The Future of the Stalinist Past

Activity: Talk or presentationSocietal


Simon Wiesenthal Lecture 2019: What are the prospects for reconciliation when the state denies, ignores, or co-opts a history of repression? Thirty years after the end of a dictatorship that claimed millions of victims, aside from symbolic reparations, the post-Soviet government(s) have implemented little of the institutionalised transitional justice mechanisms to reckon with this past. There has been a persistent, politically-driven effort to manage national and public memory by repressing, controlling, or even co-opting the memory of repression. Now, as under Khrushchev and Gorbachev, the government sanctions the immortalisation of victims, but draws a thick line when it comes to the discussion of the perpetrators. Not one henchman has been tried, nor one truth commission instigated, victim compensation is limited, as is archival access, the record in history textbooks is a political narrative, and researchers of Stalinism are once again harassed on spurious charges. It was not until 2015 that the state sanctioned the plan for an offcial monument to the victims of Stalinism. Most of them did not live to see it erected. This lecture will focus on some of the causes and consequences of post-Soviet Russia’s ambivalent attitude toward its Stalinist past, and reflect on how to move beyond current impasses.
Period21 Nov 2019
Held atWiener Wiesenthal Institut für Holocaust-Studien, Austria
Degree of RecognitionInternational