rozbitých domov. V tých zvláštnych okolnostiach sa zo začiatku nedalo hovoriť o vytvorení sa akejkoľvek hlbšej väzby obyvateľov s mestom. Bola pociťovaná cudzosť Vroclave, jeho „nemecký charakter”, ktorý nejednému z prišelcov „našepkával myšlienku o opustení tohto mesta zomrelých”. Takú možnosť nemali vysídlení - väčšinou za dramatických okolností - Poliaci z východných častí predvojnového Poľska (Kresy wschodnie), hoci nie všetci stratili nádej na zmenu povojnových hraníc a návrat do rodinných miest.

Na rozdiel od násilne vysídlených prišelcov „spoza rieky Bug”, Poliaci z centrálnej časti Poľska prichádzali na západné zeme dobrovoľne a v masovom meradle. Následkom tých vnútroštátnych migrácií po vojne povstalo vo Vroclave presvedčenie, že do mesta prakticky prišla „reprezentácia obyvateľov zo všetkých regiónov Poľska”. Vzhľadom na kultúrne rozdiely, koexistencia nemohla byť na počiatku bezkonfliktná, ale postupne dochádzalo k porozumeniu a vytvoreniu sa mestskej komunity. Je to jeden z fenoménov povojnového stavu mesta Vroclav, pretože rýchlo vznikali väzby spojujúce všetkých vroclavčanov a postupoval proces transformácie nemeckého Breslau na poľský Vroclav a ich malú domovinu. Analýza príčin tohto fenoménu ako celku presahuje meritórne rámce mojej práce, ale je treba tu zdôrazniť, že bez pochyby veľkú rolu v tom, že sa tak stalo zohrala historická politika nových, komunistických štátnych orgánov povojnového Poľska. V dôsledku tejto politiky sa integrovala heterogénna komunita, ktorá sa psychologicky identifikovala s novým miestom bývania.

Historická politika komunistov bola úplne skompromitovaná vzhľadom na ich závislosť od ZSSR a propagandou v období PĽR, ale v tom počiatočnom období mala podporu skupiny predvojnových vedcov, novinárov a publicistov, ktorí už behom vojny pripravovali program územných zmien v susedstve s Nemeckom, postulujúc, aby hranica bola na riekach Odre a Nise Kłodzkiej, niekedy tiež aj na Nise Lužickej. Vzťažným bodom bolo Poľsko dynastie Piastov siahajúce od Odry k Baltskému moru, v ktorom Vroclav, ako to vyplýva zo zmienky v kronike merseburského biskupa Thietmara (nazvanom inokedy v kronike Wrotizla Wrotizlava), bol od roku 1000 hlavným sídlom katolíckej diecézy podliehajúcej hniezdnenskej metropólii spolu s diecézami, ktoré vznikli v Krakove a v Kołobrzegu. V štáte Piastov bol Vroclav centrom štátnej administratívy celej sliezskej zeme, obranným hradiskom a výpadovou bázou pre vojny s Čechmi a Nemcami. Podľa kroniky Anonyma, zvaného Gallius, pochádzajúcej z XII. st., Wrocław bol jedným z „sedes regni principales” - čiže patril k „hlavným kráľovským sídlam”. Tieto zväzky sa uvoľnili v období feudálneho roztrieštenia a napriek zjednoteniu Poľska v roku 1320 sa Sliezsko s Vroclavom už nevrátilo do predchádzajúcej územnej podoby Poľska, hoci sa kráľ Kazimierz Wielki, posledný z dynastie Piastov snažil v roku 1349 Vroclav znovu získať. Do polovice XIII. st. bola väčšina obyvateľov Vroclave z národnostného hľadiska poľská, ale bývali v ňom tiež Valóni, Židia a Nemci, ktorých počet sa zvýšil až po lokalizácii mesta podľa magdeburského práva v roku 1261. Po tejto lokalizácii bol poľský jazyk postupne odstraňovaný z mestských kníh, zatiaľ čo v súdnictve bol používaný ešte do roku 1337 Štátne a územné tradície z epochy prvých Piastov, štátu od Odry k Baltskému moru pretrvali v poľskej západnej idei, verifikovanej a ustálenej od prelomu XIX. a XX. st. v politickom a historickom písomníctve. Vízia piastovského Poľska mobilizovala mnohých Poliakov ku snahám o nezávislosť pred rokom 1918, a znovu v období II. svetovej vojny navzdory dvojnásobnej okupácii krajiny a martýrológii poľského národa,

Faktografiu, vzťahujúcu sa na históriu mesta Vroclav a Sliezska, ktorá už bola zasignalizovaná využili štátne orgány, aby sa noví obyvatelia osvojili so súčasnosťou, a príslušne modelujúc ich kolektívnu pamäť vôkol tzv. znovu získaného územia (kedysi slovanského „ziemie odzyskane“) racionalizovali povojnovú situáciu, čím odôvodňovali fakt západnej hranice. Teritoriálne presunutie Poľska na západ bolo chápané ako návrat na ziemie „odzyskane” do Matice po „desiatkach storočí boja” s nemeckou expanzívnosťou, ktorá sa začala už za vládnutia dynastie prvých Piastov. Komunistický štát prijal politiku ovládnutia spoločenskej pamäti, používajúc príslušné propagačné stratégie pre dokázanie poľského návratu po tisícoch rokoch ako logiky dejín, víťazstva štátneho záujmu a všenárodných snáh. Cenzúra umožňovala propagovanie potrebného obsahu, a štátne orgány zase dbali o neustálu aktualizáciu predstavy o minulosti, vymazávanie alebo vyhýbanie sa nevýhodným faktom z XV. - XIX.. storočia, keď poľský živel oslabol v meste s obyvateľstvom zbaveným vyšších vrstiev a obmedzeným na plebejskú vrstvu. V tej manipulácii s minulosťou to bolo výrazne neprítomné. V závislosti na aktuálnych politických a ideologických potrebách boli tvorené mýty, šírené protinemecké stereotypy. Bola snaha odstrániť zo spoločenskej pamäti obsah, ktorý by mohol narušovať proces formovania kolektívnej totožnosti vrátane, ponad všetkým formovaného, povedomia hlbokého zakorenenia Poliakov v minulosti mesta a na sliezskej zemi ako aj étosu spoločných osudov ich minulých a súčasných obyvateľov. Bolo pri tom dokazované, že história poľsko-nemeckých vzťahov svedčí o tom, že vysídlenie Nemcov bolo jediným a spravodlivým riešením, dodatočne sformalizovaným rozhodnutím veľkej Trojky.

Dnes môžeme tie vtedajšie činnosti v celku zinterpretovať jednoznačne ako vysoko zideologizované úsilie formovania historickej pamäte. Vedome boli z minulosti vyberané isté udalosti, osoby, symboly pre potreby aktuálnej politiky a legitimizáciu súčasnosti. Minulosť bola využívaná, aby sa získali aprobačné postoje obyvateľov pre rôzne typy súčasných činností a snáh. Charakteristická bola antinemeckosť všetkých počínaní, vyplývajúca zo smutných skúseností šiestich rokov trvajúcej vojny a z obáv pred revíziou hranice ustanovenej v Postupime. Pre niektorých nových obyvateľov to bol strašiak budúcej vojny a forma dočasnosti až po balenie kufrov a útek z nového miesta bydliska, zatiaľ čo pre iných to znamenalo nutnosť „zovretia” radov a obrany svojho vlastníctva a práce vloženej do obnovy mesta. Napriek labilite postojov, postupne však narastala podpora a legitimizácia štátnej moci, zvyšoval sa tiež počet obyvateľov. Trval proces „osvojovania” mesta prostredníctvom zmeny názvov ulíc, a spolu s postupujúcou obnovou Vroclav postupne strácal hore spomenutý nemecký charakter. Noví obyvatelia sa neidentifikovali so zanechaným kultúrnym dedičstvom, pretože vyvolávalo asociácie s národom, ktorý spôsobil toľko utrpenia a strát. Politické napätie, protikladnosť záujmov viditeľná na summitoch veľkej Trojky a  politická atmosféra studenej vojny zosilňujúca sa od roku 1947 sťažovali v dlhšej perspektíve stabilizáciu obyvateľov na západných zemiach. Mnoho vroclavčanov malo pocit dočasnosti, pretože behom mnohých rokov neboli medzinárodne zabezpečené hranice na riekach Odre a Nise Lužickej, následkom čoho sa stále obávali spochybnenia hranice zo strany SRN. V súvislosti s tým mala tak veľký význam návšteva Willy Brandta a dohoda z 8. decembra 1970. Pravdivé upokojenie však vo Vroclave pocítili až na počiatku 90-tých rokov, keď po rokoch politických napätí a ohrození došlo k medzinárodnému uznaniu poľsko-nemeckej hranice v dvojstrannom dohovore o dobrom susedstve a priateľskej spolupráci podpísanom 17. VII. 1991v Bonne. Tento dohovor rozhodne pozitívne ovplyvnil postoje voči Nemcom a zmenu kultúrnej pamäti Poliakov, ktorí už v novej politickej situácii štátu odhalili a pocítili komplikovanú históriu mesta Vroclav. Od tamtých rokoch sú ňou fascinovaní a sú názoru, že jeho minulosť a kultúrne tradície sa môžu stať platformou porozumenia medzi západom a východom Európy. Aj preto, že fragmenty svojej histórie v meste nachádzajú Nemci, Česi, Rakúšania, a tiež Židia.

Od 90-tých rokoch je zvlášť viditeľné to, že Poliaci sa snažia zachovať, a taktiež reprodukovať materiálnu sféru toho dedičstva. Teraz sa s ním identifikujú, a veľké emočné väzby obyvateľov s mestom sa prejavili už v roku 1990 v situácii prinavrátenia mestského erbu z roku 1530, ktorý v roku 1933 odvrhli hitlerovci a v roku 1947 komunisti. Vnútorné emočné väzby utvrdila povodeň v roku 1997 a potom sa udiali ďalšie dôležité udalosti pre vroclavčanov ako problém znovu získania hermy sv. Doroty, relikvie stredovekých mešťanov z Národného múzea (Muzeum Narodowe) vo Varšave zabranej z vroclavskej radnice a spor s Múzeom poľskej armády (Muzeum Wojska Polskiego) vo Varšave týkajúci sa vrátenia pavéz mestskej stráže zo XVII. st. Nebolo vtedy vo Vroclave dôležité, že v tom druhom prípade to bola stráž nemecky hovoriaceho mesta nachádzajúceho sa pod panovaním Habsburgov, ale to, že je to vlastníctvo dnešného mesta – hlavného mesta Dolného Sliezska a mesta, kde bývajú. Z tých niekoľkých tu uvedených príkladov vyplýva, že zmeny v kultúrnej pamäti sa nevyskytujú spontánne, ale sú podložené udalosťami dôležitými pre konkrétu komunitu. Tieto príklady okrem iného dokazujú, že kultúrna pamäť sa neoddeľuje od histórie, ale jej reálie nie sú pre ňu príliš dôležité a nie sú chápané rigorózne. Pamäť v totalitnom systéme závisela behom mnohých rokoch po vojne na tom, aké ciele si stavala vládnuca strana. V demokratickom systéme spoločenstvo rozhoduje o tom, čo chce vedieť z minulosti a čo prevziať do súčasnosti. V poľskej historickej vede nie je uznávaná kontinuita histórie Breslau a Vroclave, zatiaľ čo v kultúrnej pamäti dnešných vroclavčanov je dôležité povedomie ich spoločného dedičstva voči ktorému sa chovajú s náležitým pietizmom.

Barbara Distel

Vnímanie nacistických zločinov v Spolkovej republike Nemecko a v západnej Európe

21 August 2018
Tags
  • Nazism
  • Jews
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • Nazi crimes
  • remembrance
  • National Socialism

Od začiatku Druhej svetovej vojny prešlo už takmer sedem desaťročí. Pri pokuse vytvorenia bilancie foriem a tradícií uchovávania spomienok na vlastné obete nacistickej zločineckej politiky vzniknutých v tomto období v jednotlivých krajinách západnej Európy sa predostrie mnohostranný a kontinuálne sa v priebehu času meniaci obraz. Napriek všetkým národným rozdielom jestvujú dve konštanty, ktoré je potrebné menovať pre celú západnú Európu: Po prvé trvalo desaťročia, kým sa genocíde európskych Židov ako celku ako aj osudom židovského obyvateľstva jednotlivých národov začala venovať skutočná pozornosť a kým sa začal jej historický výskum. Len malý počet Židov západoeurópskeho pôvodu, ktorí genocídu prežili, sa z vyhladzovacích táborov vrátili do svojich rodných krajín. A potom ešte muselo prejsť niekoľko desaťročí, kým sa ich osobným svedectvám, ich bolestivým spomienkam začal venovať primeraný priestor v rámci národných kultúr spomínania.

 

Až v priebehu sedemdesiatych rokov, keď sa spočiatku v USA a v Izraeli postupne tejto téme začala venovať celosvetová pozornosť, sa rozprúdila aj v jednotlivých západoeurópskych krajinách verejná diskusia o osudoch vlastného židovského obyvateľstva. Po druhé prešli ešte ďalšie dve desaťročia, kým sa aj v západnej Európe začalo presadzovať poznanie, že absolútne najväčšiu časť zločinov počas Druhej svetovej vojny spáchali Nemci a ich kolaboranti vo východnej a strednej Európe. Ale aj skutočnosti, že prevažná väčšina obetí nielen židovského ale aj nežidovského pôvodu boli obyvateľmi strednej alebo východnej Európy, sa dostalo až veľmi neskoro povšimnutia. Z celkového počtu približne 68.000 zajatcov koncentračného tábora Dachau, ktorí sa v čase oslobodenia Dachau v apríli 1945 nachádzali v jednom z vonkajších táborov alebo na jednom z evakuačných pochodov, pochádzalo okolo 18.000 z nich z rôznych západoeurópskych krajín. Popri Nemcoch boli najsilnejšími národnými skupinami Francúzi, Taliani, Belgičania a Holanďania. Aj v „univerze Dachau“ prežilo až do konca len niekoľko málo Židov západoeurópskeho pôvodu.

Účastníci odboja, ktorí prežili, boli po svojom návrate do svojich rodných krajín ako Francúzsko, Belgicko, Holandsko, Luxembursko, Dánsko a Nórsko vysoko uctievaní a – pokiaľ to dovolilo ich zdravie a mali záujem – boli taktiež integrovaní do politického a spoločenského života. Vo Francúzsku ako aj v Belgicku, Dánsku či Holandsku stál ich hrdinský, vlastenecký odpor proti nemeckým okupantom po celé desaťročia v stredobode verejného uctievania. Ani kolaborácia vichyovského Francúzska s nacistickým Nemeckom či konflikty v jazykovo a kultúrne rozdelenom Belgicku, kde bol činný silný flámsky fašistický zväz, a ani skutočnosť, že aj v Holandsku popri odbojovému hnutiu existovala predovšetkým aj ľahostajnosť ako aj rôznorodé kolaborácie s nemeckými okupantami, sa spočiatku nestali predmetom verejných analýz alebo historického výskumu. Situácie v Španielsku, Grécku, Taliansku a Anglicku sa navzájom odlišovali od situácie vo zvyšku Európy:

V Španielsku sa španielske obete nacistického teroru dostali až v posledných rokoch do zorného uhla národnej verejnosti, keď sa pomaly začala rozvíjať debata o dejinách zločinov počas španielskej občianskej vojny ako aj po nej, ktoré boli ešte aj po Francovej smrti ďalej zamlčiavané. V Grécku bolo až po prekonaní vojenskej diktatúry v rokoch 1967–1974 možné vytvoriť demokratickú spoločnosť, ktorá však začala až o 20 rokov neskôr so spracovávaním dejín Grécka počas Druhej svetovej vojny a počas občianskej vojny. Aj spomienka v Taliansku bola po ukončení Druhej svetovej vojny rozpoltená. Dedičstvo dlhého obdobia fašizmu za vlády Mussoliniho ako aj dedičstvo rokov 1940–1943, počas ktorých Taliansko bojovalo ako spojenec na strane nacistického Nemecka, boli utláčané do úzadia. Násilné činy voči susedným Slovincom sa takisto málo tematizovali ako aj Mussoliniho rasové zákony, kvôli ktorým ešte dlho pred deportáciou talianskych Židov Nemcami boli zahraniční židovskí utečenci nútení opustiť Taliansko. V Anglicku sa na nacistické vyvražďovanie Židov upriamila verejná pozornosť až oveľa neskôr. V deväťdesiatych rokoch začali ženy a muži, ktorí boli ako deti v tridsiatych rokoch v rámci destkých transportov poslaní z Nemecka a Rakúska do Anglicka, verejne rozprávať o svojich zážitkoch. Až v roku 2000 bolo v múzeu „Imperial War Museum“ zriadené najdôležitejšie národné miesto spomienok, a síce vlastná výstava o holokauste.

V Nemecku to boli spočiatku spojenci, ktorí po bezpodmienečnej kapitulácii nacistického Nemecka dňa 8. mája 1945 okamžite začali pripravovať vojenské súdne procesy. V nich sa mali zodpovedné osoby z NSDAP, SS, ríšskej vlády, priemyslu, hospodárstva, justície, medicíny a z Wehrmachtu zodpovedať pred svetovou verejnosťou za svoje zločiny. Dňa 15. novembra 1945 začal na pôde bývalého koncentračného tábora Dachau prvý veľký vojenský súdny proces proti 40 obžalovaným kvôli zločinom spáchaným v koncentračnom tábore Dachau, ktorý sa stal modelom pre 489 súdnych konaní proti 1672 obžalovaným, ktoré nasledovali až do roku 1948. Americké procesy v Dachau stáli v tieni súdnych konaní Medzinárodného vojenského súdneho dvora v Norimbergu, ktorým sa vďaka obšírnemu medzinárodnému spravodajstvu venovala celosvetová pozornosť. V Nemecku však všetky procesy konané pred súdnymi dvormi spojencov narazili u väčšiny obyvateľstva na ľahostajnosť alebo dokonca na rozhodné odmietanie. Nemecké obyvateľstvo bolo uprostred trosiek a rozvalín zamestnané každodenným bojom o prežitie, zadovážením bytových priestorov či potravín. Milióny utečencov a vyhnancov museli byť niekde ubytovaní ako aj zaopatrení potravinami. Procesy boli vnímané ako záležitosť víťazných mocností. Úsilie okupačných mocností, predovšetkým Američanov, konfrontovať nemecké obyvateľstvo s ohavnosťami nimi spôsobenými a prevychovať ich pomocou denacifikačných programov k demokratom vzbudzovalo apatiu a ľahostajnosť. Rozmer porážky z vojenského hľadiska bol síce všeobecne jasný, ale spôsobená morálna katastrofa a dedičstvo barbarstva neboli brané na vedomie. 

Historik a politológ Helmut König, ktorý v súčasnosti pôsobí v Aachene, rozlišuje štyri fázy vysporiadavania sa s nacistickou minulosťou v Spolkovej republike Nemecko:

1. Bezprostredné povojnové obdobie až do založenia Spolkovej republiky Nemecko, počas ktorého o dianí rozhodovali okupačné mocnosti: Popri trestnoprávnom spracovávaní zločinov vznikli síce spomienkové správy o prenasledovaní a odpore, avšak nepriniesli mimoriadny účinok na spoločnosť.

2. Päťdesiate roky takzvanej Adenauerovej éry, ktoré boli charakterizované mlčaním o nacistických zločinoch: Konflikt medzi východom a západom a Studená vojna ovplyvňovali aj vysporiadavanie sa s nacizmom. Aby Spolková republika Nemecko mohla byť integrovaná do západnej aliancie, boli odsúdení páchatelia amnestovaní a prepustení z väzby a bývalá elita nacistického štátu bola rehabilitovaná.

3. Dlhá, tridsať rokov trvajúca fáza medzi rokmi 1960 a 1990, v ktorej sa postupne uskutočňoval hlboko siahajúci obrat vo vnímaní a recepcii nacistických zločinov a ich významu pre nemeckú povojnovú spoločnosť a počas ktorej bol prebádaný a prediskutovaný civilizačný zlom „Osvienčim“: Po Eichmannovom procese v Jeruzaleme v roku 1961 a po Osvienčimskom procese vo Frankfurte v rokoch 1963–1965 sa v Spolkovej republike Nemecko začalo uvažovať nad politickými a morálnymi dimenziami nacistickej genocídy. V polovici sedemdesiatych rokov začali mnohé občianske iniciatívy s výskumom lokálno-historických aspektov. Zároveň táto téma začala v oblasti vzdelávania a vedy zaberať stále väčší priestor.

4. Nová Spolková republika Nemecko po politických zmenách roka 1989: Zjednotením Nemecka sa do verejnej diskusie dostali nielen politické dejiny bývalej NDR a tým aj otázka ohľadne nových konceptov pre veľké pamätné miesta venované koncentračným táborom Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen a Ravensbrück. Zároveň sa rozšíril kontext vysporiadavania sa s minulosťou v kontinuálne sa zväčšujúcom európskom spoločenstve. Rok 1995 priniesol vyvrcholenie verejného uctievania prostredníctvom podujatí organizovaných pri príležitosti 50. výročia ukončenia vojny a oslobodenia od nacistického teroru, ktoré sa intenzívne konali vo všetkých európskych krajinách. V nasledujúcich rokoch určovali otázky porovnávania oboch nemeckých diktatúr vo vysokej miere verejné vysporiadavanie sa s minulosťou. Dnes, 75 rokov po prevzatí moci Hitlerom a jeho prívržencami, sa fáza osobných svedectiev končí. Nadnárodná diskusia medzi západnou, strednou a východnou Európou však začala až teraz.

Jan Pauer

Vita a prágai tavasz örökségéről

21 August 2018
Tags
  • kommunizmus
  • 1989
  • 1968
  • Dubček
  • Charta 77
  • szlovákok
  • Csehszlovákia
  • Szlovákia
  • Prága
  • Csehország
  • csehek

Az 1968-as évre visszatekintve azzal a furcsa ténnyel szembesülhetünk, hogy a nyugaton tisztelettel és rokonszenvvel kísért prágai tavasz emlékéhez Prágában, főleg az önálló Cseh Köztársaság létrejötte, vagyis 1992/93 után, az új politikai elit és a közéleti véleményformálók jelentős hányada inkább szkeptikusan vagy nyílt elutasítással közelít. Amíg Európában, beleértve az egykori keleti blokkot is, a prágai forradalom leverését nemzeti és csehszlovák tragédiának látják, a ’90-es évek elején Csehországban olyan hangok is hallhatóak voltak, miszerint a prágai tavasz mindenekelőtt a kommunista frakciók egymás közötti harca, és így az egész folyamat a kommunizmus nevű abszurd kísérlet történetének epizódja volt csupán.

A ’90-es évek eleji Csehországban Dubček személyéről is megoszlottak a vélemények. Fiatal konzervatív újságírók végérvényesen a kommunista táborba sorolták, míg más, árnyaltabb vélemények szerint az akkori reformerek több emberiességre törekedtek ugyan, de politikájuk illuzórikus, ellentmondásos és gyenge maradt. A prágai tavasz legnagyobb jelentőségét bukásában látják, amellyel végleg megszűnt az illúzió, hogy a kommunizmust meg lehetne újítani. A prágai tavasz ismert alakjai, mint Karel Kosík, Jiři Pelikán vagy Eduard Goldstücker ugyanakkor azzal vádolták az új liberális-konzervatív hatalmi elitet, hogy ugyanúgy viszonyul a prágai tavaszhoz, mint a Husák-rendszer tette a maga idején, vagyis a prágai tavaszt kétszer is eltemették a hatalom birtokosai; egyszer 1968-at követően, majd pedig 1989 után.

Az 1989 utáni politikai differenciálódás csehországi nyertesei a neoliberális pártok voltak, amelyek egyértelművé akarták tenni, hogy a demokráciáról és a társadalomról alkotott elképzeléseik különböznek 1968-étól. A „természetes rend” és az „elbizakodott konstrukció” sematikus szembeállításával egy jobb, technokrata világ nevében minden szocialistát és baloldali liberálist olyan politikai ellenségként bélyegeztek meg, aki veszélyezteti az emberi szabadság alapjait. A prágai tavasz a politika tárgyává vált, és a politikai csatározások középpontjába került. Nem a párttagok álltak 1989-ig a kritika kereszttüzében, hanem a ’68-asok és a velük együtt emlegetett disszidensek, pl. a „Charta 77” polgárjogi mozgalom keretében.

Ha a Csehországban reflektált antikommunizmuson belül is értelmezni akarjuk a prágai tavasz 1989 utáni, átmeneti lebecsülését, annak nagy része a prágai tavasz vereségének különleges módjából fakad, amely fokozatosan következett be, és amelynek a legnehezebb részét maguk a reformerek végezték el. Képtelenségük arra, hogy lemondjanak bizonyos politikai alapelvekről, és inkább idejében átengedjék a hatalmat, bizakodásuk abban, hogy a ragaszkodás bizonyos pozíciókhoz még mindig a kisebbik rossz, nem volt véletlen. Ebben a reformkommunista képviseleti politika és a népnek, a parlamentnek és az alkotmánynak elkötelezett, legális és demokratikus politika alapvető különbsége mutatkozott meg. A reformkommunista kísérlet erőszakos meghiúsítása rezignációba, cinizmusba és emigrációba torkollott. A Husák-rendszer 20 évét a magánéletbe való menekülés és a hatalommal való külső kollaboráció jellemezte. Az elnyomás, a politikai alkalmazkodás és önmegtagadás kulturális értelemben elpusztította az országot. A pártból 1989-ig száműztek minden reformgondolatot.

A prágai tavasz ’90-es évek eleji politikai instrumentalizálása csak lassan adja át a helyét az árnyaltabb véleményeknek és az érvelő stílusnak, amelyek félreismerhetetlenül megjelennek az 1968 örökségéről folytatott vitában. Ehhez társul, hogy – a reformkísérlet ellentmondásos megítélése ellenére – a prágai tavasz és erőszakos leverése mélyen beleivódott a cseh polgárok kollektív emlékezetébe. A közvéleménykutatások szerint többségük a demokrácia megújításának kísérleteként és a nemzeti többség ügyeként tartja számon a prágai tavaszt.

Máshogy közeledtek a prágai tavaszhoz Szlovákiában, ahol mind az 1968-as reformfolyamathoz, mind pedig kudarcának következményeihez sokkal tartózkodóbban viszonyultak. Mivel az egyetlen reform, amely túlélhette az egy évvel későbbi restaurációt, az 1968-as föderális reform volt, a Husák-rendszer Szlovákiában bizonyos legitimációval rendelkezett. Szlovákia történetének legnagyobb urbanizációs és iparosítási fellendülése a kommunista rendszerben ment végbe. Az 1989-es rendszerváltás nem vezetett a demokratikus ellenzék és a hatalmon lévők közti erős polarizációhoz, ami a kommunista múlttal való szembenézés visszafogott voltában és a Csehországban 1989 után szorgalmazott átvilágítások elutasításában csapódott le. 1989 után Szlovákia általánosságban pozitívabban állt az 1968-as reformfolyamat emlékéhez.

Sem a reformkommunizmus, sem az eurokommunizmus nem hagyott hátra elméleti vagy intézményi szinten olyan örökséget, amelyhez az 1989 utáni új demokráciák kapcsolódhattak volna. A reformkommunizmus mint demokrácia-tervezet azonban nem azonos sem az össztársadalmi demokratikus átalakulással, vagyis a prágai tavasszal, sem pedig annak jelentőségével a cseh, a szlovák és az európai történelem számára.

Miért nyűgözte le a Nyugatot a prágai tavasz? A szocialisták és az eurokommunisták számára a prágai tavasz azt a reményt keltette, hogy a társadalmi igazságosság és a demokrácia összekapcsolása valósággá válhat. A modernizálók és a technokraták számára olyan kísérlet volt, amely megmutathatta volna, hogy lehetséges-e a rendszereket egymáshoz közelíteni, vagyis a nyugati jóléti államnak van-e keleti megfelelője a demokratizálódás és a piacgazdasági nyitás keretében. A szociáldemokraták pedig olyan perspektívát láttak a prágai tavaszban, amely a két baloldali tábor, a kommunisták és a szociáldemokraták megosztottságának meghaladásával kecsegtetett.

Az elképzelés, miszerint a totalitárius szovjetkommunizmus békésen és vérontás nélkül megszüntethető, olyan polgári és konzervatív politikusokat is felvillanyozott, mint Margaret Thatcher vagy idősebb George Bush. Az európai megosztottság erőszakmentes felszámolásának már a puszta gondolata is szinte mindenkit, a politika iránt nem érdeklődőket is megérintette. Arról nem beszélve, hogy a prágai tavasz mediális világesemény volt, hiszen a tévéképernyőkön milliók láthatták egy kis ország éjszakai lerohanását, amely senkinek sem ártott, csupán a hazugságoknak és a nem demokratikus gyakorlatnak akart véget vetni. A prágai tavasz tartósan megváltoztatta a szovjetkommunizmus természetéről alkotott képet. Neves európai gondolkodók, mint Jean-Paul Sartre vagy Bertrand Russell „Moszkva Vietnámjaként” bélyegezték meg a katonai beavatkozást.

A prágai tavasz hosszú távú hatással volt az egykori keleti blokkra, hiszen néhány hónapra valósággá vált a szovjet mintájú diktatúrák megváltoztathatósága a szabadságjogok kiterjesztése irányában. Kis létszámú és befolyású disszidens csoportok tiltakozó tüntetései a Szovjetunióban, Lengyelországban, Magyarországon és az NDK-ban választóvonalat jelentettek a keleti blokk fejlődésében. A civil társadalmi ellenzék megszületésének és a reformkommunizmus leáldozásának pillanatai voltak ezek.

A prágai tavasz nem sok okot ad az elfogult ítéletekre. Nem helytálló sem a reformkommunisták által felállított egyszerű összefüggés, amely szerint a prágai tavasz a bársonyos forradalom közvetlen előfutára, sem pedig az a neoliberális szembeállítás, hogy a nép demokráciát akart, miközben a reformkommunisták csak saját uralmuk korszerűsítésére törekedtek.

Kulturális értelemben a ’60-as évek produktívnak bizonyultak. A Nyugattal szembeni civilizációs hátrány még kevéssé volt látható, és az ökológia színrelépése előtti növekedési és technikai fetisizmus azt a hitet igazolta, hogy megvan a lehetőség a Kelet és a Nyugat közötti hosszú távú közeledésre. A marxizmus meglepő, az 1960-as években világszerte végbement reneszánsza megkönnyítette a határokon és rendszereken átívelő kommunikációt. A prágai tavasz ideológiailag lépést tartott a kortársak eme tévedésével. Az akkori reformerek meg voltak győződve arról, hogy az államosítás következtében kialakult társadalmi struktúrát nem lehet megváltoztatni. Azért mertek több demokráciát alkalmazni, mert hittek a szocializmus történelmi küldetésében.

A már említett programszerű korlátozások ellenére 1968 össztársadalmi folyamata rendszerváltás volt, amelyet erőszak nélkül nem lehetett volna megállítani. A prágai tavasz történelmi jelentősége a reform- és rendszerváltó folyamatok demokratikus felforgató erejében rejlik, amely bizonyította a kommunista diktatúra békés úton való megszüntetésének lehetségességét.


Dr. Jan Pauer - történész, tolmács és filozófus. 1990-1993 között együttműködött a cseh kormány által létrehozott történészbizottsággal, amely a volt Csehszlovákia történelmének 1967-1971 közötti szakaszát vizsgálta. 1993-tól a Brémai Egyetem Kelet-Európai Kutató Központjának munkatársa. Társszerzője számos közép-európai történelmi, kulturális és politikai témájú dokumentumfilmnek, résztvevője tízegynéhány rádióműsornak és számos sajtócikk szerzője.

Anna Kaminsky

Visible Memories – Memorial Sites Commemorating the Victims of Communist Regimes in Central Europe

20 August 2018
Tags
  • communism
  • Central Europe
  • Eastern Europe
  • Solidarity
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • Memory
  • Europe
  • Place of remembrance
  • History

In recent years there have been numerous fierce discussions about the future historical and cultural memory of the newly expanded Europe – usually used as shorthand for the expanded European Union. The most controversially discussed areas were those pertaining to the history of formerly communist-ruled countries and members of the Warsaw Pact. Conflicts about memories and memorialisation were primarily ignited by the differing national perceptions of historical events and the evaluation of these events in the 20th century. The discussions focused on those states in which the assessment and treatment of national-socialist and communist crimes did not accord with the expectations and standards which had developed over the previous decades in Western Europe, particularly in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The point was, and is, not merely which historical events should be remembered and how they will be, or rather should be, commemorated. How these historical events should be perceived and how they should be integrated into the respective national or transnational historical narratives were likewise a matter of heated debate. Discussions focused on the status accorded to particular historical events, their representation and memorialisation, compared to other historical events. The prominence given to the memorialisation of national-socialist crimes was hotly debated.

And, finally, there was also the question of aesthetics, of the adapted forms and quantitative dimensions utilized, as these determined the importance of a monument or memorial, based on its height, size or extent as measured by the square meters covered by the facility, and from which, again based on their sheer size, inferences were made regarding its importance compared to monuments commemorating other events, which were often perceived as vying with them in importance.

These discussions currently focus on the memorial cultures which have begun to develop in the formerly Soviet-dominated post-socialist nations of Central and Eastern Europe – nations which, during the course of the 20th century, were the site of crimes committed by those two big totalitarian systems: national-socialism and communism. Many Central and Eastern European states suffered repeated occupations, and today this informs the respective memorial cultures which have developed in these countries since 1991, with differing regional and national emphases. The developments in the Russian Federation occupy a special position, as the blame for all of the crimes committed in the East Bloc has been laid at their door. But this perception ignores the fact that Russians were similarly victims of Stalinist repression as were the populations of those countries later occupied by the Soviet Union. And the authoritarian regimes of the interwar period, which persecuted persons or groups for political, religious and/or ethnic reasons, recede from view behind these memories.

Taken together with the repudiation of the post-war period under Soviet domination, this memorialisation of events serves to promote the identity of nation-states and is accompanied by a comprehensive externalisation of moral guilt and responsibility – both of which are usually laid at Moscow’s door – and is used to construct a national identity of victimisation or resistance.

This is accompanied by a visible appropriation of public space including

- the creation of own monuments and symbols to take the place of previously existing monuments and symbols,

- the renaming of streets, public facilities and institutions (including even such mundane establishments as cafés and restaurants),

- the destruction/reshaping of monuments and state symbols classed as extraneous to the nation, which are neutralised or nationalised, thereby simultaneously erasing the traces of the totalitarian past,

- and the reactivation of national and religious symbols with positive connotations due to their concealment or suppression in the public space during communist rule.

In addition to their commemorative and memorial role, the newly created monuments and places of remembrance also have the task of providing or eliciting information. Thus, rediscovered sites of massacres and mass graves are marked, and clues to identify the victims are shown, with the newly erected information panels used to display pictures of personal belongings found in mass graves, such as cigarette cases, glasses or fountain pens with initials. The population is asked for help in identifying the dead. The names of identified victims are published in obituaries and lists of names are amended to visibly show the extent of the persecutions suffered and the crimes committed.

While in the former socialist states monuments, museums, memorial sites and commemorative rituals recalled the crimes committed by German occupying forces during the Second World War and commemorated the fight against national-socialism – even if such commemorations tended to be selective – the crimes committed by the Soviet Union or by the various national communist rulers were not spoken of. Since 1991 they are being remembered in an attempt to make amends for their previous concealment.

Over the past few years, a diverse physical landscape of remembrance has been created in the shape of monuments, museums and memorial sites in the former communist states of Central and Eastern Europe. Investigations by the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED Dictatorship, carried out as part of the documentation project “Memorial Sites of the Communist Dictatorship” (Erinnerungsorte an die kommunistischen Diktaturen), have resulted in the listing of more than 3500 monuments, memorial sites and museums. This includes approximately 400 monuments in the Russian Federation, created in memory of the Great Terror of 1937/38, and some 300 monuments erected in the Ukraine for the victims of the great famine – the Holodomor – in 1932/33. More than 150 monuments and memorials commemorate the suppression of the Hungarian revolution in 1956. The majority of these memorials mostly refer to specific national or regional events or specific crimes, and commemorate actions, persons or groups, who symbolise the national resistance against communist rule and stand for national self-assertion. They are associated with a positive narrative of remembrance which, particularly in the Baltic States or in Ukraine[1], focuses on the anti-communist struggle and positions its protagonists as members of the resistance and victims of communism. To what extent this resistance was also coupled with the espousal and defence of democratic values is of secondary importance.

Not all monuments remembering the crimes committed under communist rule and commemorating the victims were created after the downfall of communist regimes. In 1981, for example, a monument was erected in Poznań commemorating the uprising of 1956. Numerous monuments and memorials were created in the “free world” to remember communist crimes and their victims. These include monuments set up in Western Europe, Canada or the US to commemorate the Hungarian revolution of 1956 or the massacre of Katyn.

Monuments and museums which deal critically with the past or commemorate past victims are not the only type of monument to be created after 1989/90 in formerly communist ruled states. A number of museums, memorials and mementos have been set up which offer a positive interpretation of the communist past. These include the erection of new statues of Stalin or museums dedicated to Stalin, as has been done in several former Soviet republics, for example in Tbilisi, and museums celebrating the state security services such as those in Dnipropetrovsk or in Marij El.

However, this varied physical manifestation of a culture of memory created over the past few years in the shape of thousands of memorials and museums, mementos, monuments, cenotaphs, religious buildings and museum parks does not permit any inferences to be made about the actual status of communist crimes in the collective memory or which importance the majority of the population accords such symbols in the public space. Private or local initiatives and victims’ association were often behind the creation of these memorials and the memorials were erected despite the indifference of the local population or even in the teeth of active opposition on the part of a majority of the population or the public authorities. To believe in the existence of a homogeneous national memory, based on these numerous newly created monuments and memorials, would be to reject the many different memories and perceptions which often coexist alongside each other. Thus, several hundreds of monuments currently exist in Ukraine commemorating the great famine of 1932/33. But to conclude, based on the number of these monuments and memorials remembering the Holodomor and its victims, that they are already part of the canon of cultural memory of the new Ukraine would be wide of the mark.

An eloquent example of this are the hundreds of monuments and memorials for the victims of Stalinist repression and the GULag erected in the Russian Federation. In many places the local population is completely unaware of the existence of these monuments, let alone that these memorials form part of any living culture of memory.

translated from German by Helen Schoop 



[1] Other examples from Romania, Hungary and Croatia and other countries could be additionally cited.


 

Anna Kaminsky

Viditeľné spomienky – miesta spomienok na obete komunistického režimu v stredovýchodnej Európe

20 August 2018
Tags
  • communism
  • Central Europe
  • Eastern Europe
  • Solidarity
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • Memory
  • Europe
  • Place of remembrance
  • History

V minulých rokoch sa opakovane vášnivo diskutovalo o tom, ako má v budúcnosti vyzerať historická a kultúrna pamäť novej rozšírenej Európy, pod ktorou sa rozumie predovšetkým rozšírená Európska únia. Veľmi sporné boli pritom predovšetkým témy, ktoré sa týkali dejín v minulosti komunisticky ovládaných štátov patriacich v tom čase k Varšavskému paktu. Konflikty pamäte a spomienok sa rozpútali predovšetkým z dôvodu ich rozličných národných pohľadov na svoje dejiny a ich hodnotenie v 20. storočí. V stredobode pozornosti tu stoja predovšetkým tie štáty, ktorých zaobchádzanie s nacistickými a komunistickými zločinmi sa nezhoduje s očakávaniami a štandardami vznikutými v minulých desaťročiach v západnej Európe a predovšetkým v Spolkovej republike Nemecko.

 

Pritom nešlo a nejde len o to, na ktoré historické udalosti a v akej forme sa spomína alebo lepšie povedané: na ktoré by sa malo spomínať. Prinajmenšom takisto vášnivo sa diskutuje o tom, ako sa tieto historické udalosti majú hodnotiť a ako sa začleňujú do príslušných národných prípadne nadnárodných historických narácií. Pri týchto diskusiách hrá nie menej dôležitú úlohu aj otázka ohľadne príslušných priorít vo vzťahu na zobrazovanie a pripomínanie iných historických udalostí, predovšetkým nacistických zločinov.

V neposlednom rade ide pritom aj o estetické otázky, o adaptované formy a kvantitatívne dimenzie, ktoré spájajú význam pomníkov alebo pamätných miest s výškou, veľkosťou alebo rozsahom štvorcových metrov takýchto objektov a len z ich čírej veľkosti vyvodzujú závery ohľadne dôležitosti ich významu vo vzťahu k pamätníkom venovaných iným – často vnímaných ako konkurujúcim – udalostiam.

Tieto diskusie sa momentálne vedú predovšetkým vo vzťahu k rozvíjajúcej sa kultúre spomínania v postsocialistických štátoch strednej a stredovýchodnej Európy, ktoré boli v minulosti pod sovietskym vplyvom a ktoré sa v priebehu 20. storočia stali dejiskom zločinov dvoch veľkých totalitárnych systémov – nacionálneho socializmu a komunizmu. Mnohé z týchto štátov pritom zažili opakované okupovania, ktoré dnes s regionálne a národne rozdielnym významom ovplyvňujú v týchto štátoch kultúru spomínania rozvíjajúcu sa od roku 1991. Mimoriadne postavenie v tejto diskusii zaujíma vývoj v Ruskej federácii, ktorej sa pripisuje výlučná vina za zločiny spáchané v celom východnom bloku. Pritom sa akoby mimochodom prehliada, že ruské obyvateľstvo sa takisto ako aj krajiny neskôr obsadené Sovietskym zväzom stalo obeťou stalinistických zločinov. Za tieto spomienky ustupujú do úzadia autoritárske režimy medzivojnového obdobia, ktoré tiež prenasledovali osoby alebo skupiny osôb z politických, náboženských a/alebo etnických motívov.

V spojení s vymedzením obdobia po druhej svetovej vojne, hodnotenému výlučne ako obdobie sovietskej cudzovlády, slúžia pozdvihnutiu národnoštátnej identity a nesú sa spolu ruka v ruke s rozsiahlou externalizáciou viny a zodpovednosti – namierenej predovšetkým na Moskvu – ako aj s konštrukciou vlastnej národne zdôvodnenej identity ako obete príp. identity odporu.

S tým spojené je viditeľné zaberanie verejného priestoru

-       vlastnými pomníkmi a symbolmi, ktoré nastupujú na miesto tých doterajších,

-       premenovaním ulíc a verejných zariadení (k čomu patria aj také všedné zariadenia ako kaviarne a reštaurácie),

-       ničením/preformovávaním pamätníkov, vzniknutých pod cudzím vplyvom, ako aj štátnych symbolov, ktoré sa neutralizujú príp. nacionalizujú a tým sa zároveň vymazávajú stopy totalitárnej minulosti,

-       reaktivizáciou národných a náboženských symbolov, s ktorými sa z dôvodu ich tabuizácie a potláčania na verejných priestoroch v období komunistickej nadvlády spája pozitívny význam.

Novo vznikajúce pomníky a miesta spomienok spĺňajú popri funkcii spomínania a uctievania si pamiatky aj informačné úlohy. Na jednej strane sa vyznačia odhalené miesta masakrov a masových hrobov. Na strane druhej sa prostredníctvom inštalovaných informačných tabúľ vytvoria oporné body pre identifikáciu obetí tým, že sa sprístupnia osobné predmety nájdené v masových hroboch ako napríklad púzdra na cigarety, okuliare alebo plniace perá s iniciálami svojich majiteľov a následne sa požiada obyvateľstvo o pomoc pri identifikácii mŕtvych. V nekrológoch sa uverejnia a doplnia mená identifikovaných obetí, aby sa zviditeľnil rozsach utrpených prenasledovaní a zločinov.

Zatiaľ čo sa na zločiny nemeckých okupantov spáchaných počas druhej svetovej vojny a na boj proti nacistickej nadvláde v bývalých socialistických štátoch – i keď len selektívne – spomínalo vo forme pomníkov, múzeí, pamätných miest a rituálov, boli zločiny spáchané Sovietskym zväzom príp. jednotlivými národnými komunistickými mocnármi tabuizované a od roku 1991 zažívajú dodatočnú memoralizáciu.

V predchádzajúcich rokoch vznikla v kedysi komunisticky ovládaných štátoch stredovýchodnej a východnej Európy rozmanitá materiálna základňa spomienok vo forme pomníkov, múzeí a pamätných miest. Rešerše „Spolkovej nadácie pre vysporiadanie sa s dikatúrou Jednotnej socialistickej strany Nemecka“ (Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED-Diktatur) v rámci dokumentačného projektu „Miesta spomienok na komunistické diktatúry“ (Erinnerungsorte an die kommunistischen Diktaturen) zaznamenali doteraz viac než 3500 pomníkov, pamätných miest a múzeí. Medzi nimi sa nachádza aj približne 400 pomníkov, ktoré v Ruskej federácii pripomínajú veľký teror v rokoch 1937/38 alebo asi 300 pomníkov, ktoré boli zriadené v Ukrajine pre obete veľkého hladomoru v rokoch 1932/33. Potlačenie maďarskej revolúcie v roku 1956 pripomína viac než 150 pamätníkov, ktoré sa väčšinou vzťahujú na národnoštátne prípadne konkrétne regionálne udalosti a konkrétne zločiny. Pritom sa pripomínajú akcie, osobnosti alebo skupiny, ktoré slúžili národnému odporu proti komunistickej nadvláde a národnému sebaurčeniu. S tým spojené je aj pozitívne spomienkové rozprávanie, ktoré kladie predovšetkým v pobaltských štátoch a v Ukrajine dôraz na antikomunistický boj a jeho protagonistov znázorňuje ako bojovníkov odporu a obete komunizumu. Do akej miery bol tento odpor spojený zároveň aj so snažením o demokratické hodnoty, je pritom sekundárne.

Pamätníky pripomínajúce zločiny spáchané počas komunistickej nadvlády a ich obete však v žiadnom prípade nevznikli až po zániku komunistických režimov. Tak napríklad bol v roku 1981 v Poznani postavený pamätník venovaný povstaniu v roku 1956. V „slobodnom svete“ vznikli početné pamätníky pripomínajúce komunistické zločiny a ich obete. K nim patria napríklad pamätníky, ktoré boli postavené v západnej Európe, v Kanade alebo v USA pre obete maďarskej revolúcie v roku 1956 alebo pamätníky pripomínajúce zločiny v Katyni.

Po rokoch 1989/90 však v bývalých komunisticky ovládaných štátoch nevznikali len pamätníky a múzeá, ktoré sa kriticky vysporiadavali s minulosťou alebo ktoré boli venované ich obetiam, ale vznikali aj múzeá, pamätné a spomienkové miesta, ktoré boli zriadené s pozitívnym postojom voči komunistickej minulosti. Sem patria napríklad – ako v niektorých bývalých sovietskych republikách – novo vybudované busty Stalina alebo Stalinovi venované múzeá v Tbilisi, múzeá tajných služieb v Dnepropetrovsku alebo v Marijsku.

Táto v minulých rokoch vzniknutá mnohotvárna materiálna kultúra spomínania vo forme tisícok pamätných miest a múzeí, spomienkových znakov, pomníkov, pamätníkov, sakrálnych stavieb a muzálnych parkov však neumožňuje vytvoriť si žiadny záver o tom, ako je v kolektívnej pamäti skutočne zakotvená spomienka na komunistické zločiny alebo aký význam pripisuje väčšina obyvateľstva takýmto znakom na verejných priestoroch. Často boli takéto pamätníky iniciované zo strany súkromných alebo lokálnych iniciatív a zväzov obetí ako reakcia na nedostatok záujmu alebo dokonca odpor väčšiny obyvateľstva alebo štátnych inštitúcií. Prípadné vyvodzovanie homogénnej národnej spomienky z veľkého počtu novo vybudovaných pamätníkov by zahradilo prístup k dnes často vedľa seba existujúcim rôznym spomienkam a rozličným hodnoteniam. Tak napríklad existujú v Ukrajine síce viaceré stovky pamätníkov pripomínajúcich veľký hladomor v rokoch 1932/33, avšak vyvodzovanie záverov len na základe počtu týchto pamätníkov v tom zmysle, že by spomienka na tento hladomor a jeho obete patrila už k spomienkovo-kultúrnemu kánonu novej Ukrajiny, by bolo mylné.

Výstižným príkladom pre túto skutočnosť je aj niekoľko stoviek pamätníkov pre obete stalinských represií alebo gulagov, ktoré vznikli v Ruskej federácii. Na mnohých miestach je však existencia týchto pamätníkov pre väčšinu obyvateľstva neznáma, ani nehovoriac o tom, že by sa cítili byť časťou živej spomienkovej kultúry.

______________________

[1] Ďalšie príklady z Rumunska, Maďarska alebo Chorvátska ako aj z ďalších štátov by sa tiež dali menovať.

Andrzej Stankiewicz

Victimisers, victims and the whole world

20 August 2018
Tags
  • totalitarian regimes
  • transitional justice
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • genealogies of memory
  • Latin America

Settling accounts with Nazism and communism, even with apartheid and the dictatorships of South America has become a scholarly discipline in its own right. Its distinguished researchers met during a seminar in Warsaw.

By Andrzej Stankiewicz

 

Research on the mechanisms of what has come to be known as transitional justice got under way in earnest at the turn of the 1990s, when communism in Central-East Europe was headed for the dustbin of history.

Transitional justice is the broadly conceived settling of accounts with receding totalitarian systems, carried out by new democratic authorities. This goes beyond legal regulations alone such as bringing criminals to justice, and also involves social phenomena accompanying the collapse of regimes. At present, this field of study, touching on law, history and the social sciences, encompasses research on the consequences of the collapse of all the world's 20th-century dictatorships, including de-Nazification and de-communisation. It also involves vetting and access to regime files, rehabilitation of political prisoners and restitution of nationalised property.

Plaque with the word ‘murderer’

Researchers of transitional justice met in Warsaw at an international conference titled ‘Legal Frames of Memory. Transitional Justice in Central and Eastern Europe’ (27-29 November 2013). The conference was an element of the Genealogies of Memory project launched in 2011 and carried out by European Network Remembrance and Solidarity.

Genealogies of Memory is one of those important scholarly projects seeking to come to grips with the memory of Central-East European totalitarianism and the transformation period,’ said deputy culture minister Małgorzata Omilanowska while opening the conference. ‘The problem of justice and related legal issues are the key to understanding many processes taking part in the countries of our region.’

Does a single model of transitional justice for countries leaving dictatorships behind them exist? ‘The situation of each country is different, but there are similarities,’ said Professor Adam Czarnota, a legal expert who lectures at universities in Poland, Australia and Western Europe.

The professor has only just returned from Argentina, a country in the process of healing its wounds following the military dictatorship of the 1970s and 1980s. He shows a snapshot he took during a visit to Buenos Aires. It shows a yellow plaque with black lettering hanging on a roadside post, indicating that a ‘murderer’ lives in this house, a collaborator of the former military regime involved in crimes.

This is evidence of what can occur when transitional justice is lacking and victims take things into their own hands. From that perspective, how does he evaluate transitional justice in Poland? ‘Property restitution and penal accountability of representatives of the former regime is still needed,’ believes Professor Czarnota.

Symbols, not money

At the centre of transitional research, both victims and victimisers are studied following the collapse of a regime. According to researchers, there can be no talk of justice until the victims are rehabilitated and the state reimburses them for the losses they sustained at the hands of the dictatorship’s functionaries. Professor Christiane Wilke of Canada's Carleton University warned in Warsaw that justice not rooted in the rule of law can become distorted and deteriorate into revenge against victimisers.

Professor Mark Osiel of the University of Iowa called attention to the way of memorialising regime victims used by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Based in Costa Rica, it was set up in 1979 to settle accounts with Latin American regimes. ‘The Court seeks to restore the memory of victims by means of proper court rulings. It orders the rehabilitation of victims' memory by publicly honouring them and through apologies made by the state. It also orders changes in school textbooks,’ Osiel explained. ‘Latin America is perhaps making the greatest effort to change collective memory.’

The American professor called attention to yet another matter: research on transitional justice has shown that former victims regard financial assistance as improper and at times downright suspect. In his view, it is far better to honour victims symbolically.

An unquestioned authority on transitional justice, Osiel is the author of several fundamental works on the subject. He advised prosecutors in the case against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and on the prosecution of genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Generals to the barracks?

Researchers disagree as to whether prosecuting dictators who have given up power such as Pinochet and Jaruzelski is proper. ‘I recall the worldwide reaction to Pinochet's detention in London upon a motion of Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón in connection with murder and torture charges. Even former Polish dissidents such as Adam Michnik were opposed. Because it becomes known what your future holds when you lose power,’ Jiří Přibáň, a Czech professor from Cardiff University, explained.

Professor Adam Czarnota recalled that in May the leader of the Burmese opposition and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi told him they did not want to sentence the junta generals but only send them back to the barracks.

But all the discussion participants agreed that settling accounts with a regime looks different in every region of the world. It depends whether a system collapsed amid violent revolution, through the peaceful hand-over of power or – as in the case of Germany and Japan – resulted from a lost war. The latter instance was referred to by Professor Czarnota as ‘victor's justice’, as the victorious powers imposed their order on the vanquished.

According to Professor Czarnota, with the exception of the Baltic states, there has been no transitional justice in the countries of the former USSR. It is no coincidence that the churches of Western Christianity essentially dominate in countries where transitional justice processes have taken place.

 

Ukrainian Yaroslav Pasko form Donetsk State University admitted: ‘In Ukraine such social will is lacking. This is the result of an underdeveloped civil society. In our country there is no structure that promotes a departure from post-Soviet experiences and sentiments.’

Polish model in Tunisia

Conference participants set the countries of our region up as examples for states making the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Deputy justice minister Wojciech Węgrzyn emphasised that account settling in the countries of the former Eastern bloc has incurred smaller social and economic costs compared to states in, for example, Latin America.

Recently, Poland has even become something of an exporter of knowledge on ‘justice of the transformation period’. Last year, Polish NGOs, backed by the Foreign Ministry, organised training sessions devoted to justice in the transition period for Tunisians who have been trying to build democracy following the Jasmine Revolution at the turn of 2011.

 

Burkhard Olschowsky

Verbindendes Gedächtnis im 20. Jahrhundert? Das „Europäische Netzwerk Erinnerung und Solidarität“ [...]

20 August 2018
Tags
  • Kommunismus
  • Nationalsozialismus
  • Soziale Gedächtnis
  • Vertreibung
  • Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts
  • Totalitarismus
  • Erinnerung des Volkes

Verbindendes Gedächtnis im 20. Jahrhundert? Das „Europäische Netzwerk Erinnerung und Solidarität“ und die Brüche in der Erinnerungslandschaft des alten Kontinents

 

Die Beweggründe, sich zu erinnern, sind so unterschiedlich wie die Personen und Konstellationen, die Erinnerungen anstoßen, konservieren und weitergeben. Bei aller Unterschiedlichkeit von Erinnerungsformen ist es in der Regel der Bezugsrahmen einer Gemeinschaft oder eines Landes, innerhalb dessen Erfahrungen ausgetauscht und Erinnerungen gepflegt werden. Das kollektive Gedächtnis selektiert, bewahrt und übermittelt Ereignisse und Vorgänge, die in Form von Erbe und Tradition vor allem national konnotiert werden.

Das 19. Jahrhundert stand unter dem Signum nationaler Erweckungsbewegungen, die ihren libertären Gehalt in der zweiten Hälfte des Jahrhunderts sukzessive zu Lasten eines aggressiven, häufig xenophoben Konservatismus einbüßten, was Heinrich August Winkler treffend mit dem Wandel vom „linken zum rechten Nationalismus“ umschreibt.[1] Für das 20. Jahrhundert ist eine Dynamisierung von Ereignissen, die beschleunigte Erosion traditioneller Werte und die Totalisierung des Nationalen feststellbar, wovon die europäische Staatenordnung nachhaltig erschüttert wurde. Zu Synonymen für das Neue und Unermessliche des 20. Jahrhunderts wurden Begriffe wie ‚Gewalt‘, ‚totaler Krieg‘, ‚Holocaust‘, ‚Nationalsozialismus‘, ‚Kommunismus‘ und ‚Vertreibungen‘, um nur einige zu nennen.

Das Neue des 20. Jahrhunderts war nicht das Hegemonialstreben der Großmächte an sich, sondern die zerstörerische Wucht der bolschewistischen Revolution mit ihren globalen Weiterungen und die Einzigartigkeit des vom nationalsozialistischen Deutschland entfachten und total geführten Zweiten Weltkriegs. Anders als in früheren Jahrhunderten brachte das europäische Staatensystem die Kraft zur eigenen Abwehr des nunmehr rassistischen Eroberungswahns und zur Erreichung eines selbstbestimmten europäischen Gleichgewichts nicht mehr auf. Die äußere Befreiung vom Nationalsozialismus kam aus dem asiatischen Teil der Sowjetunion und von jenseits des Atlantiks. Der Preis dafür war die Akzeptanz der in Jalta ausgehandelten und in Potsdam notifizierten Teilung Europas, wobei deren Konsequenzen für die Staaten östlich der Elbe weitaus gravierender und schmerzhafter als für jene im Westen waren: der Verlust von Freiheit, sowohl die Beschneidung der staatlichen Souveränität wie die von Lebenschancen einzelner Menschen, durch eine nach sowjetischem Muster errichtete Staatenordnung.[2]

*

In Westeuropa stand die Entwicklung unter anderen Vorzeichen. Hier nahmen die Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika die Vorbildrolle ein; die parlamentarisch-liberale Demokratie setzte sich in der Mehrzahl der Länder durch, was nicht zuletzt auf die lehrreiche Erfahrung mit den Gefährdungen der Demokratie in der Zwischenkriegszeit und auch die einprägsame Negativkontrastierung durch den diktatorischen „Ostblock“ zurückzuführen war. Die zwanzigjährige Hochkonjunktur der Weltwirtschaft in der Nachkriegszeit tat ein Übriges, um Stabilität und Wohlstand im Westen zu generieren, was wiederum einer allmählichen lebensweltlichen Entfremdung vom östlichen Teil Europas Vorschub leistete. Die erfolgreiche ökonomische und politische Integration Westeuropas blieb nicht ohne Folgen auf die inhaltliche Füllung der Vorstellungen, welche Eliten und Gesellschaften von Europa hegten.[3]

Wenn von Europa die Rede war, so war in Paris, Bonn oder Brüssel seit den 1960er Jahren selbstredend Westeuropa gemeint. Mehr noch: die Region zwischen Rhein, Maas und Mosel als administratives und wirtschaftliches Zentrum der Europäischen Gemeinschaft machte bereits Skandinavien und das Mittelmeer zur Peripherie. Das östliche Europa dagegen figurierte in der Vorstellungswelt der meisten Westeuropäer als grauer Einheitsblock oder verschwand aus deren Bewusstsein. Die Westeuropäer hielten sich zusehends für die Vertreter des ‚eigentlichen‘ Europa, wobei ihnen die Absenz der anderen Hälfte bald nicht mehr auffiel. Nur Wenige haben vor dem Fall der Mauer das Fehlen des Ostens in der westlichen Wahrnehmung thematisiert.[4]

Dass die Spaltung des Kontinents in Ost und West, in totalitäre/autoritäre und demokratische Systeme kein ‚natürliches Ergebnis‘ des Zweiten Weltkriegs war, davon zeugen die Föderationsprojekte, die Widerstandsgruppen quer über Europa für die Zeit nach dem erhofften Sieg über das Dritte Reich entwickelten. Ernst Friedländer spricht gar von der „Geburt des europäischen Föderalismus aus dem Geist des Widerstandes“.[5] Die Lehre, die aus dem eklatanten Versagen des Völkerbundes und dem verheerenden Nationalismus, insbesondere dem Nationalsozialismus, zu ziehen war, hieß europäische Einigung. Wichtige Dokumente dieses Erneuerungswillens wie das „Manifest von Buchenwald“ trugen selbstverständlich die Unterschriften von West- und Osteuropäern. Als im Mai 1948 über 600 Vertreter europäischer Nationen in Den Haag zum „Europa-Kongress“ zusammenkamen, fehlten vor dem Tagungsgebäude nicht die Fahnen der osteuropäischen Staaten. Allerdings wurden diese Länder damals nur noch durch Exilanten vertreten. Im Oktober 1948 auf dem Weltkongress der Intellektuellen für den Frieden in Breslau/Wrocław waren westliche Vertreter zwar anwesend,[6] aber die sowjetische Regie arbeitete auf die ideologische Spaltung Europas hin.[7]

Die östliche Hälfte des Kontinents insgesamt wie der geistige Anteil von Osteuropäern an europäischen Föderationsplänen drohten fortan in Vergessenheit zu geraten und wären wohl gänzlich aus dem Blickfeld der westeuropäischen Öffentlichkeit verschwunden, hätte es nicht Exilanten gegeben, die in Zeiten des Kalten Krieges versuchten, individuell und durch eigens gegründete Zeitschriften und Zirkel die östlichen Erfahrungswelten nicht dem Vergessen anheimfallen zu lassen. Zu den Zentren der Exilliteratur und -publizistik gehörten für die Tschechoslowakei der in Toronto ansässige Verlag „Sixty-Eight Publishers Corporation“ und die „Freie Presse Agentur“ in Wurmannsquick,[8] für Ungarn die letztlich in München herausgegebenen Zeitschriften Új Látóhatar und Nemzetőr sowie die politisch maßgebende, in deutsch erscheinende Europäische Rundschau aus Wien.[9] Für Polen erlangte die in Paris erscheinende Zeitschrift Kultura einen beträchtlichen Einfluss unter den literarischen wie politischen Emigranten und inspirierte die intellektuellen Diskurse und das oppositionelle Milieu im Lande.[10]

Gegen die machtpolitische Zweiteilung Europas und, gravierender noch, gegen deren Gewöhnung und kulturelle Akzeptanz unter Westeuropäern schrieben Dutzende von ostmitteleuropäischen Intellektuellen und Dissidenten an. Es waren der Exiltscheche Milan Kundera mit seinem berühmten Essay Un Occident kidnappé oder Die Tragödie Zentraleuropas und das Buch Antipolitik des ungarischen Soziologen György Konrád, die die Mitteleuropa-Debatte Mitte der 1980er Jahre auslösten. Kundera konstatierte nach 1945 eine Verschiebung der alten Grenze zwischen Katholizismus und Orthodoxie um einige hundert Kilometer nach Westen, sodass das geographische Zentrum Europas nunmehr kulturell im Westen und politisch im Osten lag.[11] Konrád betrachtete die „Antipolitik“ als Mittel, um sich dieser willkürlichen Teilung zu widersetzen. Gesellschaften, die dem Druck eines totalitären Staates ausgesetzt sind, müssen seiner Meinung nach lernen, ihr eigenes Leben zu führen, indem sie zahlreiche Formen der Zusammenarbeit und des Sich-Vereinigens entwickeln und auf diese Weise Schritt für Schritt eine Grenzen überschreitende bürgerliche Gesellschaft aufbauen.[12]

Während ungarische und tschechoslowakische Autoren – mit dem steten Bezug auf Russland bzw. die Sowjetunion – zur Debatte über ihr Selbstverständnis und den Grad ihrer Zivilisiertheit neigten, war die polnische Diskussion über Mitteleuropa stärker von Themen wie dem Verhältnis zu den beiden deutschen Staaten und zur Sowjetunion geprägt. Die geographische Lage des Landes legte geradezu eine Klärung des Verhältnisses Polens zu seinen Nachbarn nahe.[13] Mit der Mitteleuropa-Debatte machten die Intellektuellen aus dem „Ostblock“ auf die Wahrnehmungsdefizite in Westeuropa aufmerksam und brachten ihre europäische Identität zur Geltung.[14]

Die wohl nachhaltigste Wirkung besaß die über vierzigjährige politische Teilung des Kontinents in Ost und West, in autoritäre/totalitäre und demokratische Systeme. Der Zufall, in die eine oder andere Staatsform geboren oder geraten zu sein, hatte für die dort Lebenden erhebliche, bisweilen lebensbedrohliche Konsequenzen, wenn es galt, Wahrheit und Lüge zu unterscheiden und dieses auch angstfrei aussprechen zu wollen. Der polnische Dichter Czesław Miłosz flüchtete 1951 in den Westen und schilderte in seinem zwei Jahre später erschienenen Essay Verführtes Denken das Verhalten von Intellektuellen im Stalinismus, das von Angst, Unterwürfigkeit, aber auch Loyalität gegenüber den Machthabern geprägt war. Karl Jaspers würdigte diese Bemühungen des späteren Literaturnobelpreisträgers wie folgt: „Miłosz schreibt nicht wie ein bekehrter Kommunist, man merkt bei ihm nichts von jenem aggressiven Fanatismus der Freiheit, der in Gebärde, Ton und Handeln wie ein umgekehrter Totalitarismus wirkt. Er schreibt auch nicht als oppositioneller Emigrant, der praktisch an Umsturz und Rückkehr denkt. Er spricht als der erschütterte Mensch, der mit dem Willen zur Gerechtigkeit, zur unverstellten Wahrheit durch die Analyse des im Terror Geschehenden zugleich sich selber zeigt.“[15]

Miłosz’ Kenntnisse der östlichen und westlichen Welt, seine Sensibilität wie auch sein Einfühlungsvermögen hoben ihn damals von den Herrschaftsunterworfenen im Osten, aber auch nicht wenigen Intellektuellen im Westen ab, die der Sowjetunion die Niederwerfung des Nationalsozialismus zugutehielten und den Januskopf des Kommunismus mit seiner Immanenz von Gewalt und ideologischer Vereinnahmung nicht sahen bzw. nicht sehen wollten. Die von Miłosz in seinem späteren Schaffen unter Beweis gestellte Fähigkeit zur Einsicht und Empathie war auch nach dem Ende der Blockkonfrontation 1989 keineswegs selbstverständlich. Vielmehr ist eine geteilte Erinnerung zwischen Ost- und Westeuropa zu beobachten, nur dass nunmehr die Trennungslinie durch die ökonomisch und politisch erweiterte Europäische Union verläuft.[16]

*

Die Aktualität und Brisanz der geteilten europäischen Erinnerung ist zu Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts im Zuge der Erweiterung der Europäischen Union sichtbar geworden. Im Folgenden soll versucht werden, am Beispiel des Umgangs mit dem Nationalsozialismus und Kommunismus, speziell am Thema Vertreibungen und Zwangsmigrationen, die Unwägbarkeiten und Brüche innerhalb der europäischen Erinnerungslandschaft zu verdeutlichen.

Vertreibungserfahrungen stehen im europäischen Kontext des 20. Jahrhunderts, aber sie werden nicht als europäische, sondern in der Regel als nationale erinnert. Die Erinnerung an Flucht und Vertreibung folgte je nach Land und Generation eigenen Bildern, die wiederum von offiziellen Stellen unterstützt oder ausgeblendet werden konnten und daher erheblichen Veränderungen unterlagen. Dies verwundert nicht, schließlich wird zunächst daran erinnert, was man selbst erlebt, gesehen oder gehört hat. Die Perspektive der unmittelbaren Erlebniswelt kann dazu führen, dass die großen historischen Vorgänge, die für die Nachwelt zusammenhängen, von der Erlebnisgeneration separiert wahrgenommen werden. Individuelle Erinnerung verläuft nicht selten quer zu den großen historischen Ereignissen und ist dennoch – oder gerade deshalb – so wichtig. Sie speichert Dialekte, Landschaftsbilder, Gewohnheiten, ja selbst Gerüche und unterliegt zugleich im Laufe von Jahren Veränderungen. Ängste und Verunsicherungen können individuelle Erinnerung ebenso beeinflussen wie die Fähigkeit zur Selbstreflexion, ja sogar zur Selbstkorrektur. Die individuelle Erinnerung an Vertreibung ist wertvoll durch ihre Authentizität und zugleich anfechtbar durch ihre Emotionalität. Diese Spannung ist nicht auflösbar, aber doch beherrschbar, indem Menschenschicksale anderer Länder mit Empathie wahrgenommen werden und sich die Erkenntnis durchsetzt, dass die Umsiedlungs- und Vertreibungserfahrung für den Einzelnen – unabhängig davon, ob es sich dabei um Polen, Ukrainer oder Deutsche handelte – gleichermaßen schmerzhaft sein mochte. Das kollektive Gedächtnis über Vertreibung, welches sekundäre, nicht unmittelbar erfahrungsgesättigte Erinnerung mit einschließt, darf sich dem Bemühen um moralische Empfindsamkeit gegenüber den Untaten der eigenen Landsleute und der Reflexion über Ursachen und Wirkung von Vertreibungen nicht entziehen. Erst dann hebt sich kollektives Gedächtnis von einer bloßen Addition von Einzelerfahrungen ab und wird von der individuellen Erinnerung tatsächlich unterscheidbar.

Diese Unterscheidbarkeit basiert nicht zuletzt auf dem Vetorecht der je persönlichen Erinnerung, die sich gegen jede Vereinnahmung in ein Erinnerungskollektiv sperrt. Nach Reinhart Koselleck gehört es „zur oft beschworenen und ebenso oft vergeblich beschworenen Würde des Menschen, dass er einen Anspruch auf seine eigene Erinnerung hat“. Bei der inflationär gewordenen Redeweise von der „kollektiven Erinnerung“ rät Koselleck zur Behutsamkeit: „Es gibt keine kollektive Erinnerung, wohl aber kollektive Bedingungen möglicher Erinnerungen. So wie es immer überindividuelle Bedingungen und Voraussetzungen der je eigenen Erfahrungen gibt, so gibt es auch soziale, mentale, religiöse, politische, konfessionelle Bedingungen – nationale natürlich – möglicher Erinnerungen. Sie wirken dann als Schleusen, durch die hindurch die persönlichen Erfahrungen gefiltert werden, so dass sich klar unterscheidbare Erinnerungen festsetzen. Die politischen, sozialen, konfessionellen oder sonstigen Voraussetzungen begrenzen also die Erinnerungen und geben sie zugleich frei.“[17]

Angesichts der Schwierigkeiten der geeigneten Form von Erinnerung und deren Korrektiv stellt sich die Frage: Welche Rolle kann die Geschichtswissenschaft bei der Vergegenwärtigung von historischen Ereignissen spielen? Hans Günter Hockerts hat die begriffliche Trias „Primärerfahrung, Erinnerungskultur und Geschichtswissenschaft“ als typologisierenden Zugang zur Zeitgeschichte angeregt. Dabei meint Primärerfahrung die selbst erlebte Vergangenheit, Erinnerungskultur die Gesamtheit eines nicht spezifisch wissenschaftlichen Gebrauchs von Geschichte in der Öffentlichkeit mit unterschiedlichsten Mitteln und zu verschiedenen Zwecken. Dass Geschichte instrumentell eingesetzt wird und die Bedürfnisse des ‚Infotainment‘ befriedigt, ist insbesondere bei der Zeitgeschichte zu beobachten. Fachwissenschaftliche Interventionen und Korrekturbemühungen stoßen hier schnell an Grenzen.[18]

Konstitutiv für die Wissenschaft ist, dass sie Standards eines „systematischen, regelhaften und nachprüfbaren Wissenserwerbs“ entwickelt hat. Sie ist sich auch der Standortgebundenheit historischer Erkenntnis bewusst und legt Prämissen mehr oder minder explizit offen. Strittig waren und bleiben dagegen Einordnungen, Gewichtungen und Verknüpfungen, zumal sie sich nur selten mit fachwissenschaftlichen Kriterien entscheiden lassen. Hier hat nicht nur die Multiperspektivität ihren legitimen Platz. Hier kann es auch nicht um die regelhaft gewünschte „Objektivität“ gehen, weil es keinen Fixpunkt für deren Überprüfbarkeit gibt. Wohl aber muss intersubjektive Überprüfbarkeit im wissenschaftlichen Diskurs als Kontrolle und Korrektur dienen. „Erinnerungsvielfalt heißt nicht, alles für erlaubt zu erklären. Die Fachkompetenz kann dazu beitragen, dass Pluralität nicht zur Beliebigkeit verkommt“ und Legenden entschieden entgegengetreten wird.[19]

Auch wenn methodische Zweifel angebracht sind, ob die Charakterisierung des europäischen 20. Jahrhunderts als ‚das Jahrhundert der Vertreibungen‘ tragfähig ist, kann zumindest die quantitative Dichte an erzwungenen Migrationen in der ersten Hälfte des vergangenen Jahrhunderts kaum geleugnet werden. Als Beispiele lassen sich unter anderem die Vertreibung der Armenier aus der Türkei 1915, der griechisch-türkische „Bevölkerungsaustausch“ von 1922, die Vertreibung von Polen durch den deutschen Aggressor 1939, die Deportation von Tschetschenen und Inguschen 1944 und die Vertreibung von Deutschen aus dem östlichen Europa 1945–1948 nennen. Allen diesen Zwangsmigrationen war gemeinsam, dass sie sich gegen Ethnien richteten, die mit Hilfe der Mobilisierung negativer nationaler Empfindungen und gezielter Propagandakampagnen als fremd und gefährlich kontrastiert werden konnten. Dabei wurde das vermeintliche oder tatsächliche illoyale Verhalten der betreffenden Bevölkerungsgruppe gegenüber dem Staat oder gegenüber anderen Bevölkerungsgruppen zum Anlass für jene Zwangsmigrationen genommen und/oder diese politisch damit gerechtfertigt. Die Vertreibungsvorgänge selbst waren in der Regel mit kollektiver Entrechtung, massiver Gewalt und individueller Entwürdigung verbunden und unterlagen in ihrem Verlauf bisweilen einer inhumanen Dynamik, die über das, was die politischen Entscheidungsträger mitunter als „humanen und geregelten Bevölkerungstransfer“ definierten, bei weitem und zu Lasten der Betroffenen hinausging.[20]

Neben den Gemeinsamkeiten gibt es elementare Unterschiede zwischen den genannten Zwangsmigrationen. Sie konnten vor allem ethnisch, politisch, ideologisch oder rassistisch motiviert sein, sich nach dem Inneren eines Landes richten oder nach außen wirken. In den ersten drei Jahrzehnten des 20. Jahrhunderts geschahen Vertreibungen auf dem Kontinent vom Inneren eines Landes aus und wurden wie z. B. der griechisch-türkische Konflikt mit dem Vertrag von Lausanne im Jahre 1923 völkerrechtlich zumindest nachträglich sanktioniert. Diese Konfliktregelung diente im vorliegenden Fall der politischen Entschärfung der griechisch-türkischen Auseinandersetzungen, auch wenn diese Art der Übereinkunft auf dem Rücken der Betroffenen ausgetragen wurde, Heimatverlust mit sich brachte sowie Traumatisierte und Tote hinterließ.

Mit dem Zweiten Weltkrieg veränderte sich der Charakter von Vertreibungen erheblich. Die Nationalsozialisten benutzten nach dem Überfall auf Polen Vertreibungen erstmals als Mittel einer hemmungslosen Eroberungspolitik, indem sie Bevölkerungsgruppen wie die sogenannten Volksdeutschen ungefragt auf der Landkarte verschoben, Millionen von Polen, Russen, Ukrainern und Tschechen ihrer Heimat beraubten und Juden systematisch ermordeten. Ohne den Nationalsozialismus mit seiner brachialen Umsiedlungs- und Ausrottungspolitik im östlichen Europa hätte es die Vertreibung der Deutschen nach 1945 nicht gegeben. NS-Deutschland war es, das Vertreibungen zur Durchsetzung seiner verheerenden Lebensraumpolitik durchführte und damit ein fatales Verhaltensmuster in Europa etablierte, das insbesondere Stalin ausnutzte.[21]

Während die Nationalsozialisten aus rassistischen und siedlungspolitischen Gründen vertrieben und mordeten, taten es die Bolschewiki aus ideologischen und innenpolitischen Gründen. Was das „Dritte Reich“ und die Sowjetunion teilten, waren ihre imperialen Ansprüche und utopischen Reinheitsphantasien, wie Jörg Baberowski feststellt. Die Sowjetunion war ein Vielvölkerreich, bevor die Bolschewiki damit begannen, es nach ihren Vorstellungen neu zu ordnen. Das „Dritte Reich“ war ein Nationalstaat, der sich durch kriegerische Expansion in ein Vielvölkerimperium verwandelte. „Es eignete sich jene Ambivalenz erst an, die seine politischen Führer nicht ertragen konnten. Beide Regime, Nationalsozialisten wie Bolschewiki potenzierten das Chaos, das sie mit ihren Ordnungsentwürfen beseitigen wollten. Denn als sie sich über die vertrauten Ordnungen hinausbegaben, um fremde Welten zu erobern und zu zerstören, zeigten sich ihnen nicht nur fremde Verhältnisse, sondern existentielle Bedrohungen ihrer Gesellschaftsentwürfe. Deshalb lernten die Eroberer die Welt jenseits der vertrauten Ordnungen nur als feindlichen Gegenentwurf kennen.“[22]

Nationalsozialisten und Bolschewiki hatten den Ersten Weltkrieg und den folgenden Bürgerkrieg vor allem als Kämpfe erlebt, die sich in einem multiethnischen und gewalttätigen Kontext ereigneten. Während die einen „Barbaren“ und „Untermenschen“ ausmachten, sahen die anderen „Verräter“ und „Feinde“, die sich in Rassen und Ethnien verkörperten. Diese Erfahrungen waren wesentlich für die Herausbildung der nationalsozialistischen und bolschewistischen Ordnungsprogramme und Säuberungsphantasien.[23]

„Das Besatzungsregime der Nationalsozialisten in der Ukraine, in Weißrußland und im Baltikum veränderte seit 1941 nicht nur die ethnische Landkarte der Sowjetunion. Es veränderte auch die Selbstwahrnehmung der betroffenen ethnischen Gruppen und das Denken der Bolschewiki über das Imperium. Juden waren jetzt nur noch Juden, Deutsche nur noch Deutsche und Tschetschenen nur noch Tschetschenen. Was sie sonst noch waren, verlor nach den Erfahrungen des Zweiten Weltkrieges für alle Seiten an Bedeutung. Während des Krieges ethnisierte und biologisierte sich die Feindrhetorik der Bolschewiki, sie antworteten auf die Zumutungen, die die Nationalsozialisten in die Sowjetunion getragen hatten. Ohne die Eroberung und Erschließung fremder Räume, die von Feinden bewohnt wurden, hätten Nationalsozialisten und Bolschewiki ihren totalen Krieg gegen innere und äußere Feinde nicht entfesseln können. Deshalb war das Imperium der historische Ort des totalitären Ordnungsentwurfs.“[24]

Angesichts des Verhältnisses von Ursache und Wirkung sowie der oben skizzierten Dynamisierung des Ordnungs- und Vertreibungswillens ist die Verwendung des Begriffes ‚Jahrhundert der Vertreibungen‘ problematisch. In der Ausrichtung auf die longue durée besteht die Gefahr einer chronologischen Aneinanderreihung von Vertreibungsvorgängen – begonnen mit der Vertreibung und dem Mord an den Armeniern 1915 und endend mit den ethnischen Säuberungen im Jugoslawien der 1990er Jahre. Eine solche quantitative Herangehensweise erklärt wenig, suggeriert hingegen Zusammenhänge zwischen den Einzelereignissen, die nicht existieren, und befördert die nivellierende Botschaft, dass Vertreibungen als zu ächtende Vorgänge alle gleichermaßen verwerflich seien. Die Ursachen einzelner Vertreibungen, seien sie ethnisch, politisch, ideologisch oder rassistisch motiviert, bleiben bei einer derartig generalisierenden Betrachtung unterbelichtet. Notwendig ist dagegen neben der Vergegenwärtigung der obwaltenden Ordnungsvorstellungen die Rekonstruktion der Bezüge und Horizonte, in denen sich das vielfach leidvolle Vertreibungsgeschehen abgespielt hat.[25]

Zudem waren Vertreibungen kein Phänomen, das Europa im Ganzen im 20. Jahrhundert tangierte – es war vor allem ein Mittel der Politik im östlichen Europa. Holm Sundhaussen hat über die Zwangsmigrationen in Südosteuropa geschrieben, dass diese auf das strukturelle Zusammenwirken von zwei Faktoren zurückgingen, die Kombination eines zentralistischen, französischen Staatsmodells mit dem kulturellen, von der Abstammung abgeleiteten „deutschen“ oder auch mitteleuropäischen Nationsmodell.[26] Philipp Ther übertrug diesen Befund auf die ostmitteleuropäischen Staaten. Aus multilingualen, vorwiegend durch politische Werte zusammengehaltenen Reichsnationen wurden in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts und des frühen 20. Jahrhunderts Staatsnationen, die eine höhere Identifikation von ihren Bewohnern verlangten. Der Zwang zur Eindeutigkeit in ethnisch multiplen Gesellschaften fand zum Beispiel seinen Ausdruck bei Volkszählungen, in denen sich die Menschen für eine bestimmte Nationalität entscheiden mussten.[27]

Dieser Zwang zur Eindeutigkeit wurde in der Zwischenkriegszeit mit dem grundsätzlich begrüßenswerten Minderheitenschutz als Gestaltungsprinzip internationaler Politik auf die Probe gestellt. Bei Konflikten griff nun der Völkerbund ein und bestimmte beispielsweise beim Schulenstreit in Oberschlesien, wer Deutscher und wer Pole war.[28] Die nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg geschaffene nationalstaatliche Ordnung brachte auf internationaler Ebene mit sich, dass sich nach vermeintlich objektiven Kriterien definierte Nationen und nationale Minderheiten gegenüberstanden. Als sich dann die sozialen Spannungen im Zuge der Weltwirtschaftskrise verschärften, hatte dieses ethnische Strukturprinzip der Gesellschaft fatale Folgen für die Minderheiten im östlichen Europa.

*

Die Erinnerungen an das gewalttätige 20. Jahrhundert und den Zweiten Weltkrieg, der die Landkarte Europas gründlich veränderte, haben mit dem Revolutionsjahr 1989 an Kontur gewonnen. Was sich ökonomisch seit längerem und politisch seit der EU-Osterweiterung mit dem Wort Homogenisierung beschreiben lässt, gilt nicht für das kollektive Gedächtnis der europäischen Nationen. Während Auschwitz für das vor dem Ende des Sowjetimperiums vereinte (West-)Europa durchaus als verbindlicher negativer Bezugspunkt denkbar ist, empfinden die Bevölkerungen der Länder Osteuropas diesen kaum als ihren identitätsstiftenden Fluchtpunkt. Es treten zwei Opfergeschichten in eine beunruhigende, weil scheinbar unauflösbare Konkurrenz: Holocaust und GULag, Nationalsozialismus und Stalinismus.[29]

Deutschland und Polen befinden sich in einem mitteleuropäischen Raum für den die nationalsozialistische und kommunistische Erfahrung konstitutiv waren. Zudem verkörpern beide Staaten die Teilung Europas in zwei Gedächtniskulturen. Polen und Deutschland sind wie wenige andere Länder des Kontinents durch beide Diktaturen geprägt aber auch gepeinigt, im Falle Polens nach Westen verschoben und im Falle Deutschlands geteilt worden. Polen wie (West-)Deutschen ging es seit Ende des Krieges und geht es nach wie vor darum, das „Dritte Reich“ und den Zweiten Weltkrieg in die je eigene nationale Geschichtserzählung zu integrieren – ein Vorgang, der sich stetig wiederholt und gemäß den aktuellen Bedürfnissen und Standpunkten seine Akzente ändert.

Das gilt in hohem Maße für beide Länder, weil ihre jahrhundertealte Nachbarschaft dazu geführt hat, dass die Geschichte der einen Nation zumindest für bestimmte Regionen und Phasen zugleich zu einem Bestandteil der Geschichte der anderen geworden ist. Auch wenn diese Verschränkung nicht symmetrisch verläuft, Polen häufiger mit deutscher Politik und Kultur in Berührung kam als umgekehrt, schien das Revolutionsjahr 1989, das Ende der Blockkonfrontation und das Scheitern des Kommunismus, die Gewähr zu bieten, nunmehr vorbehaltlos deutsche und polnische Erinnerungsstränge zu betrachten und ihre Schnittstellen zu deuten. Das Revolutionsjahr 1989 erweiterte das Feld der Gedächtniskultur um die Geschichte der kommunistischen Diktatur im Zeichen der SED und PVAP.[30]

Dieser Erwartung wurden die Historiker beider Länder in der Tradition der westdeutsch-polnischen Schulbuchgespräche und nunmehr frei von politischen Rücksichtnahmen durchaus gerecht, sie erwies sich jedoch mit Blick auf die deutsche und polnische Öffentlichkeit als voreilig. Die Etablierung einer neuen Gedächtniskultur, bezogen auf die jeweils eigene Geschichte, hatte Vorrang. Diesseits von Oder und Neiße war es vor allem die „Aufarbeitung von Geschichte und Folgen der SED-Diktatur“, so auch der Auftrag und Name der parlamentarischen Enquete-Kommission, die mit der Öffnung der Stasi-Akten dem elementaren informationellen Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Ostdeutschen entsprach, aber auch das (Enthüllungs-)Interesse der medialen Öffentlichkeit bediente, die eine weitgehend westdeutsche war. Etwas Ähnliches gab es in Polen nicht.

Sosehr die Thematisierung der zweiten deutschen Diktatur ein legitimes ostdeutsches Anliegen war, so pharisäerhaft war die weitverbreitete Meinung, diese sei scheinbar allein die Aufgabe der Bürger der neuen Bundesländer, gleichsam ihre Pflichtübung, um sich zu jenen Demokraten zu läutern, die die ehemals Westdeutschen angeblich schon gewesen waren. Der Zufall, westlich von Elbe und Werra aufgewachsen zu sein, machte nicht gefeit gegen die alltäglichen menschlichen Unzulänglichkeiten – die vielen Feigheiten, Verrätereien und Machtgelüste. Die Deutschen in der Demokratie hatten das Glück, dass sie die Konsequenzen ihres Verhaltens während des „Dritten Reichs“ nicht so drastisch zu spüren hatten, wie es das kommunistische System den Bewohnern der ehemaligen DDR in Form vierzigjähriger Vormundschaft abverlangte. Die politischen „Schulden“ der deutschen Vergangenheit, so die Politikwissenschaftlerin Gesine Schwan, „liegen in einer in beiden Hälften des Landes noch immer nicht überwundenen Tradition, Freiheit und Toleranz als zentrale Pfeiler der Demokratie zu unterschätzen beziehungsweise um wesentliche Bedeutungsmomente zu verkürzen“.[31]

Als wissenschaftlich produktiv erwiesen sich die in den 1990er Jahren begonnenen Vergleichsstudien von nationalsozialistischer und kommunistischer Diktatur – nicht um beide Systeme gleichzusetzen oder den Rassenwahn und den Vernichtungskrieg des Nationalsozialismus zu relativieren, sondern um Unterschiede, Ähnlichkeiten und etwaige Gemeinsamkeiten zwischen den beiden deutschen Diktaturen strukturell zu erfassen und zu analysieren; um die jeweiligen Spezifika beider Systeme, aber auch die mögliche Kontinuität kultureller Muster und Verhaltensweisen herauszuarbeiten. Die Ergebnisse dieser Vergleiche sind inhaltlich beachtlich wie methodisch anregend und können eine Grundlage für weiterführende Vergleiche von europäischen Diktaturen im 20. Jahrhundert sein.[32]

*

Die Situation in Polen war nach 1989 dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass hier keine Notwendigkeit bestand, sich mit einer zweigeteilten Vergangenheit mit all ihren medialen Begleiterscheinungen auseinandersetzen zu müssen. Ähnlich wie in den neuen Bundesländern hingegen galt es, Kriterien des Umgangs mit der diktatorischen Vergangenheit aus einem geistigen Zustand heraus zu entwickeln, der zwar nicht inhaltlich, aber doch strukturell erheblich von dem System geprägt worden war, mit dem nun abgerechnet werden sollte. Die erste frei gewählte Regierung im „Ostblock“ unter Premier Tadeusz Mazowiecki vermied eine Abrechnung mit der kommunistischen Vergangenheit, wobei sie sich mit einem Gros der öffentlichen Meinung Polens im Einklang wusste. Dieses Vorgehen, als Politik des „dicken Striches“ gegenüber der Vergangenheit von ihr selbst so bezeichnet, mochte die empfindlichen Startbedingungen seiner Regierung verbessern, zeitigte jedoch insofern negative Langzeitfolgen, als die kathartische Aufarbeitung von individuellem, schuldhaftem Verhalten in der Diktatur Volkspolens weitgehend ausblieb.[33]

In den 1990er Jahren stimulierte dieser Zustand Verdächtigung und Denunziation, die zur politischen Instrumentalisierung missbraucht werden konnten. Mehr noch, die Tatsache, dass die „Dritte Republik“ nicht mit ihrem unrechtmäßigen Vorgänger ostentativ gebrochen hatte, beeinflusste die Einstellung der Bürger zu ihrem Staat. Da die Vorstellung, der neue Staat sichere die Partikularinteressen der alten Eliten, breiten Widerhall fand, blieb die Skepsis gegenüber den regierenden „Anderen“ bestehen.[34]

Rudolf Jaworski machte Mitte der 1990er Jahre geradezu gegensätzliche Trends in den Gedächtniskulturen Deutschlands und Polens aus. Seit der deutschen Einheit sei „eine selbstbestätigende Rückbesinnung auf die nun gleichsam wiedervereinigte deutsche Geschichte ebenso unverkennbar wie eine zunehmende Geschichtsmüdigkeit im postkommunistischen Polen“. Die neu eröffneten Chancen zu einer aktiven Gegenwarts- und Zukunftsgestaltung habe in Polen zu einer Abschwächung der vordem geradezu zwanghaften Fixierung auf ihre eigene Vergangenheit beigetragen, während umgekehrt die Deutschen sich selbstbewusster ihrer früher eher verdrängten oder sogar verleugneten Geschichte zuwenden würden.[35]

Diese für die 1990er Jahre zutreffende Beobachtung hat im neuen Jahrzehnt vor allem für Polen an Plausibilität eingebüßt. Seit dem Jahr 2000 ist eine intensive Beschäftigung mit der eigenen Vergangenheit in den Medien wie der breiten Öffentlichkeit in Gang gekommen. Auslöser dieser neuen Hinwendung zur Geschichte war die Jedwabne-Debatte und die Frage, ob und in welchem Maße Polen das Pogrom an den jüdischen Bewohnern des Ortes Jedwabne im Juli 1941 verübten. Diese Debatte war ein schmerzhafter und zugleich wichtiger Markstein für die Erinnerungsarbeit der polnischen Gesellschaft, stand doch nicht weniger auf dem Prüfstand als das sorgsam tradierte martyrologische Selbstverständnis vieler Polen. Nach Auffassung der als moralische Autorität betrachteten Publizistin und ehemaligen Solidarność-Aktivistin Halina Bortnowska wurden infolge dieser offen wie emotional geführten Debatte nationale, auch in Volkspolen gepflegte Selbstbilder hinterfragt, vor allem jenes des ewig unschuldigen Opfers, das in der Jedwabne-Debatte auf dramatische Weise mit dem genuinen Antisemitismus kollidierte.[36]

*

Neuen Zündstoff erhielt die Diskussion um den besonderen Platz des Holocaust in der europäischen Erinnerungskultur. Diesen Zündstoff lieferten das Ende der Blockkonfrontation und die kollektiv ähnlichen Erinnerungen der Osteuropäer, in denen das Leid unter dem kommunistischen Joch nach Jahrzehnten der Indoktrination und des Schweigens nun seine Artikulation fand und wofür um Verständnis auch im Westen des Kontinents geworben wurde. Exemplarisch dafür ist die Rede der damaligen lettischen Außenministerin und frühere EU-Kommissarin Sandra Kalniete am 24. März 2004 auf der Leipziger Buchmesse. Sandra Kalniete wies in ihrer Ansprache darauf hin, dass nach der Befreiung vom nationalsozialistischen Grauen im Jahre 1945 „in der einen Hälfte Europas der Terror weiterging und dass auf der anderen Seite des Eisernen Vorhangs das sowjetische Regime die Verfolgung und Vernichtung der Völker Osteuropas und auch des eigenen fortsetzte. Fünfzig Jahre wurde die Geschichte Europas ohne uns geschrieben, als Geschichte der Sieger mit der dafür typischen Einteilung in Gute und Böse; in die, die im Recht sind, und die, die Unrecht haben. Erst als der Eiserne Vorhang fiel, erhielten Forscher endlich Zugang zu Archivdokumenten und den Lebensgeschichten der Opfer, die die Tatsache bestätigten, dass beide totalitären Regime, der Nationalsozialismus und der Kommunismus, gleichermaßen verbrecherisch waren.“[37]

Diese letzten Worte waren es, die Salomon Korn, den stellvertretenden Vorsitzenden des Zentralrats der Juden in Deutschland, veranlassten, den Saal demonstrativ zu verlassen. In einem Interview mit der Leipziger Volkszeitung nannte er die Gleichsetzung der Verbrechen der Sowjetunion und des Nationalsozialismus „unerträglich“.[38] Manche Kommentatoren fühlten sich an den „Historikerstreit“ von 1986 erinnert.[39] Sandra Kalniete ging es darum, auf die im Westen kaum bekannten genozidalen Erfahrungen des Zweimillionenvolkes der Letten aufmerksam zu machen, unter denen fast jede Familie persönlich überlieferte Geschichten aus dem GULag erzählen kann – so auch Sandra Kalniete selbst, wie in ihrem Buch Mit Ballschuhen im sibirischen Schnee nachzulesen ist.[40]

In Deutschland rief das Buch Lob, aber auch vehemente Kritik hervor.[41] Hinter dem Hinweis auf die vermeintlich dominante Kollaboration der Letten mit den Nationalsozialisten verbarg sich das Unbehagen,[42] der Holocaust als Gründungsmythos (West-)Europas werde durch den „Osten“ nicht geteilt. Im „Osten“ hingegen wurde das „westliche“ Erinnerungsprimat von vielen als anmaßend empfunden, auch weil sie die eigenen Erfahrungen und Zumutungen eines vormundschaftlichen Kommunismus in der „westlichen“ Erinnerungskultur nicht oder nicht ausreichend wiedererkannten.[43]

Auch wenn der Kontinent nunmehr politisch die Jalta-Ordnung, jene Spaltung in einen diktatorischen Osten und einen demokratischen Westen als Folge des Zweiten Weltkriegs, überwunden hat, so wirken die Erinnerungskulturen von Ost- und Westeuropa nach wie vor nebeneinander, nicht selten gegeneinander, so als hätten sich die Zumutungen des Lebens hinter dem Eisernen Vorhang tiefer, als in westeuropäischen Hauptstädten für möglich gehalten, im Gedächtnis der Ostmitteleuropäer eingeprägt. Mit dem Ergebnis, dass das kommunikative Gedächtnis in Ost und West über zwei Dekaden nach der Revolution von 1989 mit wenig kompatiblen Erinnerungen gefüllt ist und die wechselseitige Wahrnehmung Unverständnis und mangelndes Vorstellungsvermögen nicht zuletzt im Westen offenbar werden lässt.[44]

Während dem Gedächtnis an den Holocaust im Westen eine unverändert hohe öffentliche Aufmerksamkeit zuteilwird, ist das Wissen über den GULag auf Wenige beschränkt und droht zudem der Vergessenheit anheimzufallen. Die US-amerikanische Publizistin Anne Applebaum formuliert dieses Dilemma so: „[W]enn wir den GULag vergessen, [...] beginnen wir zu vergessen, was uns mobilisiert und inspiriert hat, was die Zivilisation ‚des Westens‘ so lange zusammenhielt. [...] Wenn wir uns nicht stärker für die Geschichte der anderen Hälfte des europäischen Kontinents interessieren, die Geschichte des anderen totalitären Regimes des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts, dann werden wir am Ende unsere eigene Vergangenheit nicht verstehen und nicht mehr wissen, warum unsere Welt so geworden ist, wie wir sie heute erleben.“[45]

Die Virulenz und Aktualität der Problematik von geteilten Erinnerungen ist im Umfeld der Feierlichkeiten vom 9. Mai 2005 in Moskau deutlich geworden. Die Erfahrungen mit der sowjetischen Herrschaft im Baltikum und die Hegemonie der Sowjetunion den anderen Ländern Ostmitteleuropas gegenüber wirken mental bis heute noch vielfach nach und sind für das historische kollektive Bewusstsein dieser Länder weiterhin konstitutiv. Dagegen sind vertiefte Kenntnisse z. B. über die Befindlichkeit der Menschen in den baltischen Staaten, über die aus der historischen Erfahrung gespeisten Eigen- und Fremdbilder der Esten, Letten, Litauer und Polen in Westeuropa nur selten anzutreffen. Manche politischen Äußerungen und Handlungsweisen der Gegenwart sind aber nur vor dem jeweiligen historischen Erfahrungshorizont zu erklären.[46]

Welches könnten die Mittel und Wege sein, um die auch (oder gerade) heute konfligierenden Gedächtniswelten zwischen „altem“ und „neuem“ Europa zu entschärfen? Die Beantwortung dieser Frage gebietet Behutsamkeit, handelt es sich doch häufig um westliche Wahrnehmungsdefizite, deren Gründe sowohl in der andersartigen Sozialisation unter dem Signum sozialer Amerikanisierung und folglich anderer Generationserfahrungen zu suchen sind als auch die Folgen der ideologisch propagierten wie auch praktizierten Abgrenzungspolitik der „Ostblockstaaten“. Erschwerend kommt hinzu, dass dieses Defizit kaum mehr zu korrigieren ist, schließlich handelte es sich im östlichen Europa um ein diktatorisches System, das 1989/90 implodierte, somit nicht mehr direkt erfahrbar ist und dennoch in den Biographien, Erinnerungen und Verletzungen von Millionen Menschen weiterlebt.

Ein Rückblick auf das Wirken ostmitteleuropäischer Bürgerrechtler und Dissidenten ist in besonderer Weise geeignet, um als sinnstiftendes Beispiel für die Verwirklichung der Zivilgesellschaft in Europas Freiheitsgeschichte aufgenommen zu werden. Denn sie waren es, die nicht nur die Zersetzung des Staatssozialismus betrieben, sondern auch die Überwindung der Jalta-Ordnung beförderten und ein ungeteiltes Europa gedanklich begründeten. Wolfgang Eichwede bezeichnet sie emphatisch als „Kinder der Aufklärung“, da sie mit ihrem Mut, ihrem Vertrauen auf die Öffentlichkeit und die Kraft ihres Beispiels Keime einer Zivilgesellschaft schufen, die 1989 zum Durchbruch kamen.[47]

*

Schließlich ist es ein Auftrag des 2005 von Deutschland, Polen, Ungarn und der Slowakei auf den Weg gebrachten „Europäischen Netzwerks Erinnerung und Solidarität“, zur Annäherung der Gedächtniswelten beizutragen. Ein Ausgangspunkt für dieses Netzwerk war die sogenannte „Danziger Erklärung“ des damaligen polnischen Staatspräsidenten Aleksander Kwaśniewski und des Bundespräsidenten Johannes Rau vom 29. Oktober 2003. Die „Danziger Erklärung“ war eine Reaktion auf die teils kontrovers geführte Diskussion über die Aufarbeitung der Problematik von Flucht und Vertreibungen im 20. Jahrhundert, die in und zwischen den Gesellschaften der beiden Länder geführt wurde. In der Erklärung regten die beiden Präsidenten an, „alle Fälle von Umsiedlung, Flucht und Vertreibung, die sich im 20. Jahrhundert ereigneten, gemeinsam neu zu bewerten und zu dokumentieren“.[48]

Im Februar 2005 verabschiedeten die für Kultur zuständigen Minister Deutschlands, Polens, Ungarns und der Slowakei eine Absichtserklärung zur Einrichtung eines länderübergreifenden Netzwerks. In der Absichtserklärung werden die oben angesprochenen unterschiedlichen Erinnerungsbedürfnisse der Länder berücksichtigt. Darin heißt es: „Gegenstand des Netzwerks ist die Analyse, Dokumentation und Verbreitung der Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts der Kriege, der totalitären Diktaturen und der Leiden der Zivilbevölkerung – als Opfer von Kriegen, Unterdrückung, Eroberung, Zwangsmigrationen sowie als Opfer von nationalistischen, rassistischen und ideologisch motivierten Repressionen.“[49]

Der umfassend formulierte Anspruch ist nicht zuletzt das Bekenntnis zur dialogischen Erinnerungskultur, das hinreichend viel Raum für wissenschaftliche wie populär angelegte Projekte lässt und zugleich die Möglichkeit einer Erweiterung des Netzwerks um weitere interessierte Länder eröffnet. Die Reihenfolge bei der Nennung der Aufgaben des Netzwerks folgte der plausiblen historischen Gewichtung, wonach Zwangsmigrationen ein Fragment der Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts bilden und ohne eine Einordnung in die menschenverachtende Dynamik des Kriegsgeschehens zusammenhanglos bleiben würden. Zwangsmigrationen sind nicht das Wichtigste und Drastischste, was Ost- und Mitteleuropäer erlebt haben. Das, was die europäische und insbesondere die ostmitteleuropäische Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts auf dramatische wie schmerzhafte Weise geprägt hat, sind die Erfahrungen von zwei Totalitarismen: des Nationalsozialismus und des Kommunismus. Das Gemeinsame, das sich in dieser Aufgabenbeschreibung ausdrückt, ist die ungeteilte Empathie mit allen Opfern der Geschichte.[50]

Im September 2005 wurde die Satzung der Stiftung „Europäisches Netzwerk Erinnerung und Solidarität“ vom Stiftungsrat unter Vorsitz von Andrzej Przewoźnik, dem damaligen Leiter des „Rates zum Schutz des Gedenkens an Kampf und Märtyrertums“, verabschiedet. Als Stiftungsgründer konnte der namhafte Künstler, Theaterwissenschaftler und Auschwitz-Überlebende Józef Szajna gewonnen werden. Zeitgleich konstituierte sich in Warschau der Stiftungsrat, dessen wissenschaftliche Mitglieder von den Kulturministern Deutschlands, Polens, Ungarns und der Slowakei benannt wurden. Die Erklärung über die Gründung des „Europäischen Netzwerks“ vom Februar 2005 rief in der Presse ein breites Echo hervor, stieß bei vielen Initiativen der Bildungs- und Erinnerungsarbeit auf positive Resonanz und äußerte sich in der Bereitschaft zur Kooperation.[51]

Das Netzwerk soll letztlich auch dazu beitragen, die Folgen der jahrzehntelangen Spaltung Europas zu überwinden, indem Erfahrungen von Kriegen, Diktatur und Zwangsmigration mit dem Blick auf das Schicksal des Anderen thematisiert und aufgearbeitet werden. Aufgabe des Netzwerks ist es zudem, die vielfältig vorhandenen Initiativen und Institutionen miteinander zu verbinden und eine dialogische Erinnerungskultur zu befördern und einer Vertiefung der Europäischen Union kulturell den Weg ebnet.

Welches sind die Herangehensweisen und Themen, die das Profil des Netzwerks bestimmen können?

Erstens gibt es in der europäischen Erinnerungslandschaft einen hervorgehobenen Zeitraum, auf den die private wie öffentliche Erinnerung nach wie vor ausgerichtet ist: den Zweiten Weltkrieg. Dieser war ein gravierender Einschnitt, der Zerstörung, Vertreibung, Not und Unterdrückung mit sich brachte, aber auch Befreiung und Neubeginn ermöglichte. In der Konsequenz des Krieges wurden Deutschland und Europa in zwei Hälften auseinandergerissen sowie Schicksale und Lebensläufe in Ost und West dauerhaft unterschiedlich geprägt.

Das seit einigen Jahren in Deutschland artikulierte Interesse am Thema Flucht und Vertreibung soll im historischen Kontext durch das Netzwerk ebenso bearbeitet werden wie Themen zur nationalsozialistischen Gewaltherrschaft in Ostmitteleuropa, für welche die polnische Seite eine besondere Sensibilität besitzt. Das Netzwerk kann hier ansetzen, die Geschichtsbilder wechselseitig zu öffnen, die Perspektive des Anderen mit einzunehmen, zu versuchen, die Befindlichkeiten der Nachbarn mitzudenken und in das jeweils eigene Geschichtsbild zu integrieren, die Geschichten der europäischen Nationen untereinander zu verbinden.

Zweitens stellt die Thematisierung der östlichen Erfahrungswelten samt dem Gedächtnis des Kommunismus und seiner Erinnerungskonkurrenz zum Nationalsozialismus ein zentrales, wenngleich erst in wenigen Publikationen behandeltes Narrativ europäischer Geschichte dar. Richtungweisend sind die Arbeiten von François Furet, Mark Mazower und Tony Judt.[52] Die drei Historiker legten kenntnisreich und treffend dar, wie der lange Schatten des Zweiten Weltkriegs auf dem ganzen Nachkriegseuropa lag, die politischen Geschicke und Integrationsanstrengungen in Ost und West prägte sowie kulturelle Muster – auch grenzübergreifend – kodifizierte.

Zudem könnte ein Vergleich zwischen den Diktaturen nach 1945 wie auch die Kontrastierung mit demokratischen Systemen Aufschluss darüber geben, wie die jeweiligen politischen Eliten ihren Führungs- und Gestaltungsanspruch mit den Modernisierungszwängen der Ökonomie und dem gesellschaftlichen Verlangen nach Wohlstand und Demokratisierung zu vereinbaren suchten.[53] Auf diese Weise ließen sich Integrationsmechanismen und -formen wie auch transnationale kulturelle Einflüsse in und unter den Ländern Ost- wie Westeuropas charakterisieren. Eine derartige Analyse, die bisher nur rudimentär vorgenommen wurde,[54] könnte nicht nur die Gründe für den Verfall und das friedliche Ende des „Ostblocks“ genauer beleuchten, sondern auch seine jahrzehntelange Dauer und relative Stabilität.[55]

Drittens eröffnet die Auseinandersetzung mit Erinnerung und Gedächtnis in Form von „lieux de mémoire“/Erinnerungsorten einen vielversprechenden Zugang zur europäischen Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Die von Pierre Nora in Frankreich ausgegangenen Ansätze zur Erfassung, Kategorisierung und damit auch Kanonisierung von „lieux de mémoire“ haben Nachahmungen und Modifizierungen für andere Staaten gefunden – was für sich bereits einen nennenswerten Tatbestand von Europäisierung darstellt.[56] Projekte über materielle wie immaterielle Erinnerungsorte erlauben, für die Gegenwart eine kulturelle Dimension der Rückbesinnung und Orientierung einzuführen, welche die Veränderungen von Erinnerungsformen über längere Zeiträume bis in die aktuelle Gegenwart hinein zum Thema macht. In den letzten Jahren erfuhr die Beschäftigung mit Erinnerungsorten auch in Deutschland eine beachtliche wissenschaftliche Resonanz.[57] Inzwischen gibt es Anzeichen, dass die wissenschaftliche Auseinandersetzung mit dem Thema Erinnerungsorte auch in Ostmitteleuropa zunimmt.[58]

In vielen europäischen Ländern sind Bestrebungen einer Vergangenheitspolitik und offiziellen Gedenkkultur erkennbar, die nationalen Paradigmen folgen.[59] Dies sollte nicht vorab beargwöhnt werden, sondern bei den Themen und Projekten des Netzwerks insofern Berücksichtigung finden, als damit die unterschiedlichen Narrative wissenschaftlich diskutiert und gewichtet werden können. Dabei kann es nicht darum gehen, den nationalen Rahmen, innerhalb dessen sich die Erinnerung an Krieg und Gewalt konstituiert, europäisch zu nivellieren. Vielmehr wird es Aufgabe sein, die verschiedenen Zuordnungen von Schuld und Verantwortung als gegebene Bruchlinien im europäischen Erinnerungsraum wahrzunehmen. Diese müssen auch im Rahmen des Netzwerks ständig reflektiert werden, um die eigene Vergangenheit aushalten zu können. Reinhart Koselleck sagte eindringlich: „Wir können unsere Erinnerung nicht wahren, ohne diese unüberbrückbaren Bruchlinien mit zu erinnern. Sonst wären wir uns selbst gegenüber unehrlich.“[60]Wenn es dem Netzwerk gelänge, die Brüche in der europäischen Erinnerungslandschaft offenzulegen und zu überbrücken, indem die Befindlichkeiten der Nachbarn mitgedacht und die Perspektiven der Anderen übernommen werden, wäre dies mehr, als die Gründer des „Europäischen Netzwerks Erinnerung und Solidarität“ zu erhoffen wagten.



[1] Heinrich August Winkler: Vom linken zum rechten Nationalismus: Der deutsche Liberalismus in der Krise von 1878/79. In: Ders.: Liberalismus und Antiliberalismus. Göttingen 1979, S. 36–51.

[2] Hagen Schulze: Staat und Nation in der europäischen Geschichte. München 1999, S. 320.

[3] Ute Frevert: Eurovisionen. Ansichten guter Europäer im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt/M. 2003 (Europäische Geschichte), S. 148f.

[4] Vgl. Gregor Thum: „Europa“ im Ostblock. Weiße Flecken in der Geschichte der europäischen Integration. In: Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History, Online-Ausgabe, 1 (2004), H. 3, S.1. URL: <http://www.zeithistorische-forschungen.de/16126041-Thum-3-2004>; Peter Bender: Das Ende des ideologischen Zeitalters. Die Europäisierung Europas. Berlin 1981; Karl Schlögel: Die Mitte liegt ostwärts. Die Deutschen, der verlorene Osten und Mitteleuropa. Berlin 1986.

[5] Ernst Friedländer: Wie Europa begann. 2. Aufl. Köln 1968, S. 50.

[6] Teilnehmer aus Westeuropa waren unter anderen Pablo Picasso, Hans Scharoun, Max Frisch, Max Pechstein, Paul Éluard, Fernand Léger, Irene Joliot-Curie, Hans Mayer.

[7] Gregor Thum: „Europa“ im Ostblock (Anm. 4), S. 3; Hans Mayer: Ein Deutscher auf Widerruf. Erinnerungen. Bd. 1. Frankfurt/M. 1988, S. 397–411.

[8] Jan Čulik: Tschechisches literarisches Leben im Exil 1971–1989. In: Ludwig Richter / Heinrich Olschowsky (Hg.): Im Dissens zur Macht. Samizdat und Exilliteratur in den Ländern Ostmittel- und Südosteuropas. Berlin 1995 (Forschungen zur Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Mitteleuropa), S. 69–84, hier S. 70.

[9] Juliane Brandt: Ungarische Exilliteratur – Ungarische Literatur im Westen. In: Richter / Olschowsky (Hg.): Im Dissens zur Macht (Anm. 8), S. 169–190, hier S. 173, 175.

[10] Andrzej Stanisław Kowalczyk: Giedroyc i „Kultura“ [Giedroyc und die Kultura]. Wrocław 1999; Krzysztof Kopczyński: Przed przystankien Niepodległość. Paryska „Kultura“ i kraj w latach 1980–1989 [Vor der Haltstelle Unabhängigkeit. Die Pariser Kultura und Polen in den Jahren 1980–1989]. Warszawa 1990.

[11] Milan Kundera: Un Occident kidnappé – oder Die Tragödie Zentraleuropas. In: Kommune 7 (1984), S. 43–52, hier S. 44.

[12] György Konrád: Antipolitik. Frankfurt/M. 1985, S. 76ff., 145ff.

[13] Zu den tschechoslowakischen, ungarischen und polnischen Stimmen siehe Hans-Peter Burmeister, Frank Boldt, György Mészáros (Hg.): Mitteleuropa. Traum oder Trauma? Bremen 1988; Krystyna Rogaczewska: Niemcy w myśli politycznej polskiej opozycji w latach 1976–1989 [Deutschland im politischen Denken der polnischen Opposition in den Jahren 1976–1989]. Wrocław 1998, S. 125, 141.

[14] Vgl. Hermann Rudolph: Ein Stellvertreterkrieg am falschen Platz. Zur Mitteleuropa-Diskussion in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. In: Hans Ester / Hans Hecker / Erika Poettgens (Hg.): Deutschland, aber wo liegt es? Deutschland und Mitteleuropa. Amsterdam u. a. 1993 (Amsterdam Studies of Cultural Identity 3), S. 323–334; Peter Bender: Die Notgemeinschaft der Teilungsopfer. In: Ebd., S. 335–350.

[15] Czesław Miłosz: Verführtes Denken. Frankfurt/M. 1980, S. 8.

[16] Heinrich Olschowsky: Emigrantenschicksal und literarische Strategie. Überlegungen zu Czesław Miłosz. In: Richter / Olschowsky (Hg.): Im Dissens zur Macht (Anm. 8), S. 55–68, hier S. 56ff.; Janusz Reiter: Geteilte Erinnerung im Vereinten Europa. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 7.5.2005.

[17] Reinhart Koselleck: Gebrochene Erinnerung? Deutsche und polnische Vergangenheiten. In: Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung, Jahrbuch 2000, S. 19–32, hier S. 20f.

[18] Hans Günter Hockerts: Zugänge zur Zeitgeschichte: Primärerfahrung, Erinnerungskultur, Geschichtswissenschaft. In: Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, B 28/2001, S. 15–30. Die Goldhagen-Debatte verdeutlicht, wie sehr Wissenschaft und Mediengesellschaft konfligieren können. Je besser die Historiker mit der Materie vertraut waren, umso schärfer fiel in der Regel die Kritik aus. Aber das tat dem überwältigenden Medienerfolg des amerikanischen Politologen keinen Abbruch. Umgekehrt fehlte dem thematisch ganz ähnlich gelagerten, indes wissenschaftlich vorzüglichen Buch von Christopher Browning die Brisanz für eine Mediendebatte – das heißt: keine PR-Kampagne, keine Nachrichtenfaktoren, keine plakativ versimpelte These. Ruth Bettina Birn / Volker Riess: Das Goldhagen-Phänomen oder: fünfzig Jahre danach. In: Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 49 (1998), S. 80–95; Christopher Browning: Ganz normale Männer. Das Reserve-Polizeibataillon 101 und die „Endlösung“ in Polen. Reinbek 1993.

[19] Hans Günter Hockerts: Zugänge zur Zeitgeschichte: Primärerfahrung, Erinnerungskultur, Geschichtswissenschaft. In: Konrad H. Jarausch / Martin Sabrow (Hg.): Verletztes Gedächtnis. Erinnerungskultur und Zeitgeschichte im Konflikt. Frankfurt/M. u. a. 2002, S. 39–71, hier S. 41.

[20] Vgl. Michael Mann: The Dark Side of Democracy. Explaining Ethnic Cleansing. Cambridge 2005, S. 34ff.; vgl. Philipp Ther: A Century of Forced Migration: The Origins and Consequences of „Ethnic Cleansing“. In: Ders. / Ana Siljak (Hg.): Redrawing Nations. Ethnic Cleansing in East-Central Europe 1944–1948. Lanham 2001 (Harvard Cold War Studies Book Series 1), S. 43–74; Norman Naimark: Flammender Haß. Ethnische Säuberung im 20. Jahrhundert. München 2004, S. 9ff., 231ff.

[21] Vgl. Michael G. Esch: „Gesunde Verhältnisse“. Deutsche und polnische Bevölkerungspolitik in Ostmitteleuropa 1939–1950. Marburg 1998 (Materialien und Studien zur Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 2), S. 128ff., 176ff.

[22] Jörg Baberowski: Ordnung durch Terror. Stalinismus im sowjetischen Vielvölkerreich. In: Isabel Heinemann / Patrick Wagner (Hg.): Wissenschaft – Planung – Vertreibung. Neuordnungskonzepte und Umsiedlungspolitik im 20. Jahrhundert. Stuttgart 2006, S. 145–172, hier S. 146; vgl. Eric D. Weitz: A Century of Genocide. Utopias of Race and Nation. Princeton 2003, S. 8–15.

[23] Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius: Kriegsland im Osten, Eroberung, Kolonisierung und Militärherrschaft im Ersten Weltkrieg. Hamburg 2002, S. 275ff.

[24] Baberowski: Ordnung durch Terror (Anm. 22), S. 147.

[25] Karl Schlögel: Wie europäische Erinnerung an Umsiedlung und Vertreibung aussehen könnte. In: Anja Kruke (Hg.): Zwangsmigration und Vertreibung – Europa im 20. Jahrhundert. Bonn 2006, S. 49–68, hier S. 55.

[26] Holm Sundhaussen: Bevölkerungsverschiebungen in Südosteuropa seit der Nationalstaatswerdung (19./20. Jahrhundert). In: Comparativ 6 (1996), S. 25–40, hier S. 38.

[27] Philipp Ther: Ein Jahrhundert der Vertreibung. Die Ursachen von ethnischen Säuberungen im 20. Jahrhundert. In: Ralph Melville / Claus Scharf (Hg.): Zwangsmigrationen in Europa 1938–1950. Mainz 2007 (Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Europäische Geschichte Mainz, Abteilung Universalgeschichte, Beiheft 69), S. 19–38, hier S. 24ff.

[28] Tomasz Falęcki: Niemieckie szkolnictwo mniejszościowe na Górnym Śląsku w latach 1922–1939 [Das Schulwesen der deutschen Minderheit in Oberschlesien in den Jahren 1922–1939]. Katowice 1970, S. 67f.

[29] Wacław Długoborski: Das Problem des Vergleichs von Nationalsozialismus und Stalinismus. In: Dittmar Dahlmann / Gerhard Hirschfeld (Hg.): Lager, Zwangsarbeit, Vertreibung und Deportation. Dimensionen der Massenverbrechen in der Sowjetunion und in Deutschland 1933 bis 1945. Essen 1999 (Schriften der Bibliothek für Zeitgeschichte 10), S. 19–28.

[30] PVAP: Polnische Vereinigte Arbeiterpartei.

[31] Gesine Schwan: Die Last zweier Vergangenheiten. In: Thomas Brose (Hg.): Deutsches Neuland. Beiträge aus Religion und Gesellschaft. Leipzig 1996, S. 24–33, hier S. 31.

[32] Siehe den aussagekräftigen Querschnitt an vergleichenden Arbeiten über das „Dritte Reich“ und die DDR. Günter Heydemann / Detlef Schmiechen-Ackermann: Zur Theorie und Methodologie vergleichender Diktaturforschung. In: Günter Heydemann / Heinrich Oberreuter (Hg.): Diktaturen in Deutschland – Vergleichsaspekte. Bonn 2003 (Schriftenreihe der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung 398), S. 9–55, hier S. 14.

[33] „Pomówmy o dylematach“. Z Tadeuszem Mazowieckim rozmawia ks. Adam Boniecki [„Lasst uns über die Dilemmata sprechen“. Adam Boniecki im Gespräch mit Tadeusz Mazowiecki]. In: Tygodnik Powszechny, 22.4.2007, S. 12; Piotr Grzelak: Wojna o lustrację [Der Krieg um die Lustration]. Warszawa 2005, S. 17–25.

[34] Bronisław Wildstein: Der Antikommunismus nach dem Kommunismus. In: Paweł Śpiewak (Hg.): Anti-Totalitarismus. Eine polnische Debatte. Frankfurt/M. 2003 (Denken und Wissen. Eine Polnische Bibliothek), S. 527–542.

[35] Rudolf Jaworski: Kollektives Erinnern und nationale Identität. Deutsche und polnische Gedächtniskulturen seit Ende des Zweiten Weltkrieges. In: Ewa Kobylińska / Andreas Lawaty (Hg.): Erinnern, Vergessen, Verdrängen. Polnische und deutsche Erfahrungen. Wiesbaden 1998 (Veröffentlichungen des Deutschen Polen-Instituts Darmstadt 11), S. 33–52, hier S. 48.

[36] Vgl. Tomasz Szarota: Mord in Jedwabne – Dokumente, Publikationen und Interpretationen aus den Jahren 1941–2000. Ein Kalendarium. In: Edmund Dmitrów / Paweł Machcewicz / Tomasz Szarota (Hg.): Der Beginn der Vernichtung. Zum Mord an den Juden in Jedwabne und Umgebung im Sommer 1941. Osnabrück 2004 (Veröffentlichungen der Deutsch-Polnischen Gesellschaft Bundesverband e. V. 4), S. 209–252; Jan Błoński: The poor Poles look at the Ghetto. In: Antony Polonsky (Hg.): „My brother`s keeper?“ Recent Polish debates on the Holocaust. London 1990, S. 34–52; Halina Bortnowska: Wenn der Nachbar keinen Namen hat. In: Transodra 23 (2001), S. 122–124.

[37] Rede Sandra Kalnietes zur Eröffnung der Leipziger Buchmesse, 24.3.2004. In: <http://www.die-union.de/reden/altes_neues_europa.htm>.

[38] Salomon Korn: Vorsicht vor Antisemitismus aus Osteuropa. In: Leipziger Volkszeitung, 26.3.2004.

[39] Ijoma Mangold: Salomon Korns Protest. Der Historikerstreit lässt grüßen. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 25.3.2004; Matthias Arning: Rückkehr des Totalitären. In: Frankfurter Rundschau, 15.4.2004.

[40] Sandra Kalniete: Mit Ballschuhen im sibirischen Schnee. Die Geschichte meiner Familie. München 2005.

[41] Positive Rezensionen unter anderem von Hubertus Knabe: Ballschuhe im Schnee. In: Der Tagesspiegel, 1.8.2005; Christian Esch: Nachgeholte Tränen. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 21.3.2005; Anita Klüger: Ratten in Brennnesselsud. In: tazMagazin, 21.5.2005; negative Rezension von Michael Wolffsohn: Keine Gesellen nirgends. In: Die Welt, 16.4.2005.

[42] Mit den deutschen Truppen kollaborierten vor allem die von Viktor Arajs geführte paramilitärische Gruppe, die ca. 200 Mann umfasste und ab Sommer 1941 sich aktiv an der Ermordung der lettischen Juden beteiligte. In der lettischen Bevölkerung hatten die Mitglieder des Arajs-Kommandos allgemein einen äußerst schlechten Ruf. Kathrin Reichelt: Zwei Beispiele der Judenverfolgung in Lettland 1941–1944. In: Joachim Tauber (Hg.): „Kollaboration“ in Nordosteuropa. Erscheinungsformen und Deutungen im 20. Jahrhundert (Veröffentlichungen des Nordost-Instituts 1). Wiesbaden 2006, S. 77–87, hier S. 80f.

[43] Basil Kerski: Ungleiche Opfer. In: Kafka. Zeitschrift für Mitteleuropa, H. 14 (2004). S. 34–43; Jasper von Altenbockum: Der lange Schatten. Lettland und die „Gleichsetzung“ von Stalinismus und Nationalsozialismus. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 3.4.2004.

[44] Vgl. Andrzej Paczkowski: Gedächtniswelten. Das „alte“ und das „neue“ Europa. In: Bernd Kauffmann / Basil Kerski (Hg.): Antisemitismus und Erinnerungskulturen im postkommunistischen Europa. Osnabrück 2006 (Veröffentlichtungen der Deutsch-Polnischen Gesellschaft Bundesverband e. V. 10), S. 135–145.

[45] Anne Applebaum: Der GULAG. Berlin 2003, S. 609.

[46] Heinrich August Winkler: Erinnerungswelten im Widerstreit. Europas langer Weg zu einem gemeinsamen Bild vom Jahrhundert der Extreme. In: Kauffmann / Kerski (Hg.): Antisemitismus und Erinnerungskulturen (Anm. 43), S. 105–116, hier S. 114; vgl. Roland Freudenstein: Warum die EU gegenüber Russland mit einer Stimme sprechen muss. In: Dialog, H. 77–78 (2007), S. 68–70; Lilija Ševcova: Garantiert ohne Garantie. Rußland unter Putin. In: Osteuropa 3 (2006), S. 3–18, hier S. 13ff.

[47] Wolfgang Eichwede: Kinder der Aufklärung. In: Kafka. Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa 3 (2001), S. 8–13; vgl. Jerzy Giedroycs Kultura und die Krise der europäischen Identität. In: Łukasz Galecki / Basil Kerski (Hg.): Die polnische Emigration und Europa 1945–1990. Eine Bilanz des politischen Denkens und der Literatur Polens im Exil. Osnabrück 2000, S. 73–94, hier S. 91ff.

[48] <www.bundeskanzlerin.de/bk/Redaktion/Binaer/2005/12/2005-12-02-danziger-erklaerung-pdf,property=blob.pdf->.

[49] <www.markusmeckel.de/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=231->.

[50] Paweł Machcewicz: Ein Netzwerk aus polnischer Sicht. In: Kruke (Hg.): Zwangsmigrationen und Vertreibung (Anm. 25), S. 147–150, hier S.148f.

[51]>; <http://www.polskiejutro.com/art/a.php?p=144-145okiem>.

[52] François Furet: Das Ende der Illusion. Der Kommunismus im 20. Jahrhundert. München 1996; Mark Mazower: Der dunkle Kontinent: Europa im 20. Jahrhundert. Berlin 2000; Tony Judt: Geschichte Europas von 1945 bis zur Gegenwart. München 2006.

[53] Helmut Fehr: Unabhängige Öffentlichkeit und soziale Bewegungen. Fallstudien über Bürgerbewegungen in Polen und der DDR. Opladen 1996; Detlef Pollack / Jan Wielgohs (Hg.): Dissent and Opposition in Communist Eastern Europe. Origins of Civil Society and Democratic Transition. Aldershot 2004; Manfred Agethen / Günter Buchstab (Hg.): Oppositions- und Freiheitsbewegungen im früheren Ostblock. Freiburg 2003.

[54] Zur wirtschaftlichen Integration: Ralf Ahrens: Gegenseitige Wirtschaftshilfe? Die DDR im RGW. Strukturen und handelspolitische Strategien 1963–1976. Köln u. a. 2000 (Schriftenreihe des Hannah-Arendt-Instituts für Totalitarismusforschung 15); sozialgeschichtliche Überblicksdarstellung: Mark Pittaway: Eastern Europe 1939–2000. London 2004; alltagsgeschichtlich: David Crowley, Susan E. Reid (Hg.): Socialist Spaces. Sites of Everyday Life in the Eastern Bloc. Berg 2002; eine sehr aussagekräftige Fallstudie über die weitreichende Hochschul- und Kaderpolitik: John Connelly: Captive University. The Sovietization of East German, Czech and Polish Higher Education, 1945–1956. Chapel Hill u. a. 2000.

[55] Wolfgang Schmale: Wie europäisch ist Ostmitteleuropa? In: Themenportal Europäische Geschichte (2006), <URL: http://www.europa.clio-online.de/2006/Article=164>, S. 7; Helena Flam: Mosaic of Fear. Poland and East Germany before 1989. New York 1998; vgl. Andreas Rödder: Wertewandel und Postmoderne. Gesellschaft und Kultur in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland 1965–1990. Stuttgart 2004 (Stiftung Bundespräsident-Theodor-Heuss-Haus, Kleine Reihe 12); Włodzimierz Borodziej: Der Standort des Historikers und die Herausforderung der europäischen Geschichte. In: Gerald Stourzh (Hg.): Annäherungen an eine europäische Geschichtsschreibung. Wien 2002 (Archiv für österreichische Geschichte 137), S. 105–118, hier S. 116.

[56] Pierre Nora (Hg.): Les lieux de mémoire. 7 Bde. Paris 1984–1992; Mario Isnenghi (Hg.): I luoghi della memoria. 3 Bde. Rom u. a. 1987–1997; Moritz Csáky (Hg.): Orte des Gedächtnisses. Wien 2000; Pim den Boer / Willem Frijhoff (Hg.): Lieux de mémoire et identités nationales. Amsterdam 1993.

[57] Etienne François: Eine Geschichte der deutschen Erinnerungsorte: Warum? Wie? In: Alexandre Escudier (Hg.): Gedenken im Zwiespalt. Konfliktlinien europäischen Erinnerns. Göttingen 2001 (Genshagener Gespräche 4), S. 77–89; vgl. Etienne François / Hagen Schulze (Hg.): Deutsche Erinnerungsorte. Bde. 1–3. München 2001; Elke Stein-Hölkeskamp / Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp (Hg.): Erinnerungsorte der Antike. Die römische Welt. München 2006.

[58] Marcin Kula: Nośniki pamięci historycznej [Die Träger der historischen Erinnerung]. Warszawa 2002; Marek Czapliński / Hans-Joachim Hahn / Tobias Weger (Hg.): Schlesische Erinnerungsorte: Gedächtnis und Identität einer mitteleuropäischen Region. Görlitz 2005; Robert Traba: „Wschodniopruskość“. Tożsamość narodowa i regionalna w kulturze politycznej Niemiec [„Ostpreußentum“. Nationale und regionale Identität in der politischen Kultur Deutschlands]. Poznań 2005 (Poznańskie Towarzystwo Pryjaciół Nauk, Wydział Historii i Nauk Społecznych, Prace Komisji Historycznej 64).

[59] Helmut König: Die Zukunft der Vergangenheit. Der Nationalsozialismus im politischen Bewußtsein der Bundesrepublik. Frankfurt/M. 2003; Peter Oliver Loew: Zwillinge zwischen Endecja und Sanacja. Die neue polnische Rechtsregierung und ihre historischen Wurzeln. In: Osteuropa 11 (2005), S. 9–20; vgl. „Krise zwischen Ungarn und Slowaken eskaliert. Neue Ausfälle belasten die bilateralen Beziehungen“. In: Die Welt, 8.6.2006.

[60] Reinhart Koselleck: Gebrochene Erinnerung? Deutsche und polnische Vergangenheiten. In: Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung, Jahrbuch 2000. Göttingen 2000, S. 19–32, hier S. 29.


Dr. Burkhard Olschowsky (geb. 1969 in Berlin) studierte Geschichte und die Geschichte Osteuropas in Göttingen, Warschau und Berlin. 2002 erwarb er an der Humboldt-Universität in Berlin seinen Doktortitel. 2003-2005 arbeitete er als Vertragsdozent im Bereich zeitgenössischer Geschichte und Politik an der Humboldt-Universität in Berlin. In den Jahren 2004-2005 war er im Bundesministerium für Verkehr, Bau und Stadtentwicklung tätig. Seit Mai 2005 wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter in Bundesinstitut für Kultur und Geschichte der Deutschen im östlichen Europa. Seit 2010 ist er wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter im ENES-Sekretariat.


 

Stanisław Kulczycki

Vel'ky Hlad na Ukrajine v Rokoch 1932-1933

20 August 2018
Tags
  • Ukraine
  • Solidarity
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • Famine
  • Ukraine in 20th century

V prvej polovici roku 1933 na Ukrajine sa rozbesnil veľký hlad. Milióny ľudí hynulo. Z povrchu Zeme zmizli stovky dedín, tisíce chútorov. Ľudí zomretých v dôsledku hladu pochovávali na cintorínoch, opustených miestach, samotách, veľmi často – na záhradkách pri domoch, vhadzovali ich do studní, ktoré boli neskôr zasypávané. V úvozoch robili dlhé výkopy a do nich boli hádzané mŕtvoly.

O tom hlade nebolo možné písať ani hovoriť. A samozrejme ani stavať pomníky na mohylách osôb, ktoré zomreli z hladu. Prvé symbolické náhrobky boli vznesené v roku 1983 na protiľahlom konci zemegule – v Edmontone a Winnipegu. V máji roku 1986 . bol odhalený pomník obetí Veľkého hladu v centrum Los Angeles a v roku 1993 – v Chicago. Kongres USA poskytol vo Washingtone pozemok pod pomník ku cti Ukrajincov, ktorí zomreli z hladu. Pomník bol odhalený na jeseň roku 2008 kedy bolo 75. výročie tej tragédie ukrajinského národa.

Na Ukrajine sa začali stavať pomníky v miestach pochovania obetí hladu na jeseň roku 1989. Ako jeden z prvých bol odhalený memoriál pripomínajúci obete stalinského teroru v obci Pańkowcy v Staro-Siniavskom rajóne v Chmielnickom obvode. Počas mnohých rokov práce spojené s lokalizáciou obetí hladu a stavbou pomníkov alebo pamätných znakov vykonávali občianske organizácie, predovšetkým Združenie skúmajúcich Hlad – Genocídu (Stowarzyszenie Badaczy Głodu-Ludobójstwa) v rokoch 1932-1933 na Ukrajine (založené v júli 1992). V poslednom období tieto práce kontroloval Sekretariát prezidenta Ukrajiny. Pred 75. výročím Veľkého hladu mali byť zlokalizované všetky miesta, kde boli obete pochované. Vo všetkých obvodoch boli zahájené práce, ktoré mali určiť totožnosť zomrelých.

Čo sa stalo na Ukrajine v rokoch 1932-1933? Prečo nebolo možné o tom hovoriť až do decembra 1987? Vtedy prvý tajomník ÚV Komunistickej strany Ukrajiny Wołodymyr Szczerbyćkyj bol nútený so zaťatými zubami potvrdiť, že hlad bol spôsobený akoby živlom prírody – suchom.

Historici nemajú problém s dokázaním zámeru, že štátne orgány realizovali teror pomocou hladu ani so zaznamenaním výsledkov realizácie toho zámeru. Omnoho ťažšie je dokázať prečo sa Stalin pre tento zámer rozhodol.

Nemôžu to dosvedčiť dokumenty, pretože vodca nebol povinný vysvetľovať podriadeným motívy, ktorými sa riadil. Avšak, ak chýbajú priame dokumenty, vtedy historici musia nájsť nepriame svedectvá, ktoré spoločne poukážu na motívy.

V roku 1988 komisia Kongresu USA, ktorej výkonným riaditeľom bol John Meys, uznala hlad na Ukrajine v rokoch 1932-1933 za genocídu. V dôsledku toho, na základe žiadosti organizácie ukrajinskej diaspóry, bola utvorená medzinárodná komisia skladajúca sa z právnikov svetového významu pod vedením Georga Sandberga. Skúmala dôkazy, ktoré dostala a väčšinou hlasov potvrdila ten názor. Obe komisie využili predovšetkým výpovede emigrantov.

Dnes sa tiež nemôžeme obísť bez výpovedí očitých svedkov. Hlavná akcia teroru pomocou hladu, behom ktorej boli konfiškované potraviny v rámci nepretržitých revízií jednotlivých hospodárstiev sa uskutočnila v januári roku 1933. na základe ústnych pokynov na všetkých úrovniach moci – od Kremľa po konkrétnu dedinu. Všetky iné technologické elementy tejto formy represie sú už potvrdené dokumentmi. Výsledky stalinskej akcie popísané v bezpočte dokumentov sú taktiež dobre známe.

Technológia teroru potvrdená v dokumentoch spočívala v:

- náhodným zavádzania režimu „čiernej dosky” v počiatočnom štádiu teroru (november - december 1932 .);

- stálych revíziách sedliackych hospodárstiev za účelom nájdenia ukrývaného obilia, niekedy s ukladaním pokút platených deputátom – mäsom a zemiakmi (november - december 1932);

- konfiškáte v priebehu revízie jednotlivých hospodárstiev všetkých potravín (január 1933.);

- propagačnej akcii nasmerovanej na vyvolanie nenávisti hladujúcich obyvateľov v mestách voči „kulakom - sabotérom”;

- blokáde USSR a Kubáńskej oblasti severného Kaukazu;

- zákaze používania termínu „hlad” dokonca aj v dokumentoch s označením „prísne tajné”.

Teror pomocou hladu trval v situácii spoločenskej a hospodárskej krízy, a kríza bola výsledkom hospodárskej politiky. Stalin popisujúc svoju politiku v období od roku 1929 do januára roku 1933 sám našiel pre to výrazný termín – „rus. ponukanie” čo znamená popoháňanie[1]. V priemysle táto politika spočívala v ustanovovaní nevykonateľného tempa rastu so súčasným prenasledovaním tých, ktorí zostali pozadu. Na vidieku sa „ponukanie” realizovalo vo forme konfiškáty zobranej úrody. Povinné dodávky obilia boli pozastavené až na do jari každého ďalšieho roka a vtedy štát začal pomáhať sedliakom v podobe široko reklamovaných pôžičiek na osivo a potraviny. „Generálnu líniu socialistickej industrializácie” sprevádzal nárast prípadov smrti v dôsledku hladu sedliakov, ktorým bolo odobrané obilie, a taktiež medzi obyvateľmi miest, ktorým boli zmenšované normy prídelu chleba alebo boli úplne pozbavení centrálneho zásobovania.

Na Západe vznikol vplyvný prúd tzv. „revizionistov”, čiže vedcov, ktorí chcú očistiť históriu ZSSR od hodnotenia obdobia „studenej vojny” , ktoré bolo plné predsudkov. Zvlášť nesúhlasia s tým, že hlad z rokov 1932-1933 na Ukrajine bol genocídou. Tento názor sa zakorenil v historiografii vďaka prácam R. Conquest’a a G. Meysa. A s nimi ruskí vedci jedným hlasom tvrdili, že obilie bolo určené pre „svätú vec” – industrializáciu. Podľa nich, bez politiky „ponukania” by Sovietsky zväz nemohol vydržať nápor nacistického Nemecka.

Nechajme budúcim pokoleniam odpoveď na otázku, či je možné za genocídu považovať smrť stoviek tisíc ľudí v rôznych regiónoch ZSSR, včítane Ukrajiny, v dôsledku povinných dodávok obilia a predaja ho v zahraničí. Tu pojednávame o niečom úplne inom, o záhube miliónov ľudí, ktorú zorganizoval Kremeľ pod zámienkou povinných dodávok, a nie v ich dôsledku. Do posledných mesiacov roku 1932 ľudia na Ukrajine, tak isto ako aj v iných regiónoch, umierali preto, že boli zbavení obilia. Počínajúc novembrom roku 1932 začali umierať preto, že boli zbavení všetkých iných potravín.

Naši oponenti obyčajne uvádzajú tri argumenty, ktoré spochybňujú, ako sa im zdá, tézu o Veľkom hlade ako genocíde. Po prvé, na ukrajinskom vidieku zomierali z hladu ľudia rôznej národnosti. Po druhé, nikto neprenasledoval Ukrajincov vzhľadom na ich národnosť. Po tretie, či je možné nazvať genocídou hlad v prípade, keď sovietska moc zorganizovala v širokom merítku pomoc v roku 1933 práve obyvateľom USSR a Kubáne?

Argument o záhube ľudí rôznej národnosti na ukrajinskom vidieku neznie presvedčivo. Pretože neodpovedá na otázku, prečo počet obetí hladu v USSR a na Kubáni v roku 1933 bol o rad veľkosti vyšší ako v iných regiónoch európskej časti ZSSR. Odpoveď je jednoduchá: teror bol nasmerovaný proti vidieckym oblastiam Ukrajiny, v ktorých žili nie len Ukrajinci. To, že zomreli ľudia rôznych národností je úplne pochopiteľné. Teror pomocou hladu nebolo možné personalizovať – bol to úder naprieč celými oblasťami.

Je treba pojednať o ostatných argumentoch. Sústreďme sa najprv na tézu, že nikto neprenasledoval Ukrajincov vzhľadom na ich národnosť. V komisii Kongresu USA, ktorá skúmala hlad z rokov 1932-1933 na Ukrajine, bola svedkom kladená tá istá otázka: prečo vás Stalin vykynožoval? Pretože, sme Ukrajinci – odpovedali. Akú inú odpoveď mohli dať sedliaci? Pretože také presvedčenie sa upevnilo v ukrajinskej diaspóre, a po roku 1991 sa rozšírilo po celej Ukrajine.

Koho v skutočnosti kynožil Stalin? Americký vedec G. Meys skúmajúci ukrajinský národný komunizmus ako prvý z vedcov prehlásil, že stalinský teror na Ukrajine bol smerovaný nie proti ľuďom určitej národnosti či profesionálnej skupine, ale proti občanom Ukrajinského štátu, ktorý vznikol v období rozpadu ruského Impéria a prežil svoju osobnú záhubu, keď sa prerodil do podoby sovietskeho štátu. Formula o vykynožení Ukrajincov ako národa, nie etnickej skupiny hladom (to destroy them as political factor and as a social organism) bola obsiahnutá v referáte Meysa na prvej vedeckej konferencii venovanej hladu z v rokoch 1932-1933 na Ukrajine, zorganizovanej v Montreale v roku 1983.[2]

Naši oponenti tvrdia, že sa nedá zjednotiť v jednom celku zorganizovanie hladu –genocídy s poskytnutím hladujúcim potravinovej pomoci v tak širokom rozsahu. Je nesporné, že taká pomoc bola poskytnutá. Robert Davies a Stefen Wheatcroft publikovali v roku 2004 monografiu, v ktorej uvádzajú 35 stranícko-vládnych uznesení vo veci poskytnutia potravinovej pomoci hladujúcim regiónom ZSSR. Prvé z nich má dátum 7. februára, a posledné 20. júla 1933. Celkový rozsah pomoci bol 320 tis. ton obilia, z čoho do USSR a na Kubáň bolo poslaných 264,7 tis., a do všetkých ostatných regiónov spolu – 55,3 tis. ton[3].

Čísla presvedčili R. Conquest’a o tom, že téza o hlade - genocíde je chybná. Davies a Wheatcroft v poznámke na obálke ich knihy zdôrazňujú, že ich vývody „sa líšia od tých, ktoré pred nimi spravili mnohí iní historici, včítane R. Conquest’a”. Samotný Conquest sa zoznámil s knihou ešte v rukopise a vedľa anotácie autorov na obálke figuruje jeho verdikt: „Je to vynikajúci vklad do skúmania tak dôležitého problému”. Autori zacitovali v knihe fragment z jeho listu napísaného po zoznámení sa s rukopisom v septembri 2003 V tom liste Conquest prehlásil, že Stalin nezorganizoval hlad v roku 1933 špeciálne, hoci nespravil nič, aby tragédii zabránil[4].

Pomoc hladujúcim bola predstavovaná ako starosť strany o ľudí, ktorí sa ocitli v ťažkej situácii, ktorú si sami to zapríčinili. Technológiu teroru pomocou hladu sme už poznali. Zostáva už len dodať jednu charakteristiku – pomoc štátu hladujúcim sedliakom. Vtedy a len vtedy môže byť tá forma represie vedomou činnosťou Kremľa!

Naozaj, môžeme si predstaviť, že sovietska moc stále poľovala na nejakého človeka len preto, že to bol Ukrajinec? Nakoniec, rovnako nie je možné si predstaviť, aby tá štátna moc mohla zničiť človeka preto, že bol sedliakom. Ostáva spraviť jediný možný záver: Veľký hlad sa odohral v dôsledku súhry konkrétnych okolností.

V dobe prvého komunistickej vlny v rokoch 1918-1920 sa boľševikom podarilo vybudovať základy príkazového hospodárstva. V roku 1929 Stalin zahájil nový vlnu v podobe útoku. Mal v úmysle zrealizovať to, čo sa nepodarilo Leninovi: nahnať do komún desiatky miliónov drobných výrobcov tovaru. Následkom toho začala na počiatku roku 1930 dozrievať kolosálna spoločenská vzbura. Stalin bol prinútený rezignovať na komúny a obmedziť sa na tzv. „artele“, čiže dovolil sedliakom mať záhradky pri domoch. Súdiac, že kolchozníci sa nechajú uspokojiť produktmi svojich hospodárstiev pri domoch, začal konfiškovať vidieku prakticky celú úrodu obila. Sedliaci nesmeli dostať obilie do okamihu splnenia plánu povinných dodávok , ktoré v praxi nemali žiadne právom vymedzené hranice. Obilie, nájdené po skončení skupu bolo považované za ukryté pred evidovaním alebo ukradnuté.

Sedliaci nechceli pracovať v kolchozoch bez odmeny, zadarmo, a preto ich komunistický štát začal obviňovať zo sabotáže, čo bolo následne zámienkou pre prenasledovanie. Kríza kolchozného zriadenia hrozila kolapsom celého hospodárstva. V januári 1933 bola vláda nútená prejsť od neobmedzených povinných dodávok na paušálny štátny výkup obilia podľa daňových zásad. Znamenalo to, že štát konečne uznal právo vlastníctva kolchozov a kolchozníkov na vyprodukované pôdohospodárske produkty. Nové právo menilo vzťahy medzi mestom a vidiekom tak radikálne, ako zákon o produkčnej dani v marci roku. 1921 Kolchozy nadobudli vtedy podobu, akú si zapamätali v súčasnosti žijúce pokolenia.

Naši kolegovia na Západe chápu príčiny spoločenského a hospodárskeho hladu z rokov 1932-1933 v ZSSR, hoci zďaleka nie všetci, ako sme vyššie uviedli, pochopili stalinskú politiku „ponukania”. Avšak väčšina z nich nedoceňuje druhú stranu problému – národnú. Pre nich hladujúci ukrajinský sedliak je proste sedliak, nie občan Ukrajinskej republiky Sovietskeho zväzu. Sovietsky zväz chápu ako zväz bezprávnych republík utvorený tzv. národom „titulárnym”. Ale takým sa ZSSR stal až po hlade v rokoch 1932-1933 a terore v rokoch 1937-1938. Predtým bol Sovietsky zväz zväzom štátov.

Richard Pipes, ktorý je uznávaným znalcom histórie Ruska tvrdí, že národná sovietska štátnosť bola od samotného začiatku fikciou, pretože sa za ňou skrývala diktatúra z ústredia v Moskve[5]. S týmto konštatovaním treba súhlasiť, ale nie je možné sa obmedziť len na to. Zostávajúc v rámci takej predstavy o sovietskej moci nepochopíme ani Veľký hlad na Ukrajine, ani konfrontáciu B. Jelcina a M. Gorbačova v Moskve ako deštrukčnú pre ďalší osud ZSSR.

Keď bol chorý Lenin postavený pred faktom utvorenia spoločného štátu cestou „autonomizácie” národných republík, spravil v konštrukcii ústavy zásadné zmeny. Bol vytvorený zväz štátov, čiže federácia druhého stupňa, do ktorej „spolu a s rovnakými právami” vstúpila ako Ruská federácia tak aj všetky iné nezávislé republiky. V ústavách zväzových republík, rovnako ako aj v celozväzovej ústave bolo zdôrazňované, že každá republika má právo vystúpiť zo Sovietskeho zväzu (samozrejme procedúra vystúpenia nebola uvedená). Takýmto spôsobom sa Leninovi podarilo prejsť dejinám cez rozum a zachovať základnú časť rozpadnutého predrevolučného impérium v novom sovietskom povlaku.

Sovietska štátnosť – nie je to jednoduchý pojem ako v prvotnej, t.j. ruskej dimenzii tak aj druhotnej – národnej. Rady podriadené diktatúre kremľovských vodcov mali reálnu výkonnú moc. Vďaka tej moci sa strana boľševikov menila na štátnu štruktúru.

Dvojitú konštrukciu štátnej moci je nutné uznať ako geniálny vynález Lenina. Ale ani to riešenie nebolo bezpečné pre ústredie, ktoré by bolo treba nazvať Kremeľ, nie Moskva. Moskva – je hlavné mesto Ruska, republiky, ktorá mala najviac práv. Vodcovia boľševikov transformovali celoruský ÚV RKS(b) na orgán celozväzový. A hoci Rusko zostávalo republikou štátotvornou, všezväzové centrum sa nesnažilo s ňou ani stotožňovať   (prekážala v tom ústavná konštrukcia ZSSR), ani tvoriť v Moskve konkurenčné centrum štátnej moci. Zásada „spolu a s rovnakými právami ” pri vstupe formálne nezávislých republík do ZSSR bola odmietnutá v rokoch 1990-1991 v dôsledku konfrontácie M.S. Gorbačova a B.N. Jelcina.

V čom spočívalo nebezpečenstvo dvojitej konštrukcie moci v období prechodu od sovietskej štátnosti na Kremli k národnej štátnosti? Toto nebezpečenstvo malo charakter prvotný aj druhotný. Druhotné nebezpečenstvo sa týkalo činnosti rôznych politických straníkov, ktorí nezdieľali niektoré názory centrum alebo, už v priebehu rozvoja udalostí, mohli potenciálne vystúpiť proti. Preto sa represie dotkli celého politického byra ÚV KS(b)U, desiatok tisíc pracovníkov aparátu a predstaviteľov národnej inteligencie.

Prvotné nebezpečenstvo, ktoré tie represie ospravedlňovalo sa skrývalo v tých istých privilégiách konštrukcie štátnej moci, ktoré si zaistil Kremeľ. V rukách rád, samozrejme vrátane národných rád, sa koncentrovala reálna výkonná moc, ktorá dávala strane charakter štátnej štruktúry. Pokiaľ tú moc kontroloval priamo Kremeľ, Sovietskemu zväzu nehrozil rozpad. Ale ak taká kontrola bola realizovaná mimo Kremeľ regionálnymi štruktúra strany (v prípade krízy centrálnej moci), hrozba rozpadu sa stávala reálna. V Kremli bolo najväčšie ohrozenie stotožňované s Ukrajinou – republikou s trvalými tradíciami národnej (nie sovietskej!) štátnosti. Tá republika susedila s Európou, a z hľadiska svojich ekonomických zdrojov (spolu s ľudským potenciálom) sa vyrovnala všetkým iným národným republikám spolu).

Kremeľ začal po utvorení ZSSR rozvíjať v národných republikách kampaň zakoreňovania sovietskej moci v neruskom prostredí. Na Ukrajine prešla kampaň zakoreňovania rýchlo mimo rámec čisto byrokratického predsavzatia a stala sa náradím národného obrodenia. Po sčítaní ľudu v roku 1926   ukrajinské vedenie tvrdohlavo žiadalo ÚV WKP(b), aby bolo k republike pripojené územie Ruskej federácie, ktoré s ňou susedilo a kde Ukrajinci tvorili väčšinu obyvateľov, včítane Kubáňskej oblasti Ruskej federácie. Tieto snahy boli bezvýsledné. Avšak vedeniu USRR sa podarilo získať súhlas Kremľa s ukrajinizáciou rajónov za hranicami republiky, kde Ukrajinci tvorili väčšinu obyvateľov. Na Kubáni bol zakrátko zavedený ukrajinský jazyk do úradov verejnej správy, škôl, hromadných oznamovacích prostriedkov. V Kremli sledovali tieto úspechy s narastajúcim nepokojom. Celá ukrajinizovaná Kubáň by mala byť pripojená k USSR, čiže nebezpečne by sa zvyšoval veľký ľudský potenciál Ukrajiny v ZSSR.

Po tom všetkom, čo bolo povedané zostáva predstaviť dôkaz na to, prečo bolo možná akcia konfiškáty zásob potravín vo vidieckych oblastiach Ukrajiny, ktorú predsavzal Kremeľ v januári 1933. Dôkaz sa týka augusta 1932.

Historici náležite ocenili návyk Stalina, ktorý odpočíval každé leto niekoľko mesiacov v kúpeľoch severného Kaukazu. Na Kremli zostávali a „hospodárili“ L.M. Kaganovič (línia stranícka) a W.M. Molotov (línia sovietska). Zohľadňujúc najvyšší stupeň tajnosti, Stalin bol nútený ich kontaktovať pomocou vlastnoručne napísaných listov prostredníctvom špeciálnych agentov GPU. Keď Stalin úradoval v Kremli osobne, kontaktovali sa ústne, tzn. nezanechávali stopy v dokumentácii politického byra ÚV WKP(b). Táto okolnosť presne rozhraničuje inštitucionálnu a personálnu mieru zodpovednosti za všetko to, čo sa odohrávalo v zemi. Je jasné, z čoho je možné obviniť vyšší kolektívny orgán štátnej strany čiže čekistov a celé zloženie politického byra ÚV, a za čo je možné obviniť priamo Stalina a jeho najbližších pomocníkov z toho obdobia – L.M. Kaganoviča, V.M. Molotova a P.P. Postyševa.

O.V. Chlevniuk, hlavný redaktor diela „Stalin a Kaganovič. Korešpondencia z rokov 1931-1936” si všimol nasledujúcu vlastnosť: že Stalin dokonca aj v tajnej korešpondencii konštruoval pre seba a svoje okolie obraz udalostí, ktorý bol vzdialený od reálneho, ale dovoľoval zachovať najvyšším orgánom „politickú tvár”[6]. Avšak v liste z 11. augusta 1932 adresovanom Kaganovičovi bol mimoriadne úprimný, pretože mu chcel dať funkciu generálneho tajomníka ÚV KS(b)U. Kaganovič bol v centre kádrovej kombinácie, preto by mal vedieť v čom spočívala jej podstata, a taktiež charakter svojich neodkladných počínaní na Ukrajine.

Podstata listu Stalina zo dňa 11. augusta 1932 je obsiahnutá v dvoch odstavcoch:

Najdôležitejšia je teraz Ukrajina. Na Ukrajine je zle. Zle po straníckej línii. Hovorí sa, že v dvoch obvodoch Ukrajiny (pravdepodobne v Kyjevskom a Dniepro-petrovskom) sa okolo 50 rajónových výborov postavilo proti plánom povinných dodávok obilia považujúc ich za nereálne. V iných rajónových výboroch, ako hovoria, veci nevyzerajú lepšie. Ako je to možné? To je nie strana, ale parlament, karikatúra parlamentu. Kosior, miesto toho, aby viedol rajóny, celý čas lavíroval medzi nariadeniami ÚV WKP a požiadavkami rajónových výborov až dolavíroval do beznádejného postavenia. Zle sa deje na sovietskej línii. Czubar – to nie je vedúci. Zle je na línii GPU. Redens (Stanislav Redens do januára roku 1933 bol predsedajúci GPU USRR – Aut.) nezvláda vedenie boja s kontrarevolúciou v tak veľkej a zvláštnej republike, ako Ukrajina.

Ak nezačneme teraz zlepšovať situáciu na Ukrajine, môžeme Ukrajinu stratiť. Pamätajte že Piłsudski nedrieme, a jeho agentúra je mnohokrát silnejšia ako si myslí Redens či Kosior. Pamätajte tiež že v Ukrajinskej komunistickej strane (50 tisíc členov, cha-cha) je nemálo (áno, nemálo!) zhnitého elementu, uvedomelých aj neuvedomelých petlurovcov, čo sú predsa – priami agenti Piłsudského. Ak sa situácia zhorší, ten element sa nezdrží, aby neotvoril front vo vnútri (a navonok) strany proti strane. Najhoršie je to, že ukrajinské vedenie nevidí tie nebezpečenstvá. Takto to nemôže pokračovať”[7].

Bádajúc situáciu v ZSSR v druhej polovici roku 1932 nájdeme na základe sovietskych novín jedine raporty o tom, že boli odovzdávané do prevádzky nové stavby prvého päťročného plánu. Raporty GPU, na ktoré sa odvoláva Stalin v liste Kaganovičovi ukazujú iný obraz – zachmúrený a zlovestný. Mesto hladovalo, hladoval vidiek. Komunisticko stranícky sovietsky aparát bol zdezorientovaný alebo otvorene frondował. U rádových členov strany narastala nespokojnosť s počínaním štátnej moci.

Tu je treba pripomenúť krízu, ktorá nastala poldruha roka pred uvedenými udalosťami. V súvislosti so sedliackymi vzburami Stalin pozastavil na pol roka kolektivizáciu na počiatku marca roku 1930. Kanadská historička Lynne Viola vybádala, že známy článok „Závrat hlavy z úspechov” sa ukázal pod vplyvom vzbúr na Ukrajine a severnom Kaukaze, ktoré, čo sa týka ich počtu a množstva účastníkov, značne predbiehali všetky ostatné regióny ZSSR spolu[8]. K tomu čo napísala treba dodať len jedno: Stalina vtedy zvlášť trápili vzbury v prihraničných oblastiach USRR. Vedel, že Ukrajina je nie len región ako iné, ale tiež republika s vysokým štátnym štatútom hraničiaca s Európou. Prejavilo sa to tiež v liste Kaganovičovi z 11. augusta 1932. Uvádzajúc predsavzatia, ktoré by mohli viesť k prelomu na Ukrajine končí o tomto probléme: „Bez tých a im podobných predsavzatí (hospodárske a politické posilnenie Ukrajiny, v prvom rade jej prihraničných rajónov apod.) opakujem – môžeme Ukrajinu stratiť”[9].

Takže druhá polovica roku 1932 sa ukázala byť bodom, v ktorom sa stretli a prekryli dve krízy – v spoločensko - ekonomickej a národnej politike Kremľa. Ako vyplýva z dokumentov, Stalin sa najviac zo všetkého bál spoločenskej vzbury na hladujúcej Ukrajine. Represie, ktoré sa zakrátko začali, boli súčasne smerované proti ukrajinským sedliakom (teror hladom) a ukrajinskej inteligencii (individuálny teror v masovom meradle, čistka organizácií v komunistickej strane). Ostré represie neboli smerované proti ľuďom určitej národnosti, ale proti občanom Ukrajinského štátu. A je pochopiteľné, že sa jednalo o Ukrajincov. Jadro problému spočívalo v tom, že občania Ukrajiny aj v pokornej rubaške sovietskej republiky už samotnou svojou existenciou ohrozovali kremľovských zločincov, ktorí ovládli stranu a nové impérium, ktoré utvorila.

Keď hovoríme, že štát učinil ukrajinských sedliakov na sebe závislých tým, že im konfiškoval zásoby potravín, žiada sa od nás: ukážte dokument! Nie je na to dokument, nebola genocída. Ľudia, ktorí prežili Veľký hlad hovoria, že špeciálne brigády robili revízie v sedliackych hospodárstvach a brali im všetky potraviny. Desiatky, stovky, tisíce svedectiev z rôznych obcí tvoria kompaktný obraz. Treba z toho urobiť jediný možný záver: tí, ktorí robili revízie plnili rozkaz, hoci nebol napísaný na papieri. Ale od nás vyžadujú dokument...

Čo sa dá robiť, je možné ukázať aj písomný dokument, ale len v príslušnom kontexte. Rozprávanie o ňom treba začať od pripomenutia „práva piatich klasov”, ktorého úlohou bol boj s „márnením” obilia.

„Vychádzajúc v ústrety požiadavkám robotníkov a kolchozníkov” (čítame v preambule) Ústredný výkonný výbor a Rada ľudových komisárov ZSSR prijali dňa 7. augusta 1932 uznesenie „O ochrane imania štátnych podnikov, kolchozov a družstiev a posilnení spoločenského (socialistického) vlastníctva”. Za rozkrádanie imania sa navrhovalo zastrelenie, a „v prípade poľahčujúcich okolností” – odňatie slobody na obdobie nie kratšie ako 10 rokov[10].

V novembri roku 1932 . Stalin delegoval mimoriadne komisie pre otázky povinných dodávok obilia: pod vedením V.M. Molotova – pre USSR a L.M.Kaganoviča – pre Kubáň. V súlade s pokynmi, ktoré od neho získal, Molotov vyhotovil text dvoch uznesení, ÚV KS(b)U zo dňa 18. novembra a Rady ľudových komisárov USSR zo dňa 20 novembra, s rovnakým názvom „O predsavzatiach majúcich za účel zväčšenie povinných dodávok obilia ” (konečný text parafoval Stalin). Boli na ňom zlovestné body o trestaniu „dlžníkov” deputátom – mäsom a zemiakmi[11]. Politické byro ÚV WKP(b), využívajúc situáciu utvorenú teroristickými postupmi tých komisií, popísalo ukrajinizáciu Severného Kaukazu ako „petlurovskú”. V uznesení ÚV WKP(b) a Rady ľudových komisárov ZSSR zo dňa 14. decembra 1932 sa požadovalo,„aby sa na severnom Kaukaze okamžite prešlo v dokumentácii sovietskych a družstevných orgánov „ukrajinizovaných” regiónov, a taktiež vo všetkých novinách a časopisoch z jazyka ukrajinského na ruský jazyk ako najzrozumiteľnejší pre obyvateľov Kubáne, ako aj do jesene pripraviť školy na zmenu vyučovacieho jazyka na ruštinu”[12]. Behom decembra 1932 sa u sedliakov na tom území obilie neustále hľadalo. Na revízie si zvykli tí, ktorí boli revidovaní, ako aj tí ktorí revízie robili. Revízie boli vykonávané pod kontrolou príslušníkov NKVD a priamo to robili hladujúci členovia výborov chudobných sedliakov (ktorí dostávali určité percento z nájdeného obilia), ako aj robotníci vydelegovaní z miest. Rovnako ako v predchádzajúcom roku, dedina bola v rámci povinných dodávok, ešte pred revíziami, pozbavená takmer celého obilia.

Dňa 1 januára 1933 Stalin poslal do Charkova telegram so žiadosťou odovzdávania obilia a navrhol ÚV KSU(b) a Rade ľudových komisárov USSR „aby vidiecke rady, kolchozy, kolchozníci a jednotliví pracovníci boli široko oboznámení s tým, že: a) všetci, ktorí dobrovoľne odovzdajú štátu obilie, ktoré bolo predtým rozkradnuté a ukryté, nebudú prenasledovaní; b) kolchozom, kolchozníkom a jednotlivým pracovníkom, ktorí tvrdohlavo ukrývajú rozkradnuté obilie alebo utajujú pred evidenciou budú uložené najprísnejšie tresty podľa uznesenia Ústredného výkonného výboru a Rady ľudových komisárov ZSSR zo dňa 7. augusta 1932.”[13]

Telegram, ktorého celý obsah tvorili dva citované body sa zdá byť divný. Predtým sa Stalin neobracal na sedliakov žiadnej zväzovej republiky s hrozbami. Ba dokonca vedel, že na Ukrajine obilie nie je, pretože výsledok decembrových revízií čekistov bol mizerný. Napriek tomu je zmysel dokumentu zrozumiteľný, ak tie dva body spojíme. Druhý bod je adresovaný tým, ktorí ignorovali požiadavku v prvom bode, čiže neodovzdali obilie. A ako bolo  možné zistiť, kto neodovzdal ukryté obilie? Len revíziami! Takže telegram Stalina bol signálom pre vykonávania revízií.

Osoby, ktoré prežili Veľký hlad vypovedali, že behom tých revízií brali sedliakom nie len zemiaky a mäso so slaninou, podľa uznesenia vo veci trestania  vo forme deputátu , ale všetky potraviny. Takže telegram bezchybne poukazuje na človeka, ktorý dal signál k zahájeniu represívnej akcii spojenej s konfiškáciou potravín, čiže organizátora teroru pomocou hladu.

Postup Stalina musí byť analyzovaný v istej súvislosti. Na spoločnom zasadnutí politického byra ÚV a prezídia Centrálnej kontrolnej komisie WKP(b) dňa 27. novembra 1932 sa krach povinných dodávok obilia nedal do súvislosti s politikou prídelov (na ktorú nakoniec rezignovali v januári 1933) prenášajúc vzťahy medzi štátom a kolchozmi na daňový systém), ale so záškodníctvom a sabotážou v kolchozoch a sovchozoch. „Nebolo by múdre – prehlásil vtedy generálny sekretár – keby komunisti, vychádzajúc z predpokladu, že kolchozy tvoria socialistickú formu hospodárenia, neodpovedali drvivým úderom na úder tých iných kolchozníkov a kolchozov”[14].

Prapríčinou teroristických akcií bola snaha stalinskej skupiny, aby neboli obvinení z hospodárskej kómy v „socialistickom stavebníctve”, ktorá vyvolala hlad v celej zemi. „Drvivý úder” bol nasmerovaný proti republike, ktorá mohla využiť katastrofálne následky „ponukania” hospodárstva, aby vystúpila zo ZSSR. Stalin sa obával že vedenie USSR by mohlo využiť spoločenskú vzburu dozrievajúcu medzi sedliakmi hladujúcimi dva roky po sebe Pozbavenie ich všetkých potravín bolo efektívnym prostriedkom stlmenia odbojného potenciálu ukrajinského vidieka.

Stalin sa neobmedzil len na konfiškáty potravín. 22. januára 1933 . vlastnou rukou (rukopis sa zachoval) napísal nariadenie ÚV VKS(b) a Rady ľudových komisárov ZSSR začínajúce sa slovami: „ÚV VVKS a Sownarkom dostali informáciu, že na Kubáni a Ukrajine sa začali masové odchody sedliakov „za chlebom” do Centrálno-černozemského obvodu, k Volge, do Moskovskej oblasti, Západného obvodu, Bieloruska”. Kremeľ žiadal od vedenia susedných regiónov blokádu USRR a Kubáne[15].

U osôb, ktoré prežili obdobie Veľkého hladu vznikol dojem, že štátna moc ničila ľudí za základe etnickej príslušnosti. Ukázalo sa, že skutočnosť je komplikovanejšia: mocenské orgány ničili a súčasne zachraňovali ukrajinských sedliakov. Pavel Postyšev, ktorý pricestoval na konci januára 1933 na Ukrajinu s diktátorským zmocnením mal dve úlohy: zorganizovať jarné sejby a zlikvidovať „nacionalistickú odchýlku” v strane a sovietskom aparáte. Vo februári uvoľnil zásoby obilia v USSR, aby sa nakŕmili hladujúci. Pomoc poskytoval jedine tým, ktorí boli schopní pracovať. Tak učili sedliakov pracovať v kolchoze. Postyšev súčasne zaútočil na Ukrajinskú komunistickú stranu ako aj na nestraníkov a inteligentov. Počet osôb, ktorých čekisti uväznili v roku 1932 bol 74 849, a v roku 1933 124 463[16]. Po Veľkom hlade a masových represiách v rokoch 1937-1938 republika stratila svoj odbojný potenciál (okrem západných obvodov, ktoré sa stali súčasťou ZSSR v roku 1939 ).

Ľudia, ktorí , ktorí vrhli Ukrajinu do víru tých hrôzostrašných represií už nežijú. Neexituje totalitný štát, vedenie ktorého zodpovedá za vyvolanie Veľkého hladu. Očakávame od medzinárodnej verejnosti, aby ten zločin bol uznaný ako genocída Očakávame to predovšetkým od Ruskej Federácie , ktorej obyvateľov sa tiež dotkli mnohomiliónové straty v období neochvejného vládnutia Jozefa Stalina.



[1] Сталин И. Сочинения. – Т. 13. – С.183-184.

[2] Famine in Ukraine 1932–1933. – Edmonton, 1986. – P.12.

[3] Davies R.W., Wheatcroft Stephen G. The Years of Hunger. Soviet Agriculture, 1931–  1933. – Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. – P. 481-484.

[4] Ibidem. – P.441.

[5] Пайпс Ричард. Россия при большевиках. – М., 1997. – С.184.

[6] Сталин и Каганович. Переписка. 1931–1936 гг. – М., 2001. – С.18.

[7] Taktiež tam, s. 273-274.

[8] Lynne Viola. Peasant rebels under Stalin. – New York, Oxford, 1996. – P.138-140.

[9] Сталин и Каганович. Переписка. 1931–1936 гг. – С.274.

[10] Tamże, tom 3, s. 453-454.

[11] Голод 1932–1933 років на Україні: очима істориків, мовою документів. – К., 1990. –     С.254; Колективізація і голод на Україні. 1929–1933. – К., 1992. – С.549.

[12] Tamże, s. 293-294.

[13] Голод 1932–1933 років на Україні: очима істориків, мовою документів. К., 1990. С.308.

[14] Трагедия советской деревни. – Том 3. – С.559.

[15] Tamże, s. 32, 635.

[16] Нікольський В.М. Репресивна діяльність органів державної безпеки СРСР в Україні     (кінець 1920‑х – 1950‑ті рр.). – Донецьк, 2003. – С.119.

 

Paweł Ukielski

Varšavské povstanie vo vedomí Poliakov. Múzeum Varšavského povstania ako miesto pamäti

20 August 2018
Tags
  • Poland
  • remembrance
  • Warsaw Uprising

Varšavské povstanie je jednou z kľúčových udalostí pre pochopenie dejín Varšavy, Poľska, strednej Európy a tiež 2. svetovej vojny. Na jednej strane vysvetľuje identitu mesta, ktoré bolo v roku 1944 úplne zrovnané so zemou, na druhej ukazuje zak0 otročenie Poľska a strednej Európy nastalo po vojne a na tretej strane prezentuje posledný príklad skutočnej nemecko-sovietskej spolupráce v rámci snahy zničiť poľské hlavné mesto. Povstanie ukazuje, že vojna nebola len jednoduchým bojom dobra so zlom (ako sa často na to nazerá na západe Európy), ale zúčastňovali sa jej tri stany s rôznymi cieľmi – dva totalitné systémy a svet západných demokracií. V čase trvania vojny sa zmenili spojenecké vzťahy – Západ sa spojil s jedným totalitným systémom, aby zvíťazil nad druhým, pričom cenu za to spojenie zaplatila stredná Európa.

Varšavské povstanie sa nikdy nedostalo do kánonu pamäti. Stalo sa to preto, že nikomu na tom nezáležalo – ani poľskej komunistickej vláde, ani Kremľu dokonca ani západnej aliancii. Pamiatka o Povstaní v čase obdobia komunizmu bola starostlivo prekrucovaná – charakter a intenzita klamstiev bola rôzna, pričom vláda nemohla súhlasiť, aby sa odhalila celá pravda o povstaní, keďže by to kompletne narušilo legitimitu jej vládnutia. Ak by sa dovolilo oficiálne povedať celú pravdu o Povstaní, nebolo by možné nepovedať o legálnom poľskom štáte, ktorý viac ako dva mesiace fungoval na neveľkom priestore Poľska, o orgánoch, ktoré fungovali výnimočne správne vzhľadom na extrémne podmienky, v ktorých museli pôsobiť ako aj o projekte povojnového zriadenia Poľska, ktorý bol pripravený a jeho základy publikované v „Zbierkach zákonov“. Z tohto dôvodu sa po období najhoršej a najprimitívnejšej stalinskej propagandy spolu s „odmäkom” v roku 1956 stalo možné pochváliť „hrdinov Povstania”, ale už nie jeho veliteľov či širšie – zbrojné sily zvané „Armia Krajowa“. Úplne sa vyhýbali tomu, akú štátotvornú funkciu plnil Podzemný poľský štát), legitimite vlády, formovaniu sa občianskej spoločnosti a medzinárodnej situácii.

V roku 1989 Fukuyama ohlásil „koniec histórie”, predpovedajúc, že spolu s pádom komunizmu sa skončilo obdobie veľkých ideologických konfliktov a celý svet smeruje k prijatiu liberálnej demokracie. V Poľsku v deväťdesiatych rokoch nadobudol „koniec histórie” podobu hesla „budujeme budúcnosť, minulosť nechajme historikom” a odsunutie otázok spojených s kolektívnou pamäťou mimo hranice hlavného prúdu politickej debaty. Nastala paradoxná situácia, v ktorej síce nastala plná sloboda historických výskumov a prezentovania ich výsledkov, ale rezultáty tých prác sa nedostali k širšej verejnosti.

Na začiatku tohto storočia je možné na celom svete sledovať, že história a kladenie otázok spojených s identitou sa vracajú na pôdu verejnej debaty. Symbolickým zlomovým momentom boli teroristické útoky 11. septembra 2001. Zároveň sa v Európe konalo pomerne dôležité prehodnotenie historickej politiky – príkladom je Nemecko alebo Rusko (najmä ich vzťah k pamäti o 2. svetovej vojne). V tom čase sa začali diať zmeny aj v Poľsku, kde si stále častejšie uvedomovali, že nie je možné vybudovať vedomé a moderné spoločenstvo bez spoluúčasti pamäti, že „studený” projekt spoločenstva zakladajúci sa výlučne na hospodárskych vzťahoch nemôže správne fungovať.

V tej atmosfére zmien bolo rozhodnuté o výstavbe Múzea Varšavského povstania. Samotný osud tohto projektu predstavujú mimoriadne zaujímavý vklad do povojnových dejín Poľska a ukazuje vzťahy jednotlivých vlád voči kolektívnej pamäti. Myšlienka uctenia tej pamäte vznikla už v 40-tých rokoch, následne znovu ožila v období prvej „Solidarity”, potom sa behom niekoľkých rokov v období III. Poľskej republiky stále vracala ako aktuálna téma, avšak menej dôležitá, ktorá sa nemohla dočkať realizácie. Až v roku 2003 vtedajší primátor Varšavy, Lech Kaczyński, rozhodol o jeho lokalizácii, menoval splnomocnenca pre výstavbu – Jana Ołdakowského a termín otvorenia – 60. výročie Povstania.

V čase projektovania expozície Múzea boli prijaté viaceré základné premisy. Po prvé, malo to byť múzeum narácie, plynulým spôsobom rozprávajúce istý príbeh. Rozprávaniu mnohoaspektového príbehu o Varšavskom povstaní boli podriadené všetky výrazové prostriedky – fotografie, filmy, textové informácie, multimédiá, scénografické inštalácie a nakoniec tiež objekty. Po druhé, expozícia by mala vtiahnuť diváka do prezentovaného príbehu, využiť všetky prostriedky a predstaviť atmosféru dní povstania. Po tretie, súčasne by nemala nikoho ponechať ľahostajným, mala by prinútiť k individuálnemu premýšľaniu o prezentovanej histórii. V tom zmysle je Múzeum Varšavského povstania interaktívnou inštitúciou – nie preto, že využíva moderne multimediálne prostriedky, ale preto, že absorbuje diváka, ktorý vstupuje do interakcie s históriou.

Dôležitou problematikou bola otázka, kto by mal byť hlavným adresátom expozície. Prirodzeným sa zdal byť mladý človek, taký, ktorého treba presvedčiť, že dejiny môžu byť zaujímavé a že netvoria len zbierku údajov a faktov. Mladí príjemcovia si majú uvedomiť, že ľudia, ktorí bojovali v Povstaní, boli takí istí ako oni. Druhou skupinou, o ktorej bolo treba venovať pozornosť, najmä v kontexte neúplných vedomosti o poľských dejinách, boli cudzinci. A treťou z najdôležitejších cieľových skupín, ktorej požiadavky sú trochu odlišnejšie ako tých dvoch prvých, boli odbojári – priami účastníci Povstania.

Po definovaní cieľových skupín bolo treba sa zamyslieť, akým spôsobom je možné ich osloviť. Bola prijatá hypotéza že, aby bolo možné sa priblížiť k adresátom je potrebné „hovoriť ich jazykom”. Preto – pre mladého návštevníka – je dôležité široké využitie nových technológií a frekventovanosť stimulov rôzneho druhu – zvukových, vizuálnych a multimediálnych. Aby sa oslovila skupina cudzincov spravili sa prakticky všetky texty expozície v dvoch jazykoch – v poľštine a v angličtine. Odbojári však boli chápaní osobitne – oni nie sú hosťami v Múzeu, ale spoluhostiteľmi, ktorí tiež rozhodujú o špecifickej mágii tohto miesta.

Aby sa dosiahli naplánované ciele bola behom celého roka spolu s prácami s Múzeom tvorená atmosféra okolo vznikajúceho miesta. Veľmi dôležité bolo presvedčiť obyvateľov Varšavy, že práve pred ich očami vzniká dôležité miesto pre identitu mesta, dôležitý bod na mape hlavného mesta. Pre tieto účely sa nadviazala blízka spolupráca s médiami, ktoré podrobne informovali o všetkých krokoch spojených s projektovaním a realizáciou Múzea. Zároveň boli organizované viaceré občianske akcie, napríklad zbierka povstaleckých pamiatok s cieľom aktivizácie ľudí do projektu. Všetky tie kroky spôsobili, že otvorenie Múzea sa stalo veľmi očakávanou udalosťou.

Naplánované efekty sa podarilo dosiahnuť – Múzeum v roku 2007 navštívilo takmer pol milióna návštevníkov. odbojári sa cítia byť jeho spoluhostiteľmi a zároveň viac ako 60% návštevníkov sú to ľudia vo veku pod 30 rokov. Na základe reakcií návštevníkov je pozorovať, že prakticky nikto neodchádza z Múzea ľahostajný. Múzeum sa okrem iného stalo miestom typu „must see” pre zahraničných turistov, ktorých na návštevách expozície pribúda. Takisto zahraničné štátne návštevy, vrátane korunovaných hláv, prezidentov a premiérov sú v Múzeu časté.

Avšak Múzeum Varšavského povstania nie je len expozíciou – skladá sa z viacerých oddelení, venujúcich sa rôznym oblastiam pôsobnosti – existuje tu Archiwum Historii Mówionej (Archív rozprávanej histórie) zbierajúci rozhovory so všetkými žijúcimi Povstalcami, Centrum Wolontariatu (Centrum dobrovoľníctva), knižnica vrátane archívu, široko pôsobiace sekcie Sekcja Historyczna i Dydaktyczna (Historická a didaktická sekcia), vydávajú sa rôzne publikácie. Pobočkou Múzea je Instytut Stefana Starzyńskiego (Inštitút Stefana Starzyńskiego), ktorého úlohou je venovať sa a skúmať identitu mesta Varšavy ako pokračovanie diela veľkého primátora hlavného mesta.

Múzeum organizuje veľa kultúrnych podujatí, ktoré sa často nachádzajú mimo tradične chápanej muzeálnej činnosti. Najdôležitejšie sú, samozrejme, oslavy jednotlivých výročí Varšavského povstania, ktoré sa neobmedzujú len na dôstojné akadémie a oficiálne prejavy, ale zahrňujú tiež veľmi doteraz úspešné koncerty pre mládež, divadelné (či „paradivadelné ”) predstavenia, spoločenské akcie a podujatia na otvorenom priestranstve pre najmladších. V rámci každoročne organizovaného Festiwalu Warszawskiego (Varšavského festivalu) „Tyrmand-Komeda-Polański” pripravuje Inštitút Stefana Starzyńského rôznorodé kultúrne podujatia nadväzujúce na Varšavu z päťdesiatych a šesťdesiatych rokov. V Múzeu sú realizované cyklické stretnutia s históriou, filmom, architektúrou, výtvarným umením, zároveň umelci a maliari tvoria svoje diela na tzv. „Múre umenia” (Mur Sztuki) v Parku Wolności (Park Slobody) obklopujúcom Múzeum.

Veľkorysé, majúce široký dosah, aktivity spojené s modernou, naračnou expozíciou tak tvoria špecifickú klímu Múzea Varšavského povstania. Múzeum je na jednej strane miestom pamäte, na druhej strane tiež aktívne žijúcim centrom na kultúrnej mape Varšavy, spolutvoriacim jej identitu. Výnimočné miesto Varšavského povstania v kolektívnej pamäti, modernosť odkazu a komplexnosť pôsobenia ktoré sa stretli na jednom mieste, priniesli efekt v podobe inštitúcie priťahujúcej masy.

Jarosław Giziński

Unread files

20 August 2018
Tags
  • Poland
  • Hungary
  • transitional justice
  • Romania
  • Germany
  • GDR
  • Slovakia
  • Czech Republic
  • Czechia
  • lustration

While other Central European countries initiated lustration before Poland did, none consider it an entirely successful process.

Although more than two decades have passed since the collapse of communism, settling accounts with the old system is anything but complete. This is true regardless of the nature of the revolution: a ‘velvet’ one as in Czechoslovakia, negotiated as in Poland and Hungary or brutal and bloody as in Romania. The lack of complete and credible documentation is the most obvious reason almost everywhere. While the burning of the Polish secret police’s files in Pasikowski’s Pigs is only a movie scene, it is quite close to what actually happened. Developments in the other Soviet bloc countries were no different; just think of the piles of scattered documents filmed by Western journalists in the back yard of the demonstrator-occupied Stasi office in Leipzig.

Dossier game

There was a temptation to use more or less credible documentation against political opponents during the fight for power in post-communist countries, especially in the 1990s. As a consequence, lustration was deprived of its role in dealing with the past and instead created the impression of being a ‘dossier game’ serving the purposes of the powers that be. While in Poland these clashes are symbolised by the ongoing dispute regarding Lech Wałęsa’s past, almost all former Soviet bloc countries have had their share of alleged informers, including the Czechs, who were the first to initiate lustration, and the Germans with their apparently model lustration legislation and the so-called Gauck Office.

Countries, various groups and different institutions have all failed in conducting a complete and consistent lustration process. This includes churches, which the previous system attempted to fight (and infiltrate). Poland’s Catholic Church symbolically completed its lustration at the end of the previous decade but there were no major consequences. Elsewhere, for example in post-Soviet states, no attempts were made to conduct a credible lustration of the local Orthodox Churches. In Bulgaria, it was not until 2011 that the church hierarchy reluctantly agreed to lustration (not surprisingly since, as it soon turned out, the majority of synod members during communism had collaborated with the secret police).

Conducted soon after reunification, lustration in the former GDR was for a long time considered relatively complete. Germany, however, was different because the democratic legislation of West Germany was extended to the former German Democratic Republic, with all the consequences. Established in 1990, the Office of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Archives, with a staff of 1,600 (referred to as the Gauck Office after the first commissioner) is still very much in demand. Since 1992, two million people have requested access to the files. Initially the office was to continue until 2011, but the German parliament has extended this period by another eight years.

While the office has been relatively successful and has blocked the careers of former Stasi collaborators and agents at federal level, it has failed at state level in the east of the country. As an example, in Brandenburg’s Landtag every fourth left-wing (Die Linke party) MP has had a spell of what could be qualified as collaboration with the Stasi. Past informers have been found in the police and among Western politicians. In addition, some fifty people with a record of working for the secret services are employed at the Office for Stasi Archives and more than 500 work for various federal agencies. More than two decades into the process, some say that complete lustration in a country where every fiftieth citizen has had some contact with the secret political police is in fact impossible. What was Germany’s universally praised lustration process has turned out to be quite superficial, a claim made by Uwe Müller and Grit Hartmann, the authors of the book Vorwärts und Vergessen!.

Agents and confidants

The Czechs were the first among the former Soviet bloc countries to take lustration seriously, screening as early as 1989for StB (Security Service) agents and collaborators. Prior to the first free elections in June 1990, political parties could run checks on their candidates, thus blocking the political careers of many. Czechoslovakia’s new parliament adopted formal lustration laws in October 1991. One applied to all citizens and the other to those serving in uniformed services. If a person was proved to have collaborated with the communist secret police, they were excluded from posts in public administration, public offices, the army, police and state-owned enterprises.

Early on there were legal and interpretational problems. The Constitutional Court ordered a change in some of the clauses. It was found that some people described as ‘candidate’ or ‘confidant’ in secret service documents may not even have known that agents were using them as a source of information. Following their formal adoption, the lustration laws were to stay in effect for five years. However, just as in all the other postcommunist states, this was much too soon and it was clear that more time was needed. The lustration law in the Czech Republic has indefinite duration.

There were scandals involving people from the front pages. Many were prosecuted following the 1992 publication by journalist Petr Cibulka of a list of 220,000 people from the StB archives. Just as with the Polish Wildstein’s list, the problem was that it included former spies and those of interest to the secret police. With no equivalent of Poland’s Institute of National Remembrance, the mistakes were difficult to correct. It was not until 2007 that the Czech Republic established the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTRCzR).

The Slovaks took a different approach when they established their own state. From early on, Slovak politicians, especially on the left of the political spectrum, were wary of lustration. The joint Czechoslovakian lustration law expired in 1996 and was not followed up by Vladimir Meciar’s HZDS government. The Nation’s Memory Institute (UPN) was not established until 2002 under a right-wing government. Eventually, it was decided that lustration statements were not mandatory, and even if someone is proved to have had a secret police past, moral stigma aside there will be no legal consequences (e.g. exclusion from public office). Gaining access to UPN archives is relatively easy.

Neither were the Hungarians very enthusiastic about dealing with the past. Despite the militant mood among right-wing groups during the collapse of communism in 1989, Hungarians took a long time to adopt lustration laws. The Alliance of Free Democrats had its proposals, as did the first non-communist government of József Antall. Adopted in 1994, the first act offered a relatively mild treatment of former agents. Not only were secret police collaborators kept safe from any serious sanctions, but also legislators wanted to keep communist security service files secret for as long as 30 years. Due to objections raised by the Constitutional Court, the final version of the law was not ready for another two years, to have finally expired in 2004.

Astonishingly, the governing radically anti-communist Fidesz party is reluctant to address the topic of lustration. Some analysts believe that this is due to the fear of possible blackmail due to intense infiltration of the opposition during the 1970s and 1980s. In a recent bid to revisit the ‘agent’s act’ in June this year, the Hungarian Parliament again failed to pass the bill. This time government coalition MPs abstained.

Secret Collaborator politician

Romania was equally slow with its lustration legislation. With strong post-communist influences, the first governments were in no hurry to deal with the past. It was not until 1996 that the right-wing government of Emil Constantinescu started work on Act 187, a law dealing with Securitate (Ceausescu-era security service) agents and collaborators. Passed three years later, the law turned out to be ineffectual. While data about confidants’ pasts were to be disclosed, there would be no consequences. It was up to voters to decide whether people discredited in the past could hold elected offices. As a result, many a former secret police collaborator is pursuing a political career in Romania. While the agent exposure process gained some impetus after 2006 with pressure from president Traian Basescu, the screening of several hundred people a year compared to several hundred thousand former secret police collaborators does not seem like an effective way of dealing with the past.

As we can see, lustration involving painful consequences for former communist secret service collaborators is merely a demand voiced by former opposition groups. Despite the common belief that the new political elites of Germany and the Czech Republic were most consistent in their lustration policies, the process failed even there. What may come as consolation is that while Polish lustration is criticised for being weak and inconsistent, the majority of the countries in our region have achieved even less in dealing with the shameful past of the communist era.

 


This article was originally published in a special appendix to Rzeczpospolita daily for the 'Genealogies of Memory' conference on 27 November 2013.

 

Marek Domagalski

Unprosecuted Crimes

20 August 2018
Tags
  • communism
  • Poland
  • transitional justice
  • genealogies of memory
  • Institute of National Remembrance

For a quarter of a century we have sought to memorialise the victims of communism by erecting monuments and opening museums. But at times it seems that the most important things continue to be left unsaid.

Despite the Institute of National Remembrance operating at full capacity, it cannot win against nature. Defendants usually avoid justice, through death or for reasons of old age. Had the Institute of National Remembrance been formed ten years before, and had judges party to the lawlessness of the Polish People’s Republic been duly charged, justice would probably have had a better chance.

Institute of National Remembrance Prosecutions

As of October 2013, Institute of National Remembrance judges closed proceedings in 12,457 cases. Over a period of ten years, a total of 305 cases were filed against 469 individuals. 131 were convicted, with as many as 129 for communist crimes. Proceedings against 13,562 defendants were discontinued because of the statute of limitations. Nonetheless, prosecution is not over. Last year, as many as 1,252 new proceedings were initiated, 704 of which were in cases relating to communist crimes. During the same period, Institute of National Remembrance prosecutors filed as few (or perhaps as many) as 10 cases against 12 defendants.

Prosecuting crimes, communist crimes in particular, is but one of the aspects of coming to terms with the Polish People’s Republic’s past (and of the Institute’s work). A list of examples of the work performed during recent weeks follows, as reported by the Polish Press Agency.

  • (18/11) Following a preliminary examination, the Institute of National Remembrance defined the area to be searched in the hope of identifying the graves of Home Army soldiers Danuta ‘Inka’ Siedziko wna and Feliks ‘Zagon czyk’ Selmanowicz at the Gdan sk Garrison Cemetery, in the vicinity of a prison where both had been sentenced to death after prolonged and cruel interrogation.
  • (15/11) In the case of Stalinist military prosecutor General Marian R., aged 94, charged with having unlawfully deprived 17 detainees of freedom in the years 1951–1954, the Regional Military Court in Warsaw withdrew the majority of charges by virtue of the 1989 amnesty, and a number of other charges due to the statute of limitations. The Institute of National Remembrance is set to file an appeal. Following the so-called Gomułka period of political thaw, R. was chief military prosecutor of the Polish People’s Republic, then chairman of the Polish Football Association, and director general of the Office of the Council of Ministers in the 1980s.
  • (21/10) The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg concluded that it cannot assess the 1990–2004 Russian investigation into the Katyn massacre, as Russia ratified the European Convention of Human Rights only in 1998, i.e. eight years after the investigation had begun. The judgment received heavy criticism, including from Professor Witold Kulesza, former head of prosecution at the Institute of National Remembrance, who said that ‘the court had an opportunity to add something of a postscript to the judgment of the Nuremberg Trials by confirming that the Katyn massacre had been committed by Russia, which today is charged with the duty of classifying the crime in international law as genocide. Let me add that the Institute of National Remembrance is conducting its own investigation into the Katyn massacre, the outcome of which largely depends on the files held by Russia. To date, the authorities there have failed to provide Poland with a complete set of documents.’

Live Fire Fight

I cite the Strasbourg judgment in the Katyn case to prove that seeing justice done is an uphill struggle, even outside of Poland.

This is shown in the ruling of the Regional Court in Warsaw in the December 1970 case. Over eighteen years of trial, the number of defendants has shrunk from twelve to three. That in itself is cause for a major charge to be brought against today’s Polish judiciary. The court acquitted former deputy prime minister of the Polish People’s Republic Stanisław Kociołek, while sentencing two commanding officers of troops responsible for crushing the December 1970 worker protests to two years of suspended imprisonment sentences. Concurrently, the legal classification of charges was commuted from issuing a command resulting in the manslaughter of several individuals at the Gdan sk and Gdynia Shipyards to participation in an assault resulting in death with the use of ‘dangerous objects’, the dangerous objects in question being rifles loaded with live ammunition. In her justification for commuting the charges the judge, Agnieszka Wysokin ska-Walczak, declared as follows: ‘Responsibility for participation in battery resulting in death does not require blame to be individualised; the relevant article of the Polish Criminal Code extends to fights and well as assault threatening human life and health.’

The legal structure resulting in Polish People’s Army officers having been convicted for participation in battery resulting in death (Article 158 § 1–2 of the Polish Criminal Code), while probably easier for evidence-related reasons, dilutes the perpetrators’ accountability.

Maciej Bednarkiewicz, the lawyer representing the victims in the December 1970 trial, who announced his intention to file an appeal, told the Rzeczpospolita daily that he expects the Appeals Court to offer an appropriate assessment of the Polish People’s Republic under criminal law, as this is the last moment to do so. The President of the Institute of National Remembrance shares this opinion. In March 2012, he called on the individuals with access to knowledge of events qualifying as communist or Nazi crimes to come forward and testify before a commission (the Ostatni Świadek – Last Witness campaign). The campaign yielded the initiation of investigation proceedings in 38 cases.

The Lost Decade

You might well ask why so late? And why has Poland been so slow to prosecute communist crimes? Maciej Bednarkiewicz, a lawyer with ample experience in political trials, believes that three factors have contributed to deficiencies in justice against officials of the Polish People’s Republic: that in the wake of 1989, they only handed selected files over to the new authorities; that the current Polish Republic and its authorities have not been sufficiently persistent in bringing criminals to trial, and have suffered a shortage in support; and that the 1981 imposition of martial law or the Polish People’s Republic have never been judged in political categories, as was the case in Germany.

‘The primary obstacles encountered by Institute of National Remembrance prosecutors are legal in nature: doubts as to the statute of limitations for communist crimes,’ adds Dariusz Gabrel, director of the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation.

The fundamental issue is that, in the resolution of May 25, 2010 (Reference No. I KZP 5/10), the Supreme Court interpreted provisions of the Institute of National Remembrance Act with regard to the statute of limitations for communist crimes, concluding that the Institute of National Remembrance does not have the capacity to prosecute crimes carrying a penalty of up to three years of imprisonment.

‘There are factual problems as well,’ highlights Gabrel, ‘such as the passage of time: the memory of witnesses dims, after many years it becomes impossible to identify the victims, and there are difficulties with collecting evidence. In the 1990s, it would have been easier to prosecute the perpetrators of communist crimes, but parliament only began dealing with the issue in late 1998 by establishing the Institute of National Remembrance.’

‘Officials from the Office of Public Security and Security Service have used the occasional argument that they felt unjustly treated; the Institute of National Remembrance is prosecuting them, they are facing charges of torturing an innocent human being, and yet, they say, this human being had been tried and sentenced by a court of law. Why, then, should they be treated any differently to judges in facing criminal responsibility for alleged lawlessness,’ says Professor Witold Kulesza.

This brings me to the role of the prosecutors and judges of the Polish People’s Republic.

Judges with Immunity

Poland has not seen the sentencing of any prosecutor or judge for judicial crimes comprising the trying and sentencing of innocent individuals recognised as opponents of communist authorities, despite the fact that more than 100 officials who tortured these innocent individuals in person have actually been tried and convicted.

It is thus difficult to claim pure coincidence. What usually happens resembles the Katowice case: the local branch of the Institute of National Remembrance was investigating communist crimes consisting of the abuse of power by prosecutors and judges who under martial law in 1981/82 had tried Solidarity Trade Union members, sentencing them to imprisonment. These Solidarity members were convicted for acts which were not illegal under the law, making it obvious that the issue was one of political repression. The Institute of National Remembrance applied to the respective courts (including the Supreme Court, as one of the judges had been a Supreme Court judge, currently retired) to remove the respective prosecutors’ and judges’ immunity, allowing them to be tried under criminal law. Not only did the Supreme Court refuse the institute’s motion, on December 20, 2007 it resolved that criminal courts had been forced to apply the Martial Law Order in retrospect. As the 2007 resolution was entered into the Register of Legal Statute, lower-instance courts are currently treating it as binding interpretation.

‘When as a co-author of the Institute of National Remembrance Act I was consulting it with German prosecutors appointed to prosecute cases of lawlessness in the German Democratic Republic, they envied the institute’s investigation authority,’ recalls Professor Witold Kulesza. ‘But they also pointed out that commencing any investigation in the late 1990s, ten years after the collapse of communism, is too late for the democratic state to judge the crimes in question. They told me that we were just beginning a process they were about to complete. I must admit the bitter truth that my German colleagues were correct.’

 


This article was originally published in a special appendix to Rzeczpospolita daily for the 'Genealogies of Memory' conference on 27 November 2013.

Krzysztof Kloc

Unemployment in Interwar Cracow and the Great Economic Crisis: Conditions, Consequences and Counteraction

20 August 2018
Tags
  • Great Crisis
  • interwar
  • Cracow
  • 1930s
  • thirties

ABSTRACT

Unemployment in Cracow was a socio-economic problem which the city was facing throughout the Second Republic. The great crisis, whose consequences began to be felt in Cracow in the early 1930s, only made the phenomenon more acute and visible. This article offers a broad analysis of the issue in the context of the great crisis and the inter-war period. The discussion covers factors conditioning unemployment in Cracow, its social consequences and attempts at counteracting them made by both the city authorities and Church-based organisations.

The well-known French historian René Sédillot once wrote that those who claimed that it was “blind fate that directs the world’s events proclaim a great absurdity as there are many general or moral or physical causes that shake monarchies, lift them or lead them to perdition. If a single battle – he concluded – can decide about a state’s fall, there is a general reason for that state to disappear as a result of a single battle.”1 The question arises what revolutions, battles and falls of countries have to do with the global crisis which in the early 1930s also reached Cracow, then a provincial town? The general context matters here since focusing on the direct reasons for and consequences of the crisis in Cracow, one just cannot ignore the economic and social conditions in the city present long before the global and Polish economies collapsed. And so in this text I shall focus primarily on the consequences of the crisis in the context of the collapsing labour market and its repercussions, attempts at counteracting them as well as ways of managing them practised by the city authorities, Church-based organisations and society itself against a broad background of earlier socio-economic problems with which Cracow had wrestled since the very first days of its regained independence. I will also briefly discuss the reasons why the crisis did not have a special place in the memory of local residents. These are the objectives of the article.

 

*

Researchers claim increasingly often that poverty is not a state but a process,2 and each process, as we learn from history books, is subject to changes in time and space. The challenge then arises to correctly capture the factors responsible for initiating those changes and transformations. This is a very difficult task which sometimes requires advanced study covering remote times e.g. in the context of studying inherited poverty. One of the factors, certainly very tangible, is unemployment, a structural social problem which at the time of Poland’s Second Republic was treated by many as the fundamental reason for the gradual impoverishment of society. 3

According to the 1931 census held at the time of the great crisis, Cracow had 219,286 inhabitants (including 45,800, or nearly 21 %, of Jews), including 111,538, or over 50 % (44 % of women) of those professionally active. 22.9 % of the residents were “independents”, i.e. they either employed others or performed their work with the help of their family. Over 63 % of working Cracovians belonged to the “hired”, a group divided into physical labour force (workers and outworkers), who represented 44.7 % (including 18.6 % of domestic servants), and white-collar workers (18.4 %). Elżbieta Adamczyk claimed that Cracow still remained a city of intelligentsia and her percentage estimate for that group was over 20 % of the total population. Nearly 14 % were described as having a “non-defined social status”. The biggest employer was industry – clothing, food, steelmaking and construction – accounting for 30.3 % of those professionally active. Commerce and insurance employed 21,459 persons (19.3 %), most of whom were active in commodity trade, followed by space rental, insurance and brokerage. The passenger and cargo transport sector employed 5,941 Cracovians (5.3 %), schooling, education and culture – 5,116 persons (4.6 %), and medical care 5,589 persons (5 %). Public service, the Church and religious organisations represented 8,398 persons (7.5 %). Old-age pensioners and persons with disabilities were supported by the state, as were prisoners and residents of social care homes.4

As regards unemployment, the first task is to attempt to estimate the number of jobless in inter-war Cracow. However, it is near impossible to give a precise number for at least two reasons. Above all, it must be stressed that there is no complete source material concerning the registration of the unemployed in the Cracow branch of the State Job Agency (Państwowy Urząd Pośrednictwa Pracy; hereinafter, PUPP), where – which must be remembered – non-Cracovians registered as well. Secondly, the data from the PUPP often failed to reflect reality. In actual fact, the problem concerned the entire country. “The statistics of employment agencies of the time,” – as noted by Paweł Grata – “recorded [...] just numbers reflecting the total number of jobless persons registered there, and things varied as regards people’s decisions to be registered at the agency in the context of the existing labour law provisions and possible benefits stemming from them.”5 And so for various reasons not all unemployed persons came to the Agency. In October 1925, the Cracovian Inter-Union Committee of White- Collar Workers estimated the number of jobless among them to be 1,000, while the PUPP statistics recorded just one such person.6 Consequently, as put by Zbigniew Landau and Jerzy Tomaszewski, “the statistical data did not reflect [...] the actual scale of unemployment and in some periods side factors were present which had an impact on the changing numbers of those registered.”7 For example, such factors should definitely include the Act on unemployment benefits, which came into force in late August of 1924 and made such financial support available to registered persons only.8 Perfectly understandably, this led to a statistical increase of the number of unemployed. In reality, however, it just showed more precisely, while still not fully realistically, the scale of Polish unemployment of the time.

In Cracow, the number of jobless did not stay the same throughout the inter-war period and was obviously influenced by a number of various factors. Among them was the state of the Polish economy, a factor of key importance, but also one apparently trivial: the importance of the seasons of the year, due to which employment in certain sectors like construction was seasonal.

At the moment when the above-mentioned Act came into force in the summer of 1924, there were 2,750 persons registered as unemployed in Cracow. 9 At the end of 1925, that number was already 3,801, then in early 1926 it dropped to 2,500 to jump again to 3,000 persons in February. 10 In December 1926, the number of registered persons without employment stood at 1,602, and at the end of 1927 at 2,920.11 The unemployment rate in Cracow saw a steep increase during the economic crisis of the early 1930s.

In March 1930, there were 7,051 jobless persons; a year later, according to the census data, that number grew to as many as 9,810.12 In December 1933, the number of registered was almost half of that figure – 4,788,13 and in the preceding month even 3,118.14 At the end of 1934, there were 3,590 jobless persons in Cracow, almost as many as a year later (3,600) .15 In 1936, the average number of those registered at the PUPP was 3,210 persons, with the Cracow County Office estimating the actual number of unemployed to be around 4,500. A year later that average was 5,156, while the estimates from the County Office stood at around 8,500.16 In February 1938, there were 6,702 registered persons according to the PUPP data, while the County Office gave the figure of 9,000.17 In September, the number of unemployed according to the PUPP dropped to 1,955 persons.18 At the beginning of 1939, the number of those without employment was 5,585 persons.19

All those figures should be treated as approximations only, also given the increase in the number of Cracow residents from 178,588 in 1918 to around 259,000 in 1939, that is through the inter-war period.20 The conclusion is that the Cracow labour market was able to absorb a significant number of those coming to the city from the outside, particularly in the 1930s, and, importantly, both during the crisis and later when the economy picked up. According to the 1931 census, out of 17,760 persons working as domestic servants (98 % were women), as many as 16,056 lived on the employer’s premises, which I understand as meaning that such employment was almost entirely dominated by non-Cracovians, mainly young girls coming to the city from locations in its vicinity.21

The biggest employers were industry and commerce, employing 33,795 and 21,489 persons, respectively; in percentage terms, according to the 1931 census, that was nearly half of those professionally active outside agriculture.22 Those employment sectors, however, were hit hardest by the biggest crisis in the first years of the second decade of the interwar period. The unemployment rate in industry and commerce was as high as over 80 % of the total number of jobless registered at the Cracow branch of the PUPP.23 Particularly affected were construction workers, as more than 44 % of them lost jobs (1,650 persons). The following sectors shed more than 20 per cent of the workforce: timber (399 persons), steelmaking (1,083), clothing (1,217) and food (554). Also 2,175 white-collar workers were jobless.24

Researchers point out that Cracow’s unemployment rate was relatively low as compared with other large Polish cities since the great crisis hit mostly industry, which was not one of Cracow’s strengths.25 Leaving purely economic aspects aside, let us focus on the social dimension of unemployment. The quoted numbers let us develop a general idea of the scale of the phenomenon. Its essence, however, boiled down to economic aspects which would sometimes relatively quickly affect the lives of the unemployed to such an extent that their daily existence turned out to be a major challenge and piled a whole range of difficult problems before them.

Creeping poverty entering the homes of the jobless, which needed to be kept and paid for somehow, and the lives of their families, which had to be fed, at times triggered such behaviours as stealing or begging. Due to acute poverty, the subsistence of families would sometimes depend on young girls opting to sell their own bodies in the streets of Cracow or pushed out to the street by the parents or siblings against their own will. Most frequently, however, the jobless did what they could to weather the crisis with dignity, counting on assistance from the city and state authorities. Such aid was also provided by Church-based organisations, various charity and care institutions, or a legion of good-willed people who were not indifferent to the fate of those without employment.

It was truly a catastrophe for Cracovians given the fact that according to the estimates of the Bishop’s Emergency Committee, at the beginning of 1924 the city had around 30,000 people in need, excluding the Jewish community.26 That figure represented more than 21 % of all Christian residents of Cracow. We do not know the situation in the Jewish community of over 46,000 back then.27 Most probably it was not positive, either, if in the mid-1930s out of around 60,000 of Cracow’s Jews28 sometimes even as many as 16,000 persons (over 26 %), used the assistance offered mainly by the Jewish Community.29 During the great crisis in 1932, Jews from Cracow established an association called Zedaka Laanijim located in Paulińska Street. That institution, whose name meant “alms for the poor,” dealt with beggary among Cracow’s Jews. The poorest could rely on monthly financial benefits. For example, already when the economy picked up in 1937 such assistance was received by 400 Jewish beggars.30 It is worth mentioning that the Jewish Assistance Committee cooperated closely with Bishop Sapieha’s committee.31

Cracow’s Jews lived mainly in the quarter of Kazimierz, where – as recalled by a Pole residing there – “there was a specific smell of sweat, stuffy flats, unaired bed-sheets, spicy condiments, a sour smell of poverty.”32 Even if the optimistic scenario was assumed that the percentage of Jews in need was the same as that of the other Cracow inhabitants, one must conclude that at least every fifth local resident was living in poverty, many of them unemployed with families. One should be under no illusion, however, that the other Cracow residents lived comfortably and in luxury. However, as is written in an article on high prices published in the Goniec daily, “for now, society is bending under this burden, clenching the teeth and, determined, believes that times will change soon.”33

On 18 July 1924, the aforementioned Act was adopted on social assurance in the case of unemployment. Those entitled to benefit included persons who had lost a job and registered the fact at the PUPP within a month, and had worked for at least 20 weeks in the year preceding the job loss. The Act also provided for setting up Unemployment Funds to manage the monies to be paid out as benefits. .34 The Act was supposed to enter into force by 31 August, yet for not entirely clear reasons Cracow experienced a delay of almost a month and the registration of the unemployed began as late as in early October.35 Still, a relatively large group of the jobless failed to meet any registration conditions anyway. For example, out of around 3,000 unemployed persons registered at the PUPP at the end of 1926, the benefits were paid out to just half and they were a mere drop in the ocean of the needs of the unemployed.36

Worse still, the Act completely ignored white-collar workers, which they received with an angry uproar.37

In February 1926, Cracow’s regional management of the Unemployment Fund wrote a letter to the Ministry of Labour and Social Care where it demanded “in the face of the ever-growing poverty of unemployed white-collar workers, [...] the adoption of an amending act [...]” in order to include them in the Act in question.38 A month later desperate jobless white collars staged a demonstration.39 They continued to complain about their living conditions in the years to come.

The living conditions of the unemployed receiving benefits improved as compared with those who failed to meet the registration requirements. The situation of the latter – both blue – and white-collar workers – was not to be envied although they were taken care of by the Union of Parish Committees (Związek Komitetów Parafialnych; hereinafter, ZKP) headed by Bishop (and later Archbishop) Adam Sapieha, of which more later.

The hardship of the jobless was exploited by many Cracovian crooks, particularly at the time of the great crisis of the 1930s. For example, preying on other people’s misfortune, a group of men set up a fake job agency in 1931. Job seekers were supposed to pay 2.85 zloty and then to find employment in less than 20 days. It was not long before it became obvious that the whole project was a sham created and managed by professional tricksters, but the Cracow police soon managed to apprehend them.40

In the period discussed here, extensive charity work – which started even before the outbreak of the First World War under the supervision of Bishop and from 1926 onwards Archbishop Adam Sapieha – was done by the Catholic Church.

Soon after the end of the war Bishop Sapieha set up the Duke and Bishop’s Committee for Assisting the Affected by the War Calamity,41 later renamed as the (already mentioned) ZKP, whose tasks included job agency.42 Roughly at that time, Committees for Combating Unemployment were being set up across the country, yet they failed to operate extensively or effectively, .43 unlike the ZKP, which had 7,000 families under its wings in the 1920s. The Union collected and distributed cash benefits, food, clothes, medicines, etc. It also organised summer camps for poor children and took care of old and ill persons as well as orphans. “In short,” – as Bronisław Panek wrote – “the Union managed almost the entire social care provided in Cracow.” .44

From 1926 onwards, the Archbishop’s Emergency Committee (Arcybiskupi Komitet Ratunkowy; hereinafter, AKR) another body set up by the Cracow archbishop, also operated efficiently. The Committee focused, above all, on helping orphans, yet it did not neglect unemployment-related problems. For instance, the AKR tried to organise as many free-of-charge and cheap canteens for the unemployed as possible. Incidentally, canteens and kitchens were the basic form of assistance offered to the jobless by both Churchbased organisations and the city authorities. In 1920 alone, the kitchen run by Ladies of Charity of St Vincent de Paul gave out 169,313 meals to poor adults and 108,500 to children.45 The Catholic Union of Polish Women managed a canteen for the poor in the quarter of Kazimierz based in Bożego Ciała Street, and one for unemployed and poor white-collar workers in Franciszkańska Street and św. Tomasza Street.46

In November 1923, the city, too, launched two budget canteens for whitecollar workers which gave out 1,300 lunches daily.47 In Warszawska Street, there operated a kitchen under the auspices of the AKR.48 The Committee had its canteens in such locations as the quarter of Prądnik Czerwony and Smoleńsk Street.49

The need to offer cheap or free meals was also addressed by the Municipal Committee for Combating the Consequences of Unemployment (Miejski Komitet do Walki ze Skutkami Bezrobocia; hereinafter, MKB), established in 1931 as a response of the Cracow city authorities to the crisis and its local consequences. Lunches were given out in kitchens in Franciszkańska Street, Bożego Ciała Street, Warszawska Street, Krakowska Street, św. Tomasza Street, and Nadwiślańska Street.50 The lunch cost 0.25 zloty and included a piece of meat, vegetables and bread.51 The Jewish community also had its own canteen for the poorest located in Gertrudy Street.52

Another could also be found at the registration office for the unemployed in Krótka Street. Reports have survived concerning that facility which give us an idea of how humiliating it must have sometimes been for the jobless to use the “services” of such canteens. “The provisions are poor [...]” – we read in a police document – “the potatoes and cabbage are rotten, meat of the lowest quality.”53 To make things worse, canteen staff treated the unemployed very badly. They behaved with disdain, sometimes just brutally “[...] pushing or even kicking women and elderly people.”54 One of the cooks “[...] was hitting [...] the unemployed with a ladle as they cried for equal and better meals.”55 Such stories intensified the sense of bitterness, low selfesteem and despair, or even personal meltdown experienced by the jobless. Humiliated and discouraged from accepting such a form of assistance by unpleasant experiences, the unemployed occasionally turned to theft and robbery as a means to provide for themselves and their families.

The MKB’s support was to target those who were registered at the PUPP but lost their right to receive benefits.56 The MKB opened several sections in charge of such areas as promotion, economic and financial affairs, food provision for children, clothes and labour, as well as commissions for medical and legal aid, and an audit commission. Between September 1931 and June 1932, the MKB collected over 482,000 zloty sourced from various contributions, collections and the tram ticket tax. Interestingly, it was as early as 1926 that the Townhall started to interfere in ticket or electricity prices in order to collect more funding for combating unemployment.57 A sum of 40,000 zloty was fed into the city coffers monthly, which according to the Townhall was enough to employ 600 jobless people to perform public works.58

At the same time, Cracow’s cafes and restaurants also supported the MKB’s charity work by raising their tea and coffee prices by 0.05 zloty, with the extra sum going to the Committee. As many as 6,825 unemployed people approached the MKB for assistance and they were subject to special verification so as to ensure that the support would go to those who needed it most. As a result 1,694 single persons received assistance as well as 3,045 families, i.e. 13,320 in total. The results of the Committee’s campaign were truly impressive. More than 267,000 lunches were given out, food vouchers worth 244,286 zloty were offered to unemployed persons, around 250–270 were employed on various public works, also children of unemployed parents were taken care of.59

It seems that all this could not have happened without the generous approach of fellow Cracovians. Appeals to support the MKB and Church-based organisations reverberated throughout the city. Help came from industrialists,60 office workers,61 labourers,62 artisans,63 tradesmen,64 physicians,65 tram drivers,66 and scouts.67 The selflessness of Cracow residents which went down in the history of the city was impressive to all. The MKB report read that “Cracow has excellently passed [...] a test of dedication to public good, and in terms of generosity it [...] overtook Poland’s largest towns by several counts [...].”68

The MKB collaborated with Archbishop Sapieha’s Committee. Although there had been some squabbles and misunderstandings between the Townhall and the archbishop in the past, now, in the face of the progressive economic downturn and raging unemployment, it was clear that all hands were needed to work for the improvement of the living conditions of the poor and unemployed. The MKB provided Church-run canteens with certain quantities of meat free of charge and supported the archbishop’s Committee with small sums of money. The Church, in turn, was doing some things for the City as regards helping the needy. In the face of the great crisis, Archbishop Sapieha established in 1931 the Committee for Assisting the Hungry (Komitet Pomocy Głodnym; hereinafter, KPG), which served free meals for the jobless in four kitchens.69 Throughout the inter-war period, several dozen Sisters of Charity worked at St Lazarus Hospital in Kopernika Street, and a dozen or so at St Ludovic Hospital in Strzelecka Street.70 Yet that was not the only contribution of the Church to medical assistance for the poorest. In Trynitarska Street, there operated a hospital of the Order of Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God, popularly known as the Fatebenefratelli.71

Still, poor residents of Cracow liked best the hospital operating under the auspices of the aforementioned Ladies of Charity of St Vincent de Paul in Lea Street. It is often thought that such establishments offer poor conditions. Was this really the case? Looking at the hospital’s weekly menu which has partially survived (albeit without the menus for Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday) one can conclude than many patients hospitalised today would eagerly swap places with the patients of Ladies of Charity:

“Sunday: breakfast – sandwiches, borsch or tea; lunch – chicken broth with fine pasta, chicken, cauliflower, potatoes; dessert – punch cake and stewed pear beverage; dinner – roasted veal in mayonnaise with vegetable salad or fish in vegetables and potatoes;

Monday: breakfast – ham, borsch or tea; lunch – Naples soup, roasted veal in batter with potatoes and cabbage with tomatoes; dessert – cream puffs with sour cream; dinner – rice ragout or French dumplings and apple soufflé;

Thursday: breakfast – ham, borsch or tea; lunch – chicken broth with dough, roasted veal with cream, potatoes and beetroots; dessert – fruit cake – stewed apple beverage; dinner – schnitzel, cucumbers, potatoes or apple pie, cauliflower;

Friday: breakfast – cheese, borsch or tea; lunch – mushroom soup and fried fish, red cabbage, potatoes; dessert – sweet sponge-cake dish with sweet cream sauce, stewed apple beverage; dinner – dumplings with plum filling with sour whipped cream.”72

No comment seems necessary; let us just remember that the menu is not from a restaurant but a kitchen in a hospital for the poor.

While the MKB was doing its charity work, the voivodeship authorities began to combat unemployment too, and in numerous letters sent to the institutions they controlled called on officials to pay voluntary taxes to benefit the Committees fighting the consequences of unemployment, both at the county and municipal levels.73 The county governors – as imagined by the voivode – were kindly asked to “present to the clerks who reported to them the need for and importance of the action aiming to alleviate the unemployment calamity and call on the clerks to pay voluntary taxes to benefit the campaign.”74 The tax was supposed to be at a rate of 1–2 % of the gross salary for clerks earning in excess of 500 zloty who supported their own families, and for single clerks earning more than 400 zloty. Those earning less could choose to be taxed or not,75 although – as was said at one of the meetings devoted to the matter – “only in exceptional circumstances will a petty contribution from a clerk be justified.”76 In practice, it seems, the “voluntary” nature of the initiative was illusory and superiors exerted much pressure on the subordinates to support the action benefitting jobless Cracovians.

The scenario was similar in the case of special stamps that officials offered to their clients who wanted to attend to some administrative business at a given institution. The proceeds from the stamp sale were also supposed to support the Committees. To what a degree such gifts were to be voluntary can be inferred from the words of the voivode, who instructed the clerks bluntly that “a given person’s refusal to buy the stamp [...] may not be a reason for a negative outcome of their case.”77 However, regardless of the motivation informing the people who paid for the stamps, the results of the voivode”s initiative was satisfactory. By April 1932, that is when the collection ended, the MKB coffers received 4,447 zloty.78 By the end of the year, the stamp sale brought 7,565 zloty.79

Another type of assistance for the unemployed different from cash contributions were in-kind donations offered by both the city authorities and Church-based organisations. Most typically, the donations included such products as bread, lard, groats, rice, flour, fat, beans, soap, clothes, underwear, fuel, etc.80 Regrettably, sometimes those were products – as we read in one of the reports – “of inferior quality.”81 “One week,” – another document reads – “while the donations were given out to the jobless, they received zinc white instead of flour. When they voiced their concern, a notice was put up in the canteen saying that the zinc white received might be exchanged for flour.”82 The very distribution of the in-kind donations, the unemployed said, was slow; and those in charge of the process often expressed unwillingness and disdain towards the beneficiaries.83

Nonetheless, the donations had a significant impact on the material standing of the needy and, which I find of particular importance, their morale.84 Only by the end of January 1932, the MKB gave out over 10,000 in-kind donations, whereby beneficiaries, including the unemployed, were offered the content of 54 train cars of coal and 6 of potatoes.85 In 1933, Ladies of Charity of St Vincent de Paul gave out to the poor 191 kg of sugar, 234.5 kg of lard, 66 kg of apples, 49 coffee packets, 71.5 kg of soap, 112,000 kg of coal, 453 items of underwear, 614 of clothes as well as 138 sets of bedlinen and 79 pairs of shoes.86

For its part, the AKR distributed not just in-kind donations. For example, in late 1931 Christian residents of Cracow were offered vouchers worth 0.05 zloty each which could be exchanged for a piece of bread, a glass of tea, or used as a lunch subsidy for the poorest, something the buyers were particularly encouraged to do.87 After all the campaign was launched by the aforementioned KPG of Archbishop Sapieha, which began its operation in early 1931. The Committee was set up to help all those who “suffer hunger due to lack of work and insufficient income or illness.”88 Lunches served in the Committee’s kitchens cost 0.25 zloty, but the needy paid just 5 groszy. Usually, however, people could not afford even that little, which I think speaks volumes of the situation of Cracow’s poor back in the day. If that was the case, they received a hot meal free of charge. In total, over the nine weeks when the kitchen operated, more than 2,600 persons ate there. As many as 113,171 lunches were given out, including 65,924 free of charge.89

As much as they could, the local authorities also made efforts to offer jobs to the unemployed. There was pressure exerted on entrepreneurs to take on new staff, if only on a part-time basis. Unfortunately, the jobless often did not enjoy their posts for long as some companies were forced to cut jobs just a few months after employing new staff.90 Sometimes people were holding on to their jobs for dear life or vehemently defended at least part of their income. When in November 1928 the Townhall decided to transfer six cabman posts from the city centre to the suburbs, the owners of horse-drawn cabs threatened to do all they could to change the decision of the authorities, “even if 6 November were to repeat itself and if blood were to flow.”91

The jobless could also count on various training programmes helping them improve their qualifications or acquire new ones. Consequently, the labour market prospects became much better for those people, as with additional skills they were more attractive for employers. Such courses were delivered, for instance, by the Committee for Winter Assistance to the Unemployed, which in early 1937 prepared such training schemes for blue-collar workers (courses on central heating maintenance, on reinforced concrete, on roads and sewage systems, and on technical drawing), white-collar workers (such as instructors, accountants and shorthand writers/typists), and jobless women (cutting and sewing, manual and machine knitting, embroidery, leather haberdashery or corset-making).92

Above all, however, the unemployed were posted to public works, a popular practice throughout the inter-war period. Thanks to such opportunities, 1923 saw the start of the construction of the Cracow-Ojców road, modernisation of levees on the Vistula river from Niepołomice in the direction of Oświęcim, and in the city of Cracow itself efforts to regulate the Rudawa river and the construction of a bridge on the Vistula where Krakowska Street ended.93 The Townhall offered the jobless some other work too, like cleaning trunk sewers and their tributaries in newly connected districts, and in early 1926 around 1,400 persons found employment in that sector.94

In 1934, as many as 741 jobless persons were employed, including 277 in road construction and repair and 298 in sewer building; also 200 persons doing the earthwork on the Mound of Krakus.95 In winter, the city authorities engaged the jobless in snow removal.96 Such work was principally managed by a body established in the late 1930s called the Municipal Committee for Winter Assistance to the Unemployed (Miejski Komitet Pomocy Zimowej Bezrobotnym; hereinafter. MKPZB). As late as in early 1939, the MKPZB employed around 250 jobless persons and, weather permitting, their number rose, including women, who were usually employed to do the gardening in the Krakowski Park, Henryk Jordan Park, or along Mickiewicz Avenue.97

At the same time the Townhall, sometimes in conjunction with the voivodship authorities, called on the Polish government to provide considerable funding for that purpose98 or to offer appropriate loans.99 The costs of such project were high after all. Just in 1926 alone, the expenditure for public works amounted to 668,299.14 zloty. Thanks to the charges collected on top of the electricity bills and tram tickets, a sum of 476,278.77 zloty was collected, which means that over 190,000 zloty was still missing.100 In total, those monies allowed for the employment, chiefly for earthworks, of 878 persons who received a daily pay of 3.50 zloty, later increased to 3.80 zloty.101 That seems a sound amount. Analysing the prices back then, one can see that for such a daily sum, a worker could buy, for instance, a loaf of wheat bread (0.90 zloty), 1 kg of rice (1.53 zloty), a few kilograms of potatoes (0.14 zloty), a few eggs (0.16 zloty per egg) and a litre of milk (around 0.30 zloty).102 In the monthly perspective, shopping prospects were of course much better.

With time, particularly in the 1930s when due to the crisis the number of unemployed was growing, less was paid for their public work. In 1933, blue-collar workers received 2.75 zloty daily and a half of the amount in kind.103 By way of comparison, those who drew the unemployment benefit received around 12–16 zloty biweekly, i.e. still less than those involved in public works.104 No wonder then that public works were massively popular with the jobless and some did all they could to get their share, which sometimes led to regrettable cases of rabid rivalry between job seekers. In June 1935, the decision was made to employ them during the preparatory work for railway track replacement on the Cracow – Cracow Płaszów – Skawina line. As many as 400 came on the opening day although only a half was needed. A selection had to be made, ending in a bitter dispute between the chosen and rejected ones.105

Sometimes, however, it would turn out that despite their hardship the jobless were not that desperate to take any given post. More precisely: they were not ready to work far from home. Still in the 1920s, workers would keenly travel to Upper Silesia to work in mines and steelworks or to France to do some seasonal work. With time, however, some of the unemployed preferred to work in the city of Cracow or as close to it as possible. Such an attitude was not appreciated by the authorities. In May 1938, workers were sought to construct the Zakopane-Cracow road and regulate the Vistula river near Sandomierz. Around 700 persons were needed in total. Those with families were to be paid 2.70 zloty and the others 2.50 zloty. Still, no-one reported for work.106 It was only after the authorities threatened to stop the payment of benefits and allowances to the jobless that around 350 persons decided to go, and bachelors received an increase of the original rate up to the standard 2.70 zloty.107 At the same time, around 150 unemployed persons left Cracow to work on road construction near Szaflary.108

To summarise briefly the considerations presented above, one must say that – contrary to what is sometimes thought – the unemployed residents of Cracow usually were not left to their own devices unaided, and that throughout the inter-war period. As I have shown, the great crisis that hit the city in the early 1930s did not mark any breakthrough in the policies pursued by the local authorities and Church-based organisations as regards support offered to the jobless and the poorest. One could even risk saying that with their rich – as I intended to show in this text – experience in mobilising such support they were still ready to do more, as it was necessary in the face of an economic downturn induced by the crisis. Consequently, the range of assistance offered by the Townhall, the Catholic Church, and Jewish associations was relatively impressive, although, given the realities of Cracow back then, far insufficient. After all, not all unemployed residents were able to cope not just with the conditions in which they had to subsist, sometimes from one day to the next, but also with their own weaknesses which in times of hardship tend to haunt one with doubled force.

 

*

Literature on the great economic crisis – its root causes, course and consequences both in the field of economy and society – is very rich. However, not much attention is paid to the issue of remembering the crisis. This is not surprising: after all the matter at hand is highly complicated. The same is true for Cracow itself. I consider that the main problem is the nature of the crisis itself and its characteristics against a backdrop of the city’s socioeconomic situation over the course of the entire inter-war period. In the case of Cracow, as I have shown in my considerations presented above, the crisis did not leave a wasteland in its wake as was the case in some other parts of Poland, partly due to the fact that the city was poorly industrialised. Coupled with the fact that Cracow had known unemployment, poverty and social exclusion – permanently, although more or less acutely felt – since the end of the Great War, this helps to understand why the crisis of the late 1920s and the early 1930s was seen as just another economic slump. It was not a collapse to mark a divide between the times of prosperity and a great recession. Additionally, the intensified efforts on the part of the city authorities and Church-based organisations described here reduced those negative consequences.

Yet another aspect is the perspective of Cracow residents on what was happening around them. It must be remembered that in the first years of the inter-war period Cracovians compared their situation not with the global conflict that had just ended but with the pre-war times, which in their recollections were much better than their contemporary realities. That first post-war period, a time of high prices and shortage of provisions, was some sort of a benchmark and a reference point in the successive years leading to the crisis. While describing the mood of the local public in June 1924, the Cracow police stated that “the current sentiments of the public are predominantly influenced by the reform action of the Government. Although an economic crisis is just at the doorstep,” so went the analysis by the police, “society, which for a long time felt the acute consequences of the recent inflation-driven economy, appreciates the benefits related to the stable currency. Fresh in the public memory are the impoverishment of broad strata of society, the atrophy of savings and healthy credit, and, in terms of ethics, the decline of morality. [...].” However, as concluded by the police, “the general public usually approaches the actions of the Government trustfully and favourably, despite the economic crisis and growing unemployment [...].”109

Because of all this, the memory, and today – since there are very few left who have direct experience of those times – just the post-memory (the memory of the memory) of the great crisis did or does not arouse much emotion. It has become part of the general reflection on the weakness of the Polish economy in 1918–1939 and its consequences: unemployment and poverty. The obvious focus here is on Cracow. The end of the crisis, or its actual delineation, is still a difficult notion as chronologically it was close to the outbreak of the Second World War. The war, in turn, and then its repercussions, forced a completely different perspective on how Cracow residents and others see the Second Polish Republic and its economic and social problems. The great crisis became part of the background.

Text translated into English: Mikołaj Sekrecki

 


Krzysztof Kloc. A PhD student at the Institute of History of the Pedagogical University of Cracow, where he is drafting a biography of Ambassador Michał Sokolnicki under the supervision of Professor Mariusz Wołos. His interests include the history of diplomacy and the political history of the Polish Second Republic, with special focus on the history of Piłsudski’s camp, the Reborn Poland’s historical policy, and biographies of the period as well as the history of inter-war Cracow. A bursary holder from the Jerzy Peterkiewicz Educational Foundation (2013) and the Z Brzezia Lanckorońskich Foundation (2016) as well as a finalist of Scientific Awards of the “Polityka” weekly (2015). Krzysztof Kloc’s publications have appeared in such sources as “Dzieje Najnowsze,” “Klio,” “Niepodległość,” “Pro Fide Rege et Lege” and “Zeszyty Naukowe UJ.” He is currently working also on the publication of “Korespondencja 1946–1960” between Jerzy Giedroyc and Michał Sokolnicki.

 


ENDNOTES

1 After Władysław Zajewski, Czy historycy piszą prawdę (Cracow, 2015), p. 9.

2 Elżbieta Tarkowska, “Bieda, historia i kultura,” in Elżbieta Tarkowska (ed.), Zrozumieć biednego. O dawnej i obecnej biedzie w Polsce (Warsaw, 2000), p. 15.

3 Łukasz Linowski, “Enklawy biedy w miastach Wielkiego Pomorza w dwudziestoleciu międzywojennym i ich miejsce w polityce lokalnych władz,” in Mateusz Rodak (ed.), Margines społeczny Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej, Warsaw 2013, p. 313.

4“Drugi powszechny spis ludności z dn. 9 XII 1931 r. Mieszkania i gospodarstwa domowe. Ludność. Stosunki zawodowe. Miasto Kraków,” Statystyka Polski, series C, issue 64; Elżbieta Adamczyk, “Społeczność Krakowa i jej życie,” in Janina Bieniarzówna, Jan M. Małecki (eds), Dzieje Krakowa, vol. IV: Kraków w latach 1918–1939 (Cracow, 1997), pp. 29–30.

5 Paweł Grata, Polityka społeczna Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej. Uwarunkowania – instytucje – działania (Rzeszów, 2013), p. 190.

6 The National Archive in Cracow (Archiwum Narodowe w Krakowie; hereinafter, ANKr), the Cracow County Office (Starostwo Grodzkie Krakowskie; hereinafter, StGrKr), ref. 111, p. 7.

7 Zbigniew Landau, Jerzy Tomaszewski, Gospodarka Polski międzywojennej, vol. II: Od Grabskiego do Piłsudskiego: okres kryzysu proinflacyjnego i ożywienia koniunktury 1924–1929 (Warsaw, 1971), pp. 89–90.

8 Ibidem, p. 89.

9 Andrzej Pilch, Dzieje ruchu robotniczego w Krakowskiem (Cracow, 1987), part I, p. 314, table 20.

10 Ibidem; “Bezrobocie na terenie województwa krak.,” Goniec Krakowski (hereinafter GK) 1924, issue 29, p. 5; ibidem, no 33, p. 5.

11 Andrzej Pilch, op. cit., Part I, p. 314, table 20.

12 Ibidem, part II, pp. 76–77, table 26; “Drugi powszechny spis ludności z dn. 9 XII 1931 r. Mieszkania i gospodarstwa domowe. Ludność. Stosunki zawodowe. Miasto Kraków,” Statystyka Polski, series C, issue 64, p. 79, table 30.

13 Andrzej Pilch, op. cit., Part II, pp. 76–77, table 26.

14 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 131.

15 Andrzej Pilch, op. cit., Part II, pp. 228–229, table 30.

16 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 279.

17 Ibidem.

18 Andrzej Pilch, op. cit., Part II, pp. 228–229, table 30.

19 Ibidem.

20 The population of Cracow in the inter-war period: 1918 – 178,588; 1921 – 183,706; 1924 – 185,843; 1925 – 187,283; 1926 – 188,734; 1927 – 190,196; 1928 – 206, 829; 1929 – 210,632; 1930 – 214,504; 1931 – 219,286; 1932 – 224,384; 1933 – 228,684; 1934 – 233,066; 1935 – 237,532; 1936 – 242,084; 1937 – 246,723; 1939 – 259,000 (an estimate), “Drugi powszechny spis ludności z dn. 9.XII 1931 r. Mieszkania i gospodarstwa domowe. Ludność. Polska,” Statystyka Polski, series C, issue 94a, p. 1; Miesięczne sprawozdania statystyczne: miasto Kraków, 1924–1937; Skorowidz miejscowości Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, vol. XII, Województwo krakowskie. Śląsk cieszyński (Warsaw, 1925).

21 Elżbieta Adamczyk, op. cit., p. 30, table 4.

22 Ibidem.

23 Ibidem, s. 37, table 5.

24 Ibidem, p. 36.

25 On industry in interwar Cracow, see Jan Szpak, “Gospodarka. Przemysł,” in Dzieje Krakowa, vol. IV: Kraków w latach 1918–1939..., op. cit., pp. 191–202.

26 Czesław Brzoza, Kraków między wojnami. Kalendarium 28 X 1918 – 6 IX 1939, Cracow 1997 (hereinafter Kalendarium...), 18 Jan 1924, p. 122.

27 Cracow’s population was 184,415 then, including 138,218 of those classified as Christians and 46,197 Jews, Miesięczne sprawozdania statystyczne: Miasto Kraków, 1924, January, p. 1.

28 Ibidem, 1935, April, p. 2.

29 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 226.

30 Stanisław Piech, “Życie religijne,” in Dzieje Krakowa, vol. IV: Kraków w latach 1918– 1939..., op. cit., p. 291.

31 ANKr, StGrKr, sygn. 155, pp. 23–24.

32 Andrzej Chwalba, Dzieje Krakowa, vol. V: Kraków w latach 1939–1945 (Cracow, 2002), p. 97; B. Panek in turn, wrote that “Kazimierz, Cracow’s southern quarter, was commonly known for two reasons: abject sanitary conditions and the ethnic dominance of Jews, often very rich and so ‘ruling the roost’ in the area, largely inhabited by the blue-collar poor,” B. Panek, Krakowskie organizacje charytatywne w latach 1918–1939, Cracow 1986, p. 54.

33“Obłędny taniec drożyzny,” GK 1926, issue 4, p. 1.

34Ustawa o zabezpieczeniu na wypadek bezrobocia z dnia 18 lipca 1924 r., Dz. U. 1924, no. 67, item 650.

35 GK 1924, issues 228–229, p. 6.

36 Elżbieta Adamczyk, op. cit., p. 38; during the payment of the benefits often chaos reigned supreme, difficult to contain for the officials. In the late 1930s, money was paid out in alphabetical order: for instance, on Monday to the unemployed persons whose family names started with letters A-J, on Tuesday – K-P, and on Wednesday to all the rest. On specific days those in need also received benefits in alphabetical order, Głos Narodu 1939, issue 22, p. 9.

37 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 111, tables 5–7.

38 “Skrajna nędza bezrobotnych pracowników umysłowych,” GK 1926, issue 34, p. 5.

3“Demonstracja bezrobotnych pracowników umysłowych w Krakowie,” ibidem, issue 70, p. 5.

40“Żerowanie niebieskich ptaków,” Ostatnie Wiadomości Krakowskie (hereinafter, OWK) 1931, issue 117, p. 6.

41 Bronisław Panek, op. cit., p. 18.

42Ibidem, p. 33.

43Zbigniew Landau, Jerzy Tomaszewski, op. cit., vol. I, p. 123.

44Bronisław Panek, op. cit., p. 37.

45 Ibidem, p. 40.

46S. Piech, op. cit., pp. 264–265.

47 Czesław Brzoza, Kalendarium..., 15 Nov 1923, p. 122.

48 Stanisław Piech, op. cit., p. 268.

49 Ibidem, p. 270.

50 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 19.

51 Ibidem.

52 S. Piech, op. cit., p. 291.

53 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 163.

54 Ibidem, p. 165.

55 Ibidem, p. 163.

56 “Miejski Komitet do walki z bezrobociem,” OWK 1931, issue 97, p. 6.

57Dziennik Rozporządzeń stoł. król. miasta Krakowa 1926, Year XLVII, issue 1, p. 16.

58 Ibidem, p. 158.

59 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, pp. 13–24.

60 “Przemysłowcy krakowscy na rzecz bezrobotnych,” OWK 1931, issue 99, p. 6.

61 “Ofiarność Krakowa dla bezrobotnych,” ibidem, issue 171, p. 6.

62 “Robotnicy dla bezrobotnych,” ibidem, issue 129, p. 6.

63 “Rękodzielnicy dla bezrobotnych,” ibidem, issue 119, p. 6.

64 “Kupiectwo krakowskie dla bezrobotnych,” ibidem, issue 126, p. 6.

65 For instance, the Board of the Association of Physicians of the Health-insurance Fund in Cracow passed a resolution on medical advice for the unemployed holding an attestation from the MKB, “Bezpłatna ordynacja lek. dla bezrobotnych,” ibidem, issue 137, p. 6.

66 On the initiative of City Mayor Władysław Belina-Prażmowski and the tram service director Tadeusz Polaczek-Kornecki, a special kitchen was launched for children of jobless parents, which gave out 130 lunches a day. “In the kitchen” – the press reported – “meals are cooked by women from the tramway service, as well as a conductor who used to be a cook. The children are serviced by a few girl guides free of charge,” “Kuchnia dla ubogich dzieci w Tramwaju Krak.,” ibidem, issue 134, p. 6.

67 “Krakowscy harcerze dla bezrobotnych,” ibidem, issue 115, s. 6.

68 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 17.

69Dziennik Rozporządzeń stoł. król. miasta Krakowa 1931, Year LII, issue 6, pp. 244–245.

70 Stanisław Piech, op. cit., p. 271.

71 Ibidem.

72 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 566, pp. 869–871.

73 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 93, p. 67; ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 3.

74 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 93, pp. 77–78.

75 Ibidem.

76Dziennik Rozporządzeń stoł. król. miasta Krakowa 1931, Year LII, issue 9, p. 321.

77 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 93, p. 70.

78 Ibidem, pp. 153–154.

79 Ibidem, pp. 165–166.

80 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 168; OWK 1933, issue 4, p. 6.

81 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 168.

82 Ibidem, p. 163.

83 Ibidem, p. 155.

84 Ibidem.

85 Czesław Brzoza, Kalendarium..., 31 Jan 1932, p. 254.

86 Bronisław Panek, op. cit., p. 43.

87 Czesław Brzoza, Kalendarium..., 30 Dec 1931, p. 251.

88Dziennik Rozporządzeń stoł. król. miasta Krakowa 1931, Year LII, issue 6, p. 244.

89 Ibidem.

90 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, pp. 213, 235.

91 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 111, pp. 623–625; On 6 November 1923 in Cracow, workers on strike staged violent protests, sometimes even called a revolt, inspired by the Polish Socialist Party and directed against the policy of the then conservative government headed by the leader of the Polish Peasants’ Party “Piast” (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe “Piast”) Wincenty Witos. The protest soon developed into violent clashes of the workers with the police and armed forces, and were brutally suppressed, with 3 officers, 11 privates, 18 workers and civilians dead, and a total of nearly 150 persons injured.

92 “Czego mogą się nauczyć bezrobotni?,” Głos Narodu 1937, issue 22, p. 7.

93 Jerzy Gołębiowski, “Podłoże ekonomiczne wystąpień strajkowych warstw pracujących Krakowa w 1923 roku,” in Józef Buszko (ed.), Rok 1923 w Krakowie. Rozprawy i studia (Cracow, 1978), p. 58.

94 “Jeszcze jeden doraźny podatek na rzecz bezrobocia w Krakowie,” GK 1926, issue 24, p. 5.

95 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 193.

96 “500 bezrobotnych zatrudniono przy usuwaniu śniegu w Krakowie,” Głos Narodu 1937, issue 31, p. 9.

97 “Akcja zatrudniania bezrobotnych,” ibidem, 1939, issue 68, p. 9.

98 “A pan Wojewoda i Magistrat krakowski w sprawie bezrobotnych tylko radzą, radzą, radzą...,” GK 1926, issue 6, p. 5.

99Dziennik Rozporządzeń stoł. król. miasta Krakowa 1927, Year XLVIII, issue 3, p. 106.

100 Ibidem, issue 1, p. 29.

101 Ibidem.

102Miesięczne sprawozdania statystyczne: miasto Kraków, 1926, June, p. 8.

103 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 155, p. 145.

104 Ibidem, p.221.

105 Ibidem, pp. 239–240.

106 Ibidem, p. 285.

107 Ibidem, p. 289.

108 ANKr, Cracow Regional Office, ref. 128, p. 1021.

109 ANKr, StGrKr, ref. 107, pp. 79–86.

 


This article has been published in the fourth issue of Remembrance and Solidarity Studies dedicated to the memory of economic crisis.

>> Click here to see the R&S Studies site

 

Delphine Bechtel

Ukrajinský Ľvov od roku 1991 – mesto selektívnych spomienok

20 August 2018
Tags
  • Lemberg
  • Ukraine
  • Solidarity
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • 20th century
  • Lviv
  • History of Ukraine
  • multiculturalism

Dejiny západnej Ukrajiny a bývalého Haliča sú komplikovanejšie než dejiny zvyšnej časti Ukrajiny. Halič bol súčasťou viacerých štátov a mocností. Po založení mesta Ľvov kniežaťom Danylom v roku 1256 patrila táto oblasť 400 rokov k Poľsku a náväzne 146 rokov k Habsburskej monarchii (1772–1918). Po Prvej svetovej vojne sa tento región stal časťou nezávislého Poľska, v rokoch 1939/1941 nasledovalo sovietske a nacistické podmanenie a na vyše päť desaťročí začlenenie do ZSSR. Až v roku 1991 získala Ukrajina nezávislosť.

V tridsiatych rokoch žilo v trojnárodnom meste Lemberg/Lwów/Ľvov 51 percent Poliakov, asi jedna tretina Židov a 16 percent Ukrajincov. Po likvidácii Židov a vyhnaní poľského obyvateľstva bol Ľvov prakticky na 85 percent prázdny a mesta sa zmocnili ruskí/sovietski štátni úradníci, dôstojníci a ukrajinskí sedliaci. Minulosť tohto mesta ako kolísky ukrajinského národného hnutia bola odkrytá až po dosiahnutí nezávislosti. Dnes je Ľvov ako centrum západnej Ukrajiny v kontraste k silne rusifikovanému východu krajiny záštitou ukrajinskej identity. Z toho vyplynuli antagonistické historiografie, nezlučiteľné „národné pamäte“, neprekonateľné verzie udalostí, hrdinov a mučeníkov.

Pri hľadaní spájajúcich naratív kontinuálnej ukrajinskej minulosti preukázali lokálni patrioti v Ľvove po roku 1991 úctu rôznym osobnostiam premenovaním ulíc, zriadením pamätníkov, pamätných tabulí alebo organizovaním verejných osláv. Dôležití predstavitelia ukrajinskej literatúry ako napríklad básnik Taras Ševčenko alebo spisovateľ a bojovník za slobodu Ivan Franko boli už za sovietskeho režimu uctievaní ako nositelia kultúry ukrajinského národa. Vodca kozáckych povstaní v 17. storočí Bohdan Chmeľnický patrí tiež do panteónu sovietsko-ukrajinskej pamiatky, hoci toto mesto, vtedy patriace Poľsku, neobraňoval ale obliehal. Pozorovanie veľkých historických postáv ako národných historikov Mychajla Hrušovskeho alebo Mychajla Drahomanova sa orientuje na pan-ukrajinskú identitu. Okrem toho toto mesto prispelo k vytvoreniu lokálnej tradície, ktorá spočíva na partikulárnych dejinách Haliča (po ukrajinsky Haličina). Táto konštrukcia sa zakladá na komplexných procesoch obratu, zvýšenia hodnoty, rehabilitácie, ale aj zamlčania historických udalostí a priebehov.

Prvá charakteristická črta tejto politiky je uvedomenie si histórie mesta pri takmer úplnej absencii poľskej, židovskej a tiež sovietskej/ukrajinskej časti týchto dejín. Staré mesto Ľvova je klenotom renesancie ako aj neskoršej architektúry pod vplyvom viedenskej a krakovskej secesie. Avšak o tom sa prakticky nikde nedá verejne dočítať. Dnes ostalo z tejto minulosti už len niekoľko stôp: jidišské alebo poľské nápisy vystupujú spod šúpajúcej sa farby niekedy opäť na povrch. Nikde miestne úrady oficiálne nepripomínajú zavraždenie 160.000 Židov nacistami alebo deportácie vyše 100.000 Poliakov v rokoch 1945/46. Pamätník pre obete geta v Ľvove bol v roku 1992 vybudovaný zo súkromných peňazí.

Všetko, čo v meste pripomínalo niekdajšiu sovietsku prítomnosť, muselo zmiznúť. Podobne ako v Rige a v iných pobaltských mestách boli mnohé pamätníky Červenej armády zbúrané, ruské školy boli zatvorené. Názvy ako Puškinova alebo Lermontovova ulica, nachádzajúce sa vo štvrti, v ktorej boli ulice premenované podľa predstaviteľov Organizácie ukrajinských nacionalistov (OUN) a Ukrajinskej povstaleckej armády (UPA), museli ustúpiť.

Druhou charakteristickou črtou tejto dejinnej politiky je vytvorenie ukrajinského národného kontinua v meste, ktoré bolo vlastne až od roku 1945 ukrajinizované a ktorého ukrajinská kontinuita prakticky neexistuje. Táto vymyslená kontinuita začína pri Danylovi, haličskom kniežati v 13. storočí a siaha až po ukrajinského speváka popovej hudby Ihora Bilozira, ktorého v roku 2000 zabili Rusi. Tak sa dostaneme od Západoukrajinskej ľudovej republiky, ktorá bola v Ľvove vyhlásená 9. novembra 1918 a existovala tri mesiace až po „akt“ dňa 30. júna 1941, prostredníctvom ktorého ukrajinskí nacionalisti z Organizácie ukrajinských nacionalistov (OUN) Stepan Bandera a Jaroslav Stečko, ktorí spolu s Wehrmachtom vpochodovali na Ukrajinu, vyhlásili nezávislosť Ukrajiny, ktorú však nacistické Nemecko strpelo len niekoľko málo dní.

Ultranacionalisti, pravicoví extrémisti a kolaboratéri nacistov boli rehabilitovaní, pretože bojovali proti Rusom. Múzeum dejín mesta nanovo pretvorilo svoje priestory pod titulom „Snahy Ukrajincov po slobode a nezávislosti“. Tu sú teoretici radikálneho, fašistického nacionalizmu ako Dmytro Doncov, členovia ukrajinských práporov Wehrmachtu „Nachtigall“ [slávik] a „Roland“ ako aj členovia divízie SS Halič, ku ktorej sa chcelo prihlásiť až okolo 80.000 ukrajinských dobrovoľníkov, nekriticky znázornení ako hrdinovia. Dve osobnosti z Organizácie ukrajinských nacionalistov (OUN) a Ukrajinskej povstaleckej armády (UPA) sú tu mimoriadne vyzdvihnuté: Stepan Bandera, ktorý je v Poľsku v prvom rade vnímaný ako vrah a pre ktorého bol v roku 2007 postavený monumentálny memoriálny komplex vedľa kostola Sv. Alžbety, a Roman Šuchevič, veliteľ práporu „Nachtigall“.

Novinkou od rokov 2006–2007 sú zmeny pri pomenovaní vojenských jednotiek, ktoré kolaborovali s nacistami, v tom zmysle, že nemecké názvy teraz ustupujú ukrajinským názvom. Prápor Wehrmachtu „Nachtigall“ sa teraz objavuje pod názvom „DUN“ (Druzhyna ukraïnskikh nacjonalistiv/Légia ukrajinských nacionalistov) a divízia SS „Halič“ pod názvom „U.D. Halytschyna“ (Ukraïnska Divizja Halytschyna/Ukrajinská divízia Halič) alebo „Prvá U.D. Halytschyna“. Pre tento účel boli z vystavených uniforiem odstránené vyobrazenia lebky, lemovanie, zrkadlá a služobné odznaky SS, čím sa výpoveď týchto muzeálnych exponátov zbagatelizovala.

Treťou charakteristickou črtou tejto spomienkovej politiky na mesto Ľvov je vynájdenie nového mučeníctva. V kontexte „konkurencie obetí“ ide o nájdenie takých mučeníkov, ktorí sú vhodní pre oltár národnej spomienkovej konštrukcie. Najdôležitejším orientačným bodom tejto viktimizácie na Ukrajine je veľký hladomor („Holodomor“) z rokov 1932–1933, o ktorého medzinárodné uznanie ako „ukrajinského holokaustu“ sa ukrajinská vláda veľmi usiluje. V Ľvove ostali v živej pamäti predovšetkým tie masakre, ktoré spáchal Národný komisariát vnútra v Ľvovských väzniciach v posledných dňoch pred vpádom Nemcov v júni 1941. Národný komisariát vnútra dostal vtedy rozkaz buď odtransportovať politických väzňov do vnútra Sovietskeho zväzu alebo ich zlikvidovať. Počas rýchleho vpádu Nemcov bolo vo väzeniach zastrelených viac než 4.000 osôb. Až od roku 1991 smú byť tieto ohavné činy opäť pomenované. Mestské úrady ako aj organizácie pre pomoc obetiam zriadili viaceré pamätníky venované týmto tragickým udalostiam. Na týchto nových pamätníkoch však nejestvuje žiadny poukaz na ukrutné pogromy, ktoré sa po vpáde Wehrmachtu diali v uliciach mesta a ktoré na židovskom civilnom obyvateľstve spáchala pomstychtivá zberba, ukrajinská pomocná polícia a ukrajinskí nacionalisti pod dohľadom nacistov.

Zlúčenie hrdinov nacizmu a obetí stalinizmu v jednom spoločnom mauzóleu sa vyrovnáva sakralizácii ukrajinského utrpenia. Toto mauzóleum bolo slávnostne otvorené v roku 2006 na cintoríne v Łyczakowe. Táto nová časť cintorína bola zriadená tak, že prečnieva nad poľským vojenským cintorínom pre obete Prvej svetovej vojny (Cmentarz Lwowskich Orląt) a tak ho symbolicky vytláča. Toto spomienkové miesto je venované pamiatke práporu „Nachtigall“ a divízii SS „Halič“ („Prvá U.D. Halytschyna“). V roku 2006 oznámili mestské úrady svoj zámer premiestniť sem telesné pozostatky Stepana Banderu, Jevhena Konovalca, Andriya Melnyka a iných vedúcich osobností z Organizácie ukrajinských nacionalistov (OUN) a Ukrajinskej povstaleckej armády (UPA).

Ľvov je priam zachvátený horúčkou spomínania, pričom sa tu prejavuje selektívna spomienková politika a muzealizácia. Tematizuje sa len ukrajinské znovuzrodenie a ukrajinské utrpenie a naproti tomu sa zabúda na multikultúrne dedičstvo mesta, ktoré je priam vymazané zo spomienok.

Ako sa s týmito pamätníkmi stotožnia poľskí, nemeckí, americkí a židovskí turisti? Ako sa dá táto politika spomínania zladiť so žiadúcou intergráciou Ukrajiny do Európy? Dozvedia sa ešte budúce generácie západoukrajinských žiakov napriek tomuto revizionistickému popieraniu, že títo „hrdinovia“ sa upísali službe Wehrmachtu a SS? Bude sa vôbec niekedy niekto pýtať na to, do akej miery sa podieľali na „etnických čistkách“ voči Poliakom a Židom? To všetsko sú vážne otázky vzhľadom na problematické selektívne znázorňovanie dejín, ktoré múzeá, ulice a pamätníky v ukrajinskom Ľvove od roku 1991 zmenili a formovali.

Delphine Bechtel

Ukraiński L’viv od 1991 r. – miasto wybiórczej pamięci

20 August 2018
Tags
  • polityka pamięci
  • Lviv
  • Lwów
  • Galicja
  • historia Lwowa
  • historia zachodniej Ukrainy
  • ukraińska polityka historyczna

Historia zachodniej Ukrainy oraz byłej Galicji jest bardziej złożona niż historia pozostałej części Ukrainy. Galicja należała do kilku państw i mocarstw. Po założeniu miasta Lwowa przez księcia Daniela w 1256 r. terytorium to przez 400 lat należało do Polski, a następnie przez 146 lat do monarchii habsburskiej (1772–1918). Po I Wojnie Światowej stało się częścią niepodległej Polski, lata 1939/1941 były czasem podboju sowieckiego i nazistowskiego, a następnie region ten na ponad 50 lat został wcielony do ZSSR, zanim w 1991 r. Ukraina uzyskała niepodległość.

W latach 30-tych w mieście trzech narodów Lwów/L’viv żyło 51% Polaków, jedna trzecia Żydów i 16% Ukraińców. Po eksterminacji Żydów i wypędzeniu ludności polskiej Lwów opustoszał praktycznie w 85 procentach. Miasto objęli w posiadanie rosyjscy/radzieccy urzędnicy i wojskowi oraz ukraińscy chłopi. Przeszłość tego miasta jako kolebki ukraińskiego ruchu narodowego została ujawniona dopiero po uzyskaniu niepodległości przez Ukrainę. Dzisiaj jako centrum zachodniej Ukrainy w kontraście do silnie zrusyfikowanego wschodu kraju miasto stanowi ostoję ukraińskiej tożsamości. Stąd też wzięły się antagonistyczne historiografie, niemożliwe do pogodzenia „pamięci narodowe”, rozbieżne wersje wydarzeń, bohaterów i męczenników.

W poszukiwaniu łączącej narracji o ciągłej ukraińskiej przeszłości lokalne autorytety we Lwowie po 1991 r. oddawały cześć różnym osobistościom, zmieniając nazwy ulic, wznosząc pomniki, wieszając tablice pamiątkowe i organizując publiczne uroczystości. Wpływowi przedstawiciele literatury ukraińskiej, tacy jak poeta Taras Szewczenko czy pisarz i bojownik o wolność Iwan Franko jeszcze w czasach reżimu sowieckiego byli czczeni jako rzecznicy kultury narodu ukraińskiego. Również przywódca powstań kozackich w XVII w. Bogdan Chmielnicki należy do panteonu sowiecko-ukraińskiej pamięci, mimo że wcale nie bronił miasta, które wówczas było polskie, tylko je oblegał. Opieranie się na wielkich postaciach historycznych, takich jak historycy narodu Mychajło Hruszewski czy Mychajło Drahomanow ma na celu budowanie pan-ukraińskiej tożsamości. Miasto przyczyniło się również do stworzenia lokalnej tradycji bazującej na szczególnej historii Galicji (po ukraińsku Галичина [Halychyna]). Konstrukcja ta zakorzeniona jest w złożonych procesach odwrócenia, rewaluacji, rehabilitacji, ale również przemilczenia zdarzeń i procesów historycznych.

Pierwszą cechą charakterystyczną tej polityki jest przedstawianie historii miasta z niemal zupełnym pominięciem jej polskiej, żydowskiej i radzieckiej/rosyjskiej części. Starówka Lwowa jest klejnotem renesansu oraz późniejszej architektury z wpływami secesji wiedeńskiej i krakowskiej. Jednak praktycznie w żadnym miejscu publicznym nie można o tym przeczytać. Dzisiaj pozostało zaledwie parę śladów tej przeszłości. Napisy w jidysz lub po polsku czasami prześwitują przez łuszczącą się farbę. Władze lokalne nigdzie nie przypominają oficjalnie o wymordowaniu przez nazistów 160 000 Żydów czy o deportowaniu ponad 100 000 Polaków w latach 1945/46. Pomnik ofiar getta w Lwowie został wzniesiony w 1992 r. z prywatnych środków.

Wszystko, co przypominało o sowieckiej obecności w mieście, też musiało zniknąć. Podobnie jak w Rydze i innych miastach w krajach bałtyckich, niektóre pomniki Armii Czerwonej zostały rozebrane. Rosyjskie szkoły zostały zamknięte. Puszkin i Lermontow musieli ustąpić miejsca w dzielnicy, w której ulice zostały przemianowane ku czci członków Organizacji Ukraińskich Nacjonalistów (OUN) i Ukraińskiej Powstańczej Armii (UPA).

Drugą cechą charakterystyczną tej polityki historycznej jest tworzenie ukraińskiego narodowego kontinuum w mieście, które dopiero po roku 1945 zostało zukrainizowane i którego ukraińska ciągłość narodowa w praktyce nie istnieje. Ta wymyślona ciągłość rozpoczyna się od Daniela, galicyjskiego księcia z XIII w. i sięga po ukraińskiego piosenkarza pop Ihora Biłozira, który w 2000 r. został zabity przez Rosjan. Tak od istniejącej trzy miesiące Zachodnioukraińskiej Republiki Ludowej, która została powołana do życia 9 listopada 1918 r. w L’vivie dochodzimy do „Aktu” z 30 czerwca 1941 r., którym Ukraińcy nacjonaliści z OUN, Stepan Bandera i Jarosław Stećko, którzy weszli do miasta razem z Wehrmachtem, proklamowali niepodległość Ukrainy, która wszakże tylko przez kilka dni była tolerowana przez narodowo-socjalistyczne Niemcy.

Ultranacjonaliści, prawicowi ekstremiści i kolaboranci zostali zrehabilitowani, ponieważ walczyli przeciwko Rosjanom. Muzeum historii miasta na nowo urządziło sale zatytułowane „Dążenie Ukraińców do wolności i niepodległości”. Bezkrytycznie jako bohaterów przedstawiono tam teoretyków radykalnego, faszystowskiego nacjonalizmu takich jak Dmytro Doncow, członków ukraińskich batalionów Wehrmachtu „Nachtigall“ i „Roland“ oraz ukraińskiej dywizji Waffen SS, do której zgłosiło się nawet 80 000 ukraińskich ochotników. Wyróżnione zostały dwie osobistości z OUN/UPA: Stepan Bandera, w Polsce odbierany w pierwszym rzędzie jako morderca, któremu w 2007 r. obok Kościoła św. Elżbiety wystawiono monumentalny kompleks upamiętniający, oraz Roman Szuchewycz, dowódca  batalionu „Nachtigall“.

Nowością są wprowadzone w latach 2006–2007 zmiany w nazywaniu tych jednostek wojskowych, które kolaborowały z nazistami, polegające na tym, że nazwy niemieckie ustępują ukraińskim. Batalion Wehrmachtu „Nachtigall“ pojawia się teraz jako „DUN“ (Druzhyna ukraïnskikh nacjonalistiv, Drużyna ukraińskich nacjonalistów), a dywizja Waffen SS „Galizien” jako „U.D. Галичина (Halychyna)“ (Ukraïnska Divizja Галичина (Halychyna)) lub „pierwsza U.D. Галичина (Halychyna)“. W tym celu z wystawionych mundurów usunięto czaszki, obszywki, patki i inne oznaczenia służbowe, w ten sposób unieszkodliwiając muzealne eksponaty.

Trzecią cechą charakterystyczną polityki pamięci miasta Lwów jest tworzenie nowego męczeństwa. W kontekście „konkurencji ofiar” chodzi o to, by znaleźć męczenników odpowiednich na ołtarz narodowej konstrukcji pamięci. Najważniejszym punktem odniesienia tej wiktymizacji na Ukrainie jest wielki głód („Holodomor“) w latach 1932–1933, o którego międzynarodowe uznanie jako „ukraińskiego Holocaustu” mocno zabiega rząd. We Lwowie w pamięci obecne są przede wszystkim masakry przeprowadzone przez NKWD w ostatnich dniach przed wejściem Niemców w czerwcu 1941 r. we lwowskich więzieniach. NKWD otrzymała wtedy rozkaz przewiezienia więźniów politycznych w głąb ZSRR lub ich likwidacji. W obliczu szybkiego wkroczenia Niemców w więzieniach zastrzelono ponad 4000 osób. Od 1991 r. o tych makabrach znowu wolno mówić. Władze miasta oraz organizacje reprezentujące ofiary wystawiły wiele pomników upamiętniających te tragiczne wydarzenia. Nowe pomniki nie przypominają jednak o straszliwych pogromach, które po wkroczeniu Wehrmachtu pod nadzorem nazistów zostały dokonane na żydowskiej ludności cywilnej przez żądną zemsty tłuszczę, Ukraińską Policję Pomocniczą oraz ukraińskich nacjonalistów.

Zestawienie bohaterów nacjonalizmu z ofiarami stalinizmu we wspólnym mauzoleum równa się sakralizacji ukraińskiego cierpienia. Mauzoleum zostało otwarte w 2006 r. na Cmentarzu Łyczakowskim. Ta nowa część cmentarza została tak zaprojektowana, że przewyższa polski cmentarz wojskowy z I Wojny Światowej (Cmentarz Lwowskich Orląt), a zatem symbolicznie nad nim dominuje. W tym miejscu pamięci cześć oddawana jest znowu cześć batalionowi „Nachtigall“ i dywizji Waffen SS „Galizien“ („Pierwsza U.D. Галичина (Halychyna)“). W 2006 r. władze miasta ogłosiły zamiar przeniesienia tam szczątków Stepana Bandery, Jewhena Konowalca, Andrija Melnyka oraz innych przywódców OUN/UPA.

Lwów jest miastem pogrążonym w prawdziwej gorączce pamięci. Jednocześnie stosuje się selektywną politykę pamięci i muzealizację. Jedynymi podnoszonymi tematami są: odrodzenie Ukrainy i ukraińskie cierpienie. O wielokulturowym dziedzictwie miasta się natomiast zapomina i je wypiera.

Jak w tym krajobrazie pomników odnajdą się polscy, niemieccy, amerykańscy i żydowscy turyści ze swoimi narracjami? Jak taka polityka pasuje do upragnionej integracji Ukrainy z Europą? Czy przy takim rewizjonistycznym ukrywaniu przeszłości przyszłe pokolenia zachodnio-ukraińskich uczniów dowiedzą się, że ci „bohaterowie” zaciągnęli się na służbę Wehrmachtu i Waffen SS? Czy ktoś zapyta, na ile brali udział w „czystkach etnicznych” prowadzonych na Polakach i Żydach? Są to poważne pytania w obliczu problematycznego, wybiórczego przedstawiania historii, które od 1991 r. zmieniło muzea, ulice i pomniki w ukraińskim L’vivie.

 


prof. Delphine Bechtel -  zastępczyni dyrektora Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherches Centre-Européennes, profesor Wydziału Studiów Germańskich Uniwersytetu Paris IV - Sorbonne. Jej zainteresowania naukowe obejmują m.in.: literaturę i kulturę jidysz w Europie Środkowo- Wschodniej, politykę, kulturę i kontakty literackie pomiędzy niemieckimi a żydowskimi pisarzami hebrajskimi lub pisarzami jidysz w Europie Środkowo- Wschodniej (Rosja, Polska), miasta wielokulturowe w Europie Środkowej i Wschodniej.

 

Delphine Bechtel

Ukrainian Lviv since 1991 – a city of selective memories

20 August 2018
Tags
  • Lemberg
  • Ukraine
  • Solidarity
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • 20th century
  • Lviv
  • History of Ukraine
  • multiculturalism

The history of west Ukraine and of former Galicia is more complicated than that of the rest of Ukraine. Galicia has belonged to many different states and powers. After the founding of Lviv by Prince Danylo in 1256 the region belonged to Poland for 400 years and was subsequently ruled by the Habsburg monarchy for 146 years (1772–1918). After the First World War, the region became part of independent Poland, in 1939/1941 came the Soviet and National-Socialist invasions which were followed by five decades of incorporation in the USSR, until Ukraine became independent in 1991.

In the 1930s the tri-ethnic population of the city of Lemberg/Lwów consisted of 51 percent Poles, around one third Jews and 16 percent Ukrainians. After the extermination of the Jews and the expulsion of the Polish population Lviv stood 85 percent empty. The city was taken possession of by Russian/Soviet bureaucrats, the military, and Ukrainian peasants. The city’s past as the cradle of a Ukrainian national movement was only revealed after Ukraine became independent. Today, in contrast to the strongly russified eastern part of the country, the city of Lviv, which is also the centre of western Ukraine, has become a haven of Ukrainian identity. This has led to the rise of antagonistic historical narratives, disparate “national memories”, with irreconcilable versions of events, heroes and martyrs.

After 1991, in their search for a connecting narrative which would show a continuous and uninterrupted Ukrainian past, the local authorities in Lviv commemorated a number of people, renaming streets after them, erecting monuments and commemorative plaques to them or honouring them in public commemorations. Leading figures of Ukrainian literature such as the poet Taras Shevchenko and the writer and freedom fighter Ivan Franko had already been previously celebrated as the bearers of Ukrainian culture under the Soviet regime. The leader of the Cossack Uprising in the 17th century, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, had also been included in the pantheon of Soviet-Ukrainian remembrance, even though he had attacked the city, which was Polish at the time, and did not defend it. The celebration of famous historical personages such as the historian of Ukrainian history Mykhailo Hrushevskyi or Mykhailo Drahomanov aims at constructing a pan-Ukrainian identity. The city has additionally contributed to creating a local tradition based on the specific history of Galicia (Halychyna in Ukrainian). This construction rests on complex processes of reversal, positive revaluation, rehabilitation, but also on the concealment of historical events and processes.

A first characteristic of this policy is the re-envisioning and updating of the city’s history to the almost complete exclusion of the Polish, Jewish and Soviet/Russian part of the city’s history. Lviv’s historic centre is a jewel of renaissance architecture while much of its later architecture was strongly influenced by the Viennese and Cracow Secessionists. But there are almost no public inscriptions indicating this. Today, only a few traces of this past remain: Yiddish or Polish inscriptions sometimes reappear as the paint flakes away. Nowhere do the local authorities officially commemorate the murder of the 160,000 Jews by the Nazis or the deportation of more than 100,000 Poles in 1945/46. The monument to the victims of the ghetto in Lviv, erected in 1992, was privately financed.

Everything which recalled the Soviet presence in the city also had to disappear. Similar to what took place in Riga and other Baltic cities, many monuments to the Red Army were dismantled. Russian schools were closed. In one district, Pushkin Street and Lermontov Street had to yield to street names honouring members of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

The second characteristic of this history policy is the creation of a Ukrainian national continuum in a city which only became ukrainised after 1945 and where there was practically no Ukrainian continuity. This invented continuity starts with Daniel, a 13th century Galician ruler, and stretches to include the Ukrainian pop singer Ihor Bilozir, who was beaten to death by Russians in 2000. In one leap the story progresses from the West Ukrainian People’s Republic, which was proclaimed in Lviv on November 9, 1918 and only existed for three months, to the “Act of Ukrainian Statehood” of June 30, 1941. With this Act the Ukrainian OUN nationalists Stepan Bandera and Yaroslav Stetsko, who had entered the city with the Wehrmacht, proclaimed an independent Ukrainian state but this independent Ukraine was only tolerated by Nazi Germany for a few days.

Ultranationalists, right-wing extremists and collaborators of the Nazis are being rehabilitated because they fought against the Russians. The Lviv Historical Museum has redesigned some of its rooms, titling them “Ukrainian efforts at liberation and independence”. In the suite of rooms, theorists and proponents of a radical fascist nationalism such as Dmytro Doncov, members of the Ukrainian Wehrmacht battalions Nachtigall and Roland and of the SS Division Galizien, which attracted almost 80,000 Ukrainians volunteers, are portrayed as heroes without any criticism or qualifications. Tributes are paid in particular to two personages of the OUN/UPA: Stepan Bandera, perceived in Poland primarily as a murderer, for whom a monumental memorial complex was erected next to the Church of St. Elisabeth in 2007, and Roman Shukhevych, the commander of the Nachtigall Battalion.

Changes to the names of the military units who collaborated with the Nazis are a new feature since 2006–2007, with the German names now yielding to Ukrainian denominations. Thus, the Wehrmacht Nachtigall Battalion now officiates as “DUN” (Druzhyna ukraïnskykh natsjonalistiv, Legion of Ukrainian Nationalists), and the SS Division Galizien as “U.D. Halytschyna” (Ukraïnska Divizja Halychyna) or “1st U.D. Halytschyna”. To this end, the death’s-heads, trimmings, mirrors, insignia and badges of the SS have been removed from the uniforms on display, trivializing the museum exhibits and playing down their connection to Nazi Germany.

The third characteristic of the politics of remembrance commemorating the city of Lviv is the invention of a new martyrdom. In the context of a “contest of victims” the aim is to find martyrs suitable to be placed on the altar of a national construction of memory. In Ukraine, this cult of victimization has taken the Great Famine (“Holodomor”) of the years 1932–1933 as its most important point of reference, and the government is currently endeavouring to obtain international recognition of the Holodomor as a “Ukrainian Holocaust”. In Lviv remembrance focuses particularly on the massacres carried out by the NKVD in the prisons of Lviv in the last days prior to the invasion of the city by the Germans in June 1941. The NKVD was given the order to either arrange for political prisoners to be transported to the interior of the USSR or to liquidate them. As the Germans rapidly advanced on the city, more than 4000 persons were shot in the prisons. Since 1991 such atrocities can once again be openly spoken of. The municipal authorities together with victims’ organisations have erected several monuments commemorating these tragic events. But none of these new monuments bear any references to the brutal pogrom openly perpetrated against the Jewish civilian population after the invasion by the Wehrmacht by a vengeful mob, the Ukrainian auxiliary police force and Ukrainian nationalists under the approving eyes of the Nazis.

The amalgamation of nationalist heroes and victims of Stalinism in a joint mausoleum amounts to a sanctification of Ukrainian suffering. The mausoleum was consecrated in Łyczaków/Lychakiv Cemetery in 2006. This new part of the cemetery was designed so as to tower above the Polish military cemetery of the First World War (Cmentarz Lwowskich Orląt), which it thus symbolically displaces. The memorial site also pays tribute to the Nachtigall Battalion and the SS Division Galizien (“1st U.D. Halychyna”). In 2006 the municipal authorities announced their intention of moving the remains of Stepan Bandera, Yevhen Konovalets, Andrij Melnyk and other leaders of the OUN/UPA and reburying them there.

Lviv has been seized by a remembrance mania – but only a selective politics of remembrance and musealisation is brought to bear on the past. The focus is only on the rebirth of the Ukrainian nation and on Ukrainian suffering. The city’s multicultural legacy is forgotten and suppressed.

How will Polish, German, American and Jewish tourists recognise themselves and their narratives in this landscape of monuments? How do such policies fit in with the hoped for integration of Ukraine in Europe? With this revisionist blanking out, will future generations of West Ukrainian pupils still realise that these “heroes” enlisted in the ranks of the Wehrmacht and the SS? Will questions once be asked as to what extent they collaborated in the “ethnic cleansing” of Poles and Jews? All serious questions in view of the problematic selective representations of history which have changed and shaped the museums, streets and monuments in Ukrainian Lviv since 1991.

 

translated from German by Helen Schoop


 

prof. Delphine Bechtel - deputy director of Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherches Centre-Européennes, professor of Department of German Studies of University Paris IV - Sorbonne. The scope of her scientific interests encompasses among others: Yiddish literature and culture in Central and Eastern Europe, politics, culture and literary contacts between German and Jewish authors writing in Hebrew or Yiddish in Central and Eastern Europe (Russia, Poland), multi-cultural cities in Central and Eastern Europe.


 

Christian Wevelsiep

Turning Points in the History of War: Criteria for the Meaning of Violence in the Great War of 1914–1918

20 August 2018
Tags
  • War
  • Great War
  • First World War
  • ideology
  • historiography

ABSTRACT

The focus of this paper is to discuss the criteria for the meaning of violence in the context of the history of war. To be able to classify the instances of violence during the First World War, the following paper will attempt to present the relationship between different levels of war, and thus to determine the criteria for the meaning of violence. The Great War of 1914–1918 was characterized by the transformation of how war was waged, as well as an unlimited awareness of violence (1./2.). Here we have in mind the most comprehensive of all images of violence: the totalitarian image of man. This begs the question of how we can generate an acceptable relationship between the mechanism of violence and violence awareness and thus bring about the renunciation of violence. This pivotal question can only be answered in the wider context of the history of violence. To understand the failure of reason in the battlefields of the Great War we need fundamental anthropological reflections (3./4.), which encompasses the essential significance of the site (5.).

Introduction

It is generally recognized that history does not boil down to reconstruction of actual life and experience. It also constitutes a process of interpreting which occurs in the minds of the subjects who create it. When looking at historical figures, historians demand that each person takes full responsibility for their own story. In the context of the history of violence and war such a perspective first requires the formulation of rough definitions. A solemn speech about the solid foundation of war, about the father of all things (Ger. Vater aller Dinge) or just about history as a set of rational rules and regulations, expires in the trenches of war. A glimpse at the inter-existential dimension is a look at the everyday reality of war, including the moments of mass killing. “The annihilation of a man as an individual forces us to perceive people as a mass. This is a totalitarian moment. Lenin recognized it, as did Mussolini, Hitler, and others. They perceived war as a powerful fatality in which everything sweeps away, as an uncontrollable torrent and a total power, which ends in nihilism.” (Metz 2010, 191)

John Keegan, an eminent war theorist, also focuses on such an existential perspective, when he embarks on a journey to find The Face of Battle (Keegan 1978). To his mind, the classical military history records create a picture of war which leaves many questions unanswered. They delve into genre scenes and spectacle and create an atmosphere in which bravery, heroism, defeat, and attacks are described from a ruthless point of view. A traditional military historian can find words to describe great military moves and maneuvers, but not the individual deaths and individual lives of soldiers. Keegan, however, is intensely interested in the inconspicuous individuals and events behind the great wars. He sees the efforts to create a historical narrative as entwined with the commitment to comprehend the fundamental position and the existential condition of an individual in a battle. The difference between victory and defeat, which is the main way in which historians, commanders, and chroniclers approach the battle, fades away when we take a closer look at the reality. A soldier has no well-defined picture of a battle in his mind. Enormous danger is a more urgent concern, and therefore his fundamental position is different from the commander’s. If in this way we grant an individual the right to veto, we treat everything less as a revolution in the historiography then, to put it mildly, a glance at the core situation, the bare existence and the image of war.

As we well know, the First World War meant the collapse of civil society. The reasons for this are varied, but they include the negation of what civil society essentially represented: the idea of a free individual who takes responsibility for his actions. Given the mass executions, the mud of the trenches, and the mechanized nature of war, this idea came to an abrupt end. Verdun and the Somme have shaped the face of battle. They represent a turning point in the history of violence as instances of theretofore unseen forms of battle of matériel and massive battles in the death zones of trenches. In the century of violence, war became an independent entity. It became ubiquitous anonymity and omnipresent death; the very essence of war was exposed. Ernst Jünger (1982) formulated a famous and apt description of this turning point: it was not soldiers, but laborers who kept the battle running. They were characterized by their willingness to accept a subordinate role in the anonymous, mechanized, and technological operations, rather than adopting the warrior tradition. The workers who lost their lives in the hail of grenades and machine guns usually could not see their opponents; the enemies remained mostly invisible and beyond reach.

*

Do we have to present the face of battle in all its hideousness, as evidenced here, and in many other historical examples? No; we are aware of the horrors of war, the suffering of soldiers and civilians, the fury of violence, and we do not want to increase our knowledge of it. Nevertheless, we must attempt to remember and to grasp the meaning of the horrors of war; a meaning which is difficult for us to decipher and which is overshadowed by constant doubt concerning our existence. For Theodor Lessing, for example, history in the face of war was an arduous process of making meaning of meaninglessness. Deeply affected by the First World War, he opposed the religious delusion by which history reflects reason and significance, progress and justice (Lessing 1983, 12). He doubted both the idealist and the materialist delusions in history. Hence, he tried not to present history with all its glorifying embellishments, but as an attempt to make meaning out of something which is inherently meaningless. Lessing’s writing was controversial, but the way in which he posed questions was convincing. His aim was not only to demolish the solid foundations of war, but also to explicitly inquire into the criteria for potential meaning – criteria for meaning in the context of the history of war. This fundamental question is still valid as a question. How can sociology and historiography contribute to the understanding of the notions of peace and war in our day? It seems that this question may be answered off the cuff: one should forbid war, avert violence, and protect rights. This may serve as a starting point for the following reflections. To be able to classify the instances of violence and the totalitarian logic of the First World War, the following paper will attempt to present the relationship between different levels of war, and thus to determine criteria for the meaning of violence. The Great War of 1914–1918 was characterized by (1.) the transformation of war which, as we have mentioned, became totalitarian. It also showed (2.) an unlimited awareness of violence, which was not restricted to the mechanism of violence. The distance which was shaped during mass executions was subject to the abstraction of new proportions and it also pointed to the most comprehensive of all violence abstractions: the totalitarian image of a man. How can we can generate an acceptable relationship between the mechanism of violence and violence awareness and thus bring about the renunciation of violence? This pivotal question can only be answered in the wider context of the history of violence. To understand the failure of reason in the battlefields of the Great War we need a fundamental anthropological reflection (3./4.), which encompasses the essential significance of the site (5.). In this context, the role of historiography is far from insignificant.

1. Military capability: The transformation of war

The historical notion of violence can be discussed from various points of view. On the one hand, in the mechanized form of battle we have evidence of the radical, technically-oriented alienation of man: as many as 2.96 million bullets of a total weight of 21,000 tons were prepared to attack the British troops at the Somme. The use of chlorine gas made a new form of nervous impairment of the enemy possible. The massive annihilations of soldiers in June 1916 marked a tragic climax in the history of war. All these factors point to a radicalized, unrestricted, and industrialized form of violence. Hordes of people waiting in the trenches in order to trudge through destroyed devastated area and barbed wire towards certain death: at this point such an image recalls a form of totalitarian destruction which was to become a reality in the war yet to come (Metz 2010, 192; Keegan 1978, 304). Nevertheless, insight into the terrible events of the war also requires the wider perspective of the historian. We can therefore describe the history of the First World War as a process which was characterized by the transformation of war, in terms of a political, as well as material and technological change. After the relatively peaceful period of one hundred years before the First World War, when the five major European powers followed the policy of balance, the German Wars of Unification again raised the question of power. With the emergence of the German Empire a new power also emerged. The developing economic and military power resulted in a new form of imbalance (hereinafter Kennedy 1996; Neitzel 2008; Craig 1989). International relations fell into a trap which they managed to avoid throughout the comparatively peaceful nineteenth century.

Sobering, as these reflections may seem, the nearly ten millions casualties were nothing new when we consider the total population of Europe. The novelty was not in the number of the casualties. The global dimension was not striking either, as it had already come into play during the Seven Years’ War. The novelty was rather in the method, in the way decisions concerning human lives were made, and in the technological dimension of elimination. In the First World War armed countries clashed in a battle between man and machine. Thus we can identify the new military capability as the first “criterion for meaning” in violence analysis. The mechanization of war brought lethal innovations: poison gas, tanks, submarines, but also machine guns, which were invented a long time before, but were now being used on a massive scale. Compared to the war of 1870, over 58 per cent of the soldiers died of artillery fire. Hundreds of thousands of opponents lost their lives as a result of machine gun fire, which, in a symbolic way, marks a turning point in the history of violence. However, let me go back to discuss a distinct military capability of the great powers. When we ask how this “great seminal catastrophe” could occur in this form in the twentieth century, we must not turn a blind eye to the relationship between the production forces and the effective military capabilities. The main factors which promoted, extended, and shaped the war are well known. These were: an early stalemate, Italy’s rather ineffectual entry into the war, apparent exhaustion, and the Russian inability to wage war, as well as America’s crucial decision to join the war. The final collapse of the Central Powers must be perceived as closely correlated with the economic and industrial resources available to the Allies. We assess the actual capability in terms of absolute superiority of the productive forces rather than the quality of leadership and the generals’ aptitude. By way of example, Kennedy (1989, 389 ff.) analyzes the Great War from the point of view of the relationship between economic changes and the military conflict. He perceives the Austro-German coalition at the beginning of the war as a military force with the superior military capability as its front troops operated efficiently and were supported by an increasing number of recruits. Russia and France, on the other hand, had difficulty in coordinating a military strategy. We are able to answer why the Allies did not manage to gain significance three years after the beginning of the war when we take a closer look at the notion of military capability. The Coalition was strong in the areas which could hardly contribute to a quick and decisive victory. For instance, the closing of the German overseas trade caused major damage, but was not as significant as British representatives expected. German export industry focused on military production and the Central Powers were self-sufficient in food supply as long as the transport system could be properly maintained. The Allies outnumbered their enemies, but this did not contribute to their rapid victory, which was partly due to the type of war itself. Both parties used forces which were deployed over hundreds of kilometers. Major operations which were methodically and strategically prepared well in advance and aimed at a decisive blow were in fact split into hundreds of smaller operations on the battlefield. The events on the Western Front clearly show that the fronts on both sides could not achieve a real breakthrough and thus expand short-term territorial gains. Each side was able to make up for its losses through reservists, grenade supply, barbed wire, and artillery, and to minimize the advantage of the assailant. The major image inscribed in the memory of the war is that of prevented offensives and destructive crossfire. The role of the individual in the war is well understood: a growing number of new waves of recruits were mobilized at various sites to compensate for the loss incurred on the battlefields.

Hence, in order to assess the properties of the violence in the First World War, an analysis of the battlefields is insufficient. There is no doubt that the Great War electrified national economies and led to a significant increase in armor volume. Before 1914 armor generated less than four percent of the national income. Since the total war led to the increase of this number up to more than 30 per cent, it was inevitable that the overall production volume of the defense industry grew by leaps and bounds. The wartime governments grew to be in charge of the industry, workforce, and finances. The long-lasting complaints about the chronic shortage of ammunition on both sides ultimately led to the cooperation of politics with business and employment, the aim of which was to provide the necessary supplies. “Given the powers of the modern bureaucratic state to float loans and raise taxes, there were no longer the fiscal impediments to sustaining a lengthy war that had crippled eighteenth-century states. Inevitably, then, after an early period of readjustment to these new conditions, armaments production soared in all countries.” (Kennedy 1989, 389)

2. The mechanism of violence, ideology and war

It appears that the main distinction used to analyze the Great War is therefore the organization of the state system – the separation between the countries’ domestic and foreign affairs. In order to understand the role of separation of politics and economy in all matters directly relating to the war, one needs some additional background information (hereinafter Münkler 2006, 51 ff.). The so-called “Westphalian sovereignty,” which had shaped international relations since 1648, must not be overlooked here. People waged wars for a long time to achieve economic goals, but war itself was less an economic than a political goal. The Westphalian sovereignty was an attempt to place the state in the center of the war on a permanent basis, also with a view to separate religious or economic influences from political ones. The war between the cabinets and the war between the nations are the two classical types of war. For the next 150 years, when war was a matter of cabinets, it constituted a political tool, “which had never been this way before or afterwards” (Münkler 2006, p. 52). In this period the general public was completely excluded from the war events, at least they were not systematically used for defense purposes. The war was a matter of the governments which had manageable and limited purposes. The war was also to a large extent “tamed” so that the civil population in the war zone was as little involved in the action as possible. Opposing forces changed their positions, tried to cut off the enemies from the supplies or to confront them in a decisive battle. The population waited in the background and was responsible for financing the war and yet the costs incurred due to armed conflicts could often be extremely burdensome. (Kant’s plea for republican forms of government addresses this issue). Overall, it can be argued that the war of this period did not acquire an existential dimension. To some degree it remained calculable and, significantly, it was consistent with the justified renunciation of the use of force when the balance of forces was observed.

We recognize a significant turning point in the history of war when both mechanical calculability and moral factors gained significance in the course of battle. When the population, ready to take action and make sacrifices, was put in the balance in the course of revolutions, social power relations were renewed. As regards the form of battle, the era of strategic maneuvers had ended. In the re-defined ideological battles it was important whether “in due time and in the right place one had superior forces at one’s disposal and used them with absolute determination to win here and now” (ibid., 55). War was based on the requirements of the concentration of forces in a specific time and space. This meant a battle set-up which depended on the physical and moral exhaustion. In the early twentieth century this state of affairs was marked by specific military forces and forms of the organization of violence, especially the ability to use fossil fuels for the mobilization and deployment of forces, thereby affecting the speed of the troops’ advancement in the area and going beyond the logistical limits of the war. Civil infrastructure became a central element of modern military capability, leading to a long-lasting merge of civil economy and military establishment. The unreasonable alliance between the state and war became visible (Krippendorff 1985). Its ideological aspect, however, should not be neglected. The “levèe en masse” and the people who constituted the nation contributed to the fact that politics was no longer limited by the national borders. The violence mechanism that we observe in the age of extremes (Hobsbawm) goes back to the moral factor, in a sense that the nationalist fervor of the people became the resources of military capability. The turning point that we can observe here is complex and contradictory. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there was the idea that a republican society, unlike an aristocratic one, would avoid and tame war, since it corresponded to the common sense of the citizens concerned, and it could now decide on questions of life and death. This idea was inextricably linked to the notion of political freedom, but it did not obtain the desired confirmation during the revolutionary wars. The war of modern times was a civilization war which was waged as an ideological and moral battle by those with the “right” attitude. The revolution engaged civil society again in the war. Out of the ideologization of war there emerged a new form of military force which, in turn, severely affected the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this broader sense, the military capability and the violence mechanism encompass an expanded notion of violence awareness. The new army was a mass army characterized by unlimited recruitment possibilities. As a result, it could afford much heavier losses, provided that war was perceived as an existential notion (Metz 2010, 80 ff.). The total war of the nineteenth century became a totality, insofar as it introduced the possibility of exhausting human resources on the battlefield.

This form of a mass, total warfare was formed in the nineteenth century on the condition that the psychological mobilization of the masses was a consequence of revolutionary nationalism. Such a mobilization was then extended by means of technological and infrastructural resources. Factors such as crowd, technology and ideology formed the face of total war and, as a result, created the experience of physical and mental exhaustion which, in turn, resulted in the horrors of war. It is common knowledge that the economic performance of the countries involved in the war decreased throughout the war, and that the moral exhaustion of the entire population was also visible. The long war was also a battle against the enemy’s flow of resources and supplies: England took advantage of its superior navy to build a long blockade against the Central Powers. Germany to some extent relied on submarine warfare in order to cut off the enemy from essential supplies by sinking merchant ships. Toward the end of the war one could see the signs of the future air warfare, when the infrastructure of the enemy was destroyed by bomber fleets (Münkler 2006, 57). Is it possible to summarize the “meaning” of the war, in terms of the organization and transformation of violence, in the way presented above? Ultimately, we are talking about a war whose aim was to let the enemy bleed to death at the risk of one’s own heavy losses. The only conceivable way to gain victory would be by means of mass slaughter in the form of subsequent attacks at the death zones – which were not militarily successful but certainly stemmed from the “reasonable” calculations. This is clearly visible in the German attack at Verdun, which cost 700,000 casualties in the period of ten months; an event where the war turned into “a blood pump, attached to a human material used for military purposes” (Metz 2010, 93). As early as this instance of senseless battle and rational military leadership we observe a turning point in the history of war, for which there are no compelling definitions.

3. Political existentialism: The failure of reason

Having discussed the criteria of violence organization, we can look at the First World War as an attempt to penetrate into the heart of the enemy country in a battle. After 1866 and 1870 it was certain that such a war was feasible. August 1914 marked the beginning of a war in which a seemingly unbearable tension culminated and was defused. To many people it seemed a liberation from existential emptiness. The ecstatic celebration of the August events was apparently followed by apathetic killing and anonymous deaths in the trenches. The longing for the existential human illumination and purification during the war were followed by dirt, stench, and death. When the following sections inquire into the causes which led to the failure of reason, and when we further inquire into the possibility of remembering the horrors of war, it is to be understood in a specific way. It is not simply about drawing “lessons” from history, but rather about gathering criteria for meaning from the history of war, criteria which appear to be fundamentally political notions.

Quite reasonably, the political explanations for the outbreak of war turn attention to the threat resulting from the Franco-Russian Alliance (1894), which Great Britain joined in 1904. The idea of preventive war was virulent, not least due to the fact that the progressive development of infrastructure made it technologically possible to use mass transport. Beyond this, however, we must ask why the failure of reason occurred, and to what extent politics and diplomacy prioritized the logic of military confrontation. We must ask how the limits of diplomacy could be reconciled with the unleashing of violence. Also, we must not forget that there were definite attempts to let the leap in the dark (Bethmann-Hollweg) follow solutions involving the limited renunciation of the use of force. When in November 1914 there was no hope left for a quick military success, Falkenhayn asked Bethmann-Hollweg to negotiate a separate peace with Russia, then with France, in order to be able to confront England, the opponent, on an equal footing (Neitzel 2003, 136). This initiative was based on the notion of adhering to the policy of escaping from the war as soon as all the military resources had been used. The political leadership could not take a firm stand on this matter, as there was disagreement early on in defining Germany as the main war opponent. Although some models of freedom through victory were devised based on Germany’s central geographical position, they still lacked a clear goal orientation. There was a policy that prioritized geo-strategic interests over reason. While the negotiation of a separate peace with Russia was postulated, at the same time Germany was trying to maintain influence in South-East Europe and the Middle East. Although the Foreign Office initially rejected the idea of freedom through renunciation, there were still Danish mediation attempts to explore the theoretical possibility of a separate peace with the Tsar. These “peace negotiations,” as a result of which Danish State Council Hans Niels Andersen travelled to Saint Petersburg in 1915, did not go beyond exploratory talks. The successes on the Eastern Front boosted hopes for the “status quo ante” peace. There was hope to build bridges for Russia on which it could walk with its head held high. Although the Russian army suffered heavy losses, this did not have an impact on its determination to wage war. Russia adhered to the treaty of 1915 and avoided the exclusion from the War Coalition. In retrospect, one could definitely say that the path toward peace was obstructed by many parties. The Tsar and his political advisers were unable to define the load limits of the country. The Central Powers, on the other hand, probably due the understanding of their limited military capability, offered a push for peace but rejected the serious general Peace Congress vehemently (ibid., 137).

In this context it is worth asking why the only serious and genuine proposal of Pope Benedict X suggesting a solution to the exhausted Europeans was rejected, or why the policy of balance and a temporary limited peace never had a real chance of victory. Why could moral clarity be created only through a one-sided victory, by the “peace of defeat” (Metz 2010, 96)? At the beginning of the war there was euphoria which there was hope of preserving for domestic policy and which also, to some extent, led to absurd expectations concerning the aim of the war. There appeared, for instance, memoranda of Pan-Germanism which called for far-reaching annexations and assumed an imperious and hegemonic role of Germany in Europe. The war and its supposed first “successes” awakened desires, fantasies of power, and a lust to establish the German Reich as global power which, together with the United States, Great Britain, and Russia, would form the core of world powers (hereinafter Neitzel 2003, 132 ff.). The tentative and ambivalent attempts to walk the path of non-violence in the face of imminent defeat were therefore problematized. In early September 1914 Bethmann-Hollweg, for example, established guidelines for a potential preliminary peace. According to the Chancellor, the main purpose of the peace dictated by Germany should have been to secure its own country from the eastern and western side for good, i.e., if possible, France was to be weakened so that it could not regain its status as a superpower and Russia was to be pushed away from the German border. Based on these symptomatic points we can see the core demands of the German policy concerning the aim of the war, extensive territorial claims and grandiose plans which, from the beginning, rejected the idea of returning to the status quo ante. The focus on a clear victory through peace was indeed strong and visible in all warring parties. The adviser of the U. S. president had to realize in 1914–1915 that there was no readiness in Berlin, London, and Paris to agree to a temporary renunciation of violence. In terms of the areas of influence and territorial borders, the warring parties, politicians, and military officers focused on improving the status quo. It seemed impossible at any time that a lasting peace could be established without moral clarity, and that the negotiated solutions could be taken into account, considering the military force of the enemy. This was clearly reflected in the German foreign policy since the spring of 1917. When, after an unsuccessful mediation attempt, President Wilson made an appeal to negotiate peace without victory on the basis of the nations’ right to self-determination, the German Reich communicated the peace conditions in order to show trust, but at the same time, engaged in the submarine warfare again with equal commitment. This political move led to the demolition of political relations, the entrance of the USA into the war in April 1917, and to the escalation of the long-term war which, with hindsight, was not an objective inevitability. More specifically, in order to understand why the path to a tentative renunciation of violence remained blocked, one has to consider the perception of reality of the German leadership, as well as the increasing powerlessness of politics against the independent military forces. Politics at this time could no longer be regarded as “a possible chance for peace” (ibid., 157). Until 1918 people were led by the conviction that one could achieve peace through force. This may be illustrated in the peace treaties of Brest-Litowsk and Bucharest, which sort of reflected the aim to extend power at the expense of others and, even more, the degree of the denial of reality which was determined by the strategies used by military forces until the final shedding of blood. The forces which did not strive for settlement and the post-war order, but attempted to reach what appeared enforceable by means of their own military capability were key.

The fundamental notion of the turning points and the aspects of violence can be fragmented into various intertwined issues. From a historical point of view, it is crucial to realize that the extreme severity and relentlessness of the war was rooted in the unconditional desire to gain power. Is it sufficient for the purpose of this paper to point out the alleged lust of the decision-making elites, the circulating ideas of Social Darwinism, the excessive desire to gain prestige, or the overwhelming nationalism? Or is there be some other criteria for meaning that could be included in the summation? Nevertheless, the failure of reason remains enigmatic: nine million soldiers were killed before the end of the war, probably around the same number of civilians lost their lives as a result of hunger and disease. Is it estimated that, in Germany, around 800,000 people died of hunger due to the British naval blockade – all this apparently could not change the internal logic of politics. The War of the Nations headed for the “peace of defeat,” and for four years a fixation on one-sided victory precluded the conclusion of separate tentative peace, which was still conceivable in the wars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. What remains worth mentioning is the a priori enmity which apparently constituted the approval of the senseless suffering. Even millions of deaths could not break the iron will of the governments. In a fight without a real winner, those who had greater military capability and power at their disposal determined the victory morale. As such, the meaning criterion of violence is not only technological, but also ideological. The willingness to wage war can ultimately be explained by the absoluteness of evil embodied in the enemy. Real redemption of the world through war could only be achieved by defeating evil, an obviously blind mechanism, which continued even after the horrors of Verdun. In this respect it is necessary to pose fundamental anthropological questions from the quagmire of political and state regulations and to disclose the criteria for the meaning of violence and non-violence in the context of historical experience.

In other words, how to explain the discrepancy between the civilizational accomplishments of the war between the nations and the historical evolution toward universal condemnation of the concept of war? The unrestricted nature of both world wars raises a legitimate question of why there were wars even after the consolidation of the modern statehood. Let us keep the devastating effects of war in mind. Then the question needs to be posed: How did it happen that an idea of war remained so firmly anchored as a signifier of meaning: as a means to an end, as apparently legitimate continuation of politics, as a guiding principle which nations adhere to? To understand this, it does not suffice to steer clear of the axiom of war as a political means (see Clausewitz), since this is anachronistic. Quite on the contrary, it requires insight into the political existentialism of a given time. A glimpse at the philosophical concepts of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries reveals an additional moral aspect. Fichte, for example, based his reflections in the Address to the German Nation (Ger. Reden an die deutsche Nation, 1808) on the civilizational existential crisis in Prussia. He aimed at the concept of the true war of his times, which was no longer a dynastic war of a sovereign, but a legitimate war that had to be a total, so that the people could be formed into a national unity. We can see how discrepant – or how similar – the nineteenth century was in relation to the beginning of the twentieth century, in the conviction that the war was no longer interpreted as an isolated political or military action, but rather that it embraced all of life. In the people’s war “people fight for their own definition of a purpose, not for the conceived interest of a person who is born and dies in separation from them, and is certainly not one of them. But the real purpose is infinite, one can approach it but not reach it” (Fichte 1813, as quoted by Stadler 2009, 94). It is not easy for us today to comprehend the depth of political existentialism where the terms death, victory, country, and eternity are used in the same context without hesitation. In the history of war, however, it indicates the focus on the moral dimension necessary to understand total war: Fichte discusses the notion of war as a moral effort of the whole nation in its struggle to survive as a free community. If we are talking here about the philosophical struggle to overcome the anti-Napoleonic wars, then we pose a question which goes beyond the narrow historical context, i.e. how a group of people can form a nation.

During a war, a continuous collective battle, people become a nation. This marks a threshold of the national and moral awakening of the nineteenth century, which is important to the understanding of a modern total war of the nations. The ambivalence becomes evident: if we no longer perceive war as a means to an end, or as a calculation used to achieve our clearly defined objectives, but rather as a non-material means of self-constitution, then a totalized meaning dimension becomes tangible. It is no longer simply a matter of rational interests but the existential relationship within large groups. It is necessary to overcome one’s own humiliation and powerlessness, to increase power, glory, and one’s own honor and, hence, to assert one’s own national identity in the fight against what is foreign. The aspect of hostility becomes existential. The aim of a group of people fighting for their existence is to defend their own existence and to preserve one’s own being (Schmitt 1932; ibid. 1963). One’s own being becomes a “fundamentum incomcussum” (Waldenfels 1997, 46), an opinion and decision-making body that defines a case of emergency. One’s own being does not require an external entity to satisfy its own interests in itself, it is a categorical entity which disposes of the external being. These philosophical reflections express the depth of the existential hostility which we noticed in the lasting failure of reason during the long war. We can comprehend the political situation of the early twentieth century only when we consider the criteria for the meaning of violence over an extended period of time. The development extending from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries was marked by the sign of a promising replacement, the essence of which is reflected in the conversion of eschatology into utopia. One set hope for salvation not in transcendence, but in worldliness. The focus was on the question of who or what would occupy the vacant position of metaphysics, who or what ought to serve as the highest and safest reality and, therefore, the final legitimate point of historical reality. It is known that there appeared at least two new worldly realities. The demiurges of “humanity” and “history” changed the legitimacy of the old policy and would manifest its historical-anthropological categoriality: the drastic destruction of a given reality, mediated by religious, political, or ideological stipulations is a contradiction to pure and autonomous self-disposal. The tragic climax lies in the fact that, in principle, a man cannot lead an ex nihilo life. This terrible freedom pertains to a type of historicity that may be based only on something which is predetermined existentially. The general meaning criteria may stem only from this “perplexity.” This leads to a theory of history which results from the immediate functionality for a pragmatic and cooperative action but which aims at a more radical obligation: war as an act of political self-constitution.

4. On the role of historiography

Corpses with arms ripped off, parts of skulls, blood and carcass could be found everywhere. In this way a Bavarian soldier described the battlefield of Sedan on the day after the fight. The image of the bursting grenades, which literally tore victims into pieces, was “horrible.” The Battle of Sedan lasted only one day, but it surpassed anything “that anyone has ever seen” (Lorenzen 2006, 143). The Prussian-German army stored their entire artillery under a central command and aimed their fire not only at the enemy’s artillery posts, but also at the enemy soldiers. The trenches which characterized the First World War did not yet exist. However, Sedan anticipated some elements of the following world wars: the totality of the war in which all human values are lost. What, then, is the role of history if it does not include an element of superficial morality or a politically manageable “meaning”? In order to answer this question we also need to take a wider perspective and inquire into the criteria for the meaning of reason and non-violence as reflected in the human ability to create meaning. One of such creation of meaning is visible in the still-relevant idea of war removal which was pointed out at the beginning of the twentieth century as a possibility. The First World War brought an end to the bourgeois era in Europe (Mommsen 2004); despite growing discrepancies, it was a period of economic prosperity and thus growing wealth. Slowly, democratic structures emerged in the European structure, but this process found no reflection in constitutional norms. All these factors – the idea of peace, increasing prosperity, vague democratization – could not, of course, prevent the acrimonious struggle of the European powers. There emerges a pivotal question which has been discussed in history studies to this today, i.e. that the narrative of non-violence could not gain acceptance, even though it was theoretically possible. It is important to emphasize one thing here: the explication of the meaning of political violence should include different aspects, i.e. political criteria for the meaning of the key functions of government, the sociological and technological dimension of the specific military capability of the rival powers, but also some fundamental anthropological criteria. Only in combining these aspects can we approach a profound sense of the understanding of violence.

Was the war inevitable? In 1899 and 1907 the Hague Peace Conferences were organized, with a view to creating an international legal framework for the prevention of war. Their effects were short-lived. Bourgeois pacifism, which now acted in public independent of church and religion, as well as of the state and its logic, remained abrupt. The international peace societies in London in 1843, in Paris in 1889, and later in Germany and Austria, agreed on nothing other than the idea of the global peace. Their operations were far-sighted and visionary. The International Mediation Institute, the formation of an international court of justice and the establishment of a league of nations were the requirements which became reality as late as at the end of the following century. International successes such as Lay Down Your Arms (Ger. Die Waffen nieder 1891) by B. v. Suttner or the establishment of the Army Medical Services were possible at that time. Inspired by the battle of Solferino in the Franco-Sardinian war against Austria, Henry Dunant wrote A Memory of Solferino and sent it to the leading political and military figures. Under the impression of 40,000 casualties and the injured, he stimulated the formation of voluntary aid organizations. A conference in Geneva took place as early as the year of the report’s publication. During the conference such proposals were discussed. The “Geneva Conference” created the framework which was later followed by European countries forming the first landmark agreement of international law. In other words, humanitarian ideas and the possibility of the renunciation of violence and peace as a bourgeois principle of reason were more than just lofty ideas.

All the possibilities of the renunciation violence beg the question of how the European, and especially German elites could engage in the nationalist transformation of politics and the world war, which surpassed the radicalism of previous conflicts. The vast majority of European societies were in a transitional phase, characterized by sensitivity and fragility. The key functions of the government were in the hands of a few elites, all this taking place in spite of voting rights, which were becoming widespread. It was simple to appeal to nationalist sentiments during political upheavals. Nationalist movements gained momentum. Under the influence of the zeitgeist, they developed into imperialist ideologies, which culminated in the demanding attitude of world empires. Only those with great military capabilities were capable of surviving. Only those who had to face the war for a long period of time could survive in the rings of power. These ideas, as we know, survived throughout the extreme twentieth century. The development of mass armies, the pillarisation of powers systems, the development of warfare technologies, the arms race, but also the general consent to the emerging war – all this contributes to explaining this ideological viewpoint. The “leap in the dark” was “inevitable,” as it was politically desirable, but also because it reflected a general mentality of the time (Mommsen 2004, 21–35). European societies of the late nineteenth century were walking a “slippery slope” (ibid., 23) and they were in the atmosphere of thrall until the events of August 1914. In Germany these days were perceived as an “incomparable shared social experience” (Fest 1973, 99). This traditionally deeply divided nation, which suffered for a long time due to its internal conflicts, overcame this discrepancy by means of commitment to the war conflict. Even if this was true for only part of the population, the virtually religious character, expressed in national excitement about the future and war-related hopefulness, was evident. The general consciousness perceived the war as a welcome opportunity to escape from the misery of normality, to succumb to the process of rebellion and to submit to the hegemonic objectives. There were days of solemn deceptions that were ended in September 1918 by the hastily appointed political leadership.

Finally, we will attempt to draw conclusions and describe the turning point of the war. If we do so, we are left with an irritating reflection. It was not reasonable to assume that the masses of republican citizens would join the war. According to Kant, history was no longer about the actions of the minority, but was supposed to reflect the actions of all the people. It was a transition from unconsciousness to consciousness of purposeful action that inspired the political progress of modernity, a form of history, “in which people had only themselves as a goal” (Metz 2010, 189). This “new” meaning was formed as a collective sense, as basic concepts of humanity, nation and proletariat. But, as we know, this future fell apart during the First World War. Which criteria for meaning can we finally gather from this tragic turning point in history?

5. The significance of the site

In 1914 death was looking for a new venue. With its tens of thousands of graves, Verdun is perceived symbolically as a “graveyard of Europe” (Schlögel 2008, 435). This is an inconsistent picture, since it encompasses both orderly arrangement of cemeteries as well as the radical devaluation of human life. It is important to ask how one can now shape the memory of the Great War. The meaning of history is based on the collective perception which is reflected in the notions of the “culture of memory” and “sites of commemoration.” Since the establishment of historiography as a “pure” science, it has been considered essential to separate myth from reality and to narrate the story as it was. One of the most basic views here is that, despite thorough examination and unbiased assessment, history is continuously shaped and reinterpreted, and therefore it is susceptible to political interpretation. This, of course, particularly applies to the history of war: the well-known events of a war, the turning points and battlefields, are more than just space for what is accidental and possible. They are more than nodes of individual memories; they turn into events in the culture of remembrance, in which the battle for sovereignty in interpreting events is ignited and memory takes cultural and political shape. There are a plethora of examples, e.g. Magdeburg (1631), Leipzig (1813) and Sedan (1870), which need not be discussed in great detail here. Nevertheless, the criticism of the form of memory culture, in which “only” the interests of a political formation or calculations are manifested, should be discussed thoroughly in some respects.

Is it possible to preserve the essential moment of a site before it becomes a political instrument? This is an interesting twist in modern historiography. As opposed to the classical way of presenting events in a chronological order, as a temporal sequence, it points to the spatiality of all human beings’ stories. The idea to perceive each historical process as spatial, in which history is expressed by means of an endless effort to control space, is of the utmost importance for the present considerations. It means less political instrumentalization than existential and political reflection. The location-oriented approach may oppose long-lasting deconstruction, the fragmentation of objects, as far as it maintains the mental reproduction of coexistence and allows the retelling of the history of the twentieth century with all its horrors, discontinuities, and fractures. To perceive a site as a historical moment is nothing less than to establish a reference to a single totality of historical formations and to focus more on spatial aspects of political matters.

Let us take a look at one such historical site: the Somme, July 1916. Between Noye and the Somme there is a strip of land which grows the most traditional product of the region – sugar beet. Plowing becomes arduous when, on closer inspection, there appear strange objects, i.e. remnants of the war. Mortars, howitzer grenades, aerial torpedoes and smoke shells have been found on this site up to the present day. The Somme was not the densest battlefield of the Western Front. When compared to other gruesome statistics concerning the use of grenades and the duration of shelling, the Somme did not rank first on the list, but still, for various reasons, the majority of blind shells have been found at the Somme. The region was an extensive attack front, where as many as twenty divisions could meet and use their resources. Here, endless suffering was mixed with impressive short-term triumphs. On 16 September 1916 Great Britain first entered the ruins of the village of Flers in their tanks. 1918 was marked by the success of the first major armored breakthrough in modern military history, whereas earlier the most critical offensive of Hindenburg was brought to a halt. John Keegan presents an image of endless battles, characterized by violent confrontations and miserable terrain: “Between Ypres and Armenteirs, water is found everywhere close beneath the surface and much of the line had to be constructed of sandbag barricades instead of trenches. Almost everywhere, too, the Germans occupied what commanding heights there were: near Ypres, the Passchendaele and Messines ridges; in the coalfields, most of the slag-heaps and, until they were destroyed, the pithead towers. Compelled to struggle for possession of the higher, drier ground, the British had driven their lines in many places almost to within conversational distance of the Germans” (Keegan 1978, 245).

In this place, as in many others, we experience everyday death, but we also recognize the criteria such as proximity and distance. Despite heavy losses incurred by the British troops Flanders became their homeland. Behind the lines the troops often left the trenches and looked around in the villages for a feeling of closeness, a roof to sleep under, a bed of straw, some beer, or even a place to play football. The farmers of the region learned how to make a profit during the war. They opened canteens and cafés, which offered a welcome change. The British troops “conquered” not only geographical areas, but also some attractive places nearby. One can see this from the peculiar way in which some places were named, e.g. “Armenteers” (Armentières), “Wiper”, (Ypern) and “Plugstreet Wood” (Ploegsteert). These terms do not relate to the great battles, but to inconspicuous events occurring in the background of the war. This point of view opens the possibility of commemorating the war in a special way: essential to the orientation of the human world is the inescapable spatial character of experience, the irrevocability, the slope leading to death, the finality of the existential and historical events (Rentsch 1999). Historical acquisition also includes the aspect of vulnerability, powerlessness, and other criteria, such as responsibility and guilt. The relationships which orient us in the human world do not fall to pieces, then to create a form of memory, but rather we recognize the primary forms of meaning. We recognize basic historical facts in the finite totality of the existentially structured orientation space. We can neglect the finite totality of the existential space, conceal it, and keep it from ourselves. However, in this way historical time will never become an objectively defined world history, from which one can distance oneself. There is a basic difference between the unique ability to create meaning for the primary world, the experience that we gain in the world of inter-existentially constituted practice, and the type of experience which is scientifically plausible. Historical experience ends when the existentially political vision of the primary world begins. At that point, all attempts to learn superficial “lessons” from history fail, for the technology available to the community culture during the war does not leave the autonomy of the primary world unscathed (ibid., 110 ff.). The military and technological possibilities penetrate deep into the experience of the common world and thus violate the principles of a singular totality. Therefore, insight into the comprehensive totality of the common life is essential to create historical memory. If ethical principles are to show themselves in the face of war, they must demand nothing less than a fundamental relationship between fragility and the claim for non-violence. In our shared world we can experience practices in which there is always risk of failure; practices characterized by uncertainty and vulnerability, which constitute meaning. The meaning which can be created in this context is secured by a negative. It reflects our groundlessness and elusiveness. We can objectify neither a single totality of life as a whole nor individual outstanding events in the history. We are not able to functionalize historical events in a sense that we perceive them as examples of a greater design. In other words, we can imagine the human experience as neither individually nor politically and instrumentally goal-oriented. The shape of the meaningful life emerges only in fragmentariness, and in the experience of poverty and paucity.

 


Christian Wevelsiep. Studied educational theory, philosophy, and political science. He finished his Ph.D in special educational theory in Dortmund as well as political sociology in Flensburg, Germany. He is cureently working as teacher in Bochum and as external “Privatdozent” at the University of Flensburg. His main focuses of research are: theory of society, anthropology and ethics, and the history of modern violence. At the moment he is working on a monograph about the history of the war from basic anthropological view.


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Fest, Joachim (1973) Hitler. Eine Biographie (Frankfurt a. M., Berlin, Vienna: Propylaen).

Fichte, Johann Gottlieb (1845/46) Sämtliche Werke, 8 volumes, edited by Immanuel H. Fichte. (Berlin).

Jünger, Ernst (1982) Der Arbeiter (Stuttgart: Herrschaft und Gestalt).

Keegan, John (1978) Das Antlitz des Krieges (Düsseldorf/Vienna: Econ).

Kennedy, Paul (1989) Aufstieg und Fall großer Nationen (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp).

Krippendorff, Ernst (1985) Staat und Krieg. Die historische Logik politischer Unvernunft (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp).

Lessing, Theodor (1983) Geschichte als Sinngebung des Sinnlosen (Munich: Beck).

Lorenzen, Jan (2006) Die großen Schlachten. Mythen, Menschen, Schicksale (Frankfurt, New York: Campus).

Metz, Karl Heinz (2010) Geschichte der Gewalt. Krieg – Revolution – Terror (Darmstadt: Primus Verlag).

Münkler, Herfried (2006) Der Wandel des Krieges. Von der Symmetrie zur Asymmetrie (Weilerswist: Velbrück).

Mommsen, Wolfgang (2004) Der erste Weltkrieg (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp).

Neitzel, Sönke (2003) Blut und Eisen. Deutschland im Ersten Weltkrieg (Zurich: Pendo Verlag).

Neitzel, Sönke (2008) Weltkrieg und Revolution. 1914–1918/19 (Berlin-Brandenburg: be.bra Verlag).

Rentsch, Thomas (1999) Die Konstitution der Moralität. Transzendentale Anthropologie und praktische Philosophie (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp).

Schmitt, Carl (1932) Der Begriff des Politischen (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot).

Schmitt, Carl (1963) Theorie des Partisanen (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot).

Schlögl, Karl (2008) Im Raume lesen wir die Zeit (Frankfurt a. M.: Fischer).

Stadler, Christian (2009) Krieg (Stuttgart: facultas wuv).

Waldenfels, Bernard (1997) Topographie des Fremden. Studien zur Phänomenologie des Fremden 1 (Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp).

 


This article has been published in the second issue of Remembrance and Solidarity Studies dedicated to the European memory of the First World War.

>> Click here to see the R&S Studies site

 

Wojciech Stanisławski

Truncheons in the display case

20 August 2018
Tags
  • communism
  • transitional justice
  • Museum
  • genealogies of memory
  • commemoration

For a quarter of a century we have sought to memorialise the victims of communism by erecting monuments and opening museums. But at times it seems that the most important things continue to be left unsaid.

The concept of the ‘museum’ has a long and convoluted heritage. It is generally held – and no-one has described it better than Krzysztof Pomian – that it all began with the collections of oddities in the Renaissance. There, in fascinating disorder, lying side by side, were minerals, seashells, ancient coins and drawings. In time, collectors of paintings and coins concluded that it would be better to tidy things up to better exhibit their collections. Collectors of drums and masks from the Southern Seas, entomologists, hunters, lovers of maps, copper engravings, book-plates and side arms followed suit.

But there also exists one of the oldest trails of human remembrance: the preservation of famous battlefields and massacre sites, places where kings duelled and gathered. There are separate trails leading across specific mountains and through olive gardens to places where mortals met deities and where all of Europe's once common historia sacra unfolded.

Much closer to our contemporary thinking is the notion of memorialising elements of daily life to show to the posterity the entire civilisation of their ancestors rather than just their most outstanding achievements. This idea arose in Scandinavia, with the development of skansens (open-air museums and collections of historical structures). Exotic villages and temples, reconstructed for World Fairs by colonial powers proud of their subjects, competed with (and certainly came out victorious against) windowless Laplander huts.

But they provided as much knowledge about the world as the old German-born merchant Mincel did when lecturing a shop assistant in his broken Polish in a scene from the 19th-century Bolesław Prus novel The Doll.(‘See vas ist in dis drawer. Es ist Zimmt or cinnamon. And ven do ve need cinnamon? In soups and desserts ve need cinnamon. And vas ist cinnamon? Er ist de bark from dis one tree. And ver do dis one tree live? In India lives dis tree. Look on de globus – here lies India. So gif me cinnamon for a tenner...’). It wasn't until the mid-20th century that museum curators and managers began giving thought to ways of conveying other cultures in a consolidated manner within a limited time and space.

Cast-iron corpses

Those for whom memorialising everyday life under communism for posterity is close at heart have tried all these means and formulae. Small towns attempt to lure tourists with ‘collections of oddities’ such as amusing signs saying ‘Attention farmers! Wash your eggs at the procurement stations’ or the humorous labels on cheap fruit wines. The cast-iron corpses of former monuments lie in the grass in parks on the outskirts of big cities (Memento Park in Budapest) or even behind royal residences such as Mogoşoaia Palace, which once belonged to the rulers of Romania. Great art museums have separate rooms for grim propaganda paintings, and collectors of A2-sized posters greatly fancy communist-era appeals for vigilance and productivity. To show the ugliness of daily life under communism, here and there between the Elbe and Danube yet another flat in a tower block is adapted and fitted out with a wall unit, PVC flooring and a yearbook of the magazine Woman and Life on the table. (In Warsaw a similar skansen can be found on Grochowska Street.) But it isn't easy to complete the furnishing: the vintage artefacts now cost a fortune on auction sites.

Time and again a titanic notion arises to bring it all together and create a kind of ‘total museum’ of the epoch. This should not only show the annals of the system and highlight its victimisers and victims, but also explain the mechanics and conditions of totalitarianism while offering the visitor a wealth of details. Probably the boldest project of this type has been SocLand, created over the past decade or so by enthusiasts led by Czesław Bielecki.

The scope and fantasy of this project are truly impressive. It was to have been situated beneath Warsaw's Parade Square and, thanks to an ingenious trick, would have ‘subordinated’ the huge Stalin-era Palace of Culture, symbolically reducing it to the size of one of the other period exhibits. This was also a judgement-of-Solomon-style solution to the insoluble dispute between the advocates and opponents of demolishing the Palace of Culture. But the reasons behind its failure included the scope of the project, as shown by the visualisations, combined with the pettiness of Warsaw's city-hall officials. But dreams of a museum of communism have not disappeared. Evidence of this was provided in mid-November by the authorities of the Russian city of Ulyanovsk, who have come up with the idea of turning a large part of their city covering an area of more than 120 hectares into a museum of the Soviet Union. However, the internet is probably the best-suited medium for a project of this type. A certain American foundation, whose co-founders were Zbigniew Brzezin ski and Vaclav Havel, has been working for fifteen years or so to create a similar ‘virtual museum of communism’.

The snap of the bolt-lock

But what of those who seek the truth about the past and need tangible evidence, even if they are not allowed to touch it? Such people will sooner or later make it to several Central European museums ranging from the Teror Haza (House of Terror) in Budapest to the KGB Dungeon Museum in the Estonian city of Tartu. They share one thing: both are housed in old, converted security service buildings where prisoners were incarcerated, interrogated and sometimes killed.

The originators of the KGB Dungeon Museum, the Museum of Genocide in Vilnius, Romania's Museum of Remembrance in Sighet, and even the more modest Leistikowstraße Memorial in Potsdam have followed in the footsteps of the victims of Nazi totalitarianism. Warsaw's former Gestapo headquarters in Aleja Szucha as well the infamous concentration camp at Auschwitz have been turned into museums of Nazi terror. The reason is partly because no ‘socially beneficial’ use could be imagined for these places other than bearing witness to past atrocities, but above all because this role was deemed the most meaningful.

A question remains as to the devices curators can use to recreate the atmosphere of horror and violence. Some elements such as a prison's very look and feel are always effective. Whether climbing the rattling metal stairs of Sighet or crouching low in the 1.5-metre-high dungeon in Andrassy Avenue in Budapest, everywhere it is equally stuffy, cramped and threatening amid the snap of bolt-locks being closed, eye-wearying bare light bulbs and beds of boards. The interrogation rooms are the same in Budapest and Vilnius, with massive oak-veneer desks confiscated from some ‘enemy of the people’, pink-rimmed NKVD hats near their edge and interrogation lamps shined in the prisoner's face. In such a setting, the question asked by Polish writer Marek Hłasko inevitably returns: ‘Are the scoundrels shown in films imitating the real ones, or is it the other way round?’ When we sit on a chair meant for an interrogated prisoner, we can easily imagine being on the set of Ryszard Bugalski's film Interrogation.

The creators of the memorial in Tuol Seng, recalling the crimes of the Khmer Rouge, seem to have taken things the furthest. Only a few years ago were they persuaded to abandon a map of Cambodia made of victims' skulls. But, all in all, doesn't the silence and mounds of hair at Auschwitz cry out the loudest?

Killing fields

This aspect of communism – not violence against the individual but genocide, whose victims were entire social or ethnic groups – is easiest to evoke by means of a museum exhibition in Russia. On the islands of the Gulag Archipelago, prisoners' hair was not shorn with a view to stuffing mattresses. But maybe a stretch of a railway embankment, to which the corpses of forced-labour-camp victims were added to improve its stability in permafrost conditions, would suffice. And next to it a barracks with narrow beds of boards, a tin bowl, and a torn quilted jacket. Such crude reminders suffice if we look at the faces of visitors leaving the former Nazi German extermination camp at Majdanek in Poland or Washington's Holocaust Museum.

But no such collection has been created and it is doubtful whether one ever will be. This in itself is very meaningful. Beginning in the late 1980s, several monuments have been erected in Russia, mainly through the efforts of the Memorial association. Usually they have taken the simplest (albeit most eloquent) form of a commemorative boulder, the most famous of these standing outside Moscow's Lubianka prison and former KGB headquarters. Among the best-known exceptions are the sculptures of Ernst Nezvestny. One of them titled ‘Mask of pain’ was erected in Magadan in Asiatic Russia; and one in Elista in Russia's Kalmyk Republic is dedicated to the victims of forced exile.

And what about museums? Even the most modest ones? These can almost be counted on the fingers of one hand. Usually on a wave of pro-perestroika enthusiasm, local museums would set aside a room containing a few photos, photocopied documents and rusty pick-axes. But the museum in Vorkuta tells more about Russian historical memory than volumes of research ever could. There, side by side, is an exhibition devoted to a labour camp theatre (it looks like things weren't that bad after all!) and a display case proudly highlighting heroes of the Great Patriotic War (as the Second World War is known in Russia).

But efforts continue. In her book Gulag Remembrance, Zuzanna Bogumił compiled a list of probably all known attempts to create makeshift semblances of museums dedicated to communism. In the village of Kuchino, several barracks of the Perm-36 labour camp have been preserved and exhibitions have been set up in them. A small museum has been opened in Yagodnoye, and several display cases have been set up in Solovki. Young people from the Perm section of the Memorial association have for years been trying to safeguard the ruins of the Stvor labour camp on the River Chusovoy. And that's about it! That's about it in a country covering one-sixth of the earth's surface. Nearly two decades ago, Tomasz Kizny photographed the ‘road of death’, or what was left of the Salekhard-Igarka railway line, built by Gulag prisoners, and remarked that woodworm and permafrost would finish it off. But the terror was hardly limited to the Arctic Circle. It is estimated that the ‘Ukrainian killing fields’ in Bykovnia contain the remains of over 100,000 people, the victims of the 1937 Soviet wave of terror as well as murdered Polish officers. This very site was alluded to in a poem by Janusz Kotański:

the way to the kyїv road
is shown by a sign
with the word ‘memorial’
behind it are wooden stakes
adorned with red stars
after a few kilometres
one passes amid
rectangular hills
overgrown with young woodlands
(...)
a woman standing there
of middle age
begins to silently
weep in despair
the hilly terrain
overgrown with pines
stretches over an area
of a dozen hectares

 


This article was originally published in a special appendix to Rzeczpospolita daily for the 'Genealogies of Memory' conference on 27 November 2013.

 

Piotr Cywiński

To whom does Auschwitz „belong?”

20 August 2018
Tags
  • Solidarity
  • European Network Remembrance and Solidarity
  • Museum
  • Auschwitz
  • Birkenau
  • Places of Memory

What is Auschwitz today? This is the question that needs to be asked at the beginning to at all enter into the topic of membership. Various concepts define the space of Auschwitz. Former inmates, who created this Place of Commemoration after World War II, termed their blueprint by the word Museum. Then , a Monument was built in Birkenau in the 1960s, as if the ruins of this former nazi death camp were not enough to commemorate it. Next, the concept emerged that this is the world’s biggest Cemetery. Finally, the name the Place of Commemoration emerged. This definition is a neologism that perhaps shows best the inability to call a spade a spade.

From all similar places in Europe, this single place is entered on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage. The entry stressed that this place is to be representative for other facilities of this type and that others will no longer be entered. I do not know what does the term „ facilities of this type” mean. Does this mean other Vernichtungslagern? Or the entire system of concentration camps? Is the GULAG Soviet system of camps included into this typology. In the provision „other facilities of this type” , put on this worldwide list, we encounter legal interpretation of Auschwitz as the most broadly conceived heritage of man and mankind and thus, we tangibly touch the question of membership.

This can be viewed on very different planes that do not exclude one another: historical, political, emphatic and also moral or task planes. A certain subjectivism, that is completely normal and natural in this place, develops in this complexity of planes. We cannot escape this subjectivism in this place because people have the right to feel more or less linked to this place. Undoubtedly, various kinds of memories are crossing in Auschwitz today. The destruction of the Jewish people was one thing and the history of the concentration camp was a completely different thing. We hope that there is no need to explain this difference today. One Jewish survivor remembers forty, fifty persons from his family who ended were killed there and did not survive. And among other victims, tens of living persons remember this one cousin who died there as, for instance, a political prisoner. These are extremely different social situations.

The differences happen to be also political and ideological. For some people this will primarily be the place of education. There are communities for which Auschwitz plays a very important identity role. In this case, I think about the Jewish diasporas and to some extent also about Roma. In Poland, this is to a great measure the independence symbol, although it should also be remembered that Poland also has different interpretations of the Auschwitz history. As quite different is this place for the elites that were the majority of inmates in the first period. It was quite different for inhabitants of the Zamość region who were sent to Auschwitz to be exterminated. And Auschwitz was still quite a different place for residents of Warsaw after the fall of the Warsaw Rising. Finally, Auschwitz was a completely different thing for people from round-ups in street cars who did not at all know why they landed there, as they were not involved in any activity of the resistance movement. This place is, of course, a great experience for the Germans. Their presence there, often very helpful, creates profound interpersonal relations with this place. For Catholics, Christians, this is also a certain reference to the world of martyrdom and sanctity and that sanctity appears in this place and this also cannot be omitted .

Looking at Auschwitz from these various points of view, one can easily understand why the 1990s, after the fall of communism, were the years of so difficult conflicts. Suddenly, all these memories met in this place and started to notice one another. I hope that today we became wiser thanks to this.

Among all affiliations, the most striking is the affiliation to those whose ashes are mixed with this soil. Memory and affiliation of the successors of victims are this first memory and this first affiliation, primarily of course of the world of Jews but also of Poles, Roma and prisoners from the Soviet Army.

Auschwitz is of course the symbol of destruction but also the largest former concentration camp. That is why groups that come today identify with this place also other stories that did not take place so often in this place as elsewhere. Priests died more often in the Dachau death camp, but they are remembered in this place. Women died in the Ravensbrueck camp. German homosexuals or Jehovas witnesses also in other camps—Dachau, Sahsenhausen, Oranienburg and Flossenburg. The killed disabled, who did not at all die in the camps but often in the facilities attached to hospitals or in specially designed lorries by exhaust fumes are also remembered in this place.

And what can be said about nazi criminals, on the other side of the barbed wires? In Auschwitz there were about 8,000 free people, SS and Gestapo men who worked there. Historians estimate that there were about 70,000 of them in the entire system of camps, out of which 1,600-1,700 were put on trial after World war II. An overwhelming majority of them were sentenced to three or five years in jail, often in suspension. One should also be aware of this and this makes one ask a multi-faceted and profound question about affiliation of the place.

And if we speak about the perpetrators, a single and very delicate problem remains. Staying at the camp as a victim and a prisoner, he could at the same time experience being a perpetrator because the system was designed in such a way. A trusty, Blockaltester, a prison mate from a plank bed could at a certain moment be the perpetrator because he hit (his neighbor), stole a bread (from him), informed on (him), did not help. And here we touch the essence of being man, something that each of us can encounter in his own life. This means that each of us is not only this impeccable human being but that he has various selves.

Near the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a thesis was in use that this Place of Commemoration already goes down in the history of Europe, that everything has already been said. But we can judge at least by attendance that people continue to seek an answer. Over the past five years, the number of people visiting this place annually doubled. Last year, we achieved the highest result in visits from the end of World War II. Quite of a sudden, South Korea—today almost 40,000 visitors annually-- appeared in the visitors’ statistics several years ago. This number is almost as many visitors as from France or Israel. Here, together with South Korea this is a completely different world and a completely different history. Manchuria, China, Japan and South Korea have their own dramas stemming from World War II. But nevertheless they come to this place. In the 1990s, Auschwitz was a symbol primarily for Europe, Israel and North America. Here now, we see it starting functioning as a truly world-wide symbol.

Attendance has two ends. There are also geographical, political and historical areas that do not feel any links to Auschwitz or do not want to manifest this. I would primarily like to point to Austria that is a certain problem. Three thousand persons last year, as compared with 60,000 Germans or 56,000 Italians. If 3,000 persons come from Austria and about 25,000 from the Czech Republic, so this means that we face an educational and identity problem that has not been overcome and we must think about it jointly. I stress jointly. There is almost at all no Africa and no Arab world. This is a problem in the context of today’s challenges and the result of this neglect is the emergence of the new geography of negativism. .

In the future, an important element will be the fact that in today’s Europe national determinant stops being the most important point of reference for one’s own identity. There are mixed groups that want to find their identity in this Place in a different way—as doctors, lawyers, priests.

There are also other determinants of subjective affiliation, the concrete taking care of maintaining the Place. For many years now, half of the budget of this Place has been a contribution by the Polish government. The second half has been worked out by the museum and single percents have been coming from foreign assistance. And after all affiliation has been linked exactly with responsibility and is thus primarily a moral problem.

Ending this paper, I would like to discuss the question of participation. This is perhaps the most import ant question stemming from membership and responsibility. When one sees photos from liberating Auschwitz, one must think about reportages from Ruanda. And the question is asked not about these two events, but about our passivity. In the idea of social participation, man is linked to what he jointly creates, to what he builds, to that in which he gets involved and to that, the goals of which he fulfills. Affiliation to this place or affiliation of this place to a concrete man would thus be reaching this goal which means never again. But meanwhile, millions of persons visit this place and other places of this kind—Yad Vashem or the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. And these millions of persons sit later in front of TV sets, watch reports from Darfur and do not see any link. Living in free states, they criticize those who did nothing in Hitler’s times. Several weeks later, having returned home, they themselves do completely nothing as regards other tragedies of the world.

Also answering the question that I was asked, I would say that Auschwitz as a Place of Commemoration is dramatically common and dramatically nobody’s. Unfortunately, still.

 


Piotr Cywinski (born in 1972) is a historian, director of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, member of the International Auschwitz Council, Catholic activist, former chairman of the Club of Catholic Intelligentsia in Warsaw.