Dr. Chodakiewicz contributes to debate on historical memory in East Central Europe

May 21, 2012  |  KOSCIUSZKO CHAIR

Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz has recently published an essay on historical memory in East Central Europe. Appearing in a scholarly anthology published in Germany, Dr. Chodakiewicz's contribution strives to battle false memories while simultaneously recovering and restoring genuine ones. This is by no means an easy feat in a region whose history has been characterized by numerous foreign invasions and conquests. The Soviet occupiers in particular subjected the population between the Black and Baltic Seas to decades of deracinating indoctrination.

Following the implosion of the Soviet Empire, the captive nations struggled to resurrect and restitch their collective historical memories. The effort was hampered both by post-communism and post-modernism, however. Circles associated with the ancient régime labored hard to salvage much of the Soviet system, including its legitimizing myths. Clearly, this involved attempts to sabotage any endeavors to debunk these myths, a prerequisite to a non-Soviet - and not just post-Soviet - consciousness. In turn, post-modernist "deconstruction," with its characteristic moral relativism, has zealously undermined religion, patriotism, national identity, and tradition. The "deconstructionists" have even assailed the very possibility of attaining the truth, including the historical truth. The two trends - post-communism and post-modernism - as Dr. Chodakiewicz pointed out, often operate as an unholy alliance. For instance, former communists - seeking to whitewash their own crimes, and/or those of their comrades - have found a most convenient refuge in post-modernist relativism and sophistry. Dr. Chodakiewicz concluded that the peoples of East Central Europe may overcome these noxious ideologies only by rediscovering their own histories.       

See "Chain of Memory, Interrupted: The Eastern Borderlands of the West, 1939-1947 and After," in Politics, History and Collective Memory in East Central Europe, ed. by Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Stefan Garsztecki, and Rüdiger Ritter (Hamburg: Krämer, 2012).