Instrumentalizing the Past: The Impact of History on Contemporary International Conflicts 9783110769791, 9783110769784

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Table of contents :
International Conflicts Employing History as Its Instrument: What they are and how to Measure them?
Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks
How (and why) to Measure Conflicts of Memory?
History as an Instrument of Politics in Central and Eastern Europe
Between Orwell and Fukuyama. Poland and its Neighbours: Disputes over History
Overcoming Conflicting Memories: History in the Polish-German Relations after 1989
Heritage Burnt, Heritage Born – Paradox of “Space of Memory” in Conflicts: Ukraine’s Experience Reconsidered
The Accession Policy and Identity Conflict
Narrating Conflicts in Post-Truth Era: Facing Revisionist Russia. Ukraine and Georgia in a Comparative Perspective
The Dynamic Character of the Conflictual Historical Narrative (on the Example of the Georgian-Turkish Relations)
The Politics of Graves – Negotiations, Practice and Reactions about Fallen German Soldiers of World War Two and Their Resting Places in Russia
Peaceful Foreign Policy and Remembrance of War Effort. The Conceptualisation of Willingness to Defend in Finland and Its Connections to Previous Armed Conflict, 1960s–1989
History and Politics beyond Europe
Shadows of the Past. Japanese Imperial Policy and Its Influence on Contemporary Domestic and Foreign Policy of Japan
Disputes over Public Memory of U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Case of Smithsonian’s Enola Gay Exhibitions (1994–2003)
Japan’s Power in East Sumatra and South Sumatra
From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli- Iranian Conflict in Historical Context
History and its Impact on Contemporary International Relations: The Case of Rwanda
Successes and Failures: Methods of Getting Out of Historical Conflicts
The Resurfacing of the “Titanic” in the Balkan Bermuda Triangle: Political Conflicts over History between Sofia, Skopje and Athens before and after 1989
Israeli-Polish Political Dispute over the Amendment of the Act of the Institute of National Remembrance
Historical Commissions: A Mean to Overcome Traumatic Historical Experiences?
Possibilities of Building a Memory Dialogue between Russia and Poland Concerning Soviet Repression
List of Contributors
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Instrumentalizing the Past

Instrumentalizing the Past The Impact of History on Contemporary International Conflicts Edited by Jan Rydel and Stefan Troebst

Research project funded by the Institute of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity.

ISBN 978-3-11-076978-4 e-ISBN (PDF) 978-3-11-076979-1 e-ISBN (EPUB) 978-3-11-076982-1 Library of Congress Control Number: 2022938211 Bibliographic information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data are available on the internet at © 2022 by Institute of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity Cover image: Map section: Galicia-Ukraine, Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, in: Andrees Neuer Allgemeiner und Österreichisch-Ungarischer Handatlas, Moritz Perles, Vienna 1912. Typesetting: Integra Software Services Pvt. Ltd. Printing and binding: CPI books GmbH, Leck

Contents Jan Rydel and Stefan Troebst Introduction 1

International Conflicts Employing History as Its Instrument: What they are and how to Measure them? Zheng Wang Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks Łukasz Kamiński How (and why) to Measure Conflicts of Memory?



History as an Instrument of Politics in Central and Eastern Europe Jan Rydel and Przemysław Łukasik Between Orwell and Fukuyama. Poland and its Neighbours: Disputes over History 43 Bartosz Dziewanowski-Stefańczyk Overcoming Conflicting Memories: History in the Polish-German Relations after 1989 55 Olga Dudar Heritage Burnt, Heritage Born – Paradox of “Space of Memory” in Conflicts: Ukraine’s Experience Reconsidered 71 Olga Dianova The Accession Policy and Identity Conflict


Malkhaz Toria and Mykola Balaban Narrating Conflicts in Post-Truth Era: Facing Revisionist Russia. Ukraine and Georgia in a Comparative Perspective 91



Khatuna Chapichadze The Dynamic Character of the Conflictual Historical Narrative (on the Example of the Georgian-Turkish Relations) 125 Nina Janz The Politics of Graves – Negotiations, Practice and Reactions about Fallen German Soldiers of World War Two and Their Resting Places in Russia 133 Teemu Häkkinen Peaceful Foreign Policy and Remembrance of War Effort. The Conceptualisation of Willingness to Defend in Finland and Its Connections to Previous Armed Conflict, 1960s–1989 147

History and Politics beyond Europe Łukasz Stach Shadows of the Past. Japanese Imperial Policy and Its Influence on Contemporary Domestic and Foreign Policy of Japan 159 Grzegorz Nycz Disputes over Public Memory of U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Case of Smithsonian’s Enola Gay Exhibitions (1994–2003) 189 Budi Agustono and Farida R. Wargadalem Japan’s Power in East Sumatra and South Sumatra


Maya Hadar From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context 213 Joanna Bar History and its Impact on Contemporary International Relations: The Case of Rwanda 231


Successes and Failures: Methods of Getting Out of Historical Conflicts Stefan Troebst The Resurfacing of the “Titanic” in the Balkan Bermuda Triangle: Political Conflicts over History between Sofia, Skopje and Athens before and after 1989 245 Przemysław Furgacz Israeli-Polish Political Dispute over the Amendment of the Act of the Institute of National Remembrance 259 Emmanuelle Hébert Historical Commissions: A Mean to Overcome Traumatic Historical Experiences? 275 Maria Kostromitskaya Possibilities of Building a Memory Dialogue between Russia and Poland Concerning Soviet Repression 291 List of Contributors



Jan Rydel and Stefan Troebst

Introduction The issue of how history is instrumentalised in contemporary international politics is a demanding research field. Arguments referring to the past, most often related to wars, violence and violation of rights of some social groups by others, are sometimes used in present times as a catalyst of international conflicts. By looking at contemporary international relations one may get the impression that the number of conflicts in which a specific historical narration is employed has been increasing. Historical resentment or remembrance of past suffering or glory are often used for the justification of political, economic, even territorial demands. They can constitute a core element for the national identity of a society. In the modern world, we can point to many international disputes and inter-state conflicts, in which the events of the past are the fuel. Inter-state disputes and conflicts over history should be understood as testaments to political and social tension associated with active, serious differences in assessment, regarding the shared past. These discourses include: borders, former armed conflicts, occupation, annexation, war crimes and crimes against humanity, persecution, discrimination, forced migration, responsibility for international crises and humanitarian disasters, disputes about achievements and cultural heritage (including its appropriation). Historians and political scientists from Poland, Germany and the United States, realizing the growing importance of the instrumental use of history in contemporary international conflicts, in October 2018 invited researchers from many countries around the world to the Pedagogical University of Krakow to participate in the conference “History as an Instrument of Contemporary International Conflicts”. The aim of the conference was to analyze various cases of using and abusing the past in contemporary international politics and to jointly reflect on the ways of identifying and classifying them, as well as possible ways to prevent such instrumentalisation, and when prevention ceased to be possible, remove their effects. Twenty-five participants from fourteen countries accepted the invitation. The presentations prepared by partcipants also created a wide spectrum of forms, ranging from studies dealing with theoretical issues through discussions of the foreign historical policy of individual countries, analyzed in the long term, as well as contributions relating to certain partial and local manifestations of the political use of the historical past, as well as essays devoted to ways to conciliate and prevent the instrumentalisation of history. This volume presents the achievements of this, in our opinion, very important and inspiring conference. It should be noted, however, that the organizers


Jan Rydel and Stefan Troebst

of the conference planned that it will be the first in a series of meetings devoted to the instrumentalization of history for the purposes of international relations. For this reason, the presented volume does not pretend to exhaust the topic by describing the most important conflicts of this type on a global scale, or by taking into account all possible points of view on international conflicts using history as an instrument. It is worth noting that after overcoming the difficulties caused by the pandemic in November 2021, a second conference on this topic will be held. Main contemporary international relations (IR) theories perceive conflicts as a typical IR phenomena. As is well known, neo-realism highlights that states are self-interested and rational actors, which are oriented towards survival and maximising power. Moreover, neo-realism underlines the fact that struggle for power has always been the main issue in international relations, and that war and conflicts are logical and inevitable consequences of the competition between states, which are the primary IR actors. According to IR theory, the neo-realist approach, states – as “rational” actors – are prone to use history as a tool of international policy, when it is useful to gain political and strategic goals. Neo-liberalism emphasises questions of interstate cooperation, regimes, institutions and political economy. Additionally, this theory posits that international cooperation, institutions, shared interests and mutual dependence may minimise the risk of international conflicts (Jackson 2009, 173–174). Neo-liberalism would – figuratively speaking – sweep history under the carpet of international cooperation, because it cites negative memories (much more often than positive ones) that may impede cooperation and threaten stability and prosperity. In general, neither of these theories attributes a special role to the memory of the past in international relations. The third main IR theory, constructivism, draws attention to a wide range of factors which are frequently missing in the neo-realist and neo-liberalist explanations of the origins of conflict. Here, the key role is played by elites and other agents of dispute, while factors like identity, political language, norms, knowledge, ideas, symbols, culture, even history and historically contingencies are also important in understanding a conflict (Jackson 2009, 174). Whereas this theory stresses the significance of history as a factor that has an impact on a conflict, its role is often underestimated in the analysis of political scientists. According to Zheng Wang, the reasons for this are that insufficiently developed methodology and the fact that history and historical memory, as well as their impact on the present, are the subject of research in many disciplines and therefore are not clearly manifested (Wang 2018, 2). As mentioned earlier, the ideas of the influence of history and memory on contemporary international politics have been ignored or underestimated in



the research field of international relations studies exploring how history influences contemporary international relations in the last decades, meaning progress in exploring this in certain fields has been significant. As a consequence, the literature about the subject is growing. Moreover, studies on politics of memory, collective memory, historical myths, traumas or glories and politics of historic textbooks (handbooks for school or academic students) is very wide. The issue of interdependency between memory and international politics has been analysed in works like: Memory and Trauma in International Relations (Resende 2013), Memory, Trauma and World Politic, Reflections of the Relationship Between Past and Present (Bell 2006) and The Role of Memory in Ethnic Conflict (Cairn 2003). Interesting psychological research demonstrates why people need to have both enemies and allies. The impact of this on ethnicity nationality and global politics may be found in an older book, The Need to Have Enemies and Allies: From Clinical Practice to International Relationship, by Vomik D. Volkan (1988). Zheng Wang has proposed a research methodology (Wang 2018) using a case study, namely: how historical memory influenced the politics and foreign relations of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (Wang 2012). In fact, in recent years international relations in East Asia has clearly demonstrated that history has indeed played a significant role in contemporary politics. Japanese imperial policy and atrocities committed by the Imperial Army and Navy during the period of Japanese expansionism from the end of the nineteenth century until 1945 still poison the relations of democratic Japan with some Asian countries. Moreover, there are numerous examples of the instrumentalisation of history for the sake of contemporary policy. Problems of Japanese historical memory of the Second World War have been analysed (amongst many others) by Michael Lucken (2017) and Phillip A. Seaton (2007). The influence of Japanese war crimes on relations between Japan and a number of other Asian nations was described by Jean-Louis Margolin (2007). Yoshida Takashi (2006) analysed the infamous Rape of Nanjing and its understanding (including how memory on this crime evolved) in the PRC, USA and Japan. The problem of textbooks as an important tool in shaping young generations’ knowledge and views has been analysed in such volumes as The Politics of the Textbooks, Nationhood and Politicization of History in School Textbooks, which includes some interesting case studies from the Balkan region. Rose Caroline (1998) analysed the textbooks issued from both Chinese and Japanese perspectives. Launched in 2006, the Stanford University project “Divided Memories and Reconciliation” delivered a publication, History Textbooks and the War in Asia: Divided Memories, which examines the formation of historical memory in the PRC, Japan, South Korean, Republic of China (Taiwan) and how it is presented in


Jan Rydel and Stefan Troebst

textbooks. Moreover, it underlines the fact that a new understanding of national narratives on World War II has a potential to bring about historical reconciliation in the region. Hiroshi Mitani (2008) and Mikyoung Kim (2008) also studied the textbooks controversies in their work, East Asia’s Haunted Present: Historical Memories and the Resurgence of Nationalism. This book includes texts devoted to such controversial issues as “comfort women” and the Yasukuni Shrine, both of which strongly influence contemporary Japanese relations with the PRC and South Korea. Another region where history strongly influences contemporary international conflicts is Eastern Europe. According to Polish historian Jerzy Jedlicki: “Eastern Europe is a perfect laboratory to observe how the genuine or apparent remembrances of the past may aggravate current conflicts and how they themselves are modified in the process” (Jedlicki 1999). Attitudes towards Russia in the Baltic States, Poland and in Ukraine are strongly influenced by the bitter experience of the Soviet regime; the memory of the Holodomor, the Katyń massacre, Operation Priboi, deportations and Sovietisation are still alive in these nations. History also plays an important role in the relations of Hungary with its neighbouring states – Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Ukraine and Slovakia. These historically-based animosities need to be carefully studied. This is not an easy task; earlier published research in the field is limited and, obviously, a variety of local languages could be an obstacle in Western scholars’ investigations of historical roots of East European conflicts. Interesting research assesses the Macedonian question; controversial national narratives around it are presented in the collection National Identity and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian question (Roudometof 2002). A monograph, History, Memory and Politics in Central and Eastern Europe (Mink 2013), presents information about the significance of the past in the Baltic States’ foreign policy. Similarly, Disputed Memory. Emotions and Memory Politics in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (Sindbæk Andersen 2016) also highlights the influence of memory conflicts in the region, including the Armenian case. The study Knowledge and Acknowledgement in the Politics of Memory of the Armenian Genocide (Avedian 2018) aims to explain why and how memory politics regarding the Armenian genocide managed to maintain its high political value even in the present day. Similarly, the monograph Remembrance and Denial: The Case of the Armenian Genocide (Hovannisian 1999) highlights the significance of historical memory in forming national identity and introduces the problem of genocide denial. The Israeli-Arab conflict is highly influenced by collective memory of Israelis (Jews) and Arabs (Palestinians). Problems of Israeli collective memory have been presented by Heller (2006) and Rafi Nets-Zehngut (2016). An enlightening study



of the relations between past, memory and conflict in Lebanon is by Larkin (2012). As in the case of controversies referring to Japanese history textbooks, textbooks in Israel and under the Palestinian authority have also become a matter of concern and a reason for further harsh disputes. These textbook controversies have been analysed by Adwan, Bar-Tal and Wexler (2014) in a report, Victims of Our Own Narratives? Portrayal of the “Other” in Israeli and Palestinian School Books. Unlike Eastern Europe and the Far East or Middle East, Western Europe is traditionally perceived as a region where nations have been able to overcome the past. However, the problem of actual and directed public memory is still alive and has become a political issue. Author Maja Zehfuss (2009) depicted the German memory of World War Two and its influence on German politics in her book The Wages of Guilt. Memories of War in Germany and Japan. It is an interesting study which presents the two countries’ different ways of remembering the atrocities committed by both sides, and how Japanese and German political movements, governmental policies, art and literature have been shaped by the shadows of the past. Reconciliation and conflict resolution, with history in the background, have also been analysed. The SAGE Handbook of Conflict Resolution offers ideas and case studies on how to constructively manage conflict. Telling the Truths: Truth Telling and Peace Building in Post-Conflict Societies (Broer 2016) highlights the importance of revealing the hidden past through public bodies like truth commissions, and provides conditions for long-term sustainable peace. This approach is important, especially when history (public memory) is being manipulated to achieve political goals. The collection Contested Memories and Reconciliation Challenges: Japan and the Asia-Pacific on the 70th Anniversary of the End of World War II (Arai 2015) brings together critical analyses on regional reconciliation challenges and proposes policy recommendations, which enable Japan, the PRC and South Korea to address the issue of a painful past constructively. History Education and Conflict Transformation. Social Psychological Theories, History Teaching and Reconciliation (Psaltis 2017) portrays the models, implications and effects of history teaching in relation to reconciliation and conflict transformation, predominantly from the perspective of social psychology theories. Even if the real significance of history as an instrument of IR conflicts may be difficult to measure, this aspect of IR studies is worth deeper research for multiple reasons. International relations are dynamic, uncertain and fluid. The same terms define relations between historical memory, politics and international conflicts. More often than not the past is employed as a tool in international politics, in an instrumentalising way. Nowadays, historical memory plays an important role in Sino-Japanese relations, though when the normalisation of bilateral relations


Jan Rydel and Stefan Troebst

began in 1972, the Japanese atrocities committed in China, especially in the years 1937–1945, were hidden. This situation changed in the beginning of the 1990s, when the PRC started to compete with Japan in economic and political fields. Similar mechanisms related to the perception and instrumentalisation of the past became visible in Polish-German relations. Despite the slow process of rapprochement called “reconciliation” (pojednanie resp. Versöhnung) which has taken place since the mid-1960s, and despite the “community of interests” phase in the 1990s, as well as the intense and sincere cooperation of historians from 2000 onward, we have witnessed increased tensions regarding an understanding of the past. The recent tensions caused by memory politics clearly affect bilateral relations between Poland and Germany on the level of governments. In a changing international environment, analyses of international relations studies and of instrumentalisations of history in international conflicts help to understand the sources and dynamics of such conflicts while contemporary politics still produce new evidence on the matter. Despite progress in research, there are many fields of memory studies that require closer analysis. Zheng Wang underlines the fact that from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and East Asia, many intractable conflicts are deeply rooted in the history and memory of the involved parties (Wang 2012, 18). Similar cases may be identified in Africa and Latin America. Many of these conflicts are not generally known, and this is mainly because their influence on global or regional politics seems to be marginal or because of the lack of sources and the obstacle of language barriers. These under-researched, sometimes, completely unexplored conflicts need to be carefully studied. Without an analysis of the impact of historical memory on such “forgotten” conflicts hardly any of them can be effectively managed. While studying how history is used as an instrument in international conflicts, it is important to understand the decision-makers’ choices regarding public memory, i.e., state-managed, nationwide tuition concerning history and historical memory, shaped through textbooks, museums, mass media and social communication or memorial sites, among other means. The process of reconciliation is always a difficult and long-term task. Knowledge of the historical roots of a conflict and of the methods of instrumentalising history for the purpose of achieving political goals can pave the way to reconciliation, provided the parties to a conflict find the political will to seek compromise. As we mentioned, our volume presents the achievements of the international conference that took place on October 25–27, 2018 at the Pedagogical University in Krakow. We have arranged the texts that make up this volume as follows. The first, small but very important, group consists of two different texts concerning the nature of international conflicts in which history is the instrument.



The answers to these questions are offered by the texts by Zheng Wang and Łukasz Kamiński. In the initial phase, Zheng Wang analyses historical memory as a variable and its influence on politics, and Łukasz Kamiński in his brilliant essay proposes a method of classifying historical conflicts as a starting point for solving them. The following parts of the volume are texts about Central and Eastern Europe. The review article by Przemysław Łukasik and Jan Rydel describes historical disputes between Poland and its neighbours. Bartosz Dziewanowski-Stefańczyk focuses on the analysis of the particularly deep Polish-German conflict of memory and its impact on the politics of both countries after 1989. Numerous texts concern Russia and its neighbourhood. Articles by Olga Dudar and Olga Dianova are devoted to the influence of selected aspects of the influence of history and its instrumentalisation on Russian-Ukrainian relations. Malchaz Toria and Mykoła Bałaban present a comparative study on the role of history in the Russian narrative of the Russo-Georgian and Russo-Ukrainian wars. Nina Janz raises a specific issue bordering on history, commemoration and Russian-German politics, namely the parties’ approach to the problem of war graves. Teemu Häkkinen examines the conceptualisation of Finland’s defense readiness and its relationship to past armed conflicts. A large group of texts concern non-European topics. Łukasz Stach devotes his article to the shadows cast by the imperial and military past of this country on the contemporary foreign policy of Japan. Grzegorz Nycz presents a small study devoted to a specific case of the political implications of the deployment in Washington of the Enola Gay plane, from which the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. Budi Agustono and Farida R. Wargadalem, historians from Indonesia, present the specifics of the Japanese occupation of Sumatra and its contemporary consequences. Maya Hadar from Israel discusses the historical context of the evolution of contemporary Israeli-Iranian relations. Joanna Bar presents the history of the genocide in Rwanda and its influence on contemporary international relations. The last group of texts is devoted to the problem of overcoming international conflicts in which history is the instrument. Stefan Troebst discusses the case of the conflict of the former Yugoslav union republic of Macedonia (now North Macedonia) with Greece and Bulgaria, and an analysis of the unusual Greek-Macedonian system regulating the use of history in mutual relations. Przemysław Furgacz analyses the course, content and resolution of the Polish-Israeli conflict over the amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance. Emmanuelle Hébert devotes her article to the activities of international history and textbook commissions as tools for de-escalating conflicts around history and removing their consequences. Maria Kostromitskaya


Jan Rydel and Stefan Troebst

from the Moscow Memorial presents a moving essay in which she sketched steps that could stimulate an authentic Polish-Russian dialogue on Soviet crimes. The publishers would like to express their gratitude to their respective institutions: the Institute of Political Science and Administration of the Pedagogical University in Kraków and the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig, which provided support to the 2018 History as an Instrument of Contemporary International Conflicts conference as well as to the publication of this volume. We would also like to thank our partner organisations which have supported us on every level, making an intellectual, organisational as well as a financial contribution to the success of both of these endeavours: German-Polish Science Foundation (Frankfurt Oder), The European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (Warsaw) and The Paweł Włodkowic Institute (Wrocław). Furthermore, we are grateful to Łukasz Stach, Przemysław Furgacz, Przemysław Łukasik and Grzegorz Nycz for their all-round support. Finally, we would like to thank Lisa A. Robbins from Florence for her thoroughness in the language editing of the presented articles.

International Conflicts Employing History as Its Instrument: What they are and how to Measure them?

Zheng Wang

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks Abstract: In an effort to meet the challenge of conducting more systematic and rigorous research on historical memory, this paper presents two analytic frameworks which can further the understanding of the function of historical memory in group identity formation and decision-making processes, especially in a conflict or crisis situation. These two frameworks can help categorise and measure the impact of historical memory. They could also provide a model by which researchers can conduct a more rigorous study of historical memory. Keywords: analysis of conflicts backgrounds; categorisation and measurement of conflicts; historical memory; model solution of historical conflicts; uses of history

While exploring the sources, dynamics and structures of contemporary conflict, some scholars have paid special attention to the power of historical memory over human thoughts, feelings and actions. For example, according to Polish historian Jerzy Jedlicki, “the twentieth century history of Eastern Europe is a perfect laboratory to observe how the genuine or apparent remembrances of the past may aggravate current conflicts and how they themselves are modified in the process.”1 Irish historian Ian McBride writes that “in Ireland, the interpretation of the past has always been at the heart of national conflict.”2 Victor Roudometof of the University of Cyprus believes that “the conflicting ethnocentric national narratives of the different sides have generated the Greek-Bulgarian-Macedonian dispute of 1990s.”3 According to Gerrit Gong, “memories of the past conflicts have come to shape international relations in East Asia.”4 From Eastern Europe to the Middle East and East Asia, these case studies illustrate that many intractable conflicts are deeply rooted in the history and memory of the involved parties.

 Jerzy Jedlicki, “Historical memory as a source of conflicts in Eastern Europe,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 32 (1999): 226.  Ian Mcbride, ed., History and Memory in Modern Ireland (Cambridge University Press, 2001), 1.  Victor Roudometof, Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria and the Macedonian Question (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002), 5.  Gerrit W. Gong, ed., Memory and History in East and Southeast Asia (Washington, D.C.: The CSIS Press, 2001).


Zheng Wang

Although many world conflicts have their genesis in factions’ history and memory, the role this concept plays in national politics and international relations remains a considerably understudied field. There are several reasons behind the lack of integrated research on historical memory. First, historical memory does not fit neatly in one specific academic discipline. Both the subject and its implications are so scattered throughout many fields that few scholars have attempted to take it on. The insights into the theories of historical memory are spread among diverse bodies of literature on history, politics, culture, psychology, sociology and communication. Moreover, reasons for the relative lack of attention to historical memory vary widely across different disciplines. In general, ideas (including historical memory and other ideational factors) have been underestimated – if not entirely ignored – in the field of international relations.5 This is because the most current and widely accepted systemic approaches to the study of international relations (IR) are realism and liberal institutionalism. Both approaches take rationalist models as the starting point and focus on how structures affect the instrumental rationality of actors. In such models, actors’ preferences and causal beliefs are a given. Most analysts who rely on such approaches have relegated ideas to only a minor role.6 In this regard, as Ian Johnston has argued, the concepts of historical memory, even though not completely missing from transatlantic IR, are “theoretically and empirically among the least developed questions in transatlantic IR.”7 With specific regard to East Asian international relations, research in recent years has served to suggest that transatlantic IR theory faces “a major omitted-variable problem.”8 In regard to the study of history, Roudometof argues that the long-standing tradition of seeking “scientific objectivity” has, until recently, not allowed the examination of historical writing in relationship to the articulation of collective memory.9 In sociology and anthropology, the legacy of pioneers such as Emile Durkheim and Maurice Halbwachs “was eclipsed in mid-twentieth century by  Zheng Wang, “The Legacy of Historical Memory and China’s Foreign Policy in the 2010s,” in Misunderstanding Asia: International Relations Theory and Asian Studies Over Half a Century, ed. Gilbert Rozman (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 227–240.  Judith Goldstein and Robert Keohane, “Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework,” in Ideas and Foreign Policy, ed. J. Goldstein and R. Keohane (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 3–30.  Alastair Iain Johnston, “What (If Anything) Does East Asia Tell Us About International Relations Theory?” Annual Review of Political Science 15 (2012): 53–78.  Ibid.  Roudometof, Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict, 6–7.

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks


the more empirically-oriented and positivist tradition of U.S. mainstream sociology.”10 Ideas (including historical memory and other ideational factors) have been underestimated – if not entirely ignored – in the field of international relations. Furthermore, in the workings of social life, the past does not always exist as a hard, objective or factual reality – something “out there” to be grasped and appropriated.11 The past is not solid, immutable, or even measurable. It exists as a fluid set of ideas, able to be shaped by time, emotion, and the politically savvy. Some doubt whether historical memory can even be researched scientifically. In fact, it has been widely observed how ideational factors affect international relations and this is one of the most bewildering puzzles for scholars. Measuring the impact of memory on international action is a science in itself, it seems. Progress in incorporating cognitive variables into empirical research on decision-making has been relatively slow and uneven.12 Scholars who have struggled with this question list three factors that may pose difficulties to research that uses identity as a variable. The existence of identity as a universal but largely implicit concept makes it difficult to isolate and understand.13 This is because identities and perceptions influence, but do not unilaterally determine, decision-making behaviour. They are only one variable-cluster within a rich and complex causal framework for explaining decision-making.14 It is extremely difficult to find a one-to-one correlation between perceptions and behaviour.15 Moreover, when identities are measured, the techniques used (large-N surveys, interviews with policy makers, ethnographic field work) are typically not available to those social scientists who study elites in closed or semi-closed states. In an effort to meet the challenge of conducting systematic research on historical memory, I have, therefore, created two frameworks for research. The design of the frameworks is based on the existing literature on historical memory and theories of identity and beliefs. In this review, the concepts developed by  Ibid.  T.H.R. “The Uses of the Past,” The Hedgehog Review 9, no. 2 (2007): 5.  Alexander George, “The Causal Nexus between Cognitive Beliefs and Decision-Making Behavior,” in Psychological Models in International Politics, ed. L. Falkowski (1979), 95–124.  Peter Bruland and Michael Horowitz, Research Report on the Use of Identity Concepts in Comparative Politics. Manuscript. Harvard Identity Project. Wheatherhad Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 2003.  George, The Causal Nexus between cognitive beliefs and decision-making behavior, 95–124.  Wang Jianwei, Limited Adversaries: Post-Cold War Sino-American Mutual Images (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 28.


Zheng Wang

the Harvard Identity Project on the use of identity as a variable,16 the research of Judith Goldstein and Robert Keohane on ideas and foreign policy17 and the social identity theory all serve as useful guide. The first framework is a method of measuring historical memory as a collective identity. A set of research questions is asked to measure whether and how the content of historical memory serves as four types of identity content: (1) constitutive norms (specifies norms or rules that define group membership); (2) relational content (composed of comparisons and references to other identities or groups); (3) cognitive models (assesses the way group members interpret and understand the world); and (4) social purpose (provides the group with socially appropriate roles to perform). Each type of identity content implies an alternate causal pathway between this collective identity and policy behaviours or practices. The second framework is a set of questions examining the function of historical memory in people’s perceptions, interpretations and decision-making processes. According to this framework, there are three causal pathways in which the beliefs or ideas of historical memory can influence political actions: (1) as road maps that increase actors’ clarity about goals or ends-means relationships; (2) as focal points by facilitating the cohesion of particular groups or by causing conflict and constituting difficulties to the settlement of the conflict; (3) as constraints to policy when it becomes embedded in political institutions and in patterns of political discourse once ideas and beliefs generated from historical memory become institutionalised. By creating these two frameworks for research, I hope to provide a model by which researchers can conduct a more rigorous and replicable study of historical memory. These frameworks can help categorise and measure the impact of historical memory. Even though this research focuses on using historical memory as a collective identity, these two frameworks can also be used for researching all types of social identity. Before presenting the two frameworks, I will review the existing literature which makes up the theoretical scheme for understanding the politics of historical memory. The focus here is on understanding the function of

 A group of scholars at Harvard University formed an interdisciplinary research project to study how to overcome the problems that hamper the more systematic incorporation of identity as a variable in helping to explain political action. Their main publication is Rawi Abdelal, Yoshiko Herrera, Iain Johnston, and Rose McDermott, “Identity as a Variable,” Perspectives on Politics 4, no. 4 (2006): 695–711.  Judith Goldstein and Robert Keohane, eds., Ideas and Foreign Policy (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993).

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks


historical memory in group identity formation and how historical memory influences actors’ perceptions, interpretations and decision-making processes.

Historical Memory as a Collective Identity: The First Framework A noteworthy study about the use of identity as a variable in helping to explain political action was conducted by the Harvard Identity Project. According to this project, definition and measurement are two problems that hamper the more systematic incorporation of identity as a variable in helping to explain political action. There is not much consensus on how to define identity; nor is there consistency in the procedures used for determining the content and scope of identity; nor is there agreement on where to look for evidence that identity indeed affects knowledge, interpretations, beliefs, preferences, and strategies; nor is there agreement on how identity affects these components of action.18

A collective identity is defined as a social category that varies along two dimensions – content and contestation. This definition is based on theories of actions such as social identity theory and role theory, as well as past research in this area. The content of identity may take the form of four, non-mutually exclusive types: constitutive norms, relational content, cognitive models and social purpose.19 When constitutive norms are present, the norms of a collective identity specify rules for group membership (categorisation) and accepted attributes (identification). Constitutive norms organise actions in ways that help to define the interests of groups. This identity provides actors socially appropriate roles to perform. In this conceptualisation, the reasons to act in a particular way are found in a decision to perform a role, not in a decision to choose between paths to a preferred outcome. Relational content, on the other hand, focuses on the relationships people have with others. Collective identities are always partly relational – composed

 Rawi Abdelal et al., Treating Identity as a Variable: Measuring the Content, Intensity, and Contestation of Identity, paper presented at the Annual Convention of the America Political Science Association (APSA), August 30–September 2, 2001, San Francisco, 3.  Rawi Abdelal, Yoshiko Herrera, Iain Johnston and Rose McDermott, “Identity as a Variable,” Perspectives on Politics 4, no. 4 (2006): 695–711, 696.


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of comparisons and references to other collective identities from which they are distinguished. The relational characteristics of collective identities include exclusivity, status and hostility. It determines the extent to which one social identity excludes the holding of another (exclusivity). If you are member of group x you are not allowed to be a member of group y. Relational characteristics create the relative status of an identity compared to others so that group x is identified as superior to group y, according to group x thinking. This superiority/inferiority dichotomy raises the level of hostility presented by other identities. The creation of in-group identity will tend to produce competitive behaviour with out-groups, or lead to the devaluation of out-groups.20 The content of a collective identity can be cognitive. The cognitive content of a collective identity explains how group membership is associated with conceptions of how the world works – specific cause and effect relationships – as well as descriptions of the social reality of the group. This type of content allows actors to interpret the external world. The cognitive models that are inherent in collective identities consist of a group’s ontology. Based on this model, a collective identity affects the way individual actors understand the world. Cognitive content affects a group’s interpretation of the world. In other words, the material or social incentives for particular action will take on different values according to one’s identity. Thus, actions still flow from material or social incentives, but it is identity that affects the evaluation of these incentives. Lastly, the content of a collective identity may be purposive, especially when the group attaches specific meanings and goals to its identity. This purposive content is similar to the common-sense notion that what groups want depends on who they think they are. Thus, identities can lead actors to endow practices with group purposes and to interpret the world through lenses in relation to those purposes. In summary, each of these four types of identity content implies an alternate causal pathway between this collective identity and policy behaviours or practices. Every collective identity includes at least one of these types of content; many collective identities are comprised of all four types.21 The content of identities is neither fixed nor predetermined. Rather, content is the outcome of a process of social contestation. Much of what we think of as identity discourse is the controversy over the meaning of a particular collective identity. Specific interpretations of the meaning of an identity are sometimes widely shared among members of a group and sometimes less widely shared.

 Rawi Abdelal et al., “Identity as a Variable,” 698–699.  Rawi Abdelal et al., “Treating Identity as a Variable,” 8.

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks


Table 1: Types of identity content. Types of Identity Content

Functions of historical memory

Constitutive norms

Specifies norms or rules that define group membership and the interests of groups.

Relational Comparisons

Conducts comparisons and references to other identities or groups.

Cognitive Models

Affects the way group members interpret and understand the world.

Purposive content

Provides the group socially appropriate roles to perform.

At a minimum, contestation can be thought of as a matter of degree – the content of collective identities can be more or less contested. When a society experiences certain circumstances, such as external threat, for example, contestation over identity may drop dramatically. Social identity theory is one of the most influential contemporary theories of group behaviour and provides a useful supplement to the model of the Harvard Identity Project. The theory explains how identity emerges from the processes of social categorisation and comparison and how it influences inter-group relations. This theory is based on three central ideas about intergroup behaviour: categorisation, identification and comparison.22 We categorise objects to understand them and people, in order to understand our social environment. We identify with groups that we see ourselves belonging to. By this we mean that people think of themselves in terms of “us versus them” or “in-group versus out-group.” A positive self-concept is part of normal psychological functioning. To maintain positive selfesteem we engage in inter-group comparisons that allow us to conceive of our groups as both different from and superior to groups to which we do not belong. Social identity theory emphasises the impact of collective identity and esteem on the individual. Instead of examining the individual in the group, social identity theorists focus on the group in the individual. Individuals gain positive self-identity and esteem through group membership and the development of consensual, in-group identities. Individuals see themselves more as “group members” than individuals and act accordingly via “collective action.” People who share the same collective identity think of themselves as having a common interest and a common fate. However, there is a cultural difference in people’s

 H. Tajfel and J.C. Turner, “The social identity theory of inter-group behaviour,” in Psychology of Intergroup Relations, ed. S. Worchel and L. W. Austin (Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1986).


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in-group identities. Normally, the more collectivist the culture, the more people identify with their group, and the more people will differentiate one’s own group from other groups.23 Social identity theory also addresses how individuals respond to a negative social identity. Tajfel and Turner emphasised two important belief systems that shape people’s thinking.24 The first, “social mobility,” is based on the general assumption that the society in which the individuals live is a flexible and permeable. Through social mobility, an individual attempts to leave a negatively distinct in-group and gain membership to a more favourable group. Unsatisfied with his/her life, this person believes that it is possible – through talent, hard work, immigration, etc. – to move to another group. At the other extreme, “social change” is based on the belief that group boundaries are impermeable and that individuals can change certain aspects of the comparative situation in order to achieve favourable in-group status. Social change strategies include social creativity (such as finding new dimensions of comparison and redefining the value attached to attributes), social competition (direct competition with the out-group in order to achieve actual changes in the status of the groups) and social action (such as social protest, social movement and revolution). Group members’ desire for positive social identity can also provide contending leaders with the basis for social mobilisation of mass support. Both the Harvard Identity Project and Social Identity Theory serve as useful guides for a more rigorous study of identity. Based on the two theories, I developed Table 2 as an analytic framework for research. Particular questions are asked to measure the content and contestation of historical memory as a collective identity. The table also includes aspects of categorisation, identification and competition based on the ideas of social identity theory. This method is more thoroughly described in the table itself.25 Based on the analytic framework, when a collective identity serves as constitutive norms, this identity should have the following characteristics: specify rules for group membership (categorisation) and accepted attributes (identification); consist of an element of group self-esteem and myth; provide actors socially appropriate roles to perform; and organise actions in ways that help to define the interests of groups. When examining the role of historical memory in

 Jonathan Mercer, “Anarchy and Identity,” International Organization 49, no. 2 (1995): 229–52.  Tajfel and Turner, The social identity theory of inter-group behaviour, 9.  Zheng Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict: Historical Memory as a Variable (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks


Table 2: Historical memory as a collective identity. Norms & Models

Research Questions

Constitutive Categorisation Norms

Does the content of historical memory specify rules that determine group membership?

Relational Norms

Purposive Norms


Does the content of historical memory help to define the group’s fundamental characteristics and attributes?

Pride, Trauma & Self Esteem

Does the content of historical memory constitute the basis of the group’s pride, glory, trauma and self-esteem?

Social Comparison

Does the content of historical memory help to specify to whom this social group compares themselves with and who the group’s enemies are?

Social Mobilisation

Does the content of historical memory provide political leaders and elites with the basis for mobilising mass support?

Social Mobility & Change

Is the content of historical memory a source of group members’ social mobility or social change?

Social Purpose

Does the content of historical memory define group purpose?

Role Identity

Does the content of historical memory provide actors with socially appropriate roles to perform?

a given group’s identity construction, the following questions are asked to measure the content of historical memory as constitutive norms: 1) Does the content of historical memory specify rules that determine group membership and attributes? (e.g., who is a group member, what it means to be a group member?) 2) Does the content of historical memory help to define the interests of groups? 3) Does the content of historical memory constitute the basis of the group’s self-esteem, pride and dignity? 4) Does the content of historical memory provide actors with socially appropriate roles to perform? A set of other questions are asked to measure whether and how the content of historical memory serves as the other three types of identity content – relational content, cognitive models and social purpose. Finally, the framework measures to what extent the content of historical memory has been shared or contested by the group. This conceptualisation provides an analytic framework for a systematic research of the function of historical memory. Whether


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exploring the impact of historical memory, group dynamics or ethnic unity, these questions are useful as a guide to categorising and measuring the effects of historical memory. Based on this framework, when examining the role of historical memory in a given group’s policy behaviours or practices (such as foreign policy and conflict behaviour), we are able to first find out what role historical memory plays in the formation of group identity. It is particularly important to examine what roles historical memory plays in the process of this group’s categorisation, identification and comparison of identity.

Three Causal Pathways of Beliefs: The Second Framework Another important work on the role of ideas in foreign policy was conducted by Robert Keohane, Judith Goldstein and their colleagues. In their book Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework, they propose a system for studying how ideas (defined as “beliefs held by individuals”) help to explain political outcomes.26 Ideas here can also be the cognitive content of a collective identity. Based on the previous framework, it is evident that historical memory forms this collective identity and solidifies the ideas a group holds about its members and its adversaries. Keohane and Goldstein identify three “causal pathways” in which ideas, including those constituting historical memory, can influence policy behaviour: ideas as road maps, ideas as focal points and glue and institutionalisation. Even the most rational analysts agree that people have incomplete information when they select the strategies by which to pursue their preferred outcomes. The ideas and belief systems that individuals hold, therefore, become important elements in the explanation of policy choices. Under conditions of uncertainty, beliefs and ideas may act as road maps in three ways. Ideas influence actors’ interpretations and judgments regarding certain situations, whereby they limit policy choices by excluding other variables, as well as rejecting contrary interpretations that might suggest alternative choices in that particular situation. In this way, ideas function as filters that limit policy choices. Beliefs and ideas can also provide compelling ethical or moral motivations for actions. In their third function, ideas

 Judith Goldstein and Robert Keohane, “Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework,” in Ideas and Foreign Policy, ed. J. Goldstein and R. Keohane (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993, 3).

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks


and beliefs can guide behaviour by stipulating causal patterns. Ideas become important when actors believe in the causal links they identify or in the normative principles that they reflect. Second, ideas contribute to outcomes in the absence of unique equilibrium. They may serve as focal points that define cooperative solutions or act as coalitional glue to facilitate the cohesion of particular groups. When political actors must choose between outcomes with no “objective” criteria on which to base choice, ideas focus expectations and strategies. Political elites may settle on courses of action on the basis of shared cultural, normative, religious, ethnical or causal beliefs. Other policies may be ignored. Ideas or identity can act as causal factors in influencing policy behaviour by coordinating cooperation and group cohesion; however, they can also contribute to outcomes in the opposite way – causing conflict and disorder. Third, once ideas become embedded in rules and norms – that is, once they become institutionalised – they constrain public policy. A policy choice leads to the creation of reinforcing organisational and normative structures, which then affect the incentives of political entrepreneurs long after the interests of its initial proponents have changed. In general, when institutions intervene, the impact of ideas may be prolonged for decades or even generations. In this sense, ideas can have an impact even when people no longer genuinely believe in them as principled or causal statements. In summary, ideas influence policy when the principled or causal beliefs they embody provide road maps that increase actors’ clarity about goals or ends-means relationships, when they affect outcomes of strategic situations in which there is no unique equilibrium and when they become embedded in political institutions. In order to find out whether the ideas of historical memory act as road maps and/or focal points in a group’s policy and practice behaviour, specific questions concerning the three aspects need to be answered. These questions are outlined in Table 3. The first group of questions is for the purpose of identifying whether the particular beliefs of historical memory play the role of road maps for response and behaviour in conflicts and uncertain situations. Based on the conceptual framework presented earlier, ideas and beliefs act as road maps in three ways: (a) by influencing actors’ interpretation and judgment regarding the situations; (b) by providing compelling ethical or moral motivations for actions; (c) by guiding behaviour by stipulating causal patterns. These research questions were designed to examine the three aspects. For example, the first set of questions focuses on how the beliefs of historical memory influence actors’ interpretation and judgment regarding conflict situations and policy options for response.


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Table 3: Three causal pathways of beliefs. Causal Pathways

Research Questions

Road maps Information Processing & Decision making

Does historical memory influence actors’ interpretation and judgment, such as functioning as a filter that excludes other interpretations or limiting policy options for response?

Motivation & Mobilization

Have political leaders used historical memory to mobilise mass support and/or justify hostility against another group? Does historical memory provide ethical or moral motivations for actions?


Does historical memory stipulate causal patterns to guide behaviour under conditions of uncertainty?

Equilibrium Cooperation



Does historical memory act as coalitional glue to facilitate the cohesion of a group? Does historical memory cause any conflict or constitute any difficulties to the settlement and resolution of the conflict? Have the beliefs of historical memory become embedded in political or social institutions and therefore become institutionalised?

The second group of questions examines whether and how the beliefs of historical memory serve as focal points and glue that coordinate cooperation and group cohesion. Or, conversely, whether and how they contribute to opposite outcomes and cause conflict and disorder. The third set of questions is about whether the beliefs of historical memory have become embedded in political institutions and have been institutionalised. 27

Historical Memory as a Variable In their research about how Germany’s past continues to influence its present policies, Andrei Markovits and Simon Reich consider collective memory as the ‘biggest factor mitigating the exercise of German power,’ yet also an ‘element many political scientists usually avoid.” Journalists working in Germany regularly see this in action:

 Zheng Wang 2018a.

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks


The politics of collective memory – impossible to quantify, hard to measure with the methods of survey research, yet still very real – is a major ingredient of the political arena, the public discourse, and the policy setting in every country. It circumscribes the acceptable. It defines such key ingredients as pride, shame, fear, revenge, and comfort for a large number of a country’s citizens. It is central to an understanding of the forces of nationalism.28

Indeed, historical memory is a very special subject of research. As pre- and unconscious patterns of thinking and ideas, collective memory is very often our “collective unconscious.” As a nation’s “deep culture,” historical memory is not objective knowledge and very often cannot be explicitly learned. While the idea of this memory-shaping identity is generally acknowledged, scholars have not found effective means of measuring or analysing its effects. Organisations such as the Harvard Identity Project have made strides in addressing identity as a causal factor behind action. However, these theories have yet to be organised into functional framework to study historical memory as a variable. This article outlines the work of the Harvard Identity Project and the existing literature on historical memory and then builds on that to provide two analytic and theoretic frameworks for studying historical memory and its effects. Each of the above frameworks can be used as an integral whole for more systematic research, but can also be divided into several components to focus on particular aspects of historical memory issues. The first framework, for example, addresses four types of identity content. Even though many collective identities are comprised of all four types, a research project may focus only on one of the four types. If a researcher wants to study the role of historical memory in one group’s membership identification, he or she can focus on the first types of identity content of constitutive norms, and use this part of the first framework to guide research. The framework has suggested a road map for research: when examining the role of historical memory in constructing a group’s identity, we must explore what role it plays in the process of this group’s categorisation, identification, self-esteem and role identity (see Table 2). These frameworks can be used by scholars to conduct different research projects regarding how memories of past injustice have influenced a group’s interpretation and judgment regarding a particular conflict situation in contemporary times. For example, Poland’s unforgettable collective memories about the Katyn Forest Massacre in 1941 influenced the way current Polish citizens interpret the

 Andrei S. Markovits and Simon Reich, The German Predicament (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 9.


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recent plane tragedy in April 2010. Or, how the memory of imperialist bullying in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries affected Chinese understanding about the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on May 8, 1999? To comprehend these deep-rooted causes and their effects, researchers can use the first framework’s inquiry about historical memory as a cognitive model and the second framework’s concepts about historical memory as a road map in information processing. A potential research topic would include the following questions: (1) Did the content of historical memory act as a source of frames, lenses or analogies to interpret the current event? (2) Did the beliefs of historical memory function as filters that limited choices by excluding other variables and contrary interpretations that might have suggested other choices? (3) Did the beliefs of historical memory play any role in limiting, curtailing and creating policy options for response? Mainstream international relations specialists would consider a discussion of how historical memory directly influences foreign policy behaviour extraneous to serious analysis, as has been noted earlier. Scholars themselves may believe that historical memory matters but only influences emotions or relates to the actor’s psychology and attitudes. Some categorise historical memory as a social narrative, created and manipulated for the most part by political elites, as a tool to mobilise people to work in their own interests. However, such dismissive views overlook the important function of historical memory as a key element in the construction of national identity. Indeed, Anthony D. Smith has argued: ‘no memory, no identity; no identity, no nation’.29 The prime “raw material” for constructing ethnicity is most often the past – in other words: history.30 It is collective memory of the past that binds a group of people together. Identity determines national interests, which in turn determine policy and state action, it is argued.31 Understanding a group’s collective memory can help us to better comprehend their national interests and political actions. The first framework, as discussed previously, is a method of measuring historical memory as a collective identity. Humans have a limited capacity to organise and analyse data.32 Consequently, we need to rely on a simplifying mechanism to process (to code, store

 Anthony D. Smith, The Ethnic Origins of Nations (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986), 383.  Jack David Eller, From culture to ethnicity to conflict: an anthropological perspective on international ethnic conflict (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999).  William A. Callahan, “History, Identity and Security: Producing and Consuming Nationalism in China,” Critical Asian Studies 38, no. 2 (2006): 179–208, 184.  Yuen Foong Khong, Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks


and recall) the massive amounts of information we encounter daily. Frames provide shortcuts that people use to help make sense of complex information. Often, these frames are built on underlying structures of beliefs, values and experiences which can differ across cultures and nationalities. In addition, frames often exist prior to conscious decision-making and can affect subsequent decisions. Thus, by the nature of how and when frames are formed, factions are separated, not only by differences in interests, beliefs and values, but also in how they perceive and understand the world, both at a conscious and subconscious level. One way human beings make sense of new situations is by comparing them to situations stored in memory. The history of a people profoundly influences their perception of the world around them. Historical memories often function as important information processors. Historical memory influences actors’ interpretation and understanding of a particular situation and of the external world. It often leads actors to endow practices with group purpose and to interpret the world through frames defined, in part, by that purpose. Like culture, historical memory is rarely the only cause of conflict, but it does provide the “lens” by which we view and bring into focus our world; through the lens differences are magnified and conflicts are pursued.33 The lens of historical memory affects the way both the masses and the elites interpret the present and decide on future policies.34 Socially shared images of the past allow the group to foster social cohesion, to develop and defend social identification, and to justify current attitudes and needs. During conflicts, leaders often try to evoke memories of past traumas to spur people to action and make the group more cohesive. Historical enmity thus acts much like an amplifier in an electrical circuit.35 Social identity can provide the symbolic currency for expressing inter- and even intra-group relations and often plays an important role in organising a dispute and therefore mobilising mass support for conflict. Historical memory of past events can provide leaders with the basis for the mobilisation of mass support. There is, in addition, a significant link between historical memory and political legitimacy. This link is best evidenced by the attempt of nationalist

 Kevin Avruch, Culture and Conflict Resolution (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1998).  Andrei S. Markovits and Simon Reich, The German Predicament (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997), 9.  V.D. Volkan, Bloodlines: From ethnic pride to ethnic terrorism (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997).


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movements to create a master commemorative narrative that emphasises a common past and ensures a common destiny.36 Political leaders often use historical memory to bolster their own legitimacy and promote their own interests, while encouraging a nationalistic spirit and mobilising mass support for social conflicts. An important indicator that identity violence may be forthcoming is nationalist (or religious) myths justifying hostility against another group. These myths are evident in national media, school curricula, official government documents and speeches, popular literature and history. The more hostile the myths or ideology, the more likely violence is to occur.37 Along these lines, the politics of memory has proven to be central in the transition to democracy throughout the world.38 Perceptions of the past are essential in both de-legitimating previous regimes and in grounding new claims to political legitimacy. For example, the collapse of communism in Russia in 1991 necessitated, among other things, the rewriting of school history textbooks.39 By shaping collective memory, governments can uphold their own legitimacy and topple that of others. The territorial disputes over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands between China and Japan provide another example to comprehend how divergent perceptions and understanding of history can become the source of conflict and contribute to the escalation of disputes. On the surface, this is a dispute over several tiny isles. Beneath the surface it is a security crisis linked to a complex set of political and economic factors. The dispute has historical roots. Strong disagreements can be fanned into flame because of the huge perception gap between the two countries and the rise of nationalism on both sides. The countries have different understandings about the causes and dynamics of what happened with respect to the islands. Each party sees itself as peaceful and condemns the other as aggressive and revisionist. The divergent perceptions can first be explained as a clash of two very different “senses of history” – the two nations have markedly different perspectives. One important reason for Chinese emotionality over Japanese actions is that many people connect the islands issue to the historical grievances. The current dispute has reactivated the Chinese memory of the

 Yael Zerubavel, Recovered Roots (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995).  Stuart J. Kaufman, Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2001).  Duncan S.A. Bell, Memory, Trauma and World Politics: Reflections on the Relationship Between Past and Present (New York: Palgrave, 2006), 20.  Joseph Zajda and Rea Zajda, “The Politics of Rewriting History: New History Textbooks and Curriculum Materials in Russia,” International Review of Education 49, no. 3 ⁄ 4 (2003): 363–384.

Historical Memory as a Variable: Two Analytic Frameworks


wars and invasions that country suffered many years ago. For their part, many Japanese believe that the past wars belong to the ancestors of both countries and do not connect the current issue with history. On a deeper level, the different perceptions of history are spawned through sharply divergent systems of history education. In the Chinese classroom, as discussed previously, the curriculum is heavily loaded with the contents of China’s traumatic national experience. A state-run national patriotic education is instilled, from kindergarten through college.40 For those who receive their education in China, the war between China and Japan has never finished. From the history textbooks, media and popular culture, their “memory” of a war they never experienced is very fresh. A negative attitude toward Japan can be easily “reactivated” by its current “aggressive” behaviour, such as putting a Chinese fishing boat captain on trial in 2010 or nationalising land on the disputed islands in 2012. On the contrary, in Japan, history education contains very little information on World War II; the younger generations do not learn much about that part of history unless they intentionally seek more information independently. Compared with the Chinese youth who receive a top-down “patriotic education,” for many Japanese youth, it is, arguably, “a generation of no history education” – the war almost never happened.41 For a long time, the concepts of historical memory have been theoretically and empirically among the least developed questions in “mainstream” international relations. What happened in recent months in East Asia, from tensions between South Korea and Japan to the crisis between China and Japan over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, has, once again, suggested that historical memory (and its expression in nationalism and history education) is a key source of divergent perceptions, persistent security dilemmas and ongoing disputes over territory. The concepts of historical memory are not unique to East Asian international relations, of course. In Asia they are not simply psychological issues, related only to perceptions and attitudes, as they might be classified in some cultures or countries. They are actually the key elements of constructing national identity and influencing foreign policy decision-making. In this regard, as Harvard scholar Ian Johnston has commented, East Asian international re-

 Zheng Wang, Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).  Zheng Wang, “Perception Gaps, Identity Clashes,” in Clash of National Identities: China, Japan and the East China Sea Territorial Dispute, ed. Tatsushi Arai, Shihoko Goto and Zheng Wang (Washington D.C.: The Woodrow Wilson Center, 2013).


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lations suggest transatlantic international relations theory faces “a major omitted-variable problem.”42 This article aims to contribute to methodological discussions concerning the use of historical memory as a variable to explain political action. It is my hope that these two frameworks can act as road maps for conducting research on historical memory. As Katzernstein suggests, national identities must be investigated empirically in concrete historical settings.43 These frameworks provide researchers with tools for the analysis of empirical data. They can be used to generate research questions measuring the effects of historical memory and help researchers determine which aspects of an event or a conflict situation are worth considering. Researchers can use these two frameworks as guides to categorising and measuring the effects of historical memory.

References Avruch, Kevin. Culture and Conflict Resolution. Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1998. Abdelal, Rawi, Yoshiko Herrera, Iain Johnston and Rose McDermott. “Identity as a Variable.” Perspectives on Politics 4, no. 4 (2006): 695–711. Bell, Duncan S.A. Memory, Trauma and World Politics: Reflections on the Relationship Between Past and Present. New York: Palgrave, 2006. Bruland, Peter, and Michael Horowitz. Research Report on the Use of Identity Concepts in Comparative Politics. Manuscript. Harvard Identity Project. Wheatherhad Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, 2003. Callahan, William A. “History, Identity and Security: Producing and Consuming Nationalism in China.” Critical Asian Studies 38, no. 2 (2006). Eller, Jack David. From culture to ethnicity to conflict: an anthropological perspective on international ethnic conflict. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999. George, Alexander. “The Causal Nexus between Cognitive Beliefs and Decision-Making Behavior.” In Psychological Models in International Politics, edited by L. S. Falkowski. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1979: 95–124. Goldstein, Judith, and Robert Keohane. “Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework.” In Ideas and Foreign Policy, edited by J. Goldstein and R. Keohane. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.

 Alastair Iain Johnston. “What (If Anything) Does East Asia Tell Us About International Relations Theory?,” Annual Review of Political Science 15 (2012): 53–78.  Peter J. Katzenstein. “Introduction: Alternative Perspectives on National Security,” in The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics, ed. Peter J. Katzenstein (New York: Colombia University Press, 1996).

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Goldstein, Judith and Robert Keohane. “Ideas and Foreign Policy: An Analytical Framework.” In Ideas and Foreign Policy, edited by Judith Goldstein and Robert Keohane (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), 3–30. Gong, Gerrit W., ed. Memory and History in East and Southeast Asia. Washington, D.C.: The CSIS Press, 2001. Jedlicki, Jerzy. “Historical memory as a source of conflicts in Eastern Europe.” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 32 (1999): 226. Johnston, Alastair Iain. “What (If Anything) Does East Asia Tell Us About International Relations Theory?” Annual Review of Political Science 15 (2012): 53–78. Kaufman, Stuart J. Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2001. Katzenstein, Peter J. “Introduction: Alternative Perspectives on National Security.” In The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics, edited by Peter J. Katzenstein. New York: Colombia University Press, 1996. Khong, Yuen Foong. Analogies at War: Korea, Munich, Dien Bien Phu, and the Vietnam Decisions of 1965. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992. Markovits, Andrei S., and Simon Reich. The German Predicament. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997. Mercer, Jonathan. “Anarchy and Identity.” International Organization 49, no. 2 (1995): 229–52. Mcbride, Ian, ed. History and Memory in Modern Ireland. Cambridge University Press, 2001. Roudometof, Victor. Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria and the Macedonian Question. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002. Smith, Anthony D. The Ethnic Origins of Nations. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986. Volkan, V.D. Bloodlines: From ethnic pride to ethnic terrorism. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997. Wang Jianwei. Limited Adversaries: Post-Cold War Sino-American Mutual Images. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. Wang, Zheng. Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict. Historical Memory as a Variable. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018a. Wang, Zheng. Never Forget National Humiliation. Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. Wang, Zheng. “Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations.” Paper presented at the international conference History as an Instrument of Contemporary International Conflicts. Poland, Krakow, October 25–27, 2018b. Wang, Zheng. “The Legacy of Historical Memory and China’s Foreign Policy in the 2010s.” In Misunderstanding Asia: International Relations Theory and Asian Studies Over Half a Century, ed. Gilbert Rozman, 227–240. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Zajda, Joseph, and Rea Zajda. “The Politics of Rewriting History: New History Textbooks and Curriculum Materials in Russia.” International Review of Education 49, no. 3 ⁄ 4 (2003): 363–384. Zerubavel, Yael. Recovered Roots. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995. Zheng, Wang. “Perception Gaps, Identity Clashes.” In Clash of National Identities: China, Japan and the East China Sea Territorial Dispute, edited by Tatsushi Arai, Shihoko Goto and Zheng Wang. Washington D.C.: The Woodrow Wilson Center, 2013.

Łukasz Kamiński

How (and why) to Measure Conflicts of Memory? Abstract: Conflicts of memory are a growing problem in the contemporary world. While research of historical ones is developing steadily, a tool that can monitor current ones in nearly real time is needed to efficiently help with political decisions. This article presents possible methods for creating such a tool by presenting examples of indicators (state policy, social stances, media presence, acts of violence, representation in culture, third party engagement) and a sample mathematical model which could be used in a neural network or another similar algorithm. Possible technical solutions and problems to be solved are also discussed. Keywords: conflicts of memory; indicators of historical conflicts; intensity of historical conflicts measurement; model solution of historical conflicts

In the last decades there has been a real growth of memory studies. This academic field attracts specialists from various other disciplines such as history, sociology, psychology, political science and museology. The diversity of scholars is on one hand a strength, because it offers a variety of experiences and approaches to the problem, yet, on the other, a weakness, as it makes forming a cohesive methodology difficult. Many studies from this field are devoted to contemporary issues. At the same time, problems of memory seem to be a major “omitted variable” in analyses and current politics, as Zheng Wang put it.1 One of the reasons for this situation is a severely limited transfer of knowledge from academia to the political stage. Another is the lack of methods of monitoring various problems in real time, which is vital for influencing decision-making processes. These issues can be clearly seen in the example of conflicts of memory, which play an important role in the contemporary world for the following reasons: 1. Conflicts of memory can spark a “hard” conflict. A good example is the removal of the “bronze soldier” statue from the centre of Tallin, which not

 Z. Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict. Historical Memory as a Variable (Cham: Springer Internationa Publishing, 2018).


Łukasz Kamiński

only resulted in riots, but also was the cause of the Russian cyberattack on Estonian infrastructure.2 2. Conflicts of memory can give existing conflicts emotional charge, making them harder to resolve. In the case of tensions between China and Japan, stemming from economic and geopolitical reasons, the past was many times used to escalate animosity (for example, in 2004, when the so-called “textbook controversy” emerged3). 3. Conflicts of memory can grant existing disputes language and/or symbols, which cause the public to become more outwardly (and again – emotionally) engaged. During the Greek government-debt crisis, a substantial part of social campaigning relied on calling the Germans (leaders of the Eurogroup) “Nazis” or “occupants” and portraying Angela Merkel in a Nazi uniform.4 4. Conflicts of memory can be used by third parties. An evident example of this is the Russian campaign to discredit Ukraine using historical arguments, started after the Revolution of Dignity. One of its goals is to escalate the Polish-Ukrainian conflict of memory, related to the crimes committed during World War II.5 One can expect the worldwide influence of conflicts of memory will grow. Our times are characterised by a certain liquidity, to refer to Zygmunt Bauman’s work.6 This creates a need for a strong identity rooted in the past, which, in turn, results in creating or escalating existing conflicts of memory. Another factor increasing the risk of open conflicts is the modern model of remembrance; in the last decades this has championed victimhood. Moreover, technological progress allows every suffering and injustice to be recorded, and every story from the past is instantly spread. Due to the prevalence of social media, even completely forgotten stories can re-emerge and become a centre of public attention. While the modern model of remembrance has many positive aspects, it can dramatically amplify frictions rooted in history.  M. Ehala, “The Bronze soldier: Identity Threat and Maintenance in Estonia,” Journal of Baltic Studies 40, no. 1 (2009): 139–158.  C Schneider, “The Japanese History Textbook Controversy in East Asian Perspective,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 617, no. 1 (2008): 108–112.  D. Tziovas, “Narratives of the Greek crisis and the politics of the past,” in Greece in Crisis. The Cultural Politics of Austerity (Bloomsbury Publishing: London, 2017), 19–64.  L. Wenerski and M. Kacewicz, Russian soft power in Poland. The Kremlin and pro-Russian organizations, Budapest. 10, 19, 22–23, 2017 ( source/documents/PC_NED_country_study_PL_20170428.pdf, accessed October 15, 2019).  Z. Bauman, Liquid modernity (Cambridge, 2000).

How (and why) to Measure Conflicts of Memory?


Nowadays, conflicts of memory are observed on all levels: global (colonisation), continental (in Europe – World War II, communism), multinational (former Yugoslavia), bi-national (Greece and Macedonia) and internal (Spain), to name a few examples. While there is a substantial amount of research on this topic, it hardly ever appears fast enough to influence political decisions. In particular, it is never published soon enough to have even a theoretical chance of preventing the escalation of hostility. Despite the growing importance of conflicts of memory, they are rarely taken into consideration when predicting the possible escalation of tensions. A good example of this is the Global Conflict Risk Index (GCRI), developed by an international consortium7 and financed by Joint Research Centre in cooperation with EU External Action Service. It aims to “provide an accessible, objective and open-source evidence base supporting the decision-making on long-term conflict risks.”8 It is based on 24 variables, divided into five categories: political, economic, security, social, and environmental. However, they do not include conflicts of memory. The only one related in any way is the variable: “time since last heavy violent conflict.” One of the reasons behind this is a lack of quantified data (the GCRI is “exclusively based on quantitative indicators from open sources”).9 Similarly, the Global Peace Index (GPI) does not include conflicts of memory among its 23 indicators.10 All those reasons point to the necessity of creating a model for measuring the intensity of conflicts of memory, which needs to be based on: – real-time – objectivity – clear indicators with predictive value – commonly accessible data – able to use with incomplete data (e.g. without access to classified documents)

 Department of Peace and Conflict Research, University of Uppsala; Peace Research Institute Oslo; Dartmouth College; Institute of Economics and Peace; Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research; World Food Programme; Department of Political Science, University College London (, accessed October 15, 2019).  Science for peace and stability – Global Conflict Risk Index (GCRI), en/peace-and-stability/projects/gcri (accessed October 15, 2019).  S. Halkia, S. Ferri, I. Joubert-Boitat, F. Saporiti and M. Kauffmann, The Global Conflict Risk Index (GCRI) Regression model: data ingestion, processing, and output methods, 4–9 (Luxembourg, 2017) ( global_conflict_risk_index_regression_model.pdf., accessed October 15, 2019).  Global Peace Index 2019, (accessed October 18, 2019).


Łukasz Kamiński

Moreover, the model should be implemented in a manner that is easily and universally accessible (through a website), allowing it to efficiently play a preventive role. Decision-makers would have access to reliable data, and be pressured by a public aware of the issue. Needless to say, such a model/tool will also be invaluable for pure scientific research in this field and will certainly contribute to its growth. A sketch of the model is given below. It is a preliminary outline, hereby presented for discussion.11 The technical side does not appear to be problematic. The front end of the tool should be a database, continuously expanded. Every entry should contain: conflict assignment, description of the occurrence, its date, category and intensity (described later), data of submitter. This information will then be automatically processed. The end result will be a single number measuring the intensity of each conflict. A scale will be provided to help interpret the value, as well as various maps, charts etc. The input entries should also be available in order to increase transparency and provide the source data for interested parties. Of course personal data may be restricted to allow safe submitting in case of possible repercussions. The key issue is the choice of indicators. Proposed ones are: – state policy – social stances (attitudes) – media presence – representation in culture – acts of violence – third party engagement Each indicator should have a normalised intensity scale with assigned numerical values (see example below). A four-level scale is proposed, with the following descriptions: 1. State policy 1.0 State not involved in the conflict 1.1 Politicians/officials engage in events inflaming the conflict (celebrations, demonstrations) 1.2 Official enunciations/statements of government representatives, parliamentary acts (of negative position) regarding the conflict 1.3 Active engagement of the state (destroying monuments and other objects, apprehensions, censorship of publications regarding the conflict)

 It is my own idea, but I have discussed it with my colleagues from Paweł Włodkowic Institute – Anna Cichocka and Andrzej Krajewski.

How (and why) to Measure Conflicts of Memory?


2. Social stances (attitudes) 2.0 No social reaction to the conflict/past events 2.1 Conflict present in the social space (social media, public conversations, clothing, emblems, symbols, active participation in celebrations) 2.2 Demonstrations, pickets 2.3 Riots 3. Media presence 3.0 Topic not present in media 3.1 Topic present in neutral form (articles, historical broadcasts etc.) 3.2 Topic present in journalistic writing, text meant to fuel negative emotions 3.3 The media openly participate in the escalation of the conflict 4. Representation in culture 4.0 Topic not represented in works of culture 4.1 Topic represented in high culture 4.2 Topic represented in mass culture 4.3 Works of art intentionally boost negative emotions 5. Acts of violence 5.0 No acts of violence 5.1 Graffiti on walls, monuments, in cemeteries etc. (symbolic violence) 5.2 Devastation of places of remembrance, temples, cultural objects etc. 5.3 Violence toward people 6. Third party engagement 6.0 No engagement 6.1 Engagement based on soft power 6.2 Engagement with active measures, but under a false flag 6.3 Open engagement in conflict The results will be presented as an intensity index for each conflict. To help with interpretation, the scale should be divided into a few degrees. The proposed ones are: – extinguished conflict – conflict ended in reconciliation – conflict in reconciliation (transitional?) phase – active conflict – escalating conflict


Łukasz Kamiński

Since at the beginning there will not be much data, a simple mathematical approach will have to be used to convert the data into the final value. The most straightforward method, used in the aforementioned GCRI, would be linear regression. The index value would simply be a sum of intensities of individual indicators, possibly multiplied by appropriate weights (because, for example, social stances may be deemed more important than representation in culture). When more data is gathered, it may be possible to use more advanced tools to achieve higher precision in judging the risk. For example a neural network could provide accurate predictions on multiple aspects of the conflict (such as intensity, duration, quantity of long-term effects etc.), but it would first require a large amount of data to learn from. An algorithm of this kind would be easy to improve with each concluded conflict. There are a few things to consider: a) Should the indicators have different weights, and, if so, what should they be? b) How should an indicator’s weight change when multiple similar entries are submitted? (One article may mean only a single newspaper is taking a strong position, but ten certainly make a trend) c) How should an indicator’s value be calculated from entries of differing level (for example, there may be ten neutral articles and five emotionally engaged ones)? d) For how long should the entries affect the current index? Should their weight change in time? e) Should there be positive indicators or negative intensity levels for existing ones (such as one or more actors making moves towards reconciliation)? f) How could indices of separate conflicts be used to calculate a similar index for a wider region (or even a global one)? g) How often should the index be calculated and published? Fully answering those questions will require an attempt to construct a model, which, in turn, demands: collecting a substantial amount of data (pertaining to several conflicts), brainstorming and gathering expert opinions, performing mathematical analyses and retrospectively testing the model against a different set of data. A multi-disciplinary team with proper funding is needed to achieve this. At this stage, some preliminary hypotheses can be posed as answers to the above-mentioned questions: a) At first glance actions of the state (the most powerful actor) appear to be more important than other indicators, however historical experience provides some counterexamples, such as remembrance of the Katyń massacre

How (and why) to Measure Conflicts of Memory?








in Poland under communism. Thus, the weights shouldn’t vary drastically, if at all.12 Multiple entries of the same type should obviously mean more than one incident, but the real problem is how to calculate that. The most natural way to do that would be a logarithmic scale, however the value should be limited. It can be easily normalised, for example by applying the logistic function (or another sigmoid function). Particular parameters of these functions might need to be adjusted for each conflict (depending on involved population size, number of contributors, etc.). In previous discussions it was assumed that entries of higher intensity would overwrite entries of lower grade. However, this approach could easily diminish the true intensity of an indicator. A proposed solution (in connection to point b) is to first sum up all entries of a given grade separately, then apply the logarithmic scale, add the results and normalise the final value (see the example below). It seems that the period of “validity” of the entries should not be too long – probably between three to six months. Entries with higher intensity value could be retained as “valid” for a longer time. The two natural ways to modify the value of an entry are to either keep it constant for the whole period or to linearly decrease it. At this point it is hard to judge, but positive actions are often isolated and have little effect on state policy and social attitudes, so their effectiveness and range may need to be considered. In case of smaller, coherent regions (e.g. the Balkans) it appears that a simple sum of individual indices should be enough. A global, or even continental index would certainly require a more sophisticated method. From the technical side, updating the indices in real time would not be a problem.

However, the issue of radical changes of the index (connected to the discrete nature of the entries) needs to be addressed. One way to resolve this would be to publish the results periodically (monthly or quarterly), however this would not allow observation of changes in real time. On the other hand, the displayed value could be the average from the last period of a defined length, which is a common tool in statistics. This is mainly important for conflicts with few entries,  The Global Peace Index (which de facto measures the so called “negative peace”) has weights formally ranging from 1 to 5, but in practice from 2–5. See: Global Peace Index 2019. Measuring peace in a complex world (Sydney), 88 (, accessed October 18, 2019).


Łukasz Kamiński

so once the project has gained enough contributors it will only be a problem with smaller conflicts. Example of a mathematical model:13 We currently assume there are six indicators of intensity of conflict: A,B,C, D,E,F. Let us say that A denotes Acts of Violence, for the sake of this example. Each indicator has its own scale for the relative value of entries, e.g. A0 = 0, A1 = 1, A2 = 2, A3 = 4, by which we understand that: – lack of acts of violence does not increase this indicator; – graffiti etc. increases it with a relative value of 1; – acts of devastation increase it with a relative value of 2; – acts of violence against people increase it with a relative value of 4, i.e. they are deemed twice as significant as devastation, and four times as significant as graffiti. Let Ni denote the number of entries of grade i – for example, if there are five entries about acts we have N2 = 5. Let σðxÞ be the logistic func of devastation,  tion σðxÞ = M= 1 + e − qðx + rÞ , where M is the maximum value of an indicator (its weight relative to other indicators), and q and r are parameters whose values would need to be adjusted based on the average amount of entries. The value of the indicator is then calculated using the following formula: A = σðA0 logðN0 + 1Þ + A1 logðN1 + 1Þ + A2 logðN2 + 1Þ + A3 logðN3 + 1ÞÞ The values of all indicators are calculated with the same formula, however values of the parameters M, q and r may differ. Let WA,WB, . . ., WF denote the (auxiliary) weights of each indicator. The index for the given conflict is then calculated as follows: CMI = A WA + B WB + . . . + F WF Presentation of results can cause problems that need to be solved as well. The most important one appears to be creating a map showing the intensity of all conflicts. For an example see Figure 1 – the map presenting the Global Peace Index. Features worth noting are a “date slider,” allowing for easy observation of global trends and changes over time, and the possibility of selecting a particular indicator to be displayed. However, there are significant problems with this style of presentation. Since a country (or region) can have more than one conflict, a simple coloured political map cannot be used. Similarly, conflicts can be both

 The example model has been created by Jakub Kamiński, who also provided mathematical and language consultation for this article.

How (and why) to Measure Conflicts of Memory?


Figure 1: Map representing the Global Peace Index. Note the date selection bar at the bottom and factor selection to the right. Source: Institute for Economics and Peace, Global Peace Index 2019.

internal or external, and can include more than two sides. In general, representing the data in an intuitive and helpful way may pose a significant challenge. Conflicts of memory could be seen similarly to the politics of collective memory, which has been described as “impossible to quantify, hard to measure with the methods of survey research, yet still very real” by Andrei Markovits and Simon Reich.14 In spite of the difficulties cited and presaged, I strongly believe that this opinion can be proven wrong by creating a model such as the one described in this article.

 A.S. Markovits and S. Reich, The German Predicament. Memory and Power in the New Europe (Ithaca, 2001). 9.

History as an Instrument of Politics in Central and Eastern Europe

Jan Rydel and Przemysław Łukasik

Between Orwell and Fukuyama. Poland and its Neighbours: Disputes over History Abstract: The article provides an overview of the most important challenges in Poland’s relations with neighbouring countries at the beginning of the twentyfirst century in terms of understanding past events and their presence in the historical consciousness of societies. The “historical relations” with Lithuania, Germany, Russia and Ukraine were analysed. The Polish experience, like the experience of other countries, is very well illustrated by the words of the American writer William Faulkner: the past never dies. It is not even in the past. Historical disputes between Poland and its neighbours are varied depending on the internal state of historical discourse, opinion-forming elite views, but also on the current conditions and political interests. Polish experience also shows that both the state of conflict of states on historical issues and the processes of historical reconciliation are reversible. Keywords: historical discourse; historical reconciliation; history in relations between Poland and its neighbours; politics of memory

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past George Orwell, 1984 We might be the first witnesses of the final ideological point of history’s evolution Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man

Enlightenment showed that history is not motionless; on the contrary, it is a constant process.1 Liberated from its chains, history was supposed to be a science, which should be based on the sources of rational methodology. However, Leopold von Ranke, famous German nineteenth century historian and the founder of source-based history, applied this methodology to fulfil some sophisticated, yet thoroughly political desires, especially by fostering the cult of the government as the superior entity. The Kingdom of Prussia honoured his merits. The main body of inquiry for historians of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the nations themselves, the boundaries of which were fluctuating

 Edward H. Carr, Historia. Czym jest?, trans. Piotr Kuś (Poznań: Zysk i S-ka, 1999).


Jan Rydel and Przemysław Łukasik

as they were being reconstructed.2 History was supposed to inspire and motivate countries, as well as legitimise their policies, especially foreign ones. Hans Morgenthau, American historian of German origin, said that the nation’s relation towards history is the effect of a tragic contradiction between the country and its commonwealth, politics and ethics, and that it is always in modus vivendi, constantly changing.3 Historical politics consists of historical consciousness and cultural recollection. Shaping the historical consciousness includes an active process of caring, inspiring and, above all, discussion.4 Modern historical culture is described as dynamic, quarrelsome and multi-layered. Each recollection of conflict is a vivid remembrance of past events, and each narration of history is often sabotaged by another one, Polish historian and political scientist Anna Wolff-Powęska wrote.5 And yet, democratic society’s pluralism invites citizens to voice their differences of emotions and rationality, and encourages collective recognition as well as individual experiences in historical discourse. Poland as a medium-sized country possesses rich and very diverse experience of relations both with larger, more powerful neighbours like Germany or Russia, and with smaller countries like Lithuania or Slovakia. This may, however, lead to perceiving historical politics of a neighbour stiffer where the temperature of disputes often rises.

Polish-German Reconciliation: A Historical Insight Germany is one of Poland’s key political and economic partners and a country with which reconciliation over a dramatic and tragic past is considered to be exemplary, not only for Central Europe. The Polish-German border treaty of 1990 and the Treaty of Good Neighbourship and Friendly Cooperation of 1991 have permanently closed the disputable debates over our territories, or one

 Thomas H. Eriksen, Etnicity and Nationalism. Anthropological Perspectives (London: Pluto Press, 1993), 53.  Hans Morgenthau, “The Evils of Politics and the Ethics of Evil,” in Anna Wolf-Powęska, Polskie spory o historię i pamięć. Polityka historyczna (Poznań: Przegląd Zachodni, 2007).  Marek A. Cichocki, Władza i pamięć. O politycznej funkcji historii (Kraków: Ośrodek Myśli Politycznej, 2005).  Anna Wolf-Powęska, “Polskie spory o historię i pamięć. Polityka historyczna,” Przegląd Zachodni. 322, no. 1 (2007): 3–44.

Between Orwell and Fukuyama. Poland and its Neighbours: Disputes over History


would hope. The German support for Polish integrational ambitions and Polish partnership in NATO and EU have created a Polish-German community of shared values and interests. Stepping away from the Second World War focus, regardless of the tragic consequences of that conflict, has led us to think from a totally new perspective about the consequences. After the Cold War there were contradictory accounts of the outcomes of war and its casualties. From the German side, several initiatives and tendencies led to disputes with Poland. One of these disputes is considered the first conflict at the turn of the 1990s and 2000 around the project of the German Centre Against Expulsions,6 a large and modern language and museum technique, that commemorates German victims of forced migration after the Second World War. Conversely the Poles view the German Centre Against Expulsions in Poland as an instrument to render history as relative, an explanation, or an excuse for separating war from its outcomes. The major theme for the banished people was to receive apologies, restitutions and compensations.7 Such similar expectations were forwarded to the Czech government from the Sudeten Germans.8 A new source of historical tensions at this time was the expression Polish Death Camps, used with amazing regularity and undoubtedly overused by the German and foreign media. The official stance of the German government representatives and German historians leaves no doubt that these were Nazi-German death camps.9 This case is considered together with the phenomenon of almost total replacement of the words “Germany” or “German” by the words “Nazis” or “Nazi” when discussing the crimes of World War II. An example would be the Polish-German dispute in UNESCO about the official name of Auschwitz at the World Heritage List. This concluded with a compromise in the name: German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp. These tendencies indicate – according to many Polish experts – Germany’s delicate intention of exonerating their country for the crimes of the Second World War and instead distributing this responsibility among other nations through semantic methods, rather than by outright falsification of historical facts. In response to these and other

 Jan Rydel, Polityka historyczna w Republice Federalnej Niemiec. Zaszłości, Idea, Praktyka (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Pedagogicznego, 2011), 251–285.  Robert Żurek, “Ile ofiar wypędzenia?,” Dialog – Magazyn Polsko-Niemiecki 90 (2010): 79–83.  “Prague Refuses Apology to Sudeten Germans,” Spiegel Online, June 14, 2011, accessed December 15, 2018, fuses-apology-to-sudeten-germans-a-768323.html.  Bartosz T. Wieliński, “Niemcy przeciw polskim obozom,” Gazeta Wyborcza, January 20, 2014, accessed December 15, 2018,,75399,15301253,niemcy-przeciw-pol skim-obozom.html.


Jan Rydel and Przemysław Łukasik

phenomena, a special team was established by the Sejm of the Republic of Poland to determine the losses suffered by Poland during the Second World War, with the aim of possibly raising demands for reparations and amending the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, introducing criminal sanctions for assigning to the nation or to the Polish state culpability for crimes committed by Nazi Germany. Highly frustrated Polish-German frictions about history have not reached and do not have to reach the level of international conflict in the future. However, the impression is that, in case of a possible deterioration of general responses between our countries, they will be fully used as a policy tool.

Polish-Russian Disputes On September 17, 2015 Polish and foreign media quoted Sergiej Andriejew, the Russian ambassador to Warsaw, as stating that Poland was responsible for the outbreak of the Second World War.10 He insinuated that Polish diplomacy halted the erection of the international anti-Hitler coalition, which makes Poland the partial culprit of the six million casualties in Poland alone. In the same interview the Russian ambassador expressed his dissatisfaction with the country’s conduct toward Russia: Poland froze all its political and cultural contacts with Russia. Nowhere was this more blatant than after the initiation of the conflict in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, which led to the biggest political crisis since the Second World War. In response to this there were cases of the Red Army’s graveyard devastation, led by hooligans in Poland, which exacerbated animosities between the nations. It should be noted that formal apologies for the complete and total disregard of these despicable actions came from the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs. After the fall of the Soviet Union both countries, despite many fears in the beginning, set up peaceful relations. This detente began to deteriorate rapidly after Vladimir Putin took power in 1999,11 due to the unprecedented brutality with which Chechnya’s aspirations to independence were suppressed and the

 Witold Głowacki and Katarzyna Kaczorowska, “Skandal po wywiadzie ambasadora. Siergiej Andriejew w poniedziałek będzie się tłumaczył w MSZ,” Polska Times, September 28, 2015, accessed December 15, 2018, giej-andriejew-w-poniedzialek-bedzie-sie-tlumaczyl-w-msz/ar/8862873.  Katarzyna Pełczyńska-Nałęcz, “Dokąd sięgają granice zachodu? Rosyjsko-polskie konflikty strategiczne 1990–2010,” Raport Ośrodka Studiów Wschodnich, March 18, 2010, accessed December 28, 2018, nice-zachodu-rosyjsko-polskie-konflikty.

Between Orwell and Fukuyama. Poland and its Neighbours: Disputes over History


reconstruction of Russia’s military might and its determined efforts to rebuild the former sphere of influence of the USSR. Russian actions fuelled great uncertainty in the Poles, given the context of bad historical experience and the unpredictability of Moscow’s current political behaviour. In late 2011, a Russian journalist, Vadim Trukhachev,12 summarised the Polish parliamentary elections in a paper titled “Poland and Russia: Friends or Foes?” The reporter highlighted that Polish business affairs, no matter what the ideological intentions of the government may be, have long been in conflict with Russia and its interests. These disparate interests are: the Eastern Partnership initiative, the development of the US anti-missile defence system within Polish borders, the importance of lowering costs of Russian natural gas and finding resolution to the historical claims, Katyn, above all.

The Katyn Case Poland was invaded by the Red Army on September 17, 1939. Over 21,000 prisoners, mostly soldiers and police officers, were imprisoned in the Soviet prison camps and later shot dead by the direct order from the Politburo by the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) in April and May 1940. The victims were buried in mass graves in the nearby Katyn woods close to Smolensk, Mednoye and Piatykhatky. For 50 years the Soviet Union tried to assure the world that Nazi Germany was to be blamed for the Katyn Massacre by covering up their direct involvement. During Cold War, when People’s Poland state was part of the Soviet Bloc, talk of the massacre was taboo, despite society’s knowledge. The Polish government deliberately avoided mention of the atrocity, although it was officially admitted on the Russian side. The Katyn massacre, sociologically speaking, evolved into a deliberate lie, delegitimising the Soviet government in Poland and undermining the country’s alleged friendship with the Soviet Union. Since 1989 Polish communists attempted to defend their political influences by saying that the perpetrators of the Katyn Massacre were the NKVD. In 1992 President Boris Yeltsin sanctioned the publication of crucial documentation which proved that the highest authorities of the Soviet Union were involved in the Katyn massacre. At the same time the Russians said no to including the

 Vadim Trukhachev, “Poland and Russia: Friends or foes?,” October 11, 2011, accessed December 15, 2018,


Jan Rydel and Przemysław Łukasik

quote about the atrocities against Polish citizens and compensations for them in the Polish-Russian treaty from 1992. Russians constantly refused to label the massacre as genocide, contrary to Polish expectations. In the 1990s the Russians began their investigation of the case, however they stopped proceedings in 2004. The Poles sent a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights because the Russians did not share the court case documents and, furthermore, they offered no explanation for why they suspended the investigation and why full rehabilitation to victims was withheld. The European Court ruled in 2012 that Russia did not cooperate with the tribunal. They violated the convention on human rights and treated the victims’ families in an inhumane way.13 The Russian side attempted to neutralise the Polish argument with the so-called “anti-Katyn” narration, in which Poles deliberately caused the death of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war, who were taken into custody during the war in 1920. Aggravated relations between Poland and Russia have led to the fundamental question of which country or who is to blame for the genesis and consequences of the Second World War. Russians applauded August 23, 1939, the date of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact. This was a brilliant move by Stalin, unifying Russian lands with Moscow, and at the same time increasing the security of the USSR. From the Polish point of view, this heralded the moment when Moscow began an absolute expansion in Central and Eastern Europe and at the same time enabled the Nazis to unleash the Second World War. This undermines one of the foundations of the myth of the Great Patriotic War, which – as is known – has a constitutive meaning for the identity of contemporary Russians. Even if historical disputes are not in the foreground in Polish-Russian relations, they are, for both sides, a powerful tool of possible conflict. Its use is all the more likely that – dissimilar to the case of PolishGerman relations – the forces seeking agreement and appreciating the value of reconciliation are weak on both sides.

Disputes over Polish-Lithuanian Past The Lithuanian president, Valdas Adamkus, said on one of his visits to Poland in April 1998: “Poland and Lithuania maintain unique qualities of their cultural and historical heritage while constituting (the) one and only religious

 “Orzeczenie Trybunału Praw Człowieka ws. Katynia,” Portal Polskiego Radia SA, April 16, 2012, accessed December 15, 2018,,OrzeczenieTrybunalu-Praw-Czlowieka-ws-Katynia.

Between Orwell and Fukuyama. Poland and its Neighbours: Disputes over History


community of quite a big region of central Europe.”14 The above-mentioned comment relates to the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Yet four years earlier (1994) a Polish-Lithuanian treaty was erected, setting both nations’ sights towards the bright future as good neighbours and transcending the historical issues, leaving them wholly to scientists. The reasons for controversial evocations of the past – “negligence” as it was termed – arose during the experiences and relations between Poland and Lithuania during the Interwar Period. Lithuanians expected official apologies for the Soviet Union’s occupation of Vilnius between 1920 and 1939. Four centuries of union (1385–1795) between Poland and Lithuania was evaluated with their consequences. Władysław Pobóg-Malinowski, a notable historian, diplomat and journalist from Żmudź district, explained that the Lithuanian intellectuals desired to separate their country from Poland, forfeit normal relations, raise at least a few generations without Polish influence and, above all, expand the feeling of independence. President Lech Walesa during his signing of the Treaty of Good Neighbourship and Friendly Cooperation of 1991 between Poland and Lithuania said that “Poles and Lithuanians are the nations which are entangled in history. And that we should somehow overcome these entanglements. Foreseeing the future further than the shadows of past.” American historian Timothy Snyder wrote that Poles had kept their standards at the highest European level when signing the treaty with Lithuanians; by eschewing past experiences with diplomacy, they avoided a discourse in the spirit of distaste.15 They stated that they did not have ambitions for Lithuanian land, moreover, they viewed Poles living in the Vilnius Region as citizens of Lithuania. All Poles were to be treated with respect with all the cultural rights (regardless of their residency).16 Yet Poland was not prepared to apologise for Żeligowski’s uprising and did not want to label the 1920–1939 period as an “occupation of Vilnius” (in 1920, Polish soldiers, together with general Żeligowski, captured Vilnius and Vilnius region. A plebiscite led to the area being incorporated into the reborn Polish state). Despite many irritating disagreements about minority rights and a lack of sympathy for historical narrative that has been prominent in Lithuania, Polish-Lithuanian

 Dariusz Fikus, “Spór o wspólną historię,” in My nie bracia, my sąsiedzi. Polska perspektywa stosunków polsko-litewskich, ed. Aleksander Srebrakowski (Wrocław: Kolegium Europy Wschodniej, 2013), 518.  Timothy Snyder, Rekonstrukcja narodów. Polska, Ukraina, Litwa i Białorus 1569–1999, trans. Magda Pietrzak-Merta (Sejny: Pogranicze, 2006).  Andrzej Rachuba, Jūratė and Zigmantas Kiaupa, Historia Litwy. Dwugłos polsko-litewski (Warszawa: Wydawictwo DIG, 2009), 339.


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relations today are full of pragmatism. This originates from the common interest the two nations share: security in the face of a potential threat from Russia.

Polish-Ukrainian Disputes over the Massacres of Poles in Volhynia, and Its Political Implications With the creation of independent Ukraine in 1991, the fight to unify the national and historical consciousness of the inhabitants of this great country began. Therefore, the principal historical narration is to build a citizens’ community in order to become free and independent, not only from Poles but from Russians, as well. During Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency the two main means of building national consciousness in society were the commemoration of the casualties of the Great Famine, Holodomor (1932–1933), and the attempt to reconcile with veterans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which fought with the Soviets and Poles in the Second World War, yet also collaborated with the Germans. For many Ukrainians the victory over the Third Reich in the Second World War is an important element of positive identification, a sentiment they share with Russians. The Ukrainian soldiers from the Red Army, however, reject conforming with the traitors who collaborated with the Nazis, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).17 Also the Members of the Committee to Commemorate the Casualties of the Holodomor, the Great Famine, appealed to liquidate over 2,000 monuments honouring the communist activists. Concurrently, in Ukrainian historiography and local public opinion, the partition of Poland in 1939 and the annexation of Western Ukraine to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (year), under the guidance of Joseph Stalin’s politics, are perceived as the “Golden September.” In recent years, in connection with the annexation of Crimea and armed conflict with the separatists supported by Russia in the east of the country, the perception of Ukrainian historical policy began to be clearly constructed on the premise that the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was a heroic formation fiercely fighting against the Soviets for the country’s freedom. This policy ignores the fact that the same formation, guided by an ideology close to Nazism, perpetrated extensive and very cruel ethnic cleansing on the Polish population living in ethnically-mixed areas of the borderland between 1942 and 1944. According to cautious estimates  Tadeusz Olszański, “Miejsce UPA w Wielkiej Wojnie Ojczyźnianej. Dylematy Polityki historycznej Ukrainy,” Punkt Widzenia, Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich, June 2013, accessed December 28, 2018, zyznianej_www.pdf.

Between Orwell and Fukuyama. Poland and its Neighbours: Disputes over History


around 100,000 Poles, regardless of gender and age, were murdered, mainly in Volhynia. This crime had all the hallmarks of genocide. In defensive and retaliatory actions, Poles killed between 15,000 and 30,000 Ukrainians. The massacre proved to be effective, because the surviving Polish population left the area during the war or shortly after its end.18 Both sides, Polish and Ukrainian, made many efforts in 1989 to justify the reasons and motives of this enormous ethnic cleansing, at the same time commemorating the dead victims by building cemeteries and monuments. Top heads of both states and both churches were patronising these efforts. Ukrainian presidents knelt before such burial sites, bishops said prayers and, above all, a monument of the repressed Ukrainians after the Second World War was erected in Poland. Throughout the efforts and after the annexation of Crimea and the war in the eastern part of Ukraine, there has been a tendency to broadly abuse the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and its commemoration for the sake of closer integration and to somehow mobilise society in the last few years. Such radical shifts in political action incited resentment in Poland because the remembrance of the atrocities were and still are alive, and, moreover, actively cultivated in Poland. The film “Wołyń,” which premiered in 2016, attracted over a million viewers and has become one of the five Polish productions in which viewers have actively participated. The Polish government established the July 11 National Day Remembrance of the Victims of Genocide to honour those who were executed by Ukrainian nationalists. Since then, there has been a sharp conflict around the interpretation of this aspect of the history of Polish-Ukrainian relations, while there has been no way to solve it. This conflict continues to negatively affect mutual relations, despite the fact that Poland and Ukraine have obvious common geostrategic, political and economic interests.

Conclusions Taking the abovementioned into consideration we posit that: A) With regard to George Orwell’s quotation from Nineteen Eighty-Four, we may accept that the leading historical narrative is the result of the winning political party. History should help us in making good political choices, but also it should legitimise itself. Therefore, history is constantly reinterpreted

 Piotr Kościński and Jewgen Worobiow, “Siedemdziesiąta rocznica zbrodni wołyńskiej: brak zrozumienia na Ukrainie,” Biuletyn PISM, July 17, 2013, accessed December 28, 2018,


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for the shifting national and international political sake. Historical views and the heated argument between nations diversify depending on the governmental viewpoints and the evolution of the inner historical discourse with the political interests’ circumstances ahead. B) On the other hand, historical politics is an important tool to measure political etiquette. The liberal democracy’s triumph is, according to Francis Fukuyama, American political scientist, political philosopher and economist of Japanese origin, the end-point of the ideological evolution that history can impose on other nations and their nationalities, which, furthermore, is stated as a clear standard of discourse over the shared, sometimes very difficult, past. Therefore, the postulate must be to search for common denominators and to listen for other equally valid truths. In this way countries can free themselves from national particularism. The example of contemporary Poland and its relations with neighbours seems to confirm to a certain extent the validity of both ways of thinking about the role of history. Unfortunately, Polish experience also shows that the process of reconciliation can be reversible and is not granted once and for all.

References Carr, Edward. Historia. Czym jest? Translated by Piotr Kuś. Poznań: Zysk i S-ka, 1999. Cichocki, Marek. Władza i pamięć. O politycznej funkcji historii. Kraków: Ośrodek Myśli Politycznej, 2005. Eriksen, Thomas H. Etnicity and Nationalism. Anthropological Perspectives. London: Pluto Press, 1993. Głowacki, Witold, and Katarzyna Kaczorowska. “Skandal po wywiadzie ambasadora. Siergiej Andriejew w poniedziałek będzie się tłumaczył w MSZ.” Polska Times, September 28, 2015. Accessed December 15, 2018. Kościński, Piotr, and Jewgen Worobiow. “Siedemdziesiąta rocznica zbrodni wołyńskiej: brak zrozumienia na Ukrainie.” Biuletyn PISM, July 17, 2013. Accessed December 28, 2018. Olszański, Tadeusz. “Miejsce UPA w Wielkiej Wojnie Ojczyźnianej. Dylematy Polityki historycznej Ukrainy.” Punkt Widzenia. Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich, June 2013. Accessed December 28. 2018. miejsce-upa-w-wielkiej-wojnie_ojczyznianej_www.pdf. Orzeczenie Trybunału Praw Człowieka ws. Katynia. Portal Polskiego Radia SA. April 16, 2012. Accessed December 15, 2018.,Orzecze nie-Trybunalu-Praw-Czlowieka-ws-Katynia.

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Pełczyńska-Nałęcz, Katarzyna. “Dokąd sięgają granice zachodu? Rosyjsko-polskie konflikty strategiczne 1990–2010.” Raport Ośrodka Studiów Wschodnich, March 18, 2010. Accessed December 28, 2018. Prague Refuses Apology to Sudeten Germans. Spiegel Online, June 14, 2011. Accessed December 15, 2018. Rachuba, Andrzej, Jūratė Kiaupienė and Zigmantas Kiaupa. Historia Litwy. Dwugłos polskolitewski. Warszawa: Wydawictwo DIG, 2009. Rydel, Jan. Polityka historyczna w Republice Federalnej Niemiec. Zaszłości, Idea, Praktyka. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Pedagogicznego, 2011. Snyder, Timothy. Rekonstrukcja narodów. Polska, Ukraina, Litwa i Białorus 1569–1999. Translated by Magda Pietrzak-Merta. Sejny: Pogranicze, 2006. Srebrakowski, Aleksander, ed. My nie bracia, my sąsiedzi. Polska perspektywa stosunków polsko-litewskich. Wrocław: Kolegium Europy Wschodniej im. Jana NowakaJeziorańskiego, 2013. Trukhachev, Vadim. “Poland and Russia: Friends or foes?”, October 11, 2011. Accessed December 15, 2018. 119289-poland_tusk-0/#sthash.vMeBKiH9.dpuf. Wieliński, Bartosz T. “Niemcy przeciw polskim obozom.” Gazeta Wyborcza, January 20, 2014. Accessed December 15, 2018.,75399,15301253,Niemcy_przeciw__ polskim_obozom_html. Wolf-Powęska, Anna. “Polskie spory o historię i pamięć. Polityka historyczna.” Przegląd Zachodni 1 (2007): 3–44. Żurek, Robert. “Ile ofiar wypędzenia.” Dialog – Magazyn Polsko-Niemiecki 90 (2009–2010): 79–83.

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Overcoming Conflicting Memories: History in the Polish-German Relations after 1989 Abstract: The paper puts forward the theses that first of all, irrespective of reconciliation between Poland and Germany, certain discourses related mainly to the Second World War are deeply rooted in memory. Thus these discourses are used by politicians and diplomats as both a way to react to the changing perception of the war in Germany as well as a tool of foreign policy. The paper presents some of the problems hampering Polish-German reconciliation as well as a selection of successful initiatives aimed at fostering mutual understanding. Keywords: memory culture; Polish-German relations; politics of memory; reconciliation between Poland and Germany

The significance of the German and war themes for Polish memory is represented by their frequent presence in the politics of history.1 In recent years a growing number of scholars has begun to integrate memory into the theories of international relations.2 Since the beginning of the twenty-first century in Poland the term “politics of history” has been adopted to connote the study and use of history by the state. Foreign politics of history involves a specific perspective. It can be defined as “the state’s efforts to promote the desired image of its own history or of a certain aspect of its history abroad,” and its domain is “changing of a state’s stereotypical image abroad.”3 The methodology adopted

 Aleida Assmann, Der lange Schatten der Vergangenheit: Erinnerungskultur und Geschichtspolitik (München: C.H. Beck, 2006); Sławomir Nowinowski, Jan Pomorski and Rafał Stobiecki, eds., Pamięć i polityka historyczna. Doświadczenia Polski i jej sąsiadów (Łódź: Wyd. Naukowe Ibidem, IPN, 2008); Małgorzata Pakier and Joanna Wawrzyniak, eds., Memory and Change in Europe. Eastern Perspectives (New York-Oxford: Berghahn, 2016); Anna Wolff-Powęska, Pamięć – brzemię i uwolnienie. Niemcy wobec nazistowskiej przeszłości (1945–2010) (Poznań: Zysk i Ska, 2011); Joanna Andrychowicz-Skrzeba, Polityka historyczna w Polsce i Niemczech po roku 1989 w wystąpieniach publicznych oraz publikacjach polityków polskich i niemieckich (Gdańsk: Wyd. Naukowe Katedra, 2014).  Eric Langenbacher and Yossi Shain, eds., Power and the Past. Collective Memory and International Relations (Washington D.C.: Georgetown Univ. Press, 2010).  Jan Rydel, „Polityka historyczna lat 1945–1989 wobec Zachodu,“ in Polityka czy propaganda. PRL wobec historii (Warszawa: MHP, 2009), 161.


Bartosz Dziewanowski-Stefańczyk

in the paper will draw from the study of the politics of history which, according to the German political scientist and historian Harald Schmid, consists of an analysis of its forms and means, content, functions, actors and context.4 Foreign politics of history is a part of cultural diplomacy and of great importance to the entire foreign policy of a state, especially in the region of East-Central Europe.5 In the case of Poland, throughout the twentieth century the PolishGerman relations were of the utmost importance for both Polish internal and foreign relations.

1990s: Diplomacy of Symbols – The End of History? During the Polish People’s Republic (1944–1989) anti-German politics served as means of legitimising the mandates of the authorities.6 Yet one could observe, over time, a changing approach towards Germany within the Polish society – especially among the opposition elites. They recognised the necessity of cooperation between the countries, which are tied closely not only through history, but also via cultural heritage. In the case of Poland and Germany, irrespective of historical differences, both countries were able to accelerate the reconciliation process thanks to the fact that the opposition leaders in Poland and democratic leaders in western Germany knew each other and had already been engaged in reconciliation during the communist period. On the other hand, members of the Polish ancien régime were afraid of tightening the relations.7 The new reconciliation approach in Poland was based on The Pastoral Letter of the Polish Bishops to their German Brothers in 1965 and on the rulings

 Harald Schmid, „Vom publizistischen Kampfbegriff zum Forschungskonzept. Zur Historisierung der Kategorie ‚Geschichtspolitik‘“, in Geschichtspolitik und kollektives Gedächtnis. Erinnerungskulturen in Theorie und Praxis Geschichtspolitik und kollektives Gedächtnis. Erinnerungskulturen in Theorie und Praxis, ed. Harald Schmid (Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2009), 72–74.  Stefan Troebst, Erinnerungskultur – Kulturgeschichte – Geschichtsregion. Ostmitteleuropa in Europa (Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 2013); Patrice M. Dabrowski and Stefan Troebst, “Uses and Abuses of the Past (18th century to 1989),” in The Routledge History of East Central Europe since 1700, ed. Irina Livezeanu and Arpad von Klimó (Pittsburgh: Routledge, 2014).  Marcin Zaremba, Komunizm, legitymizacja, nacjonalizm: nacjonalistyczna legitymizacja władzy komunistycznej w Polsce (Warszawa: Trio, 2005).  Roman Kuźniar, Polityka zagraniczna III Rzeczypospolitej (Warszawa: Scholar, 2012), 58.

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of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965).8 The memory culture shared by the leaders of the opposition was becoming part of the official attitude of the new authorities towards Polish-German history after the 1989 democratic revolution. However, there were numerous difficult issues between the two countries from the very beginning, resulting from different approaches, sensibilities and cultures of memory. One of the goals of the new Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki was to mark “a new opening” in Polish-German relations9 and thus to exact a change to the geopolitical situation of Poland.10 However, this new opening was overshadowed by the memory of the Second World War, especially given the fact that the year 1989 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the end of that conflict. From the Polish perspective, it was important to start a new chapter in these relations; Germany could help the new authorities in Warsaw gain support in the Western countries. The new philosophy of the Polish-German relations was expressed by Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Krzysztof Skubiszewski as the “Polish-German community of interests (. . .) which is and will be an important part of the international order of a unified Europe.”11 For Germany, good relations with Poland were crucial for the unification of the two German states. From the Polish perspective, the most important issue was to ascertain the confirmation of the western border, which was the subject of long-lasting diplomatic dispute. Additionally the change of authorities in Poland in 1989 and the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war offered an opportunity to receive by the democratic Mazowiecki government some form of reparations for the forced labourers from Germany. This in turn could help Mazowiecki gain support for a Polish-German reconciliation among the combatant community.12 Consequently, both countries were unable to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the German attack on Poland together. Moreover, in his speech on September 1, 1989,

 Anna Wolff-Powęska, “Polish raison d’etat and the proces of normalizing relations with Germany in conditions of freedom and democracy,” in Poland-Germany 1945–2007. From Confrontation to Cooperation and Partnership in Europe, ed. Witold M. Góralski (Warsaw: PISM, 2007), 166–167.  Kuźniar, Polityka zagraniczna, 59.  „Konwersatorium ‘Polska w Europie’. Europa Środkowa – między Wschodem a Zachodem,“ in Na przekór geopolityce. Europa Środkowo-Wschodnia w myśli politycznej polskiej opozycji demokratycznej 1976–1989 (Warszawa: Kancelaria Prezyd. RP, 2014), 231.  Krzysztof Skubiszewski, Minister K. Skubiszewski’s speech at the VIth Polish-German Forum, February 22, 1990, in Polska-Niemcy 1945–2007. Od konfrontacji do współpracy i partnerstwa w Europie. Studia i dokumenty, ed. Witold M. Góralski (Warszawa: PISM, 2007), 364.  Włodzimierz Borodziej, ed., and Dominik Pick (coop.), Polska wobec zjednoczenia Niemiec 1989–1991: dokumenty dyplomatyczne (Warszawa: Scholar, 2006), 111.


Bartosz Dziewanowski-Stefańczyk

German Chancellor Helmut Kohl placed Poland on a far place among the victims and one could not easily understand where the war started.13 Thus, the only joint declaration honouring the war was that issued by the Polish and German Catholics. This was a symbolic problem, but characteristic of the memory-burdened relations that occurred when both leaders were trying to find the right spot for a bilateral meeting and a holy mass. The first site chosen was the Saint Anna Mountain, an important place of Polish remembrance, however one that was connected with a lost battle during the third Silesian uprising in 1921. Thus, it was not welcomed by the Polish side. Eventually Mieczysław Pszon, the Polish plenipotentiary for the contacts with Germany, proposed Krzyżowa / Kreisau. A reconciliation mass took place there on November 12, 1989. During the service Chancellor Kohl and Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki exchanged a hug which became one of the symbols of the Polish-German reconciliation.14 The new approach in the relations took shape two days later in the form of a joint statement which was a groundbreaking document as it tackled the issues concerning cultural relations, reducing Poland’s debts and granted loans to Poland, addressed the Polish-German realms of memory and proposed many other fields of cooperation.15 The issue of the Polish western border, however, remained unresolved as Kohl did not mention it in his 10-point plan of unifying both parts of Germany. The avoidance of this most sensitive issue from the Polish point of view led to further debates in Poland and Germany. Finding a solution of the border issue favourable to Poland was important in its own right and also because of internal Polish politics since the post communist party was criticising the Mazowiecki government for ineffective German policy. In June 1990, also thanks to the American support, Germany confirmed its eastern border with Poland. The border treaty was signed on November 14, 1990.16 The other issues crucial for the PolishGerman relations were the reparations and the rights of the German minority in Poland. Eventually, on June 17, 1991 both countries signed the Treaty of Good Neighbourhood and Friendly Cooperation. It supported the work of the Polish-

 Wolff-Powęska, Pamięć – brzemię, 506.  Polska wobec zjednoczenia Niemiec, 24, 27, 159–161.  Tadeusz Mazowiecki and Helmut Kohl, joint statement of T. Mazowiecki and H. Kohl, November 14, 1989. In Polska-Niemcy 1945–2007. Od konfrontacji do współpracy i partnerstwa w Europie. Studia i dokumenty, ed. Witold M. Góralski (Warszawa: PISM, 2007), 355–361. See also: Annemarie Franke, „Wspólna droga, wspólny duch“. Fundacja „Krzyżowa“: dla Porozumienia Europejskiego 1989–1998 (Poznań: Wyd. Nauka i Innowacje, 2017), 245–274.  Dieter Bingen, Polityka Republiki Bońskiej wobec Polski. Od Adenauera do Kohla 1949–1991 (Kraków: Kwadrat, 1997), 252–269.

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German Textbook Commission, founded in 1972.17 Germany also reinforced Polish efforts to become a member of the European Community and thus became its first advocate. Moreover, both governments established the Foundation for Polish-German Reconciliation, which was responsible for paying reparations to the forced labourers and prisoners of the German concentration camps. Cooperation and reconciliation on local levels preceded the official events. Following the ideas of the Polish literature historian and opposition member Jan Józef Lipski,18 numerous initiatives, like the Association Borussia in Olsztyn, were founded in the early 1990s. Also, transborder cooperation began. The first Euro-region (i.e. a transnational co-operation structure between at least two contiguous territories located in different European countries) in EastCentral Europe was created in 1991 – the Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa. Moreover, it was the 1990s when numerous German organisations were permitted operations in Poland such as the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Stiftung für Deutsch-Polnische Zusammenarbeit. One cannot underestimate cooperation in academic relations which were one of the first platforms of reconciliation between both countries shortly after the war and which are of great importance for the dialogue of memory. It is thus worth emphasising the great significance of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder) founded in 1991 in which both Poles and Germans study. On the other hand, especially among Polish right-wing politicians, there were fears of German unification, the country’s growing influence and possible anti-Polish activities. As the Polish political scientist Anna Wolff-Powęska stated, in the 1990s anti-German prejudices were closely associated with anti-European attitudes.19 However, as the Polish political scientist Roman Kuźniar pointed out, the German burden of history was an important asset for Poland.20 Alongside the political cooperation between both countries, one began to hear criticism concerning “reconciliation kitsch” already in the 1990s. Some scholars and politicians argued that the Polish authorities neglected to present Polish narration concerning the history of Polish-German relations. According to Stefan Meller, former Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the 1990s, the new

 See the text of the treaty in: Władysław Bartoszewski, O Niemcach i Polakach. Wspomnienia. Prognozy. Nadzieje, ed. Rafał Rogulski and Jan Rydel (Kraków: Wyd. Literackie, 2010), 588–597.  Jan Józef Lipski, „Dwie ojczyzny – dwa patriotyzmy. Uwagi o megalomanii narodowej i ksenofobii Polaków,“ in Powiedzieć sobie wszystko. Eseje o sąsiedztwie polsko-niemieckim, ed. Georg Ziegler (Gliwice-Warszawa: Wyd. „Wokół nas,“ Wyd. Polsko-Niemieckie, 1996), 36–73  Wolff-Powęska, Polish raison d’etat, 180.  Kuźniar, Polityka zagraniczna, 219.


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Polish government did not have any rules as to how to treat difficult historical issues in bilateral relations. These issues influenced Polish foreign politics.21 It was Władysław Bartoszewski, the then Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, who stressed that in the years 1992–1994 the relations between both countries experienced a standstill, especially in comparison with the positive actions undertaken in the years 1990–1991. This stalemate was partly due to numerous government changes in Poland in those years.22 One of the most important events was the speech by the German President Roman Herzog in Warsaw on August 1, 1994, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising. Herzog asked the Poles for forgiveness for the crimes of the German people and supported Poland’s aspirations to join NATO and the European Union.23 On the other hand, German organisers of the celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Berlin did not invite the Polish President Lech Wałęsa in May 1995. Instead, Bartoszewski gave a speech in the German Bundestag. He emphasised the tragic Polish experience of forced displacements and rapes and the connected crimes. Bartoszewski also underlined Polish acknowledgment of the tragedy of Germany’s displaced persons, caused, in some cases, by the Poles. We “feel for innocent Germans, their individual fates and suffering resulting from the war.”24 It is, however, important to emphasise that this statement was not equal to asking for forgiveness, but rather that it expressed grief over those events. Bartoszewski stated that without the speech of President Roman Herzog in Warsaw on August 1, 1994, he would not have delivered his own comments in the Bundestag in 1995. Likewise, Chancellor Kohl would not have given a speech in the Polish Parliament the same year. Kohl’s speech was as symbolic as it was influential, as he strongly supported Polish accession to the European Union.25 One might view these speeches as a mere diplomacy of symbols without any practical bearing on Polish-German relations.26 However, here we can clearly see the influence of memory on the international relations. The often-

 Świat według Mellera: życie i polityka: ku przyszłości. Ze Stefanem Mellerem rozmawia Michał Komar (Warszawa: Rosner & Wspólnicy, 2008), vol. 2, 226. See also: Beata Ociepka, „Zagraniczna polityka historyczna: Polska między Niemcami a Rosją,“ in Historia w dyplomacji publicznej, ed. Beata Ociepka (Warszawa: Scholar, 2015), 221.  Bartoszewski, O Niemcach i Polakach, 265.  Speech of president Roman Herzog in Warsaw, August 1, 1994, in Bartoszewski, O Niemcach i Polakach, 598–599.  Speech of W. Bartoszewski in Bundestag, April 28, 1995, in: Polska-Niemcy 1945–2007, 371–372.  Bartoszewski, O Niemcach i Polakach, 261.  Katarzyna Kącka, „Dyplomacja symboli w stosunkach między Polską a Niemcami na przełomie XX i XXI wieku,“ Historia i Polityka 11 (2014): 75–91.

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quoted Bartoszewski underlined that signs and symbols play an important role in the life of nations, especially in times of change.27

Memory Wars The Polish-German relations were influenced mainly by the “memory boom” of the 1990s. One of the most important goals of the Polish governments after 1989 was integration with Western Europe. This aim dominated the Polish-German diplomatic dialogue which, according to Kuźniar, “history rarely visited.”28 In Poland after 1989 one could observe a shift – from studying the German to studying the Soviet occupation.29 Exhumations of bodies of the Polish military officers and intelligentsia killed by the NKVD within the Katyn Massacre were made at Charków and Miednoje (1991) and the Katyń Museum was opened in Warsaw (1993). However, new museums were also opened at the German Nazi Death Camp in Sobibór (1993), as well as in the Death Camp in Kulmhof (1994).30 We should not forget that this was happening at a time of political and economic crisis of the 1990s. According to the Polish sociologist Piotr Kwiatkowski, a typical pattern of the “coming back of the past” leads to discussing issues which had seemed to be long settled.31 As Aline Sierp emphasised, radical changes in political systems are very often accompanied by reinterpretation of the memory framework.32 Therefore, political, economic and social changes taking place in both countries led to a growing need to strengthen the mnemonic security of the societies. The turn of the century brought a number of changes both in Germany as well as in Poland. These changes influenced the collective memory and the politics as well as posed a challenge to the Polish-German reconciliation.  Bartoszewski, O Niemcach i Polakach, 400.  Kuźniar, Polityka zagraniczna, 158.  Robert Traba, „O potrzebie nowych badań nad niemiecką okupacją Polski w czasie II wojny światowej,“ in: „Fikcyjna rzeczywistość“. Codzienność, światy przeżywane i pamięć niemieckiej okupacji w Polsce, eds. Robert Traba, Katarzyna Woniak and Anna Wolff-Powęska (Warszawa-Berlin: ISP PAN, CBH PAN, 2016), 28–29.  Tomasz Chinciński, „Pamięć II wojny światowej w Polsce i w Niemczech. Debaty, muzea i wystawy,“ Colloquium Wydziału Nauk Humanistycznych i Społecznych. Kwartalnik AMW 1 (2015): 26.  Piotr Tadeusz Kwiatkowski, Pamięć zbiorowa społeczeństwa polskiego w okresie transformacji (Warszawa: Wyd. Nauk. Scholar, 2008), 442.  Aline Sierp, History, Memory, and Trans-European Identity. Unifying Divisions (New York: Routledge, 2014), 29.


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One of the issues related to history which led to serious Polish-German controversies concerned the disparate interpretations of the Second World War, perspectives which also changed over time. The German culture of memory, which was dominated by the Holocaust remembrance since the 1980s at least, underwent serious changes in the 1990s. One of the most important factors was the exhibition Vernichtungskrieg. Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941–1944, which destroyed the myth of innocent German Wehrmacht. However, it did not tackle crimes committed in Poland. At about this time a heated debate arose in Germany around a book by Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (1996). In 1995 Herzog stated that the Germans were not only perpetrators, but also victims. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century one could observe growing interest in victim discourse in Germany. It was a topic presented in novels and films devoted to the fate of the German civilians. To some extent this may have resulted from the fact that in the GDR this narration was banned.33 In this vein, the German historian Jochen Böhler argues that the discussion about the bombing of German cities or about the German expellees may be a reaction to the acceptance of the fact that the majority of Germans were responsible for the war.34 Asymmetric Polish and German memories are mainly evidenced in the heated debates concerning the so-called expulsions of the German civilians from Poland. The Bundestag resolution on the expulsions underlining their “Unrecht” – unlawfulness – led to diplomatic conflict.35 Ironically it occurred even though Germany was, at the same time, eagerly supporting Poland’s entrance into the EU. Along with the activities of the German conservative politician Erika Steinbach and the Centre against Expulsions, led by her, the memory conflict over the interpretation of the forced migrations and political use of the past began to escalate. However, according to Władysław Bartoszewski, it was impossible to sense the coming problems with history in the 1990s, which were related to changes in the German society.36 In 1998 the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bronisław Geremek, was still underlining

 Sierp, History, Memory, 87.  Chinciński, Pamięć II wojny, 34–35.  Robert Traba and Robert Żurek, „‘Vertreibung’ czy „‘przymusowe wysiedlenia’? Polskoniemiecki spór o pojęcia, pamięć i sens uprawiania polityki wobec historii,“ in Historie wzajemnych oddziaływań, ed. Robert Traba, coop. Bartosz Dziewanowski-Stefańczyk (BerlinWarszawa, CBH PAN – ENRS), 134.  Bartoszewski, O Niemcach i Polakach, 346–347.

Overcoming Conflicting Memories


Polish-German common interests.37 In 1999 German President Johannes Rau took part in the commemorations of the outbreak of the Second World War in Warsaw in order to defuse the tense atmosphere related to the issue of the expellees.38 Moreover, Polish authorities succeeded in convincing Germany to pay reparations for the Polish forced labourers from the Second World War. The apogee of disputes was the demand by the Preussische Treuhand for compensation from the countries from which the German population was displaced after the war. Consequently, in 2004 the Polish parliament urged that Poland demand war reparations from Germany. According to the Polish political scientist Piotr Buras, this was the turning point in the decline of the Polish-German communication.39 Warsaw authorities commissioned a report on the present value of the city’s war losses. On the other hand, in order to underline the neighbourly progress of Polish-German relations, in 2005 the Polish government started preparations for a big exhibition showing a thousand years of interactions between the two countries, which was presented in 2011. At the same time Polish society witnessed a discussion on the country’s role in the Holocaust. The renewed interest in this topic was triggered by the book Neigbours by Jan Tomasz Gross. It unveiled a deep vulnerability, a sense that Poland was an unwilling victim, especially in relation to the above-mentioned debate on German victims. The book influenced relations between the countries and influenced domestic politics in Poland. An example of the impact of this influence can be seen in Poland’s 2005 presidential campaign where Donald Tusk was discredited by his right wing opponent, Jarosław Kaczyński, with the argument that Tusk’s grandfather served in the Wehrmacht. Another process that highlighted significant differences in the Polish and German cultures of memory was the enlargement of the EU in 2004 when memories in Western and Central European clashed. One expression of these differences were the tensions around commemorating August 23, the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Totalitarian Regimes. This day, which is important for building a common memory, is commemorated mainly in Central and Eastern Europe. Western Europe

 „Informacja ministra spraw zagranicznych o podstawowych kierunkach polityki zagranicznej Polski przedstawiona na 13. posiedzeniu Sejmu RP III Kadencji“, March 5, 1998, accessed April 17, 2019, cab255e:JCR.  Wolff-Powęska, Pamięć – brzemię, 507.  Piotr Buras, „Stosunki polsko-niemieckie: w poszukiwaniu nowego paradygmatu,“ Stosunki Międzynarodowe (2007): 1–2. 17.


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instead commemorates January 27, which symbolises the liberation of the Auschwitz camp and is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. The beginning of the twenty-first century saw the implementation in Poland of the term “politics of history,” previously used mainly in Germany. At first, it was propagated mainly by the conservative politicians and intellectuals; over time it became one of the most repeated terms of politics.40 It was also incorporated in the Polish foreign politics. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stefan Meller, stated in 2005 that an adequate choice of historical facts can create a desired image of Poland.41 The years 2005–2007, when the conservative party, Law and Justice, ruled Poland, saw many discussions in the Polish-German relations connected with history. One of the clashes was triggered by an exhibition entitled Erzwungene Wege, created by the Centre against Expulsions, which presented the expulsions of the Germans after the Second World War and compared them with other expulsions in the twentieth century. History also played an important role in current politics during the discussion on the distribution of votes in the Council of the European Union in 2007. The Polish Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński demanded that the Polish war losses should be included in the number of the Polish citizens in order to gain more votes in the Council.42 Additionally, the country felt driven to launch an international campaign to prevent the use of the phrase “Polish concentration camps.” This is still one of the prime examples of politics of history conducted by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The heated debates on the victims and perpetrators eventually led to the name of the Auschwitz concentration camp being changed in 2007 to “Memorial and Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Former German Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp.”

Past as a Platform for Dialogue? The memory conflict over forced migrations led to another initiative, this time conciliatory. In 2003 the German minister of culture proposed the creation of an international network of “remembrance workshops” in order to

 Michał Łuczewski, Kapitał moralny. Polityki historyczne w późnej nowoczesności (Kraków: OSP, 2017), 207–216.  Continuity and Change in Polish Foreign Policy (Warsaw: Stefan Batory Foundation, 2006), 14–15.  Eric Langenbacher, “Collective Memory and German-Polish Relations,” in Power and the Past (2010), 86.

Overcoming Conflicting Memories


open dialogue about crimes of different regimes – both national-socialist as well as communist – and to commemorate the victims. In the same year presidents of Poland and Germany declared the need to research all forced migrations. Eventually the decision was taken that this new organisation would focus not only on the history of forced migrations but also on other traumatic events of the twentieth century – the ideologies and totalitarian systems of power, wars and crimes, all of which precipitated the tragedies that afflicted Europe in the last century. To this end, in 2005 a declaration was signed by the ministers of culture of Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland establishing the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity.43 Another important platform of dialogue could be the textbook for history studies for middle and high school in Poland and Germany, which is the initiative of the Polish-German Textbook Commission. The fourth and last volume was published in 2020. The authors of the textbook have agreed that, in case of a dispute between historiographies or memories in Poland and Germany, both versions will be shown. Thus, a mutual understanding and dialogue of memory will be built. Among other initiatives and institutions of great importance one can name the Deutsch-Polnisches Jugendwerk and the Krzyżowa / Kreisau Foundation.44 The year 2009 saw a change in the Polish foreign politics of history towards Germany, which was important due to a number of anniversaries marking that year. Poland promoted the twentieth anniversary of the round table talks and the first, partially-free 1989 parliamentary elections. The country also participated in commemorating the beginning of the Second World War in Berlin. A number of exhibitions were presented and significant interest in the celebrations among the German public opinion was noted. However, as the Polish historian Robert Żurek stated, the Bundestag was not ready to issue a declaration on the outbreak of the war and the Polish prime minister was invited to the celebrations of the destruction of the Berlin Wall only after prolonged negotiations.45 The next important initiative took place in 2011, celebrating the twentieth century anniversary of the 1991 Treaty of Good Neighbourhood and Friendly Cooperation. Both governments signed a programme of cooperation, which established that its authors would eschew mutual claims and use the past as a platform for dialogue.46

 Romania joined in 2014.  See also: Kornelia Kończal, “Polsko-niemiecka współpraca naukowa po 1989 r.: transfer wiedzy, instytucjonalizacja, networking,” in Interakcje. Leksykon komunikowania polskoniemieckiego, ed. Alfred Gall et al. (Wrocław: ATUT, 2015), vol. 2, 520–536.  Robert Żurek, ”2009 – Rok wielkich rocznic. Stracone czy wykorzystane szanse w dialogu polsko-niemieckim?“ Biuletyn Polsko-Niemiecki 2 (2010): 2–12.  Kącka, „Dyplomacja symboli,“ 88–89.


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The same year saw one of the biggest ever exhibitions devoted to the PolishGerman relations in Berlin. Entitled in Polish Obok, in German Tür an Tür, it was part of the cultural program of the Polish presidency of the EU as well as means of celebrating the twentieth century anniversary of the signing of the PolishGerman Treaty of Good Cooperation and Neighbourly Relations. It showed a thousand years of Polish-German neighbourly relations through art. According to Poland’s minister Bartoszewski, chairman of the scientific council of the exhibition, it was devoted to the shared past, but served mainly to rethink the future.47 This exhibition also revealed different sensitivities and approaches to the public history in both countries. Its curator, Anda Rottenberg, stated that she was forced to remove a work of art, “Berek,” by Artur Żmijewski, which features a group of people playing in a gas chamber. Thus, the Polish side was forbidden to present issues related to concentration camps in a way which was untypical and seemed to be offensive in Germany. There were also attempts not to present the artwork by Zbigniew Libera, “Lego Concentration Camp.”48 Both works of art were presented, however, in the exhibition catalogue. The year 2017 marked the Polish answer to the discussion on the Center Against Expulsions in the form of the Museum of the Second World War opened in Gdańsk. As the director of the museum Paweł Machcewicz stated in an article in which he first presented the idea to create such a museum: “it was necessary that the Polish side came forward with an initiative in this memory argument.”49 The aim, as the museum’s catalogue states, was to introduce the Polish and Central European experience into the European and world memory. It was also designed to be a clear anti-war manifestation.50 However, this more conciliatory period saw also more heated discussions – in the years 2013–2014 there was a very strong reaction from the Polish authorities

 Tür an Tür. Polen – Deutschland. 1000 Jahre Kunst und Geschichte, ed. Małgorzata Omilanowska (Köln: DuMont, 2011), 10; Magdalena Lorenc, „Obok. Polska – Niemcy. 1000 lat historii w sztuce jako przykład wystawy politycznej,“ Przegląd Politologiczny 2 (2013): 163–176.  Anda Rottenberg, Już trudno. Rozmawia Dorota Jarecka (Warszawa: Wyd. Krytyki Politycznej, 2013), 155–157. We must however remember that also in Poland works of art presenting the topics related to the Second World War in a controversial way were highly discussed – e.g. “Lego Concentration Camp” by Zbigniew Libera was withdrawn from the Polish pavilion at the Biennale in Venice in 1997 under the pressure of the Polish minister of culture. See Anda Rottenberg, „Artysta patrzy na wojnę,“ in Obok. Polska – Niemcy. 1000 lat historii w sztuce, ed. Małgorzata Omilanowska (Berlin: Martin-Gropius-Bau, DuMont; Warszawa: Zamek Królewski, 2011), 624.  Paweł Machcewicz, Muzeum (Kraków: Znak horyzont, 2017), 16.  Rafał Wnuk, Paweł Machcewicz, Oliwia Gałka-Olejko, Łukasz Jasiński, Muzeum II wojny światowej. Katalog wystawy głównej (Gdańsk: Muzeum II wojny światowej, 2016), 8.

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against the film Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter. It revealed proof of German ignorance about the history of the German occupation of Poland during the Second World War and thus lacked sensitivity. On the other hand, it showed how fragile the Polish side could be.51 Further arguments, mainly over reparations, were sparked after the 2015 elections, when the relations between both countries considerably worsened and the Polish side reacted to any criticism of its politics by its German neighbour or by German EU politicians with renewed arguments, which used the past. Yet, even during this fraught period, collaboration on the Polish-German textbook was sustained. The above examples prove that a number of memory conflicts result from the clash of different political cultures, different cultures of memory and from a lack of knowledge or sensitivity towards the other party. In response to this, in 2006 the German historian Hans Henning Hahn proposed a set of rules for the politics of memory which would respect the different autonomous collective memories of societies. As Anna Wolff-Powęska stated – a difficult past can be overcome only through dialogue of memory.52 Such an attempt was undertaken by the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity. It prepared the “Guidelines for International Discourse on History and Memory” which underline, among others, the concept that the varied viewpoints of all parties should be presented; deterministic expressions about dependence between historical events and current relations should be avoided; generalisations should be avoided etc.53 As the German historian Simone Lässig stated, reconciliation requires lengthy and complex processes, which are potentially reversible.54 The PolishGerman reconciliation could serve as a model one. Nonetheless, historical memory remains a very sensitive issue. Numerous disputes result from changes in cultures of memory on the part of both countries, as well as from lack of sufficient knowledge or understanding of the other’s historical sensitivity. Issues can and do become politicised; politicians are well aware that the Polish-German issues

 Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska, „Realna debata o fikcyjnym zdarzeniu. O „Naszych matkach, naszych ojcach“ Philippa Kadelbacha,“ Kultura liberalna 29 (2013), accessed April 17, 2019,  Wolff-Powęska, Pamięć – brzemię, 510.  Guidelines for international discourse on history, accessed on April 3, 2019, https://enrs. eu/guidelines. See the latest proposal of such guidelines: „Zalecenia dla polityki historycznej w Polsce i w Niemczech,“ in Pomiędzy jubileuszami. Polityka historyczna w polsko-niemieckiej codzienności, ed. Klaus Ziemier and Joanna Andrychowicz-Skrzeba (Warszawa: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2017), 335–339.  History Education and Post-Conflict Reconciliation. Reconsidering joint textbook projects, ed. Karina V. Korostelina and Simone Lässig (London, New York: Routledge, 2013), 7.


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are memory-burdened and thus use them for their own benefits. As we have seen, this can lead to repercussions on domestic and foreign political scenes.

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Langenbacher, Eric. “Collective Memory and German-Polish Relations.” Power and the Past. Collective Memory and International Relations, edited by Eric Langenbacher and Yoss Shain. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2010: 86. Lipski, Jan Józef. „Dwie ojczyzny – dwa patriotyzmy. Uwagi o megalomanii narodowej i ksenofobii Polaków.“ In Powiedzieć sobie wszystko. Eseje o sąsiedztwie polskoniemieckim, edited by Georg Ziegler. Gliwice-Warszawa: Wyd. „Wokół nas,“, Wyd. Polsko-Niemieckie, 1996: 36–73. Lorenc, Magdalena. „Obok. Polska – Niemcy. 1000 lat historii w sztuce jako przykład wystawy politycznej.“ Przegląd Politologiczny 2 (2013): 163–176. Łuczewski, Michał. Kapitał moralny. Polityki historyczne w późnej nowoczesności. Kraków: OSP, 2017. Machcewicz, Paweł. Muzeum. Kraków: Znak horyzont, 2017. Mazowiecki, Tadeusz, and Holmut Kohl. Joint statement of T. Mazowiecki and H. Kohl, November 14, 1989. In Polska-Niemcy 1945–2007. Od konfrontacji do współpracy i partnerstwa w Europie. Studia i dokumenty, edited by Witold M. Góralski, 355–361. Warszawa: PISM, 2007. Memory and Change in Europe. Eastern Perspectives. Edited by Małgorzata Pakier and Joanna Wawrzyniak. New York-Oxford: Berghahn, 2016. Minister K. Skubiszewski’s speech at the VIth Polish-German Forum, February 22, 1990. In Polska-Niemcy 1945–2007. Od konfrontacji do współpracy i partnerstwa w Europie. Studia i dokumenty, edited by Witold M. Góralski. Warszawa: PISM, 2007: 364. Ociepka, Beata. „Zagraniczna polityka historyczna: Polska między Niemcami a Rosją.“ In Historia w dyplomacji publicznej, edited by Beata Ociepka. Warszawa: Scholar, 2015: 221. Omilanowska, Malgorzata, ed. Tür an Tür. Polen – Deutschland. 1000 Jahre Kunst und Geschichte. Köln: DuMont, 2011. Pamięć i polityka historyczna. Doświadczenia Polski i jej sąsiadów. Edited by Sławomir Nowinowski, Jan Pomorski and Rafał Stobiecki. Łódź: Wyd, 2008. Naukowe Ibidem, IPN. Piotr Buras. „Stosunki polsko-niemieckie: w poszukiwaniu nowego paradygmatu.“ Stosunki Międzynarodowe 1–2 (2007): 17. Polska wobec zjednoczenia Niemiec 1989–1991: dokumenty dyplomatyczne. Edited by Włodzimierz Borodziej and Dominik Pick. Warszawa: Scholar, 2006. Power and Past. Collective Memory and International Relations. Edited by Eric Langenbacher and Yossi Shain. Washington D.C.: Georgetown Univ. Press, 2010. Rottenberg, Anda. Już trudno. Rozmawia Dorota Jarecka. Warszawa: Wyd. Krytyki Politycznej, 2013. Rottenberg, Anda. „Artysta patrzy na wojnę.“ In Obok. Polska – Niemcy. 1000 lat historii w sztuce, edited by Małgorzata Omilanowska. Berlin: Martin-Gropius-Bau, DuMont; Warszawa: Zamek Królewski, 2011: 624. Rydel, Jan. „Polityka historyczna lat 1945–1989 wobec Zachodu.“ In Polityka czy propaganda. PRL wobec historii. Warszawa: MHP, 2009: 161. Saryusz-Wolska, Magdalena. „Realna debata o fikcyjnym zdarzeniu. O „Naszych matkach, naszych ojcach“ Philippa Kadelbacha.“ Kultura liberalna 29 (2013). Accessed April 17, 2019. -zdarzeniu-o-naszych-matkach-naszych-ojcach-philippa-kadelbacha/. Schmid, Harald. „Vom publizistischen Kampfbegriff zum Forschungskonzept. Zur Historisierung der Kategorie ‚Geschichtspolitik‘.“ In Geschichtspolitik und kollektives Gedächtnis. Erinnerungskulturen in Theorie und Praxis Geschichtspolitik und kollektives


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Gedächtnis. Erinnerungskulturen in Theorie und Praxis, edited by Harald Schmid, 72–74. Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2009. Sierp, Aline. History, Memory, and Trans-European Identity. Unifying Divisions. New York: Routledge, 2014. Speech of W. Bartoszewski in Bundestag, April 28, 1995. In Polska-Niemcy 1945–2007, 371–372. Świat według Mellera: życie i polityka: ku przyszłości. Ze Stefanem Mellerem rozmawia Michał Komar. Vol. 2. Warszawa: Rosner&Wspólnicy, 2008. Traba, Robert and Robert Żurek. „‘Vertreibung’ czy ‘przymusowe wysiedlenia’? Polskoniemiecki spór o pojęcia, pamięć i sens uprawiania polityki wobec historii.“ In Historie wzajemnych oddziaływań, edited by Robert Traba, cooperation:Bartosz DziewanowskiStefańczyk. Berlin-Warszawa: CBH PAN – ENRS, 2014: 134. Traba, Robert. „O potrzebie nowych badań nad niemiecką okupacją Polski w czasie II wojny światowej.“ In „Fikcyjna rzeczywistość“. Codzienność, światy przeżywane i pamięć niemieckiej okupacji w Polsce, edited by Robert Traba, Katarzyna Woniak and Anna WolffPowęska, 28–29. Warszawa-Berlin: ISP PAN, CBH PAN, 2016. Troebst, Stefan. Erinnerungskultur – Kulturgeschichte – Geschichtsregion. Ostmitteleuropa in Europa. Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 2013. Wnuk, Rafał, Paweł Machcewicz, Oliwia Gałka-Olejko and Łukasz Jasiński. Muzeum II wojny światowej. Katalog wystawy głównej. Gdańsk: Muzeum II wojny światowej, 2016. Wolff-Powęska, Anna. “Polish raison d’etat and the process of normalizing relations with Germany in conditions of freedom and democracy.” In Poland-Germany 1945–2007. From Confrontation to Cooperation and Partnership in Europe, edited by Witold M. Góralski, 166–167. Warsaw: PISM, 2007. Wolff-Powęska, Anna. Pamięć – brzemię i uwolnienie. Niemcy wobec nazistowskiej przeszłości (1945–2010). Poznań: Zysk i Ska, 2011. „Zalecenia dla polityki historycznej w Polsce i w Niemczech.“ In Pomiędzy jubileuszami. Polityka historyczna w polsko-niemieckiej codzienności, edited by Klaus Ziemier and Joanna Andrychowicz-Skrzeba, 335–339. Warszawa: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2017. Zaremba, Marcin. Komunizm, legitymizacja, nacjonalizm: nacjonalistyczna legitymizacja władzy komunistycznej w Polsce. Warszawa: Trio, 2005. Żurek, Robert. „2009 – Rok wielkich rocznic. Stracone czy wykorzystane szanse w dialogu polsko-niemieckim?“ Biuletyn Polsko-Niemiecki 2 (2010): 2–12.

Olga Dudar

Heritage Burnt, Heritage Born – Paradox of “Space of Memory” in Conflicts: Ukraine’s Experience Reconsidered Abstract: Given the historical experience of Ukraine, conflicts should be defined as transformation factors or as new objects appearing, which we will identify as “Space of Memory.” According to Pierre Nora’s definition, “memory crystallizes and finds refuge” in such places. Every conflict, during which cultural heritage objects are destroyed or damaged, gives an impetus to the creation of a new history for a famous local or ethnic place. The way in which Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, has been perceived and treated offers unique evidence of cultural history mythologisation and politicization. Keywords: cultural memory; historical experience of Ukraine; mythologisation and politicization public space in Kyiv; space of memory

Researchers generally consider conflicts as disruptive for cultural heritage. However, in the twentieth century, views on this issue are changing. Conflicts are beginning to be studied as factors of transformation, or the source for the emergence of places and objects, which we will define as “Space of Memory.” According to Nora these are representative places, symbolic objects through which a certain group of people connects their memories, values, and where their memory “crystallises and finds refuge” (Nora 1996, 3). Consequently, every conflict, during which cultural heritage objects are destroyed or damaged, gives an impetus to the creation of a new history of a famous locale or the site of an ethnic community. We have limited our analysis to the monuments of Kiev because they are of considerable interest among the researchers. As a tourist centre, the capital of Ukraine has a great number of “Space of Memory” places, important for different social groups. Thanks to the school programme and the mass media, these places are presented in the public space quite thoroughly, yet many authors use myths and beliefs to complement their factual information. In addition, the subject of scientific interest is religious buildings, because they have attracted believers for ages, are recognised as art monuments and are connected with important historical processes. In contrast to secular monuments, for a certain time, temples did not cause acute social discussions. Both the authorities and the communities guarded this part of cultural heritage carefully.


Olga Dudar

Quite often while studying the features of the “Space of Memory” or “Places of Memory,” historians use the findings of the French sociological and philosophical school. Their representatives trace and analyse the process of transforming the geographic space into a total-mental, creating a multi-component concept of the spatial experience of a particular person (Nahorna 2014, 55). The distance between history and collective memory had already been outlined by Maurice Halbwachs (Halbwachs, 2007, 10–12). However, additional efforts were needed to further explore the system of historical myths and stereotypes, the accumulation of which was formed by the political history. Gradually, it became clear for researchers that “memory is least concerned with the establishment of objective truth, that at any moment it is ready to shake off a history of itself, to “memorise” it.” Researchers state certain metamorphoses; “the burst of heritage” should be considered as a signal of separation from the past. The fact that, according to Nora’s own recognition, common memory can be perceived as an antithesis to the glorification of certain historical events and as a tool for solving myths itself turned into a tool of “praise of the past” (Nora 2014, 261). In the vision of Nora collective memory manifests in three forms – material, functional and symbolic. Material objects are the objects specially created for the preservation of the memory – monuments, memorials. By functional, he cites images on banknotes, names of historical figures or significant events to identify streets, enterprises and institutions. By symbolic he means places or events that have firmly established the value of a nation’s most prominent image, like the Place de La Bastille in France (Nahorna 2014, 60). Taking into account Ukrainian experience, it is interesting to draw conclusions about the transformation of memory and the appearance, along with memory-archives and memory-debt, and memory-distances. Memory-distance occurs when the memory is considered as a debt repayment. Gradually memory-heritage destroys the memory of the nation, and the false interpretation of the memory replaces the work of sorrow. The idea of memory-debt, according to Paul Ricker, is inseparable from the idea of heritage (Ricker 2004, 565–567). It is not simply about the obligation to save material heritage (if those who live owe their existence to those who do not). In addition, there is a problem of opposing artificial models of memory to a real, naturally unpredictable one. That is why sometimes the memory cult acquires distorted forms – the cult of remembrance. This, in turn, reduces the role of the state and the function of history. In the aggregate, this creates a threat to the very idea of a “Space of Memory.” In the case of Ukraine’s history, it illustrates the situation with certain monuments to the events of the Second World War. Created during the Khrushchev liberalisation, 1953–1964, they have become certain

Heritage Burnt, Heritage Born


symbols and have formed stereotypes and myths in the mind of the society. Real history remained outside the collective memory. Perhaps in the Ukrainian context one should take into account the specificity of historical developments such as “Space of Memory,” which were used for different purposes in the nineteenth century. For example, members of the first nationalist organization (Brotherhood of Tarasivtsi, Kaniv, 1881) chose the burial place of the famous Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko as a territory for proclaiming their ideas in order to emphasize their connection with the historical memory of Shevchenko – politics. However, earlier, the Russian Empire used cultural heritage to create the desired tsarist “shared memory” and support the three pillars of the Romanovs’ state: monarchism, the Orthodox faith and the Russian language. As a result of the conflict between Peter I and hetman (military leader) Ivan Mazepa, all the acts of the hetman, as art and church patron, were sought to be erased from the memory of descendants (Nikitenko 2000, 44). How do conflicts create a new history of the “memory places”? The Russian researcher Alexei Kraikovski makes effective arguments in recounting the fate of the museum in Gatchyna (Russian Federation) (Kraikovski and Shukurova 2017, 11). The authors draw attention to the new “memory,” which was formed for the sake of commercial success of the project. Kraikovski refers to the conclusions of David Lowenthal and identifies three basic models for the aims of cultural heritage: the first, to renovate the past through a modern rendering of scenes and actors; the second, to highlight and enhance the aspects of the past through a sense of enthusiasm; and the third, to exclude what seems shameful or harmful by deriding or ignoring it.

“Space of Memory”: The Ukrainian Experience We can illustrate these three models through a study of the experience of preserving and recreating the Ukrainian cultural heritage that was lost or damaged during the Second World War. A new image was created for the Assumption Cathedral of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra. The cathedral’s construction began in the eleventh century. In the eighteenth century, the temple was rebuilt and redecorated. This strengthened the aspects of the past connected with faith by evoking delight in the scale and quality of reconstruction and by excluding information that seemed shameful to the Soviet government. On November 3, 1941, during the time of German army’s occupation in Kiev, the masterpiece of architecture was blown up and many objects of art were


Olga Dudar

damaged. The circumstances of this crime remain one of the secrets of the Second World War. Who destroyed the temple? The answer remains a mystery to the Ukrainian and world public. Since the post-war period, many research works, journalistic investigations and interviews with eyewitness accounts were published in periodicals and professional publications. The analysis of this information continues. However, no culprit has been directly and unambiguously identified to this day. From 1926 onward the territory of the Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra had been the site of the State Reserve “All-Ukrainian Museum City.” The Assumption Cathedral in the 1920s belonged to the Central Anti-Religious Museum – the Museum of Cults and Life. Here enormous cultural values were concentrated. In addition to unique cult objects from the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra Cathedral, there were relics of the Kiev Theological Academy, memorials from Mykhailivskii, Sofiiskii, Vydubitskii and from many other monasteries and temples in Ukraine. It is important that to note that unique historical and artistic gatherings not only from the territories of the Caucasus but also from different countries of Europe and the East gathered at this museum. Researchers note that in 1925 the Museum of Cults and Life, which offered 82,000 exhibits, occupied the Assumption Cathedral, the Trinity Gate Church and the near and distant Lavra Caves (Kot 2011, 123). Though the Soviet government sold part of the collection abroad, it was still valuable. In the first months of military operations, some of the most expensive exhibits were evacuated. The Soviet troops left Kiev in September 1941. The Nazis, having taken control of the city, opened the territory of the Lavra to the civilian population. From this time, two versions of the destruction of the cathedral and the search for the culprits in this dramatic event began. Soviet historians and a number of modern researchers point to the political and military circles of Nazi Germany. Others consider the Soviet leadership as guilty. It was on their order that a number of industrial and civilian objects were carried out before the retreat of the Red Army in Kiev. Whatever the real historical circumstances of the cathedral’s fate might have been, the power of the USSR influenced the formation of collective memory through propaganda. This is illustrated by the testimony of a prominent Ukrainian filmmaker, Oleksander Dovzhenko, who was a journalist during the war years. In 1943, he noted in his diary: Then I asked many people and learnt that not the Germans destroyed the center of our deformed capital but we ourselves. Our fools overcame the program of the tasks given to them this time, remaining true to their style of the bastards of thick-headed and famethirsty people. These were we who scared the Germans, blowing up several dozen fascist officers together with our inhabitants, which, of course, were not taken into account.

Heritage Burnt, Heritage Born


Nevertheless, I will not say about it to anyone in my life, because it is to be said that our beautiful lovely Kyiv was destroyed by fascist fiends. And the Lavra, the holy place of all Russia, was blown up by them as well. (Dovzhenko 1990, 250)

If you analyse the publications in Soviet textbooks and directories, the result of the Soviet “memorisation” becomes clear: the Nazis bear responsibility for all the ruins of Kyiv. The fate of the Assumption Cathedral is merely one example of the alleged crimes of the Nazi regime, from the reign of which the whole world was saved due to the heroic efforts of the USSR. Such an openly ideological concept works today; it is only worth listening to individual guides or read a thematic article on Russian Wikipedia. Once reconstructed, the Assumption Cathedral received a new interpretation as a “Place of Memory,” because in addition to the religious and artistic context, it produced an “unalterable” history of the Second World War. Near the reconstructed cathedral there is a fragment of the wall, which testifies to the activities of the “barbarians of the twentieth century” (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The fragment of the northern wall, eleventh century. The Assumption Cathedral of the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. Fragment was found during the study of the ruins of the cathedral in 1952. Photo by the author.


Olga Dudar

All three models of the emergence of a new complex or “Space of Memory” – updating the past through the use of scenes and actors in a modern way, highlighting aspects of the past through a sense of admiration, eliminating what seems shameful or harmful – are demonstrated in the history of the Mikhailivskii Golden-Domed Monastery in Kyiv. In 1934, the bolsheviks began the destruction of a unique architectural building. The remnants of the old Russian masonry were exploded in 1936 as they were too strong. The destruction of a religious building was explained by the need to fight religion as the cursed “opium for the people,” according to Vladimir Lenin, leader of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924. The ideological campaign made the infamous activity of the Orthodox Church, accordingly, the act of destruction that created a new place of memory – a place of affirmation of atheism. The Soviet government planned a large-scale construction, which would eventually become an (atheistic) place of glory to celebrate the new regime. The grand buildings and the pompous monument of Lenin would symbolise the greatness of the communist regime (Buniak 2016, 194). However, real circumstances hampered these aspirations. Due to financial difficulties and preparations for the war, less than a third of the project was implemented. Thus, the place of the cathedral’s destruction and partial reconstruction was connected with the peculiarity of the ideology of the Soviet Union. In the modern independent period, there has been a renewal of the perception of the past. In order to increase interest in Ukrainian identity in the postSoviet society, active citizens raised public funds for the reconstruction of the Mykhailivskii Golden-Domed Cathedral, on the initiative of the writer Oles Honchar and with the support of the leaders of the Orthodox Church. In 1994, the state authorities joined the process; in particular, President Leonid Kuchma supported the project. Due to the use of contemporary popular personalities, “Space of Memory” is now associated with the state’s attention to cultural problems and symbolises a return to Christian ideals (Figure 2 and 3). The process of the past glorification was mentioned in the work of professor Aleida Assmann, who provided details to distinguish the culprit and the victim of historic events, unlike the winners and losers (Assmann 2014, 39–51). When in 2014 during the Revolution of Dignity the monk of the Cathedral gave alarm using church bells, people began to associate the church with the democratic struggle. Today, on the walls of the cathedral there are photos of soldiers who died in the East of Ukraine. In this way, the church and the community honour those who defend Ukrainian statehood. Furthermore, the memorial continues to accumulate new stories that reinforce its identification as a “Space of Memory.” It is interesting that the St. Sophia Cathedral escaped the fate of many of Kyiv’s cult monuments during the Second World War. The oldest preserved architectural monument of the capital of Ukraine was not destroyed. Though the

Heritage Burnt, Heritage Born


Figure 2 and 3: The symbolic wall of memory from the photo of the military and law enforcement personnel who died in the East of Ukraine during 2014–2019. Mykhailivskii Golden-Domed Cathedral. Photo by the author.

cathedral collection was robbed by the Nazis, the main buildings survived. A number of researchers note that it was Pavlo Yemets, local keeper during the German occupation, who, shortly before the liberation of Kiev by Soviet forces, managed to persuade the Germans not to blow up the St. Sophia Cathedral (Ivanis’ko 2006, 105). Why they listened is a mystery (it does not compare to the discussions concerning the destruction of the Assumption Cathedral). This can be considered as another confirmation of the influence of the authorities on the formation of “Space of Memory” in the Soviet period. Conflicts do not fade from memory without leaving a trace in the culture heritage. In most cases they have devastating consequences. Rethinking the role of conflicts and their impact on social life must take into account the “places of memory” issue. Shared memory, according to Olexandra Dvurechenska, changes the system of values, leads to significant changes in real historical memory and reduces the link between generations (Dvurechenska 2014, 62–63). If the formation of a new context is dominated by myths, over time their spread may result in negative social stereotypes or the dissemination of false information. Therefore, we consider it appropriate to pay attention to those changes in the perception of “Space of Memory,” which encourage an uncritical assessment of historical events or excite social conflicts. The issue of “Space of Memory” needs further research in Ukraine, and it is important to use the European methodology of historical research. And in the future, when the historical heritage will be lost, and a new heritage will be born, the question is whether researchers will be able to be as objective as possible in their conclusions?


Olga Dudar

References Assmann, Aleida. Dlinnaya ten’ proshlogo. Memorial’naya kul’tura i istoricheskaya politika [Long Shadow of the Past: Memorial Culture and Historical Policy]. Translated by B. Khlebnikov. Moskow: Novoe Literaturnoye Obozreniye, 2014. Buniak, Olena. Heneralnyi plan rekonstruktsii mista Kyieva 1935 r. (za materialamy periodychnykh vidan). Naukovyi visnyk Natsionalnoho muzeiu istorii Ukrainy. Vol. 1: 192–196. 2016. Dovzhenko, Oleksandr. Ukraina v ohni: Film, diary. Kyiv: Rad. Zyma, 1990. Dvurechenska, Oleksandra. Mistse istorychnoi pamiati u rozvytku Ukrainy yak subiekta suchasnykh mizhnarodnykh vidnosyn. Hrani 105, no. 1 (2014): 59–63. Halbwachs, Maurice. Sotsialnye ramki pamyati [The social framework of the memory]. Translated by S. N. Zenkin. Moscow: Novoye Izdatelstvo, 2007. Hatton, Patrick P. Isotria kak iskustvo pamyati [History as an art of memory]. Translated by V. Iu. Bystrov. St. Petersburg: Izdatelstvo Vladimir Dal, 2004. Ivanis’ko, Svitlana. Stvorennia “Sofiiskoho muzeiu” ta yoho dolia v roky Druhoi svitovoi viiny. Visnyk of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. History, 82–84 (2006): 103–106. Kot, Sergiy. “Zruinuvannia Uspenskoho soboru Kyievo- Pecherskoi lavry (3 lystopada 1941 r.): versii.” Ukrainskyi istorychnyi zhurnal, no. 6 (2011): 122–151. Kraikovski, Alexei, and Aisulu Shukurova. “The cultural game of a noble life – (re)presenting historical manors Gatchina and Fall in comparative perspective.” The Journal of Tourism History 9, no. 2–3 (2017): 139–159. Nagorna, Larysa. “Poniattia “mistse pamiati” v systemi Memory Studies.” Rehionalna istoriia Ukrainy 8 (2014): 55–74. Nikitenko, Nadyia. “Hetman Mazepa – pokrovytel Sofii Kyivskoi.” Naukovi zapysky NaUKMA. Kyiv, Academia 18: Historical Sciences (2000): 40–44. Nora, Pierre. Realms of Memory: Conflicts and Divisions: The Construction of the French Past (European Perspectives: A Series in Social Thought and Cultural Criticism) (Volume 1). New York: Columbia University Press, 1996. Nora, Pierre. Teperishnie, natsiia, pamiat [Present, Nation, Memory]. Translated by Andrii Riepa. Kyiv: Klio, 2014. Rickoeur, Paul. Pamyat, Istoria, Zabvenie [Memory, history, oblivion]. Translated by I. Blauberg, I. S. Vdovina, O. I. Machulskaya and G. M. Tavrizyan. Moscow: Izdatelstvo gumanitarnoy literatury, 2004.

Olga Dianova

The Accession Policy and Identity Conflict Abstract: This article studies the reporting of integration processes of the Uniate Church in the Russian and Polish narrative sources in the second half of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. In that regard it also highlights the issue of Canon Law and religious choice. Special attention is paid to narratives which represent the increased ideological pressure that forced the Greek Catholic Church believers to abandon their religious identity. Conclusions are made about the historical and cultural background of interaction between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Keywords: Orthodox Church and Catholic Church; religion and national identity; religion in relations between Poles; Ukrainian and Russians; twenty-first century

The Eastern Rite Catholic Church is the product of an agreement entered into between the Vatican and the Kyiv Metropolis in 1596, when Roman jurisdiction aimed to replace that of Constantinople. The Union of Brest was looked upon as an ecclesiastic-cum-political project intended to unite Western and Eastern Christians together and to promote the implementation of Rome’s mission within the newly conquered territories further east. This Union created in the lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth gave rise to a new liturgical tradition, a synthesis of Eastern and Western rites, the so-called Catholic Church of the Byzantine (Eastern) rite and, correspondingly, to a new cultural and historical religious identity. Historically, this new institution created out of the Union was referred to as the as “Greek Uniate” church.1 Later, the concept of Western Russianism grew into a coherent mode of thought, where the Uniate Church was looked upon as a breakaway faction from the dominant church of the Russian Empire. Until 1918, the Russian Orthodox Church held the position of the state church, regulated every aspect of social life (birth, marriage and death documents) and deviation from church doctrines was punishable by law. Expecting that the new, universally shared faith would put an end to the ongoing religious conflicts and to inter-denominational antagonism, so that another religious self-identification could be created, the governing authorities made frequently unpopular and contradictory decisions regarding the Union.

 Weeks, 2001, 70–72.


Olga Dianova

The proposition for a “reunion” between the Uniate Church and East Orthodoxy arose early in the nineteenth century within Greek Catholic Church itself, and found followers among several political and religious figures. One of them was Bishop Joseph Semashko, the central figure of the Union-reintegration movement; he was the first to publicly put forth the idea. Semashko was born into one of the oldest noble families of Western Russia; almost all of his ancestors, both maternal and paternal, were Uniate priests.2 He became Orthodox and reconciled the two identities, and he promoted this understanding among all of his parishioners. After he was consecrated Bishop in 1829, Semashko fully dedicated himself to combating the Union. Well equipped with an insider’s knowledge of the community he wanted to change, the Bishop possessed a clear idea of details. Nicholas I held the Bishop in his personal favour and provided support for his endeavours. Semashko succeeded in creating a team of like-minded clerics. His closest associates were Bishops Vasily Luzhinsky and Antony Zubko and a circle of Vilna Seminary graduates, who were sympathisers of Eastern Orthodoxy. After the January Uprising of 1863, in which representatives of the Polish Church participated and were later executed, the project of another Eastern Orthodox-Catholic Union was conceived of as an administrative resource to be used against Latin-Polish influences within the Union.3 During the second abolition, it was proposed to engage Galician Uniate Church clerics, where Catholic influence upon local Uniate rites was less pronounced, and where divine practices were similar to Orthodox ones. Galicia continued to be a region where ethnic selfidentification was inseparably linked with religious factors, and where ethnoreligious conflict represented a continuous threat within the overall European political context. Usually, if an area was disputed or internally divided, the “cuius regio, eius religio” principle was applicable; the resolution of religious issues depended upon the current administration. The response to the rebellion was a sharp growth in repressive policies, when many Catholic clerics, who had been involved in the Uprising, were exiled, and when Greek Catholic Basilian monasteries, deemed hotbeds of seditious thinking, were closed down.4 Theological aspects of such decisions were no less important than political ones, because, essentially, the Church was one of the governmental institutes of the Russian Empire. This made it a governing tool, which enabled Russian governors-general to

 Iosif (Iosif Iosifovich Semashko, 1798–1868). 1883. Zapiski Iosifa, mitropolita litovskogo, izdannyye Akademiyey nauk po zaveshchaniyu avtora: T. 1–3. – Sankt-Peterburg. tip. Akad. Nauk, pp. 3–15.  M. Dolbilov and D. Stalyunas 2010, 47–56.  Beauvois, 439.

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combine secular and ecclesiastic responsibilities and to act on behalf of the Church. Of course, such actions were intended as a transformation, not a liquidation; or, rather, as an integration by way of a number of wisely-designed reforms; as a result, the legal status of the Greek Catholic Church continued to be tensely debated due to its ambiguous position, since both hierarchies believed that the Uniate church belonged to them. Within the first third of nineteenth century, the very institution of the Greek Catholic Church was revised to reflect the new laws of Russian Empire. The essential meaning of Union’s principles was put to question. It was important for both the West and the East to retain and uphold their rites and, through them, communion with their respective churches. However, as shown by the actual practices of Uniate services, this was not possible. Instead of having its own canons, the Greek Uniate Church predominantly followed statutes of the Western Church, with which it had communion. As part of the conversion, Greek Catholic Church hierarchs, former Jesuits, reduced the theological aspects of the matter by replacing the existing rites and interior church design, as if it was the only formal way to change their religious identity. Such formalism soon took to become the universal practice for entities accountable to the government and to the Synod, which had corrupted the concept of reunification (“vozsoedinenie”). As Bishop Semashko planned, one of the first steps taken to liquidate the Union was the replacement of bishops in Western governorates. He wanted to avoid violence in the course of this liquidation. Aware of parishioners being guided by their spiritual directors, who, in their own turn, were led by superior clerical hierarchs, he started the reforms with a special focus upon such clerical hierarchs. Parishes where the deans chose conversion into Eastern Orthodoxy voiced no grievances. A number of Uniate dioceses were re-organised and combined together into larger units. For example, instead of separate dioceses in Polotsk, Brest, Vilna and Lutsk, authorities created two large dioceses. To facilitate the accession, many churches were closed between 1840–60 – ostensibly for the purposes of making repairs. Indeed, Uniate church buildings were, typically, in a deplorable state. In the Western Krai, stone was used, predominantly, for the building of Roman Catholic churches (“kościoły”), while Greek Catholic churches were wooden. The partial closing-down of Basilian monasteries were launched upon orders from the Roman Catholic Clerical Collegium Department. Within the same year, five of them closed in Grodno Governorate, while, in Supraśl, the order to close for reconstruction purposes was exacted on the famous SupraślLavra, which had been a Uniate place of worship for over three centuries. Soon afterwards, a ban upon performing church services jointly with Catholics followed. Since 1831, the Uniates had no right to officiate in Latin “kościoły.”


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This was followed by “ukase,” banning would-be priests from taking “Latin” wives and mandating that all wives of Uniate priests who were predominantly Catholic convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. In addition children were to be raised in the Roman tradition and families were to be zealous in their faith. These stipulations invited the problem of mixed marriages, because children born to parents of different faiths were always brought up Catholic. In 1834, Greek Uniate Clerical Collegium ordered the use of Eastern Orthodox synodal service books in Uniate churches, and a large-scale campaign was launched to put the new liturgical regulations into practice.5 The Orthodox liturgical books of the Moscow Synod Printing House was accordingly introduced in Uniate dioceses. While books and services might herald the path from Uniate to Eastern Orthodox, the transition to reform the priesthood had been a difficult one. Most of these matters required fundamental changes in many aspects: sacerdotal robes, ceremonial accessories and the removal of the Catholic influence on the Uniate liturgy. Novitiate Eastern Orthodox priests also had to revert to liturgical singing, which had been replaced by the so-called “read mass” (“mszaczytana”). Such steps met vehement local resistance. Uniate clergy filed petitions more than once for permission to use their old service books because they believed the new service books were not consistent with their Greek Uniate faith. They were also unable to read liturgical books in Old Church Slavonic, and the rites were not familiar to them. They asked for permission to keep their beards shaved and to wear the clerical robes they used to wear earlier. Priests who did not accept the newly printed service books were, for the most part, banned from their parishes. There were further novelties introduced into the Uniate education system; documents of the church had to be written in Russian instead of Polish, for instance. The worst grievances were provoked by reform in interior design of the “kościoły,” when organs, benches, confession boxes and images of saints not recognised by the Russian Orthodox Church were removed. This was followed by altar-screen installation orders supported by Mikhail Muravyov-Vilensky, Governor of Grodno. Another concern for the governing authorities was that Uniates reluctant to become Eastern Orthodox preferred conversion to Roman Catholicism. In 1835, the Greek Uniate Clerical Collegium reported several instances of this to the Ministry of the Interior. Eventually such acts of reluctance became typical in the Minsk Governorate. The Ministry and the Governor of Minsk were therefore ordered to investigate ways to halt the process. Under penalty of property confiscation and banishment, Catholic priests and the Polish gentry were strictly

 Matus, 242.

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forbidden to force peasants to convert to Roman Catholicism.6 By 1836, Uniate clerics were commanded to gather information on any parishioners who had converted, and to report them to the consistory. Thereafter they were banned from their offices. The central Union-abolishing event in the Western Krai was a conciliary decree on the reunion between the Uniate and Eastern Orthodox churches, adopted in February 1839, by the Uniate Council (Sobor) in Polotsk. The conciliary act was published with a list of the 1305 Uniate priests who agreed to the reunion. The act and petition for putting the Uniate Church under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church Synod were formally signed by Joseph Semashko, Vasily Luzhinsky and Antony Zubko, Greek Catholic Bishops. In March, the Holy Synod ruled that the Greek Catholic Church should accede to the East Orthodox Church, and the decree was approved by the Emperor Nicholas I. The liturgical ceremony that followed brought an end to the practice of prayers for the Roman Pope. Instead, prayers for the Imperial family were put into practice in accordance with the Eastern rite. The Uniates were permitted to retain rites and customs only if they were consistent with the teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In honour of the event, a medal was coined: “Split off by Violence (1596), Reunited by Love (1839).” More than a 1,500 Uniate parishes and more than over a 1,500 000 people assented to this change. The second Union-abolition period, initiated after the January Uprising of 1863, was designed to eliminate the Union altogether because the strong objection to Imperial government policies toward Belarusian and Lithuanian governorates threatened an explosive outcome. In the Kingdom of Poland, the Greek Catholic Church was more independent than in the Western Krai. By the 1830s, the Kholm Diocese, the only Uniate diocese in Lublin Governorate and Augustów Governorate, boasted some 230,000 followers. The key factors of the liquidation were governmental policies and directives related to them after the 1863 January Uprising, the second prolonged revolt in post-partition Poland, which involved the whole of civil society, but was violently suppressed by government forces throughout the year. That was one of the reasons why the Church administration decided to accelerate the reunion of Greek Catholics and Orthodox. In 1864, a Uniate Department was created by the Governmental Commission of Spiritual Affairs and Education in Warsaw. Its head was Pavel Mukhanov, historian and State Councillor, who was one of suppressors of the November Uprising in 1831. Virtually all Catholic Basilian monasteries in the Lublin Governorate and in Chełm Land were liquidated as politically suspect, with their property confiscated, except

 GARF, 110/s.24/1240, 3.


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for one in Warsaw. It was at this point that the government decided to finally remove any hazards that could come from the centres of Uniate education and religious life. To that end, the Greek Catholic Seminary of Kholm (now Chełm) was replaced with an Eastern Orthodox one. The order dictating that Catholic influences be eliminated and replaced with rites of the Russian Church was supported by the civil authorities and accepted by 240 out of 266 parishes in the Podlasie region. Yet all others, supported by the Vatican, refused to do so. Conflicts and clashes increased and the Tsar’s police started to appear. Over the next few years, dissenting priests were threatened with dismissal from their parishes, and many emigrated to Galicia. About two thousand Greek Catholics joined the Latin rite. Several priests were arrested and imprisoned in Warsaw, Lublin and Zamoscie (now Zamość). The confrontation grew in intensity on both sides; in 1874 several dozen participants were killed or wounded by the police in Drelów and Pratulin of Lublin Governorate. In Chełm, the reforms were launched concurrently with reunion in the Western Krai. However, due to regional specifics, the changes took several dozen years to be fully implemented. To extract the clergy and the laity from direct subordination to, and communion with, Rome was a challenging task – both in terms of politics and canon law. The confrontation grew in intensity on both sides; in 1874 several dozen participants were killed or wounded by the police in Drelów and Pratulin of Lublin Governorate. In Chełm, the reforms were launched concurrently with reunion in the Western Krai. However, due to regional specifics, the changes took several dozen years to be fully implemented. The final stage of the unification was the solemn adoption of the Conciliary Act of Accession by the Synod. Through this act everyone who remained Greek Catholic was outlawed. Despite this, the Uniates, however, were insistent that existent traditions should be retained, without any imposition of the East Orthodox rite – this precaution would ensure that “resisters” who flatly refused to worship in Eastern Orthodox churches were not alienated. Metropolitan Eulogius of Paris (Georgiyevsky), the Seminary Rector in Kholm, admitted that “up to 100,000 “East Orthodox” worshippers remained “Uniate at heart”. Formally, the Union was abolished in 1875 under the applicable state act, but the act of law was unable to remove that faith from the hearts of its followers.”7 The idea of the Union continued to exist – and would re-emerge much later. In the end, the abolition of the Union in the Western Krai did not amount to an uncompromising rejection of the Latin rite.

 Put’ moyey zhizni, 91.

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The November Uprising of 1830 spurned those processes only to a certain extent; it was the action of the clergy that provoked a wave of downright repression. There was, for instance, Jan Sierocinski, a Greek Uniate priest and a participant of the rebellion, who met a grievous fate. A graduate of Vilna Seminary, he was arrested, exiled to Omsk and, finally, executed for involvement in an antigovernment conspiracy. Later he became a model for a character in Lev Tolstoy’s well-known short story “What For?” (1906) and featured in several Polish literary works, such as the anti-monarchical poem by Mieczysław Romanowski. Uniate monastic communities also refused to accede. Within the same year, five of them, convents were especially antagonistic. Nuns of St. Spirit Convent in Vitebsk were ready “to endure anything for the Pope.” Aware that women were more prone to religious fanaticism, Semashko decided to exile the nuns of a monastery to remote convents in the Lithuanian Diocese, but some of them never consented to convert from Catholicism to Eastern Orthodoxy. Basilian monks were the most active fighters for their faith, as they continued to make their customary oath to the Pope. Semashko requested various dioceses of the Empire to send monks from the interior governorates to provide the required help in the Western Krai, but no one was ever sent. Another international scandal was provoked by “Mother” Makryna Mieczysławska, a fake Uniate abbess who claimed to have been a nun in Minsk. She appeared among Polish emigrants in Paris and even managed to deceive two Popes. The Polish Catholic press provided continuous coverage of these events. This was, in turn, objected to by Litovskija Jeparkhial`nyja Vedomosti. The national historiographical trend of those years provides a clear picture of what was happening.8 Opinions were absolutely polarised, evident from heroic epithets typical for historical works published at that time: “The times of Nero under the authority of Moscow” („Czasy Nerona w XIX wieku pod rządem moskiewskim, czyli Prawdziwe Neronowskie prześladowanie Unii w diecezyi Сhełmskiej“), “the martyrs of Podlasie” („O prześladowaniu Kościoła unickiego według źródeł moskiewskich“) and “martyrology of the Union” („Historja o ucisku Kościoła grecko-katolickiego przez Moskali w diecezji Chełmskiej“). Decades later, events that took place in the Chełm Land were highlighted by the entire Polish literary community, including such well-known authors as Maria Konopnicka,9 Bolesław Prus and Władysław Reymont,10 among others. In 1925, Catholic Priest Jozef Pruszkowski compiled a Uniate poetry anthology, where the best works of Uniate poets were collected.11 The history of this fighting for religious freedom was praised  Szabaciuk, 189–195.  “Unici,” Warszawa, 1915.  “Z ziemi chełmskiej. Wrażenia i notatki,” Krakow, 1916.  “Martyrologium Podlasia w Pieśni,” Lublin, 1925.


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as a sacral feat in literary heritage. The narrative of collective trauma still remains in socioculturul memory. There are schools and streets bearing the names of Pratulin Martyrs in the Gmina Wohyń, and some Polish churches near the BelarusianPolish border were consecrated to the Blessed Uniate Martyrs of Podlasie. All conflicts that arose had one source: the Uniates looked upon any change in their formal rites as a betrayal of their faith.12 In their eyes, it was akin to religious genocide, when police attempted to destroy the memory of the Uniate belief system. This caused a multi-year confrontation. Parishioners, although formally belonging to the dominant church, wanted no conflict with their own religious identity. Any governmental interference with what they considered their sacred beliefs provoked incessant protests, and any encroachment on the independence of their religious rites only encouraged a firm insistence of the freedom of religious choice. For many of them, the freedom to be Catholic meant civic freedom, that is why they seemed like rebellious fanatics in the eyes of the government. Fanaticism was inevitable under persecution, because the issues of language and religion were linked with national self-identification, and persecution disrupted the balance between linguistic and religious preferences. Elimination of the Union appeared to be an opportunity to change the current denominational identity, to strike off the past and according to the pleasure of authorities to “put an end to animosity between the former Uniates and the Eastern Orthodox.” But, although the Union was formally abolished, there was no change in the Uniate personality and, hence, religious identity of the Uniates remained the same. The laity continued to uphold their rights to practice their accustomed faith. The “resisters” (“upornii”) were unwavering in their belief, as Polish sources describe, and didn’t react to repressions that could be levied upon them, such as: corporal punishments, compulsory billeting for the armed forces, penalties, imprisonment and exile. These measures were regarded as prompting conversion to Eastern Orthodoxy, rather than as conversion as a compulsion. Yet controversies grew progressively more tense, and in many counties led to bloodshed. Exacerbated relationships between the governing authorities and the “resisters” provoked inherently inconsistent and even paradoxical decrees from local administrations, when a special Uniate mission was established in Kraków, and it became customary that Uniates who sought to be married were wed or baptised by a vagrant Catholic missionary priest or went abroad for the purpose, but such marriages were never recognized for legal purposes in Russian Empire.13 Wojt (or soltys) requested the Court to annul such marriages and

 Mel’gunov, 82.  GARF, 110/s.24/1140, 1621.

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forbid these Krakow-married couples to live together despite having children. All protesters have been arrested and fined. Since the Pope provided moral support and blessing to his congregation, the Orthodox conflict with the Vatican also continued. The European press published a wide range of rumours concerning the oppression that the Greek Catholic Church was living under. As reported by the Synod, as few as 35 out of 276 parishes that were ostensibly reunited actually changed their faith; the majority of Greek Catholics never converted. The governing authorities, for their part, had chosen a reactionary path. Now they were no longer able to halt the ongoing estrangement that set in among the public in the Western Krai and the Kingdom of Poland. The attempted weeding-out of the Uniate faith revealed the essential ineptitude of any violence in matters of faith, and, in this case, a forced allegiance to the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is not improbable that such events ultimately triggered the socially destructive “de-churching” processes later known as “ecclesiastic bolshevism.” After the government adopted the Religious Tolerance Ukase in 1905, the Uniate idea was still alive in the national psyche. A part of inhabitant Byelorussians converted, unhindered, to Catholicism, while another part of the former Greek Catholics emigrated to form communities in the USA and Canada. During World War I, when Galicia was occupied by Russian troops, denominational policies applicable to the Uniates remained unchanged: Uniate priests were replaced by Eastern Orthodox ones, and the parishes were pushed to convert to Orthodoxy. After the war, however, the earlier rite was restored in the majority of parishes. After the Revolution of 1917, a small number of Uniate parishes reappeared in West Byelorussia. In the first half of the twentieth century, the Greek Catholic Church in Galicia was headed by Metropolitan Andrey Szeptytsky, who made active efforts to support Uniate parishes, not only in Galicia but also in countries having common borders with it. In 1939, upon consent from the Vatican, he established the Byelorussian Exarchate for the Greek Catholic Church. Within the same year, after West Ukraine and West Byelorussia were annexed to the USSR, the Greek Catholic Church was subjected to a new series of persecutions. Several priests were arrested and the governing authorities provoked an internal schism within the Church itself. Finally, it was decided that the Greek Catholic Church would be liquidated and all buildings belonging to it nationalised. However, World War II and the German occupation of Ukraine postponed implementation of such plans by several years. One of the most troublesome pages in the history of Greek Catholic Church was a joint Uniate-Orthodox L’viv Sobor (special church council). In 1945, a group headed by Uniate priest Gabriel Kostelnik was established in L’viv under pressure from the NKVD. The group insisted that Greek Catholics should cut


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themselves off from the Vatican and be ruled under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church. In March 1946, the Sobor was held in St. George’s Cathedral in L’viv, where the decision was made in favour of reunion with the Russian Orthodox Church and disavowal of Catholicism. Afterwards, however, the Catholic Church determined that the Sobor lacked proper authority and its decisions were invalidated. After the L’viv Sobor, parishes of the Byelorussian and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Churches were liquidated, their clergy repressed and their laity formally counted as adherents of the Russian Orthodox Church. Until the early 1990s, the Greek Catholic Church had no legal status in these regions. It was not until after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991 that the Church obtained official status. In 1993, it was formally agreed between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches that the Union should never be used as a tool to unite the churches together. Earlier views held by the Catholic Church on the Union were revised. In Lebanon, authorised officers of the two churches adopted the Balamand Declaration (officially titled “Uniatism, method of union of the past, and the present search for full communion”), which recognised the individual right to freedom of conscience.

References Beauvois, Daniel. Le nœudgordien de l’Empire russe, le pouvoir, la noblesse polonaise et le peupleukrainien. Moscou: NLO, 2011. Dolbilov, Mikhail. Darius Stalyunas. Obratnaya uniya: iz istorii otnosheniy mezhdu katolitsizmom i pravoslaviyem v Rossiyskoy imperii, 1840–1873. In-t istorii Litvy. Vil’nyus: LII leidykla, 2010. GARF. Gosudarstvennyy arkhiv Rossiyskoy Federatsii (State Archive of the Russian Federation) (Moscow). Iosif (Iosif Iosifovich Semashko, 1798–1868). 1883. Zapiski Iosifa, mitropolita litovskogo, izdannyye Akademiyey nauk po zaveshchaniyu avtora: T. 1–3. – Sankt-Peterburg. tip. Akad. Nauk. Konopnicka, Maria. Poezje wydanie zupełne, krytyczne. Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolff, 1915. Matus, Irena. Schyłek unii i proces restytucji prawosławia w obwodzie białostockim w latach 30. XIX wieku. Białystok: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu w Białymstoku, 2013. Mel’gunov, S.P. Iz istorii religiozno-obshchestvennykh dvizheniy v Rossii XIX v.: Staroobryadchestvo. Religioznyye goneniya. Sektantstvo. Moskva: Zadruga, 1919. Pruszkowski, Józef. Martyrologium Podlasia w Pieśni. Lublin: Drukarnia Państwowa w Lublinie, 1925. Reymont, Władysław. Z ziemi chełmskiej. Wrażenia i notatki. Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolff, 1916. Semashko, Iosif (1798–1868). Zapiski Iosifa, mitropolita litovskogo, izdannyye Akademiyey nauk po zaveshchaniyu avtora: T. 1–3. Sankt-Peterburg. Tip: Akad. Nauk, 1883.

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Szabaciuk, Andrzej. “Rosyjski Ulster”. Kwestia chełmska w polityce imperialnej Rosji w latach 1863–1915. Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 2013. Trojanowska, Maria, ed. Chełmski Konsystorz Greckokatolicki [1525] 1696–1875 [–1905]. Inwentarz analityczny archiwum. Warszawa: Archiwum Państwowe, 2003. Yevlogiy (Georgiyevskiy Vasiliy Semenovich; mitr.; 1868–1946). Put’ moyey zhizni: Vospominaniya mitropolita Yevlogiya. Parizh: YMCA-press, n.d. Weeks, Theodore R. “The “End” of the Uniate Church in Russia.” Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas Neue Folge 44, no. 1 (1996): 28–40. Weeks, Theodore. “Between Rome and Tsargrad: The Uniate Church in Imperial Russia.” In Of Religion and Empire: Missions, Conversion, and Tolerance in Tsarist Russia, edited by Robert P. Geraci and Michael Khodarkovsky. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001: 70–72

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Narrating Conflicts in Post-Truth Era: Facing Revisionist Russia. Ukraine and Georgia in a Comparative Perspective Abstract: The chapter focuses on how populist claims to historical truth reached “new heights” in the framework of the ideological construct of the Russkiy Mir (Russian World) that has proved a fertile field for yielding post-truths. The authors observe president Vladimir Putin’s historical justifications of Russia’s military interventions and presence in Georgia and in Ukraine (defending Abkhaz and Ossetian ethnic minorities and “compatriots” in the eastern Ukraine from aggressions of the NATO’s “marionette” governments of Kyiv and Tbilisi). They also cover Ukrainian and Georgian counter-narratives which portray conflicts with contemporary Russia as battles against their aspirations to “re-join” the West. Keywords: historical narratives; post-truth; Russian World (Russkiy Mir); Ukraine; Georgia

Introduction The instrumentalisation of the past and the populist claims to historical truth reached “new heights” in a world characterised as the post-truth era. The contemporary ideological, geopolitical and historical construct of the so-called Russkiy Mir (Russian World), widely used and cultivated in contemporary Russian state propaganda, has proved a fertile field for yielding post-truths. The repertoire of the political tools includes deliberate misrepresentation and distortion of the past to deceive the public and achieve the political goals in the so-called “near abroad.” Based on extensive scholarship and results of interviews with Ukrainian and Georgian historians and experts, the authors illustrate this “toxic” atmosphere in the context of revisionist Russia’s confrontations with Ukraine and Georgia. The narrow case of inquiry is President Vladimir Putin’s populist interpretations of historical reasons for the “Russian-Georgian War” in August of 2008 over South Ossetia/Tskhinvali and Abkhazia breakaway regions of Georgia, RussianUkrainian conflicts in the Donbas and Luhansk regions and the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by Russia. In his various interviews, the Russian leader employs historical arguments to justify Russian policy, including


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military intervention in the “near abroad.” Putin elaborates on the contemporary Russian narrative which is actively cultivated in contemporary Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea. This narrative contends that Russia launched its full-scale military campaign in 2008 to “defend” Abkhaz and Ossetian ethnic minorities from Georgian aggression and to save compatriots in Novorossiya (New Russia) in eastern Ukraine and Crimea from the threats of the “fascist Junta” in Kyiv in 2014; another major goal was to neutralise risks to Russia’s borders coming from the expansionism of Georgia’s and Ukraine’s western “masters”: the US and NATO. Furthermore, the Russian leader, in his historical detours, which fit well into the “best standards” of the post-truth, derails any “historical rights” of Ukraine and Georgia regarding their sovereignty and statehood, their territorial integrity and any claims over breakaway regions. The chapter also covers contemporary Ukrainian and Georgian counternarratives which portray conflicts with the hostile Russian empire as battles that challenge their aspirations to “rejoin” the European family. Russia instrumentalises arguments about defending ethnic minorities in Georgia or protecting the compatriots in eastern Ukraine and Crimea as casus belli in order to realise its imperial pursuits in these neighbouring countries.1

Russian World and the Near Abroad: The Geopolitical Context of Putin’s Historical Imaginaries The “Russian World” (Russkiy Mir) is a broad and complex ideological construct that underpins contemporary Russian “near-abroad” policy, apparently aiming to reaffirm Russia’s influence and control over the lost parts of the Soviet empire. It is represented by Vladimir Putin and the political elite around him as an alternative to the West, a self-sufficient universe united by the Russian language, a common mentality, a shared historical legacy, a specific system of values, orthodox Christianity and spirituality. This distinct civilisational space holds its own, alternative, truths that are actively propagated by current Russian officials. The notion of the Russian World also incorporates the “term near abroad.” As Gerard Toal (2017), the professor of Government and International Affairs,

 This work was supported by the Open Society Foundation (OSF) “Global Dialogs” Collaborative Research Grant [Grant Number IN2019-51811].

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argues, Russia’s near abroad designates a particular type of geopolitical field that, in a general sense, refers to the postcolonial situation and relations between the former imperial core and colonies. However, “regional concentrations of populations loyal to the former imperial metropole created conditions for state territorial fragmentation” (Toal 2017, 9). In this regard, the populations of Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions of Georgia on the one hand, and Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and Crimea in Ukraine on the other hand, are considered part of the Russian World. O’Loughlin, Toal and Kolosov (2016) reflect on the “biopolitical” meaning of the term “Russian World” when discussing the related notion of “compatriots” (sootechestvennik) (749). These are people categorised as ethnic Russians and/or the population of Russian speakers who reside in the new “near abroad” that emerged after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Protecting the rights of compatriots has become one of the declared priorities of the Russian State, which administers, organises and monitors the populations of “diasporas.” The bio power and biopolitics exercised in the “name of life,” rights and security of certain “large-scale phenomena of the population” (Foucault 1984, 260) are not necessarily peaceful. Quite the contrary. Since the appearance of a modern centralised nation-state, paradoxically, wars “are waged on behalf of the existence of everyone; entire populations are mobilised for the purpose of wholesale slaughter in the name of life necessity” (259–260). Massacres, like ethnic cleansing, are essential for certain regimes that justify them as crucial to “the naked question of survival” (261): securing living space for particular groups and societies. The Russian government designed and uses an array of instruments, means and strategies to strengthen links with and increase influence over the Russian diaspora, Russian speakers, or pro-Russian populations elsewhere in postSoviet space, including in Ukraine and Georgia. In the early 1990s organisations like the Congress of Russian Communities (Kongress russkikh obschin, KRO) (1993) and the Foundation for Efficient Politics (Fond effektivnoi politiki, FEP) (1995) were set up to advocate cultural, linguistic and citizenship rights of Russian communities in the former Soviet states. Eventually, the function of supporting “compatriots” in the near abroad sanctioned the possibility of meddling in the internal affairs of the neighbouring countries. For instance, Russia’s involvement in the Georgian-Abkhaz armed conflict (1992–1993)2 and the crisis with Crimean president Yuriy Meshkov (1995) revealed  After secessionist war in 1999s Tbilisi lost control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali and hundreds of thousands of ethnic Georgians were forced to leave their homes from these regions. The question of whether Russia directly orchestrated these early conflicts to gain its geopolitical and strategic goals or merely reacted to the conflicts that emerged from


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early signs of its revisionist policy toward former Soviet republics. These early initiatives were the first major steps in formulating the idea of the “Russian World” which would gradually unveil its geopolitical potentiality in the postSoviet context. The “Russian World” Foundation (Fond “Russkiy Mir”) was created in 2007. This year marked a watershed in the relationship between the post-Soviet Russia and the West and in developing the idea of the Russian world. In February, Putin made his speech in Munich criticising the US-dominated “unipolar world.” He promoted instead the concept of a multi-polar world that would eventually become the bedrock of the Russian foreign policy and the fundamental principle of the ideology of the Russian World (O’Loughlin, Toal and Kolosov 2016, 751). The collapse of the Soviet Union was considered a major cause of the real threat to the security of Russian people, a threat coming from the US and NATO. According to the Russian president, the expansion of the NATO “represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust” between Russia and the West. He asked what “happened to the assurances” made by Western partners after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact that the alliance would not expand beyond German territory. These promises for the security of the Soviet Union are gone; “no one even remembers them” (Putin 2007). In Georgia’s case, backing and supporting the “de facto” or “unrecognised” states (King 2001; Pegg 1998, 2017; Kolstø 2006; Caspersen 2012; Caspersen and Stansfield 2014; Broers 2013; Hoch, Kopeček and Baar 2017; Hoch 2020) of Abkhazia and South Ossetia constitute one of the main political strategies of Russia in dealing with the “near abroad” and in bolstering the doctrine of the multipolar world. Until 2008, Russia officially maintained and observed its policy of supporting Georgia’s territorial integrity. At the same time, the Kremlin was gradually moving forward to enhance links with de-facto authorities and reinforce the breakaway regions’ dependence on the “patron state.” The unresolved, so-called “frozen conflicts” would subsequently be used by Russia to keep a leash on post-Soviet states’ ambitions of joining the EU or NATO. Russia was keenly aware that both the EU and NATO had pledged not to admit member states with unresolved territorial disputes (Mankoff 2009, 25; Artman 2013, 687). This became a sore point after the “Rose Revolution” (2003)

the local grievances and contestations remains the subject of the discussion in scholarship (Kazantsev et al. 2020, 6–7). However, it is quite well documented that soldiers and units of the Russian regular army were actively involved in military operations against Georgian troops (Goltz 1993, 106–108; Human Rights Watch 1993; Gamakharia, Beradze, and Gvantseladze 2011, 471–476). In the mid-1990s Russia choose a policy of “freezing” these conflicts: ending the fighting but not bringing about a lasting peaceful resolution (Kazantsev et al. 2020, 17).

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in Georgia when “restoring” territorial integrity and integration into NATO and the EU became key components of the agenda of the new president Mikheil Saakashvili (2003–2012) and his government. The “passportisation,” the mass distribution of Russian citizenship to the residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Thskhinvali regions, “gave Russia a discursive claim to the populations of South Ossetia and Abkhazia by constructing them as part of the Russian political community” (Artman 2013, 685). By employing this sort of “biopolitical” (698) tactic, Kremlin manufactured “legal arguments” to invade the sovereign country, citing the need to defend citizens in the territories that were legally considered integral parts of Georgia by the international community and by Russia. And, finally, the recognition of Kosovo’s independence by the US and the majority of UN countries in 2008 gave Moscow a reason to voice an argument that it seemed unfair not to provide Georgia’s breakaway regions with the same opportunity (Ó Beacháin 2019, 59). In August 2008, in the wake of escalating clashes in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict zone, the Russian army invaded Georgia. Putin asserted Kremlin’s goal: to hinder any attempts to drag out Russia from the Caucasus. He most likely intended to make this note for the advocates of NATO’s “expansionism” in post-Soviet space: “for centuries, Russia has played in this part of the world, in the Caucasus as a whole, a very positive, stabilizing role; this is how it was in the past and this will be the case in the future. Let no one doubt that” (Toal 2017, 183). The five-day “Russian-Georgian” war resulted in the mass expulsion of ethnic Georgians from the conflict zone and Russia’s subsequent recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia on August 26, 2008. Currently, Russia advocates international recognition of Georgia’s breakaway regions to legitimise and cement the “new realities,” the “emergence of the new states” on the world map after the August War in 2008. However, the West and the international community support Georgia’s territorial integrity and stick to the no-recognition policy toward these de facto states (Comai 2018; Ker-Lindsay 2015).3

 In addition to Russian Federation, five UN member countries recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia including: Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Vanuatu and Syria. Tuvalu also was in the list, but later this state withdrew recognition. Georgia, in its turn, renders de facto authorities as illegal and Russia’s puppet regimes. Therefore, parliament of the country approved the Law on Occupied Territories (2008) that declares these regions as Russian occupied territories. The law legally forbids entering Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Russia and bans economic activities and real estate transactions in these territories without authorization of the Georgian state (Toal and Grono, 2011), 656.


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Under these circumstances, the Kremlin began to “formalise” and “legalise” its presence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions by signing comprehensive agreements with Abkhaz and Ossetian authorities on “friendship,” “assistance,” “alliance” and “strategic partnerships.” This allowed the Kremlin to be in charge of securing the “state borders” of these entities, and to manage, administer and control local political, economic and social issues (Ambrosio and Lange 2016, 674). Gerrits and Bader (2016) illustrate economic (trade, investment, etc); intergovernmental (diplomatic, administrative and financial help); technocratic (education and training of the local elites); and social (between Abkhaz/Ossetian and Russian societies) institutional linkages (298) which have resulted in “stronger leverage than elsewhere in its neighborhood” (299). Consequently, Abkhazia and South Ossetia became exclusively Russian protectorates, deprived of real autonomy (298–310). These circumstances bring worries in the local public which is illustrated in an aphorism: “we used to be independent but now we have recognition” (Ó Beacháin 2019, 59). Generally, the “August War” in 2008 heralded the dramatic turn to the “second generation” of conflicts that erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014. These conflicts exemplify novel occurrences that were controlled and directed by Russia’s president and other authorities in the Kremlin against the US, NATO, and their “subjects” in the Russia’s “backyard” (Kazantsev et al. 2020). In March 2014, while commenting on Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine, Putin repeated his habitual statement regarding the catastrophe and trauma of the unexpected collapse of the Soviet Union: “Millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones, overnight becoming ethnic minorities in former Union republics, while the Russian nation became one of the biggest, if not the biggest ethnic group in the world to be divided by borders” (Putin 2014a). The Kremlin designed a different approach for Ukraine, based on the ethnolinguistic argument. The Russian language was seen as the main bridge that would promote links with alleged “compatriots.” Apart from this, in many regions, like “southeastern Ukraine, people with mixed ethnicities were labelled as Russian-speakers by Russian officials, who advocated their language rights” (O’Loughlin, Toal and Kolosov 2016, 748). According to the Ukrainian census conducted in 2001, 29 % of Ukrainians claimed Russian as their native language. In three regions in Ukraine more than 50% of citizens consider Russian as a native language – Donetsk (74,92), Luhansk (68,84) regions and Autonomous Republic of Crimea (76,55) (All-Ukrainian Population Census 2001). Overall, it is not surprising that the Russian World Foundation was designed with a different mandate than organisations like Alliance Française or the British Council, though ostensibly it proclaimed the sole aim to “develop

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the Russian language at home, support Russian language study programs abroad and generally promote Russian language and literature around the world.” The Russkiy Mir’s declared mission of reconnecting “the Russian community abroad with their homeland, forging new and stronger links through cultural and social programs, exchanges and assistance in relocation” became only one part of the more broad and complex foreign policy that presupposed the use of both soft power and military interventions in the near abroad.

Post-truth, Historical Representation and Conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine How should we assess the truth, including historical truth, in the contemporary world? For instance, would we speak the truth if we compare Putin’s conquest of Crimea to “Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland”? (Shore 2017). How would it look like speaking the truth? Who believes in truth? Historian Marci Shore is concerned about these contemporary pressing questions where “nothing is true and everything is possible”? (Pomerantsev 2014; Shore 2017); it is extremely challenging to try to decipher what is fictional and what is real in our world of reality shows where everything is PR. Shore draws on Hannah Arendt’s assertation that not all truth is “so vulnerable to politics, but in particular ‘factual truth’ that is, empirical truth, is dependent upon experience.” Similar to the totalitarian ideologies in the twentieth century, “modern political lies” demand the transformation of “the whole factual texture” and strive to create “another reality” (Arendt 2006, 249; Shore 2017). History must be coherent with the present life and that is why constructing and employing grand narrative is among major ways of re-shaping reality. The author poses the main question: did the “postmodernism critique of the ontological stability of truth” unintentionally assist the post-truth? The postmodern world is not determined by unequivocal and unambiguous factors which structure and hold the reality in its totality, aspects such as God, a grand narrative, or a dominant ideology. The absence of a centre, the absolute and irreducible “transcendental signified” (Derrida 1991, 36; Shore 2017) is both “destabilising and liberating” (Derrida 1978, 280; Shore 2017), as Jacques Derrida would attest. “The very existence of a “transcendental signified” was always already a totalitarian threat” (Shore 2017; Derrida 1978, 292). Instead, the postmodern world is characterised by openness, freedom, creativity, plurality. Words, meanings, texts, truths are not fixed and firm: they


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connote and involve constant play, tensions and contradictions between one another. This situation results in a “surplus” of “meaning and truth.” However, if in this world of endless possibilities there is no “determinate truth [. . .] does any reality exist at all that we should feel attached to, invest in, depend upon, care deeply about?,” asks Shore (2017). He cites Václav Havel, who called nihilism a “nothingness, that modern face of the devil” (Havel 1990; Shore 2017). In this total uncertainty, the “ontological reality of truth” is demonstrated by the “the reality of lies” that relies upon propaganda, created narratives, alternative facts, fake news, etc. Therefore, post-truth is not about ontological, but the very dangerous “epistemological confusion” that enables the rightwing populism (Shore 2017). In our article, we intend to demonstrate how Putin produces what can be construed as historical lies about the past of Ukraine and Georgia and disinforms the public both within Russia and abroad in the imagined area of the Russian World. His fabrications are manufactured through historical PR actions aimed at discrediting factual history, and thus deceiving the audience. Therefore, for many, Shore’s query may be appropriate: does Derrida “bear some responsibility for Vladimir Putin?” (Shore 2017). This is the time of “a new unfreedom” (Snyder 2018b, 17) as American historian Timothy Snyder (2018) describes the contemporary form of politics. In the twentieth century, both the West and Soviet Union pursued what he calls the “politics of inevitability” characterised by “a sense that the future is just more of the present, that the laws of progress are known, that there are no alternatives, and therefore nothing really to be done” (Snyder 2018b, 19). In the US this story presents market and democracy as the ultimate achievement of humankind. The European version of the history centres on a nation that came to the understanding, after the horrors of the wars, that a final solution is peace and eventually ended up with “integration and prosperity” (Snyder 2018b, 19). The Soviet politics of inevitability, in line with the communist ideology, followed a different trajectory of historical progression founded on the belief that “nature permits technology; technology brings social change; social change causes revolution and revolution enacts utopia” (Snyder 2018b, 19). In Putin’s eyes, the Soviet Union collapsed, but the triumph of the Western politics of inevitability and the tale of “the end of history” would not last long. Putin’s Russia revealed a disparate “experience of time”: the “politics of eternity” (Snyder 2018b, 20). Within the politics of eternity, Russian people are “at the centre of a cyclical story of victimhood” (Snyder 2018b, 21). History and time are no longer unilinear, nor is there steady progress toward fulfilling the utopian dream of the communism. Instead, the Russian people experience a permanent recurrence of the eternal threat coming from the outside world.

Narrating Conflicts in Post-Truth Era


Russia’s eternity politicians claim to be defenders against these threats. To hide the inability to care about people’s needs and to convert their “unwillingness to reform” (Snyder 2018b, 21), they create a crisis to distract citizens’ attention from real problems and direct their grievances to an imagined foreign threat (21). State propaganda to stir up mass support for the annexation of Crimea or to fuel collective rage against the Ukrainian government while heating the conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk regions could be relevant illustrations of how the eternity politicians orchestrate and manipulate emotional fluctuations within Russian society. The propaganda proceeds as “a direct assault on factuality, denying the obvious, even the war itself” and “as an unconditional proclamation of innocence, denying that Russia could be responsible for any wrong” (295). In the following subsections of our work, we intend to reflect on “historical revisions” which constitute an essential part of the Russian disinformation strategy and propaganda against its neighbours and the West. Putin’s “lessons” in the history of Ukraine and Georgia are referred to as illustrations of the deliberate distortions and misrepresentations of the past. We identify what the professor of sociocultural anthropology James Wertsch calls “triumph-over-alien-forces” (Wertsch 2004) or “Expulsion of Foreign Enemies” (Wertsch and Karumidze 2009) as the narrative template behind Putin’s interpretation of the “RussoGeorgian” August War in 2008 and the conflict in eastern Ukraine which began in 2014. This storyline depicts Russia as a peaceful country that did not intend to meddle in other states’ affairs until foreign enemies attack it unexpectedly and without a motive. Eventually, exceptionally heroic and brave Russian people expel foreign enemies from the fatherland’s borders and triumph over the aggressors in their “own land” (Wertsch and Karumidze 2009, 380–81). Hence, conflicts with Georgia and Ukraine are mere fragments of the broader confrontations with their “master,” that is to say, with Russia’s primary “foreign enemies” including the USA, the NATO and the EU – the West generally. However, it seems the Russian leader tends to lean toward more creative detours in the history of Georgia and Ukraine to create the desired “sauce” from artificially manufactured “historical facts.” For many, these historical excursions embody the “post-truth,” the demonstrative denial of the factual history and production of historical lies to pursue present political goals in the near abroad.

Reactions to Putin’s History Lessons in Georgia President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin gave an extensive lecture on the history of Georgia and its breakaway regions in Yekaterinburg on July 9,


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2019. His “lessons” emerged in response to the mass protest in Tbilisi against Russia’s aggressive policy toward Georgia and the “illegal occupation of Georgian territories.” During his interview Putin recalled that in the time before the August War in 2008 he was trying to convince Mikheil Saakashvili, the president of Georgia, to refrain from military actions against Abkhazia or South Ossetia. He included America in his admonishments: “I was saying the same to Americans, yes, under no circumstances. And what did they do? But no, they went there with war and the result is well-known now. Russia was just forced to recognize the independence of these two republics and protect the people of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia” (Tass 2019). In his lengthy account of the past, Putin also stressed that “if the Georgian leadership wants to improve relations with these countries (the breakaway regions – M.T.), they need to learn the lessons of history” (Tass 2019). A main lesson is that the South Ossetia/Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia were independent entities before they were incorporated into the Russian Empire. Particularly, Ossetia, which included what is today northern and southern Ossetia, became part of the empire in 1774 (Dumbadze 2019). The southern part of Ossetia was under the Tiflis Governorate of the Russian empire. At that time, there was no Georgia as such (Dumbadze 2019; Vardosanidze, Guruli, and Jikia 2019). In 1810 Abkhazia, an independent principality, also joined the Russian Empire (Dumbadze 2019). During World War I, while the Russian Empire was dissolving, the newly emerged independent Georgia attempted to absorb Abkhazia. Aided by the German troops, Georgians occupied Abkhazia in 1918. As Putin explained, “the occupants were behaving brutally,” especially, in South Ossetia. “This is what is called genocide today” (Tass 2019). Today’s Georgia was once a part of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Abkhazia (Vardosanidze, Guruli, and Jikia 2019). The Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia was only created as a separate region during Stalin’s rule. Thereafter, “on Stalin’s orders, the NKVD,4 governed by Beria, took very harsh measures on Abkhazians for Georgia to absorb this territory and the Abkhazians” (Dumbadze 2019). According to Putin, this “difficult legacy” was not considered by the first president of post-Soviet Georgia who abolished the autonomy of Adjara and Abkhazia regions resulting in the eruption of the civil war (Tass 2019).

 Author’s footnote: Putin obviously hinted that People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) exacted harsh measures against Abkhaz people when its chief was ethnic Georgian Lavrenti Beria (1899–1953).

Narrating Conflicts in Post-Truth Era


Putin cited key moments from this part of Georgia’s history to arrive at the desired conclusion that would justify Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali Regions’ demands for independence and deprive Georgia of any historical reason for claiming territorial integrity and independence. Before introducing contemporary Georgian historians’ responses to Putin we would like to briefly touch on the Georgian national narrative that emphasises antiquity, territorial integrity, Christianity and the European-ness of Georgia. The national storyline highlights key milestones in the country’s history: initially, it was a small, independent nation with territorial integrity perched at a perilous crossroads of East and West and seeking to remain part of the European space. However, empires invaded and occupied the country, challenging its territorial integrity. Eventually, Georgia fought back, preserving its independence, language, national identity, religion and reintegrating its historic territories (Wertsch and Karumidze 2009; Batiashvili 2012; Toria 2019). This template serves as an “interpretative framework” (Wertsch and Karumidze 2009, 381) to illustrate the struggles with powerful empires such as Persians, Byzantine, Arabs, Ottomans and Russians. In the contemporary situation, this storyline seems a relevant representation of ongoing conflict with Russia that undermines the territorial integrity of Georgia. The continuing confrontations with Russia on the part of separatist regions are interpreted as a rivalry between a democratic country and a barbarian Great Power, a battle between David and Goliath (Broers 2009; Toal 2017; Toria 2014). National historiography depicts Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions as the core, indivisible and integral parts of the common Georgian history, culture and statehood (Ingorokva 1954T; Lorkipanidze 1990; Papaskiri 1998; 2010; 2012; Apkhazava 1996; Gvasalia 1996; Lekishvili 1996; Topchisvhili 1997; Itonishvili 2002; Bluashvili 2005). The conflicts in these regions are viewed as orchestrated by the Kremlin to weaken post-Soviet Georgia and obstruct its attempts to evade Russian domination, build a democratic state and join the European Union and NATO (Broers 2009, 99; Kaufman 2011, 94). In this framework, these conflicts are depicted as the “explosion of mines” planted by Moscow during the Soviet rule when the imperial metropole began actively “engineering” exclusive ethnic identities at the local level. Later, and particularly since the 1950s, the Soviet Empire intensified the Russification policy in these regions. As a result, a radical sense of ethnic distinctiveness from Georgian people and the Russification process gradually permeated Abkhaz and Ossetian “intelligentsia” and communist party “nomenklatura.” The Georgian storyline says the long-lasting Soviet imperial policy of divide et impera and the state-sponsored project of alienating Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples from Georgian national and cultural realm tricked these groups into


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starting wars with their Georgian “brothers” in the 1990s. As to the current de facto authorities, they are depicted as mere puppet regimes of the Russian protectorate (Gamakharia, Beradze and Gvantseladze 2012, 402) which in fact and “for real” do not represent Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples’ interests. The conflicts in breakaway regions are represented as parts of “only one” international conflict between Georgia and Russia (Broers 2014, 263). If Russia’s “influence were to be removed, Abkhazians and South Ossetians would embrace Georgia, of their own free will” (265). Consequently, the “Russian-Georgian war” in 2008 is seen as confirmation of the historical imagination structured by a deeply rooted narrative template that represents this conflict as the battle of the small, democratic country against the authoritarian, hostile and destructive power to its north. Russia’s purpose in invading Georgia was not to “defend” and “save” Ossetians from the threat of genocide coming from Tbilisi. Rather, the Kremlin used the minority issues in Georgia as casus belli to overthrow Georgia, itself, identified as the pro-Western government on its borders. Conversely, separatist ideologists in both breakaway regions argue about prolonging two ethno-territorial conflicts, between Georgians and Ossetians and Georgians and Abkhazians (Broers 2014, 263). As Abkhaz and Ossetian historians claim (and as the Russian leader reinforces – M.T.), these territories never belonged to Georgia; ethnic Georgians are merely “occupants,” “newcomers,” “colonisers” and “oppressors” who abused the rights of Abkhaz and Ossetian peoples throughout the twentieth century and even committed “genocides” against these minorities (Lakoba 1993; Achugba 2010; Bliev 2006; Kochieva and Margiev 2005). Returning to Putin’s lecture, some contemporary Georgian historians, who ostensibly represent the mainstream school of thought in Georgian historiography, reacted to his historical lessons immediately. Their critical responses reached the public through TV, newspapers and, especially, via social media. The headlines included: “Falsified History for Political Purposes?!” (Vardosanidze, Guruli and Jikia 2019); “Georgian Historian on Putin: Russian Leader Could Not Pass History Exam” (Dumbadze 2019); “President Putin Falsifies History of Georgia” (Georgian Journal 2019), etc. Overall, Georgian historians assessed the Russian leader’s depiction of the “cardinal problems from the history of Georgia” and “his historical judgment” as “shallow and scientifically unsubstantiated” (Vardosanidze, Guruli and Jikia 2019). They were particularly irritated to hear from the Russian president that Georgia’s claims to territorial integrity and sovereignty are not grounded in historical reality. “This statement is so feeble that there is no use to answer it,” they remonstrate. Still, they felt obliged to respond to him (Vardosanidze, Guruli and Jikia 2019).

Narrating Conflicts in Post-Truth Era


They condemn Putin’s depiction as a denial of the “historic truth” and denounce his assertion that, in 1774, South Ossetia together with the North Ossetia became part of the Russian Empire. The Treaty of Georgievsk (July 24, 1783) between the Russian Empire and the eastern Georgian kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti clearly stated that that kingdom became a protectorate of Russia while its territorial realms were retained by the ruling dynasty and granted autonomy in internal affairs. In this context, Georgian historians argue that the Georgian noblemen of Shida Kartli, or what is now South Ossetia, are defined as subordinates to the Georgian King Erekle II (1762–1792). Linking the Shida Kartli feudal county (Satavado) of the eastern Georgian kingdom to the Ossetia of eighteenth century is, therefore, nonsense, since the latter belonged to what is today’s North Ossetia in the North Caucasus (Vardosanidze, Guruli and Jikia 2019). Later, in 1801 the Russian Empire “abolished” the kingdom of Kartli-Kakheti. Eventually by the 1860s the empire had fully absorbed the Georgian Kingdom of Imereti and the principalities of Samegrelo, Guria, Abkhazia and Svaneti in western Georgia. During the long process of the conquest and incorporation of the “historic territory of Georgia” Tsarist Russia modified the administrative division of newly conquered lands and subjects a number of times, from the initial division into the governorate (Gubernia) of “Georgia-Imereti” to the final arrangement of these territories as governorates of Tiflis (Tbilisi) and Kutaisi. The Shida Kartli became part of the Gori “county” (Uyezd) within the governorate of Tiflis. The governorate of Kutaisi included today’s Abkhazia as the Sokhumi district (Orkrug) (Vardosanidze, Guruli and Jikia 2019). Historians argue that the Georgian people “never reconciled” the loss of their independence and statehood. They illustrate the permanent struggle of Georgians against imperial rule by referring, for instance, to the uprisings “in 1802, 1804, 1812, 1819–20, 1831, 1841 and the national liberation movement in the second half of the 19th century” that resulted in the proclamation of Georgia’s independence on May 26, 1918 (Vardosanidze, Guruli and Jikia 2019). Historical truth was also distorted when the Russian president claimed that independent Abkhazia was conquered by the Democratic Republic of Georgia (1918–1921). Although Moscow tried to support local Bolsheviks and fuel the Abkhaz separatist movement, a decisive number of Abkhaz people supported the territorial integrity of Georgia. Russian and Abkhaz Bolsheviks tried to occupy the region in May 2018, but the National Guard of Georgia took control of the main city Sokhumi without the need for external (German) help (Vardosanidze, Guruli, and Jikia 2019; Dumbadze 2019). In February of 1921, the Georgian Constituent Assembly approved the Constitution of the republic that rendered Abkhazia as autonomous and an integral part of Georgia. However, very soon, Georgia was occupied by Soviet Russia (Vardosanidze, Guruli and Jikia 2019).


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Georgian historians also denounce Putin’s statement that Soviet Georgia “allegedly was part of Abkhazian Soviet Socialist Republic.” According to them, in fact, Bolsheviks created this new entity within the already existing Soviet Socialist Republic of Georgia (SSR). There were no historical reasons for establishing Abkhazian SSR, and eventually, this “completely ambiguous situation” was resolved by linking Abkhazia once more to the Georgian SSR as an autonomous region (Vardosanidze, Guruli, and Jikia 2019). Georgian historians blame Putin for this production of lies about Georgian state’s responsibility for “genocide” against Ossetians in 1919–1920. As they speak, in reality, Georgians defeated the revolt of Ossetian Bolsheviks who tried to establish Soviet rule in the historical Shida Kartli and thus merge this region with North Ossetia, more precisely, with Soviet Russia. Again, Moscow’s material and financial help was crucial in preparing these turbulences. As historians note, “this is the historical truth, which no one can conceal, even the president” (Vardosanidze, Guruli and Jikia 2019); Lastly, from their perspective, it is also a grave mistake to place responsibility on Georgians for the Bolshevik Terror in Abkhazia. Instead, Moscow and the Soviet regime should be blamed for repressions in 1937, which adversely affected all nations in the Soviet Empire (Dumbadze 2019). Observed “feedback” from Georgian historians revolve around historical truths and lies, fake accounts, manufactured facts, etc. From their perspective Putin’s lessons in history are a classic example, not only of how the empire uses history to justify its actions against neighbours, but also how alternative and fake history is created. As part of our methodology we interviewed certain well-established historians and experts who assessed the Russian-Georgian historical debates from a distance. Particularly, in Georgia, we talked with eight respondents who are specialising in the politics of memory; the role of contested historical narratives in escalating conflicts in Georgia, conflict-sensitive education and the peacebuilding and conflict resolution process. These “progressive” historians, activists and practitioners, studying both negative and positive impacts of historical narratives and historical imaginaries on political and social processes, shared with us their concerns regarding our research subject. Namely, we sought their views on the overall situation regarding the historical science in post-truth, Putin’s lessons and reactions of the Georgian public and historians to this sort of “academic intervention” of the Russian leader. We asked how they see the role of a historian in the era of post-truth when disinformation strategies also include the production of the “historical lies.” The interviewees stated that the contemporary world poses additional challenges to a historian, but that a line between “real” historical science and fake historiography, between honest and corrupted historians, can still be discerned.

Narrating Conflicts in Post-Truth Era


Some respondents stressed how, in the context of a nation-state and nationalism generally, history is viewed as an instrument of nation-building: “The nationalisation of the past involves the depiction of the flawless and glorified history of a nation. In this sense, a ‘national’ historian is concealing something: nothing is objective. Actions of nations and states cannot be faultless” (David Jishkariani). The modern tendency to reject the very possibility of objective description and reconstruction of both present and past reinforces doubts about the legitimacy of historical science. However, as some respondents note, it is a misrepresention to reduce the historian’s function to the promotion of ethno-national projects and the political agendas of governments. As one respondent noted: We fell into another trap of extreme position denying the existence of a historical fact and the historical science as such. Sceptics reduce history to patriotism and glorification of the national past. I think this is a dangerous position. I would not delegitimise history’s quest for the status of the scientific field because a historian, as a citizen, has sentiments about his/her country. However, I am also aware that many might be tempted to frame the deliberate misrepresentations of the past as patriotism that sometimes means portraying your society more positively while diminishing others. The professional ethics oblige the historian to keep vigilance and try to avoid leaning towards distortion of the past. (Nino Chikovani)

The situation is more complicated when a historian discusses contemporary events which significantly shape his/her personal life and worldview: If my bio is linked to the conflicts of Abkhazia and Ossetia and I am bound to one conflicting side, whether I want it or not, this experience determines how I filter information. However, I can still be an objective researcher. To be more accurate, if I am reflective about this predisposition and understand it, I am honest with readers in letting them know that I, as a scholar, do not speak from a zero point. We always speak from certain reference points and concrete places. (Maia Barkaia)

According to common sense, time distance is necessary for a historian to conduct research from a proper observation point. However, in this ocean of alternative and controversial information, when no one can claim to hold a truth, it is very difficult to decipher reliable data from a manufactured mess. Nevertheless, especially in time of post-truth, historians’ skills are particularly valid. Clear academic criteria and ethical principles must guide the logic of inquiring. This is the right way to reveal whether a historian adheres to scientific intentions or pursues subjective and hidden motivations like financial interests, political conjuncture or other possible influences (Ivane Abramishvili). One of the clear signs of the post-truth is an abundance of so-called factcheckers who desperately struggle with fake news, social media trolls and a whole array of propaganda channels. In this regard, one of our interviewees argues:


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I do not agree that reflection on present developments is only journalists’ business. For instance, the fact-checkers, . . . who employ very formalised tools, cannot embrace the complex and multifaceted task of professional historians. They belong to an important but different area of observation. Primarily the historian is entitled to deal with facts. His fact-checking is a more complex endeavour that includes juxtaposing various facts and deciphering fake pieces of evidence. This competence is extremely important today when it is especially difficult to see the difference between the real and fake. (Nino Chikovani)

Thus, our respondents maintain that “qualified and unbiased researchers must be skilled enough to distance both from historical facts or events, and contemporary reality. The historian also must consider different, even controversial, perspectives while dealing with a research question” (Nino Chikovani). After these general observations regarding historians’ competences, duties and responsibilities, our conversation naturally broached the issue of Putin’s perspective on the history of Georgia and its breakaway regions. Historians and experts stressed that they were: “not surprised by his statement. He voiced Russian narrative in a populist way”. (Guranda Bursulaia)

This is nothing new from: Putin’s regime that cannot afford to promote the ideology of the Russian World, since it lacks economic and demographic resources for this sort of civilisational project. In reality, contemporary Russia is governed by a cynical regime that reacts to concrete events, sometimes in a very effective way, but these reactions are more tactical moves rather than parts of a long-term strategy. (Rezi Koiava)

Overall, our respondents are not satisfied with the subsequent reactions of Georgian historians, governments and public to the statement of the Russian leader. One respondent summed up the general consensus: It was around 3 a.m. I was woken up as my phone exploded with notifications and I realised that something happened. I was tagged to numerous Facebook posts. Also, the inbox of my Facebook messenger was full of messages. People urged me to ‘protect Georgians’ and respond to Putin. In this situation, I realised that Putin’s provocation was very effective. He probably has no idea whether British or German troops were stationed or not in Abkhazia and Tuapse in 1918. Then I saw very poor reactions from Georgian historians who disputed with Putin on Facebook in the Georgian language. The whole story revealed how feeble is the Georgian school of historiography. Putin and the Russians achieved their goals. (Davit Jishkariani)

Some of the interviewees argue that Putin is not a historian and historical debates with him do not make sense:

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One should respond to a colleague. Therefore, how and on what topic would a historian debate with Putin? I understand Putin is the president of a huge country and he has an enormous influence on public opinion. However, I am not sure, if it is necessary to respond to Putin whenever he decides to share his expertise in the history of Georgia. Debating with him will be a waste of time since he will not be interested in hearing or reading opponents’ arguments. His speech was a political act and, accordingly, mainly Georgian politicians should have replied to him. Besides, why would one answer someone who is deliberately lying? Putin himself did not believe in what he was saying, and he did not care about the historical truth. The Russian president was instrumentalising history for a political purpose. (Nino Chikovani)

The respondents almost unanimously concluded that reactions of Georgian historians were not effective, since it was the government’s duty to reply to Putin: “Historians should have just helped politicians to prepare the informed and adequate response, nothing more” (Ketevan Kakitelashvili). According to another opinion, “it would be more adequate to consider Putin’s statement as a source for systemic historical analysis of Russian narratives. This sort of reflection is necessary, not to dispute with Putin, but to decipher underlying principles of Russian narratives and, therefore, of Russian policy toward its neighbours” (Nukri Shoshiashvili).

Reactions to Putin’s History Lessons in Ukraine Russian historiography produces a considerable amount of high-quality research from various segments of regional history from different historical periods (Tairova-Yakovleva 2017; Shubin 2013). However, since the focus of our research is historical narratives that were used by the Kremlin from 2014 we will concentrate on the “narrative of Novorossiya.” Generally, the narrative that “Ukrainians are Russians” is based on the concept of Nikolai Karamzin – a Russian historian from the early nineteenth century. According to professor Paul Robert Magocsi (2010), to analyse Russian history Karamzin used a model of the displacement of political centres. Kyiv was the first such centre. After its destruction during the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century, it was shifted north, to Vladimir-na-Kliazma, and then to Moscow (Magocsi 2010). Since the Muscovite princes were considered the rightful heirs of the Kievan inheritance, their survival ensured that the historical destiny of the Russian people would be fulfilled. That destiny was the unification of Veliko-Rus’ (Great Russia), Belo-Rus’ (White Russia), and Malo-Rus’ (Little Russia) – the “biblical three in one” (Magocsi 2010). According to Karamzin, inhabitants of that family


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of three territories constituted a single Russian people. The concept of the “triune Russian nation” was used by Russian nationalists, in some cases to assert that “the Ukrainian people as such have no rights to exis” (Daniel 2000). According to this idea, promoted by Russian historical narratives, Ukrainians are key constitutive parts of this nation. In the nineteenth century Russian Empire the term “Novorossiya” designated the territories of Bessarabia Governorate (modern Republic of Moldovia and the south of Odessa region), Kherson Governorate, Taurida Governorate, Yekaterinoslav Governorate, Province of the Don Cossack Host and the Stavropol Governorate (Karpov, Fedulov et. al. 1910). These regions were incorporated into the Russian Empire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. But there is no straight definition of these territories. According to Soviet historian Vladimir Kabuzan (1976), Novorossiya consists of only the Kherson and Yekaterinoslav Governorate, an area often called the Northern Black Sea Coast (Severnoye Prichernomorye). Social psychologist – professor Karina Korostelina (2014) defines the four national narratives in Ukraine: 1) “Fight for Ukrainian Ethnic Identity” – the idea that the Ukrainian nation rises from a statelessness and colonisation by empires; 2) “Recognition of Ukrainian ethnic identity” – a free society, not depending on patronage or totalitarian ideology, based on Ukrainian culture, history and language; 3) “Multicultural Civic Narrative” wherein Ukraine is a multicultural society in which all ethnic groups are equal members of the nation. The central point of the final story is 4) “Dual identity Narrative,” wherein lies the “prominent spirituality and higher values” of the people. Ukraine is considered to be a historic core and successor of Kyivan Rus. “Pro Soviet Narrative” concentrates on the pride of Soviet Ukraine achievements and victory in the Great Patriotic War. From a purely historical perspective, professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University Serhii Plokhy (2015) describes the history of Ukraine through the moving border between the Eurasian steppe and Europe, and between Eastern and Western Christianity. By using a metaphor, “The Gates of Europe,” he showed that Ukraine has historically acted as either the bridge between Europe and Eurasia or as the barrier between them. In Putin’s story about Crimea, we see a dramatic identification of that peninsula from the ordinary region of a neighbouring state, where Russian-speaking people live and where a Russian military base is located, to that of an integral part of Russia, where a special Russian spirit is dwelling. Most of this “discursive path” was presented over a period of three months. On December 19, 2013 Putin precluded a repetition of the “Georgian scenario” by sending in Russian troops and on March 18, 2014 designated the peninsula as an integral part of Russia. He justified these actions with historical narratives.

Narrating Conflicts in Post-Truth Era


Only six years earlier in 2008 there had been fears that Crimea would be invaded after Georgia. The Prime Minister of the Russian Federation responded that such a situation could not be permitted and that Russia recognises Ukraine’s sovereignty over the peninsula (Svoboda. org. 2015). A question concerning this was raised at the annual press conference in 2013 by journalist Serhiy Loyko (Putin 2013). Were Russian troops being brought into Ukrainian Crimea, as was the case in Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, he asked, to which Putin objected, citing historical arguments as a justification for the legitimacy of the invasion in Georgia. His comparison is invalid because South Ossetia and Abkhazia experienced large-scale, bloody inter-ethnic conflicts whereas the Crimean peoples, who have more in common with their Russian neighbour, witnessed a very different takeover. According to the Russian president, the situation in Crimea is safe from possible aggression from an enemy, because the lease on naval facilities for Russian fleet in Sevastopol has been extended and is a stabilising presence in both international and regional politics. In the so-called “Crimean speech” on March 18, 2014, Putin finds further legitimacy for the annexation of Crimea in historical arguments. Explaining why, in the hearts of the people, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia, Putin recounts his vision of Soviet Ukrainian history in the twentieth century. According to him, after the October Revolution, significant territories of the historical south of Russia were included by the Bolsheviks in the formation of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic without taking into account the national composition of the population – that area is now southeast of Ukraine. In 1954, the Crimea and the city Sevastopol were transferred to the Ukrainian SSR. Nikita Khrushchev, then Secretary-General, was guilty of perpetrating these historical injustices. Therefore, the recognition of Crimea as a part of Ukraine by modern Russia took place with the expectation that Ukraine would recognise national and cultural rights of Russians. Such arguments allegedly make the annexation of Crimea a self-evident process. Less than two years later in the movie “Crimea, the Way Home” (2015), Putin says that the appropriation of the peninsula was prepared so that the local population does not fall under the “steamroller of nationalists. Crimea is historically Russian territory, and the Russian Federation cannot abandon the inhabitants of the peninsula.” In addition, attempts were made to emphasise the sacred significance of Crimea and its place in the history and modernity of the Russian Federation. At a meeting with the national communities of Crimea (08. 2015), Putin declares the special sacredness of Crimea in this case, relying not on historical arguments but appealing to emotions: “In Crimea, you always experience special feelings and emotions, not only because it is very beautiful and the nature is


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unique, but also because here you fully understand the involvement in the allRussian history, that unique cultural, spiritual heritage.” At the Declaration of Sevastopol as a patriotic capital of Russia on March 18, 2020, on the anniversary of the Crimea annexation, Putin claimed that Sevastopol is a patriotic capital for historical reasons that go deeper than the Crimean War of 1853–1856 or the Great Patriotic War. Putin’s arguments about the history of Eastern Ukraine are different from those about Crimea. In historical context, the topic of Donbas appeared at the annual press conference in 2014 as a part of a much larger “historical area” – Novorossiya. According to Putin, it is Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson, Nikolaev, Odessa which were not part of Ukraine in tsarist times. These territories became part of Ukraine under the Soviet government: “And God knows why they do it” (Putin 2014b). Putin speaks of these regions as if there were no internationally recognised Ukrainian state. He calls the capital of the so-called state of Novorossiya the city of Novorossiysk, located on the outskirts of the Caucasian ridge on the coast of Black Sea. At the end of the nineteenth century, it was a centre of the small Black Sea Governorate between the Kuban Oblast and Kutais Governorate. Putin’s historical narrative identifies “Novorossiya” as a part of Russia, donated by Lenin to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic (Putin 2014b). According to Putin, beside “Lenin’s gift” in the form of Novorossiya, and Khrushchev’s gift, in the form of Crimea, there are other territories that cannot be called Ukrainian. The Russian president queried what was considered common knowledge “regarding the west (of Ukraine – M. B.) . . . after the Second World War: part of what is now Ukraine was taken from Poland and part, from Hungary. What nationality was the city of Lviv, if not Polish? Don’t you know about this?” (Putin 2014b). Many similar statements can be found in the historical narrative concerning Ukraine as a whole. One of the most striking examples of such undermining is the interview with Russian News Agency TASS on February 21, 2020, rich in debunking of Ukrainian linguistic and historical narrative, history and philology in general. The core of arguments was that before the eleventh to thirteenth centuries there were no differences in language between Ukrainian and Russian lands. The first linguistic differences appeared only as a result of the “Polonisation” of the part of the Ukraine under the rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the sixteenth century. Ukrainians were identified as those peoples living on the borderlands of the Russian state, those who defended the south from the raids of the Crimean Khan, also from would-be avengers in the Urals. At that time Ukrainians all spoke the same language Moreover, until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, even eastern Slavs, who lived in the territory of the

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Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Grand Duchy of Moscow, were called Russians. They were not divided. Only much later did the first language differences appeared: “Especially the Ukrainian factor was played out on the eve of the First World War by the Austrian secret service. This is a famous deal: ‘divide and conquer’” (Putin 2020). By comparing Putin’s historical excursions with dates and political circumstances one can identify several tendencies. Firstly, history is used as a justification for a specific political plan or action. For example, the annexation of Crimea was historically defended by means of its special connection with the so-called “Novorossiya” with Russia or “Novorossiysk as the capital of Novorossiya.” This reveals a strong desire to deconstruct the Ukrainian narrative in all its manifestations. Putin intensively exploits “historical arguments” in debates or in public events. Timothy Snyder characterised this process as a part of eternity politics where each masquerades as history; each does away with history (Snyder 2018a). The second tendency defines the intellectual or historiographical tradition Putin refers to. It is surprising that, despite extensive use of historical arguments, Putin never mentioned the original source or the authors, instead claiming ownership of the ideas with language constructions, to wit: “to my mind . . .,” “if you look at the realities, it is so . . .,” “Don’t you know . . .?.” A search for the sources of that historical outlook reveals that it lies outside Soviet – Marxist historiography that, according to Serhy Yekelchyk (2004, 10–11) in the early 1940s reinstated the “nation” as a subject of history. Historical narratives were, in essence “national histories,” modified by class rhetoric and emphasising reunification with Russia. Instead Putin’s historical “excursions” into the past of Ukraine and Georgia significantly coincide with late writings and interviews of Russian novelist and philosopher Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Solzhenitsyn 1990, 349; 1990a, 550; 1991; 1992, 372; 1993, 397; 1994, 475). He was a rigorous critic of Soviet Union and Communism and received a Nobel Prize in literature in 1970. After the collapse of Soviet Union, Solzhenitsyn became a severe critic of newly formed independent states especially in their policy on national minority (Rowley 1997). Interviewed Ukrainian historians did not comment on Putin’s historical statements. Instead, they stated that the creation of historical narratives plays a compensatory role in structural problems of political or economic processes (Yaroslav Hrytsak). The political instrumentalisation of history is the weapon of the weak (Iryna Sklokina) Generally, Ukrainian historians do not actively respond to Putin’s’ statements about history. In most cases, they give short comments to the media on particular topics. (Yermolenko 2019; Kulczyckyj 2020). In the monographs, we


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did not see a difference in history writing. In publications on the border of science and popular, or special, research dedicated to the conflict, however, there is a difference in interpretation, compared to pre-2014 (Andrii Portnov). The main efforts of historians in responding to the crisis of 2014 concentrated on the creation of a conceptual framework, suggestions and guidelines on how to rethink and overcome the Russian aggression and separatist historical narration. From 2014 the professional community of historians did not produce any specific text to counteract Putin’s narrative. Instead, a number of research materials and analytical references about the Donbas and Crimea were published under the umbrella of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine (Kalakura 2014; Kotyhorenko et al. 2014; Rymarenko 2014; Vermenych 2015; Yakubova, Holovko and Prymachenko 2018). The main text was produced by the leading members of the Academy of Sciences – Valeriy Smoliy, Stanislav Kulczyckyj and Tetiana Yakubova (2016). They define the principle position of Ukrainian historiography and politics in the inviolability and sovereignty of the state borders of Ukraine, outlined by international acts. They stated that hybrid ideological war and the hybridization of the information space in the foreseeable future will look like the norm of the everyday existence of Ukrainian statehood and Ukrainian-Russian relations. The authors suggest to submit that it is necessary to normalise and strengthen the conceptual foundations of Ukraine’s history as the successor to all pre-existing narratives concerning all nations, past and present, that once made up and that now comprise its territories (Smoliy, Kulczyckyj and Yakubova 2016, 593) Ukrainian historians object against “deepening historical roots” (Zerubavel 2003) of Ukrainians in the Crimea and Donbas. According to them, claiming older history (udavnennia͡) is a manifestation of the “childhood disease” of people, who are still not free from imperial upbringing (592). An analysis of the reasons for irredentist feelings among the populations of Crimea and Donbas reveals that structural causes are emphasised over cultural or historical ones (Yaroslav Hrytsak). Ukrainian historians defined internal factors that triggered separatism in these regions during spring 2014: Donbas and Crimea were the youngest territorial communities and the most mobile in Ukraine formed after the Second World War, both with a significant (predominantly in Crimea) share of Russian and Russian-speaking population. Wars between criminal gangs were most severe in these regions compared to the other parts of Ukraine and, eventually, the pro-Russian Party of Regions permanently took leading positions in government and administration. A low level of national and civic self-awareness of residents of Donbas and the Crimea (Smoliy, Kulczyckyj and Yakubova 2016, 576).

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Regional consciousness is cited as another precursor to strife in the phase of crisis and active transformation. Donbas reflects a proletarian consciousness with Russo-Ukrainian historical and cultural dualism. The Russian language is dominant (Kalakura 2014, 147–148). The region degrades and marginalises the influence of “deindustrialisation” and its inconsistency with the trends of the post-industrial world. Crimea reflects the Russian neo-imperial myth with a “feature of a post-colonial outlook” (Bushansky 2014, 63). Historians argue that the fatal role in the escalation of the Crimean issue was played not so much by the quantity of Russians in the population as by the quality of the Russian community. Rather than cite its growth rate as a Russian region, they point to the transformation of Crimea into an all-USSR and later, to a shared, post-Soviet “dacha” for the privileged strata from Ukraine and Russia that made it a “time bomb.” It was fatal that this “dacha” was, at the same time, a Russian naval base. The hallmark of this Crimean society was the ideological and mental grouping around the narratives of imperial glory and the magnificence of Soviet military victories (“grandfathers fought”). According to Smolij, Kulczyckyj and Jakubova (2016), the Ukrainian state should have confronted this discourse; the failure to do so led to a more powerful destructive force than the Donbas imperative of “miner’s labour glory” and the following claim that “Donbas feeds Ukraine.” The significance of the failure was fully revealed in the events of spring 2014. Ukrainian academics define “imperial discourse” as another important issue when analysing the Crimean separatist narration. They identify the following components (Smoliy, Kulczyckyj and Yakubova 2016, 591): – Artificial stereotypes about the eternal irreconcilability between the Slavs and the Crimean Tatars (farmers/nomads); – The parasitism of the Crimean Khanate and its exceptionally negative role in the history of Ukrainians and Russians; – Consolidated power and civilisational supremacy of Russian culture; – The originality of the “Russian Crimea” Furthermore, historians claim that a strategic mistake of Ukrainian authorities was to formally integrate the Crimean Tatars (they staged a national programme) while no attention was paid to the integration of Russians. The narration about Donbas’s regional identity was constructed around industrialisation (Kalakura 2014. 147). At the end of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century, Donbas performed a historic mission in the Russian Empire and then in the USSR, serving as the locomotive for two industrial revolutions. This historical mission and its recognition formed a kind of cultural, psychological and social ethno-Ukrainian-Russian regional community,


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based on miners and factory workers. Later other powerful industrial centres were established in the Soviet Union and the importance of coal for transport, industry and energy declined. As a result, the extremely important mission of Donbas began to lose some of its original significance. However, the regional community preserved the established relations between people; their ability to self-organise and mobilise; a sense of their territorial separateness and common interests; readiness to effectively protect the interests of the region from real or seemingly destructive external influences of any nature and origin (Kotyhorenko 2014, 424–425.) A special role in the formation and development of the regional identity of Donbas was played by the “frontier” – a no man’s land, a free land, which, for centuries, provided shelter to those who hoped to escape persecution or enslavement or simply sought ways of physical survival, as was the case with many Ukrainian peasants (Kuromiya 2003; Smoliy, Kulczyckyj and Yakubova 2016). However, the historians could find no sufficient explanation for regional predisposition to the contradictory narrations of Russkiy Mir. What was the trigger for the aggravation of the existing situation? How do incompatible ideas combine in the list of claims and demands of Donbas residents to Kyiv central authority? According to Smoliy, Kulczyckyj and Yakubova (2016, 590) the coexistence of mutually exclusive slogans, myths and visual images, compressed in space and time, suggests either the “omnipresence” of Donbas, or at least the incomprehensibility of consumption and replication of the components of the “Soviet-Russian-world” myth, in which the surreal figure of Stalin grew angelic wings, and the Leninist-Trotskyist scenarios of the independence of the Soviet Republic were transformed into a doctrine of liberation from the oppression of the “world empire of evil” – the United States (590). Ukrainian mainstream counter-narrative is based on the thesis that Russian politicians and ideologists are captivated by historical myths and political metaphors of neo-imperialism discourse. They lead Russia to isolationism, formalising this policy as a civilisational confrontation between Russia and the EuroAtlantic world (Sushyj 2014, 63). To counter this, Ukraine should employ posttotalitarian discourse and a policy of de-Sovietisation. In the context of future memory politics for Donbas and Crimea, historians Smoliy, Kulczyckyj and Yakubova formulate two main objectives: dismantling of the imperial myth for Crimea and de-Sovietisation for Donbas (Smoliy, Kulczyckyj and Yakubova 2016. 591). To sum up, the Ukrainian historical narrative tends to portray Russia as an “evil empire” (Iryna Sklokina). Doctor Iryna Sklokina stated that Ukrainian historians attempt to offer symmetrical answers to aggressive narrations from Russia. It is our belief that the answers to questions that formulate Russian

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historiography are not necessary; to formulate our own agenda is what matters (Iryna Sklokina). Considering the new reality of post-truth the historians we interviewed agreed that history, in general, was never completely free from politics. Professional historians need to be aware of that and try to keep a distance from current political situations. Considering the use of history as a tool in politics, our respondents have seen an increase of this trend in recent years (Portnov; Sklokin). Professor Volodymyr Sklokin stated that history comes back to politics as a general trend because of the “memory boom” in the 1990s. Initially, the focus on memory had very good connotations but today it is employed as a tool by populist politicians. We observe the current situation in which professional historians lose the influence on the discourse about the past (Sklokin).

Conclusions The Russian World (Russkiy Mir) as an ideological and geopolitical construct is designed to inspire populations of the former Soviet space to identify it with the unique universe characterised by peculiar typological features including the Russian language as a lingua franca, a common historical legacy and the idea of the common culture and spirituality. This civilisational imaginary, which highlights the drastic difference between the Russian world and the West, buttresses contemporary Russian policy in the “near-abroad” and clearly aims to re-establish Russia’s influence and control over the former Soviet space. Ukraine and Georgia seem “victims” of the revisionist policy carried out by the Kremlin since the declared ambitions of these countries to join the EU and NATO contradict Russian geopolitical interests. Putin clearly articulates these concerns in his speeches. In recent years the Russian government has employed myriad tools to interfere in the internal affairs of Georgia and Ukraine to force these countries into “re-positioning” their geopolitical preferences. In Georgia, Moscow’s arsenal included manipulation of “frozen” Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts that justified the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and resulted in the transformation of Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions into Moscow protectorates. In Ukraine, the Kremlin’s tactic has mainly been that of accentuating the ethno-lingustic similarities of Ukrainians and Russians. This factor was one of the main instruments mobilising Russian and


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Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine and Crimea to destabilise the political situation in 2014. Russia’s escalation of the conflict in Donbas and Luhansk Oblasts and the annexation of Crimea followed. Russian government and ideologists of the Russkiy Mir warrant these actions via historical arguments. Putin himself is much involved in the discussion of the history of Ukraine and Georgia. Generally, he follows the established Russian storyline, depicting the “innocence” of Russia, a victim of NATO’s aggression. In this framework, the full-scale military intervention of Georgia in 2008 was carried out to “protect” Abkhaz and Ossetian ethnic minorities from Georgian aggression. Similarly, military actions in eastern Ukraine in 2014 are framed as necessary steps to save “fellow countrymen” of Novorossiya (New Russia) from the “fascist junta” in Kyiv in 2014; Further, Putin justified the shocking and bold annexation of Crimea through historical arguments. In his accounts, Crimea has always been an integral part of Russia, a region that embodies Russian spirituality, historical glory and military triumph. However, Putin’s “historical knowledge” goes beyond the Russian narrative template when it undermines the historical legitimacy of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and Georgia. Here, the Russian leader’s historical detours, performed as PR actions, aim to attack factual history and fit more into the logic of the “post-truth.” Claims like “Georgia was not even a state, but (rather a) governorate/s of the Russian Empire” or the “Ukrainian people as such do not exist” are symptomatic of Putin’s remarks. The Georgian “mainstream” historians believe Putin’s lessons in history are a classic example not only of how the empire tries to use history to justify its actions against neighbours, but also of how alternative and fake history is created. They highlight the coercive nature of the incorporation of historical Georgian kingdoms and principalities into the Russian Empire in the nineteenth century. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia orchestrated ethnic conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia/Tskhinvali regions to weaken Georgians’ natural aspiration to maintain independence and “re-join” the West. According to Georgian historians we interviewed, commenting on Putin’s lessons should not be a primary concern of the historians. Responding to Putin is a task for politicians. They argue that the function of the “honest historian” in the post-truth era is to strictly follow scientific principles, even though it may seem impossible to engage in a meaningful historical discussion when deliberate distortions of the past reach new heights. The Ukrainian narrative stresses the existence of a distinct Ukrainian ethnic identity and the rich tradition of statehood, going back to Kyivan Rus. The national storyline also emphasises the struggles against Russian imperial rule. Particular importance is ascribed to the depiction of Ukraine as a multicultural

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and multi-ethnic civic nation that comprises a plurality of distinct groups living peacefully in Ukraine. As to the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean crisis, Ukrainian historians highlight the primacy of structural factors over cultural reasons in determining the developments in 2014, including the mobility of the Russian speaking population after WWII; proletarian consciousness of Donbas population; cultural and linguistic dualism; the failure of post-Soviet authorities in Kyiv to integrate Russian community of Crimea into the Ukrainian society, etc. The Ukrainian historians we spoke with tend not to comment Putin’s statements. They focus more on the necessity of establishing a conceptual framework and guiding principles for analysing and dealing with challenges coming from the Russian “hybrid war” in information space where tendency of “masquerading” lies as history prevails.

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Papaskiri, Zurab. Abkhazeti Sakartveloa [Abkhazia is Georgia]. Tbilisi: Agmashenebli Press, 1998. Papaskiri, Zurab. Abkhazia: Istoria Bez Falsifikatsii [Abkhazia: History without fabrication]. Tbilisi: Izdatelstvo Sukhumskogo Gosudarstvennogo Universiteta Papaskiri, 2010. Papaskiri, Zurab. Moia Abkhazia: Vospominania i razmishlenia [My Abkhazia: memories and reflections]. Tbilisi: Meridiani, 2012. Pegg, Scott. 2017. “Twenty years of de facto state studies: Progress, problems, and prospects.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017. Pegg, Scott. International society and the de facto state. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 1998. Plokhy, Serhii. The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine. Basic Books, 2015. Pomerantsev, Peter. Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia. New York City: Public Affairs, 2014. Putin, Vladimir. Vladimir Putin Ob Ukraine (intervyu TASS) [Vladimir Putin About Ukraine (TASS interview)]. 2020. Putin, Vladimir. Pryamaya liniya s Vladimirom Putinym [Direct Call with Vladimir Putin]. April 17, 2017. The Official Website of the President of Russia: president/news/20796. Putin, Vladimir. Vstrecha V. V. Putina s predstavitelyami natsionalnykh obshchestvennykh obyedineniy Kryma [Vladimir Putin Meets with Representatives of National Public Associations of Crimea]. 2015. The International Affairs: show/13613. Putin, Vladimir. Address by President of the Russian Federation; Vladimir Putin addressed State Duma deputies, Federation Council members, heads of Russian regions and civil society representatives in the Kremlin. March 18, 2014a. president/news/20603. Putin, Vladimir. Press-konferentsiya Vladimira Putina [Press conference of Vladimir Putin]. December 19, 2013. The Official Website of the President of Russia: events/president/news/19859. Putin, Vladimir. Speech and the Following Discussion at the Munich Conference on Security Policy. February 10, 2007. Putin, Vladimir. Zasedaniye Mezhdunarodnogo diskussionnogo kluba ‘Valday’ [Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club]. October 24, 2014b. president/news/46860. Rancour-Laferriere, Daniel. The Russian Nationalism from an Interdisciplinary Perspective: Imagining Russia. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2000. Rowley, David. “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Russian Nationalism.” Journal of Contemporary History 32, no. 3 (1997): 321–337. Russkiy Mir. About Russkiy Mir Foundation, n.d. Rymarenko, Sergii. Politichni teknologii reguliuvannia mijetnichnoi ta mijkonfeciinoi vzaemodii u novitnikh ukrainskikh realiakh, Analitichna dopovid [Political technologies of regulation of inter-ethnic and inter-confessional interaction in the latest Ukrainian realities, Analytical report]. Kyiv: National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Kuras Institue of Political and Ethnic Studies, 2014. Samyye yarkiye frazy Putina na vstreche s obshchestvennostyu v Sevastopole [Putin’s Brightest Phrases at a Meeting with the Public in Sevastopol]. 2020. Ria News Crimea.

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121 Semenov V., ed. Rossiya. Polnoye geograficheskoye opisaniye nashego otechestva: Nastolnaya i dorozhnaya kniga dlya russkikh lyudey v 19-ti t [Russia. Full Geographical Description of our Fatherland: Handbook and Road Book for Russian People in 19 Volumes]. Vol. 14. Karpov, B., Fedulov, V., Karatygin, V. Novorossiya i Krym: Bessarabskaya, Khersonskaya, Tavricheskaya i Yekaterinoslavskaya gub., Obl. Voyska Donskogo, Stavropolskaya gub [Novorossiya and Crimea: Bessarabian, Kherson, Tauride and Yekaterinoslav Provinces, Almighty Don Host, Stavropol Province]. St. Petersburg: Alfred Devrien, 1899–1914. Shore, Marci. “A Pre-History of Post-truth East and West.” Public Seminar, September 1, 2017. Shubin, Aleksandr. Makhno i yego vremya: o Velikoy revolyutsii i Grazhdanskoy voyne [Makhno and His Time: About the Great Revolution and the Civil War]. Moscow: LIBROKOM, 2013. Smolii V. Pivdenna Ukrayina na tsyvilizatsiynomu pohranychchi [Southern Ukraine on the Border of Civilization]. Kyiv: Institute of History of Ukraine, 2015. Smolii V., S. Kulchytskyi and L. Yakubova. Donbas i Krym v ekonomichnomu, suspil’nopolitychnomu ta etnokul’turnomu prostori Ukrayiny: istorychnyy dosvid, moderni vyklyky, perspektyvy. Analitychna dopovid [Donbass and Crimea in the Economic, Socio-Political and Ethnocultural Space of Ukraine: Historical Experience, Modern Challenges, Prospects. Analytical Rport]. Kyiv: Institute of History of Ukraine, 2016. Snyder, Timothy. “Vladimir Putins Politics of Eternity.” The Guardian, March 16, 2018 (2018a). Snyder, Timothy. The Road to Unfreedom. Russia, Europe, America. New York: The Duggan Books, 2018 (2018b). Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. Publitsistika: V Trekh tomakh T. 3. Stati, pisma, intervyu, predisloviya. [Publications: In Three Volumes V. 3. Articles, Letters, Interviews, Prefaces]. Jaroslavl: Verhniaja Volga, 1997. Sushy, O. Politychni tekhnolohis rehuliuvannia mizhetnichnos ta mizhkonfesii vzaiemodii u novitnikh ukrainskykh realiiakh: analitychna dopovid [Political Technologies of Regulation of Interethnic and Interfaith Interaction in the Newest Ukrainian Realities: Analytical Report]. Kyiv: Kurasa Institute, 2014. Svoboda. Org.Putin v 2008 godu: Krim Ne Iavliaetsia Spornoi Teritoriei [Putin in 2008: Crimea is not a contested teritory]. April 19, 2015. Tairova-Yakovleva, Tatyana. Inkorporatsiya: Rossiya i Ukraina posle Pereyaslavskoy rady (1654–1658) [Incorporation: Russia and Ukraine after the Pereyaslav Rada (1654–1658)]. Kyiv: Klio, 2017. “Putin says no need to impose sanctions on Tbilisi, cites respect for Georgian people.” July 9, 2019. l7PMMjxXRc5gMNPjcztlBYOqDPowxeanrOKXwApr4T3lgPQ. Toal, Gerard. Near Abroad: Putin, the West, and the Contest over Ukraine and the Caucasus. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017. Toal, Gerard, and Magdalena Frichova Grono. “After Ethnic Violence in the Caucasus: Attitudes of Local Abkhazians and Displaced Georgians in 2010.” Eurasian Geography and Economics 52, no. 5 (2011): 655–678.


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Topchisvhili, Roland. Sakartveloshi Osta Chamosaklebisa da Shida Kartlis Etnoistoriis Sakikhebi [On the migration of Ossetians to Georgia and Ethnohistorical issues in Shida Kartli]. Tbilisi: Lomisi, 1997. Toria, Malkhaz. “Between Traditional and Modern Museology: Exhibiting National History in the Museum of Georgia.” In Museums and Sites of Persuasion: Politics, Memory and Human Rights, edited by Joyce Apsel and Amy Sodaro, 39–55. London and New York: Routledge, 2019. Toria, Malkhaz. “The Soviet Occupation of Georgia in 1921 and the Russian-Georgian War of August 2008: Historical Analogy as a Memory Project.” In The Making of Modern Georgia, 1918–2012: The First Georgian Republicand its Successors, edited by Stephen F. Jones, 316–336. London and New York: Routledge, 2014. Vardosanidze, Sergo, Vakhtang Guruli and Levan Jikia. Falsified history for political purposes?! July 10, 2019. Vermenych, Iaroslava. Pivdenna Ukraina na tsivilizatsiinomy pogranichi Південна Україна на цивілізаційному пограниччі [Southern Ukraine on the border of civilization]. Kyiv: Institute of History of Ukraine, 2015. Vseukrayins’kyy perepys naselennya [All-Ukrainian Population Census]. State Committee of Statistics of Ukraine, 2011. Wertsch, James. Voices of Collective Remembering. Cambridge, U.K: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Wertsch, James, and Zurab Karumidze. “Spinning the past: Russian and Georgian accounts of the war of August 2008.” Memory Studies 2, no. 3 (2009): 377–391. Yakubova, Larysa, Volodymyr Holovko and Yana Prymachenko. Russkyj mir na Donbasi ta v Krymu: istorychni vytoky, politychna tekhnolohiya, instrument ahresii [Russkiy Mir in Donbass and Crimea: Historical Origins, Political Technology, an Instrument of Aggression]. Kyiv: Institute of History of Ukraine, 2018. Yarmolenko, Serhy. Re-viziia istorii. Rosiiska istorychna propahanda ta Ukraina [Re-vision of history. Russian historical propaganda and Ukraine]. Kyiv: К.І.С, 2019. Yekelchyk, Serhy. Stalin’s Empire of Memory: Russian-Ukrainian Relations in the Soviet Historical Imagination. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004. Zerubavel, Eviatar. Time Maps, Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Interviews with Ukrainian Historians and Experts Yaroslav Hrytsak, professor, Ukrainian Catholic University; director of the Institute for Historical Studies of Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Ukraine). Interview conducted by Mykola Balaban via Zoom, April 26, 2020. Iryna, Sklokina, Dr. researcher, Center for Urban History (Lviv Ukraine). Interview conducted by Mykola Balaban via Zoom, April 27, 2020. Andrii Portnov, Dr. Professor für Entangled History of Ukraine, Europa-Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder. Interview conducted by Mykola Balaban via Zoom, April 29, 2020. Volodymyr Sklokin, Dr. Associate Professor of History, Ukrainian Catholic University. Interview conducted by Mykola Balaban via Zoom, April 29, 2020.

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Interviews with Georgian Historians and Experts Ivane Abramishvili, executive director, the “Caucasian House: the Center for Cultural Relations” (Tbilisi, Georgia). Interview conducted by Malkhaz Toria via Zoom, April 28, 2020. Maia Barkaia, interdisciplinary scholar in Oriental Studies, History and Gender Studies. Invited lecturer, Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (Tbilisi, Georgia). Interview conducted by Malkhaz Toria via Zoom, May 4, 2020. Guranda Bursulaia, PhD candidate in cultural anthropology, Free University of Tbilisi (Georgia). Interview conducted by Malkhaz Toria via Zoom, May 5, 2020. Nino Chikovani. Dr. Professor of History, head of the Institute of Cultural Studies, Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (Tbilisi, Georgia). Interview conducted by Malkhaz Toria via Zoom, April 20, 2020. David Jishkariani, historian, Soviet Past Research Laboratory (Tbilisi, Georgia). Interview conducted by Malkhaz Toria via Zoom, April 27, 2020. Ketevan Kakitelashvili, PhD in history, associate Professor, Institute of Cultural Studies, Iv. Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University (Tbilisi, Georgia). Interview conducted by Malkhaz Toria via Zoom, April 26, 2020. Revaz Koiava, political scientist, expert of international politics, an analyst at the Georgian Public Broadcaster. Interview conducted by Malkhaz Toria via Zoom, April 30, 2020. Nukri Shoshiashvili, historian, researcher at the Iv. Javakhishvili Institute of History and Ethnology. Interview conducted by Malkhaz Toria via Zoom, April 25, 2020.

Khatuna Chapichadze

The Dynamic Character of the Conflictual Historical Narrative (on the Example of the Georgian-Turkish Relations) Abstract: In the paper we aim to illustrate how the heavy conflictual historical narrative of the Georgian-Turkish relations, complicated through centuries, has transformed significantly into the opposite. For understanding the hard background, it is noteworthy to mention that the relatively newly emerged bigger neighbor in the face of the Muslim Ottoman or Turkish Empire started its invasions of the smaller Orthodox Christian Georgian territories in the fifteenth century and, due to its exceeding power, managed to conquer the southern and southwestern parts of Georgia (the very “centre” of the historical Georgian culture) from the second half of the sixteenth century. In contrast to the historical context, considering the different strategic choice of post-Soviet, independent Georgia towards its maximal Westernisation may be not surprising, however it is still interesting is to analyse the GeorgianTurkish relations particularly after the collapse of the USSR, which has been marked with the establishment or by claiming the special, strategically and “historically” friendly relations between the two nations since the beginning of the 90s of the twentieth century. It is also noteworthy to mention here that nowadays Turkey is the largest trading partner of Georgia, and the private Sector of Turkey represents one of the largest investors in the Georgian economy. Despite the actual contradictory historical narratives or just promoting them as such even due to different interests emerging under the distinguishing epochal circumstances not only for Georgia, but also for Turkey, abandoning the issue of how legitimate territorial claims can be in our case, it seems useful to realise in general that narratives, and sometimes even historically wellgrounded ones, have a potential to successfully change depending on the dynamic interests and conditions. This might be addressed in the paper as one of the most promising factors when we are thinking of the efficient and sustainable conflict resolution or transformation. Keywords: conflict resolution; conflict transformation; conflictual historical narrative; Georgian-Turkish relations; The Treaty of Kars


Khatuna Chapichadze

Introduction Besides representing very interesting case per se in historical, political, economic and cultural discourses, whether international relations is thought of as a discipline, it would be quite topical, first of all from a long-lasting conflict-resolution or transformation perspective, to depict how substantially complex the burdening conflictual historical narrative of the relations between Georgia and Turkey has been throughout the ages, and accordingly how such relations between these two nations has considerably shifted to something different, and truly new.

Georgian-Turkish Relations: Very Uneasy History For understanding the hard background in the respective contactual sense, it is noteworthy to mention the relatively newly emerged bigger neighbor in the face of the Ottoman Empire or based on the Western European historical tradition, the Turkish Empire, whether Turkey started its invasions of the smaller Georgian territories from the fifteenth century, and due to its superiority first of all in numerical terms, i.e. greater number of invaders, conquering the southern and southwestern parts of Georgia (the very “centre” of the historical Georgian culture – TaoKlarjeti, Kola-Artaani and Lazeti-Chaneti, including Adjara) and establishing a severe occupational regime there in the second half of the sixteenth century. According to various diverse historical sources analysed by Zakaria Chichinadze,1 Shushana Putkaradze2 and other famous Georgian historians and researchers, Ottoman Turks massively and continuously expelled Georgians from the occupied southwestern Georgia, in particular Adjara-Kobuleti and Tao-Klarjeti, and dispersed them within the different Ottoman provinces, deeper into the empire. Certainly, such a policy served the conqueror’s interests to empty numerous occupied Georgian villages for further colonisation was majorly been conducted by Turks themselves, and Armenians. It has apparently never been confidential that, apart from the abovementioned conducts, Ottoman Turks destroyed3 rich architectural monuments,

 Zakaria Chichinadze, Big Emigration of Georgian Muslims to the Ottoman Empire: MuhajirEmigration (Tfilisi: Ar. Kereselidze Electric Printing-House, 1912), 28–162 (in Georgian).  Shushana Putkaradze, Chveneburebis ‘Georgians’ Georgian, Book I. (Batumi: Magazines-Newspapers of Adjara Publishing, 1993), 728 (in Georgian).  Ismail Khoja Khalipashvili, Muslim Georgians and Their Villages in Georgia, des. Zakaria Chichinadze (Tfilisi: Printing-House “Labour,” 1913), 133–148 (in Georgian).

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especially churches and monasteries of occupied historical southwestern Georgia, i.e. Samtskhe-Saatabago, modifying them into mosques or sometimes building local houses4 using the same stones.5 At the same time, it seems logical though that, being invaders, Turks kept attempting to forcibly spread and promote their language among indigenous people, while in parallel they were fighting against others, seen with the eventually mainly successful efforts of locals to revive and keep the Georgian or Laz language in the twentieth century as well.6

Religion Another important aggravating factor is religion; as Ottoman Turks kept Muslimization, if not directly, they at least encouraged Orthodox Christian Georgian inhabitants of the conquered lands to convert to their religion along with other means through burdening non-Muslims with heavier extra taxes.7 Despite Georgia regaining the southwestern region of Adjara which was initially within the Russian Empire borders in the nineteenth century, and from the Sovietization era within the Soviet and Soviet Georgian borders, the issue of Adjarans muslimised under the Turkish rule still remains a specific vulnerable question. According to the last census, the 2014 General Population Census8 conducted by the National Statistics Office of Georgia (Geostat), the latter is a religious minority with almost 40% of locals, i.e. Adjaran, and slightly less than 34% of the total Muslim population (398,677 people, i.e. 10.7%) in a predominantly Orthodox Christian country, with 3,097,573 followers (83,4%) out of the total Georgian population (3,713,804 people), which is proud of it being one of the oldest Christian traditions in the world, dating back to at least the third century.9

 Nicholas Marr, The Diary of Travel in Shavsheti and Klarjeti (Batumi: “Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University” Publishing, 2015), 46–336 (in Georgian).  Marr, Diary of Travel, 250–476.  Khalipashvili, Muslim Georgians, 31.  Khalipashvili, Muslim Georgians, 132–133.  “2014 General Population Census,” National Statistics Office of Georgia, accessed January 16, 2019,  Stephen H. Rapp, Jr., “Georgian Christianity.” In The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity, edited by Ken Parry, 137–155. Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010, 138.


Khatuna Chapichadze

The Treaty of Kars and Its so far Irreversible Outcomes A significant milestone in Georgian-Turkish relations has been the quite controversial Treaty of Kars. The treaty, which resulted from another, the Treaty of Moscow, and summarized it (the Treaty of Moscow was signed between Soviet Russia and the nationalist government of Turkey under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk on March 16, 1921, while the Treaty of Kars was signed between Turkey and the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Georgian Soviet republics on October 13, 1921), in fact, first of all, fixed the northeastern border of Turkey. By the agreement, Soviet leadership compromised the historical Georgian territories (southern sector of Batumi: districts of Artvini, Artaani and Karsi) to Turkey, while the northern half with the strategically important port city of Batumi became part of Soviet Georgia as the Adjarian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (Adjarian ASSR).10 There are two significant legal conditions raised by Turkey, and underlined in the Article 611 of the Treaty of Kars, according to which it, i.e. Turkey, when “agreeing to cede to Georgia suzerainty over the city and port of Batumi and the territory lying to the north of the border,”12 required that: 1) the native population would be granted broad local autonomy in administrative, i.e. political terms, ensuring each community its cultural and religious rights (this represents a rare case in international law, in which the internal administrative structure of one country has been secured by a treaty with another), and the possibility of establishing an agrarian system in conformity with locals’ own wishes; and 2) Turkey would be granted free transit of all goods sent to or from Turkey through the Batumi port, duty-free, without any delays and without imposing any charges on them, with the provision of the right for Turkey to use the Batumi port without charging special charges. When analyzing how the Treaty of Kars concluded with the participation of the Government of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (RSFSR), and its implications, it is noteworthy to mention that in general for all the

 “The Treaty of Kars,” October 13, 1921, The Treaty of Kars of Friendship between the Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian Soviet Socialist Republics and Turkey (13.10.1921, Kars); extended to the Transcaucasian republics the provisions of the Moscow Treaty, 1921.10.13, dokum/192_dok/19211013kars.php.  “The Treaty of Kars,” Article VI.  “The Treaty of Kars,” Article VI.

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affected sides, mainly dissatisfaction and criticism prevail over positively assessed effects resulting from the treaty. Despite regaining Batumi and Adjara back through the agreement, Georgia, even nowadays, suffers from the great loss of other territories ceded to Turkey by it, i.e. the historical “heart” and the area of the statehood origins for Georgia. Armenian discourse of interpreting the agreement has been predominantly negative, taking into account the region of Nakhichevan, historically contested between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and defined by the Treaty of Kars as “an autonomous territory under the protection of Azerbaijan.”13 It should also be considered that Ani, the distinguished medieval Armenian capital, and legendary, sacred to the Armenians, and Mount Ararat, traditionally associated with the mountain on which Noah’s Ark came to rest at the end of the Flood, are within the Turkish borders. This has been a well-known fact that Armenians often claim, although it is debatable. It is obviously logical that even based on the wording used in the text of the Treaty of Kars, where it has been indicated that Turkey “agrees to cede to Georgia,” and in spite of its clear privileges kept on Batumi and Adjara as a whole, these territories, along with Nakhichevan, have been compromised to Soviet Georgia and Soviet Azerbaijan, i.e. the Soviet Russian area. Therefore, the critical sentiments emanating from Turkey in this regard cannot be surprising at all. The long-term Georgian attempts or, to be much proper, actual anticipation to get back its territories from Turkey, have been especially organized in a powerful manner after the World War II, and in particular in the forties of the twentieth century, when Soviet Russia, directly under the leadership of Joseph Stalin in person, along with other influential Soviet politicians, perhaps not accidentally that frequently of the same Georgian origin, for instance, famous Lavrentiy Beria, Marshal of the Soviet Union and state security administrator, chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus (NKVD), as well as Politburo member, launched a huge campaign for reclaiming territorial pretensions to Turkey, which included convincing of Western allies (for example, during the Potsdam Conference from July 17 to August 2, 1945), mobilising of Georgian and Armenian intellectuals like prominent Georgian historians Simon Janashia and Niko Berdzenishvili, Georgian Catholicos-Patriarch Kalistrate Tsintsadze and others for preparing solid academic grounds, in order to once again raise the issue of returning Georgian and Armenian territories occupied by Turkey. The fact

 “The Treaty of Kars,” Article V.


Khatuna Chapichadze

that Turkey was not the only target of this kind, and it has not been only about the South Caucasus region, makes it more than clear that Soviet leadership, and personally Stalin as a world statesman, especially after World War II, had corresponding, large-scale ambitions for reshaping the USSR borders. Joseph Stalin attempted to get back the occupied territories through employing other means as well; Soviet forces undertook special training for dealing with the night battles, the tactics used by Turks, taking into account their relative weakness. It is worth to note that Turkey never provided any reason for the USSR to provoke a war. It wasn’t engaged by the Germans earlier. At the same time, the UK and the US didn’t let Stalin start warfare actions, and enter Turkey. In the meanwhile, Stalin got significant compromises from the West in other territorial regards, and appeared to abandon the Georgian and Armenian lands issue. Thus, in spite of all the above-mentioned efforts, mainly due to safeguarding Turkey’s most probably balancing interests against the USSR in the region, the UK and the US have finally not supported the idea of Georgia and Armenia regaining their territories back from Turkey, the state which shortly after was welcomed as a member of NATO, the fact that eventually almost guaranteed declination of any such kind of territorial claims to be raised to this country, and prevented Turkey from them. Consequently, Georgia and Armenia, not far from being irredentist in the given context, lost a chance, at least until now, to get back their historical territories. Once again, Georgia lost Tao-Klarjeti, Kola-Artaani and Lazeti-Chaneti. By returning Ardagani District, the country would regain Tao, Kola and Erusheti, while by returning Artvini District, Georgia would get Klarjeti back again.

Transformation In contrast to the historical context, considering the different strategic choice of post-Soviet, independent Georgia towards its maximal Westernisation may be not surprising, however it is still interesting is to analyse the Georgian-Turkish relations particularly after the collapse of the USSR, which has been marked with the establishment or claiming of the special, strategically and “historically” friendly relations between the two nations since the beginning of the 90s of the twentieth century. It is noteworthy is to mention here that nowadays Turkey is one of the largest trading partners of Georgia, with whom a free trade regime exists. The private sector of Turkey represents one of the largest investors in Georgian economy, while Georgia is interested in increasing exports on Turkish market.

The Dynamic Character of the Conflictual Historical Narrative


Conclusion Despite the actual contradictory historical narratives or just promoting such a controversy even due to different interests emerging under the distinguishing circumstances and in diverse epochs not only for Georgia, but also for Turkey, abandoning the issue of how legitimate territorial claims can be in our case, it seems useful to realise in general that narratives, and sometimes even historically well-grounded ones, have a potential to successfully change depending on the dynamic interests and conditions. This should be always highlighted as one of the most promising factors when we are thinking of the efficient and sustainable conflict resolution or transformation.

References Chichinadze, Zakaria. Big Emigration of Georgian Muslims to the Ottoman Empire: MuhajirEmigration. Tfilisi: Ar. Kereselidze Electric Printing-House, 1912 (in Georgian). Khalipashvili, Ismail Khoja. Muslim Georgians and Their Villages in Georgia. Described by Zakaria Chichinadze. Tfilisi: Printing-House “Labour,” 1913 (in Georgian). Marr, Nicholas. The Diary of Travel in Shavsheti and Klarjeti. Batumi: “Batumi Shota Rustaveli State University” Publishing, 2015 (in Georgian). National Statistics Office of Georgia. “2014 General Population Census.” Accessed January 16, 2019. Putkaradze, Shushana. Chveneburebis ‘Georgians’ Georgian, Book I. Batumi: Magazines-Newspapers of Adjara Publishing 1993 (in Georgian). Rapp, Jr., Stephen H. “Georgian Christianity.” In The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity, edited by Ken Parry, 137–155. Malden, Mass: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. “The Treaty of Kars.” The Treaty of Kars of Friendship between the Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian Soviet Socialist Republics and Turkey (13.10.1921, Kars); extended to the Transcaucasian republics the provisions of the Moscow Treaty. October 13, 1921.

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The Politics of Graves – Negotiations, Practice and Reactions about Fallen German Soldiers of World War Two and Their Resting Places in Russia Abstract: The coming to terms with the past is essential as a negotiating point in interstate relations, especially in the consequences of the Second World War. Not only the question towards compensation, guilt and victimhood but as well in numbers and losses of humans – and their remains. The dealing of the commemoration of the dead and their resting places makes an integral part in the history politics. After the end of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation signed an agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany on the war graves in both countries. Based on this document, the German War Grave Commission is allowed to work on the Russian territory, recovering, exhuming and building new cemeteries for the German dead. Its workflow and the access to the former soldier graves consist not without difficulties. Starting with the diplomatic and political issue of the traces of the Wehrmacht in Russia and the Soviet Union, continuing with gaining access and the permission for excavations and constructing new burial grounds in Russia, the work of the German organisation met obstacles, reservations and incomprehension. The cemetery constructions were restricted by local negotiations partners. Protests appeared by veterans and the local population. The fallen Wehrmacht soldiers, who attacked the Soviet Union and committed crimes against humanity, trigger very controversial discussions alongside the official Russian narrative of the Great Patriotic War. Based on the negotiations regarding the graves of the deceased, a policy about historical images arose, which can be interpreted as politics of graves. Keywords: cemetery; commemoration; Germany; graves; reconciliation; Russia; soldier; Wehrmacht; WWII

Introduction Over one million soldiers in the Wehrmacht fought and died on Soviet ground during World War Two. Some were buried by the Wehrmacht and duly registered with the authorities in Germany, while some remained unburied and are therefore


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officially listed as missing. International organisations like the Red Cross and the German War Graves Commission (the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V. (VDK)1 set out to search, rebury and register the dead and missing and to inform families of the whereabouts of soldiers and civilians. While the VDK was granted access to former battlefields in Western and Southern Europe to bury and register the dead, further information about the whereabouts of Wehrmacht members was denied by Eastern European and Soviet organisations.2 Cold War politics made it difficult for relatives of fallen or missing soldiers to request details or turn to authorised institutions for information. Until the 1980s, the only option for people on the West German side was to contact diplomatic missions or international organisations like the Red Cross. After the dismantling of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Russian Federation concluded an agreement with the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) regarding war graves in both countries; operations commenced a year later, in 1992. After signing the agreement on war graves, the VDK embarked on an active search for German graves, reburied the dead, erected cemeteries and made it possible for relatives to visit graves. The signing of the agreement, the search for graves and the process of reburial from 1992 to the early 2000s represents an early example of reconciliation between the two former enemies.

The Politics of Graves as a Reconciliation Process? The start of negotiations with the Russian Federation over the remains, memorials and burial sites of members of the Wehrmacht led to a collision of historical images and convictions. The agreement laid down new scopes and powers and was a means of coming to terms with the past on both sides, albeit with different approaches. The Russian Federation sought to harness its identity and  The VDK started its work after World War One, in 1919, as the “People’s Union for the Care of German War Graves,” and is an example of a private organisation assuming responsibility for what is usually a state task. During the Third Reich, the VDK continued its work building large cemeteries for the fallen of the previous war. After 1945, the organisation slowly started to work on grave sites for World War Two soldiers.  For the start of grave care, especially the work of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. in West Germany, see J. Böttcher, Zwischen staatlichem Auftrag und zivilgesellschaftlicher Trägerschaft: Eine Geschichte der Kriegsgräberfürsorge in Deutschland im 20. Jahrhundert, PhD thesis, University of Halle, 2016. In the GDR, there was no official graves commission. The resting places for German soldiers were taken care of by private initiatives.

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legacy as a power and winner of the war, while the FRG was the self-proclaimed reconciler and petitioner. The war graves agreement was more than a mere contract; it symbolised the politics of history for the purposes of diplomacy. War graves serve as a materialised basis for discussing the past, guilt, responsibility and understanding. In this article, the treatment of the war dead of World War Two is analysed using examples of the activities of the VDK in the Russian Federation and the FRG and drawing on the archives of the VDK in Kassel and interviews with individuals involved in both countries. In their approaches to the graves of the war dead, the two parties attempted to overcome the past for the first time on an official level. The negotiations triggered discussions about views of history, alongside questions of power and legitimacy – which together can be categorised as “grave politics.” This article analyses “grave politics” as an attempt at a reconciliation process between the two countries, a means of questioning the different positions, responses and expectations of the negotiating partners in overcoming the past and in their approach to post-Cold War Europe.

War Graves as a Subject of Bilateral Negotiations After the capitulation at the end of World War Two, families in West Germany and Austria3 struggled with a lack of information regarding the fate of the missing and dead and the location of their remains.4 In Eastern Europe, some fallen soldiers were buried properly and their grave sites registered, while others were left unburied in trenches, bunkers or on the battlefield. In addition, many soldiers died later from their injuries or during imprisonment. When the war ended, inhabitants rebuilt destroyed houses and roads. Cemeteries were levelled and buildings were erected on the newly gained ground. Crosses were removed and used as firewood or building material. Requests for information regarding grave sites and applications for grave visits or transfers of remains to Germany were denied or ignored by the Soviet administration.

 The focus is on West Germany until 1989 and then on the unified Federal Republic of Germany. Of course, East German families also sought information about their relatives, but this cannot be dealt with in detail.  In this chapter, the focus is on the VDK and its aspirations to access the graves in Eastern Europe. Since the VDK worked only in West Germany and was not active in the GDR, only the West German view is shown.


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While from 1945 onwards, the VDK and other grave maintenance services began working at former battlegrounds in the West, registering graves, reburying remains and erecting new cemeteries, no access was granted to the East. Two decades after the war, the VDK attempted a careful approach. Contact with the Soviet Red Cross led to an invitation to Moscow and Volgograd in 1975.5 In 1977, for the first time, relatives of fallen soldiers were allowed to travel to the Soviet Union to visit the graves of their loved ones.6 Upon arrival, they noted that the cemeteries were in a bad state, so the VDK made efforts to expedite grave care measures and access to the graves – but the dialogue soon broke down in the face of the rhetoric of the Cold War. However, the ongoing negotiations were an important signal of collaboration, and further political developments supported the process. Following on from FRG Chancellor Willy Brandt’s policy of normalising relations with the East, known as the “Ostpolitik” (1969–1974), and the fall of the Berlin Wall 1989, President Mikhail Gorbachev, as the Soviet representative, and Chancellor Helmut Kohl, as the representative of the reunified Germany, signed the Treaty on Good Neighbourly Relations and Cooperation in 1990.7 In it, the FRG agreed to protect and preserve Soviet memorials and war graves of Soviet citizens.8 At the same time, the Soviet Union promised to grant access to German war graves and to guarantee their preservation and maintenance. The legal guidelines for war grave care were later laid down in a German-Russian war cemetery contract. This novel agreement is considered a major milestone in GermanRussian grave care, paving the way for more specific cooperation. The approach pursued by Brandt with Poland, Czechoslovakia and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) improved West Germany’s standing in world public opinion, proving that former Nazi Germany was interested in reconciliation.9 For its part, as a victor of the war, Russia maintained a sense of superiority over the reunified Germany, despite the fact that Germany’s role in the world was now firmly established and the collapse of the USSR had led to an economic crisis and a politically weakened Russian Federation.

 Deutsche Kriegsgräber in der Sowjetunion: Eine Dokumentation des Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. (Kassel, 1983).  Deutsche Kriegsgräber in der Sowjetunion.  Federal Law Gazette (BGBl) (1991), 702. On April 25, 1991 the Bundestag ratified the law.  Soviet graves were protected by the Gesetz über die Sorge für die Kriegsgräber (Act for the Care of War Graves), Federal Law Gazette (BGBl), 1952 I, 320.  A. Stent, Russia and Germany Reborn. Unification, the Soviet Collapse, and the New Europe (New Jersey, 1998) 22.

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The post-war generation in West Germany had taken the first steps towards rapprochement with the USSR in the 1960s and 1970s, approaching Moscow with a mixture of guilt for the devastation of the war, a sense of responsibility for reparations and a commitment to reviving relations. By contrast, the older generation in Russia still felt a lingering sense of pride in the victory over Germany in 1945. Both partners therefore adopted an ambitious position at the start of the negotiations.10

The War Graves Agreement and its Active Implementation On December 16, 1992 in Moscow, the governments of the FRG and the Russian Federation signed the new agreement regarding mutual grave care for war graves in both countries in “[. . .] the awareness that war grave care on German and Russian ground is a concrete expression of understanding and reconciliation between the German people and the people of the Russian Federation [. . .].”11 It entered into force on July 21, 1994.12 More precisely, the agreement provided for grave protection, an indefinite right to privacy and the use of land for war grave sites, reburial and the transfer of remains, if necessary.13 The ratification of this agreement legally paved the way for the maintenance of German graves in Russia. After decades of slow-moving negotiations, the German-Russian war grave agreement was a landmark, the first official contract concerning German war graves since 1966.14 Article 3 of the agreement compels the contracting parties to preserve and care for grave sites indefinitely and without limitations.15

 Ibid, 181.  German-Russian agreement on war graves care, Federal Law Gazettes (BGBl.), 1994 II, 598.  Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), 1991 II, 702.  With the implementation of the agreement the VDK was commissioned for the German side and the Russian Association for the Cooperation of International Military Memorials (Ассоциация международного военемориального сотрудничества) was established as a partner organisation in Russia. Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), 1994 II, 598, entered into force on July 21, 1994 (Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), 1994, II, 2434.  The last war graves agreement before the German-Russian document was concluded with Sweden and entered into force in 1966. See overview compiled by the German Foreign Office berabkommen-data.pdf (accessed May 3, 2021).  Art. 34 (3) Additional Protocol of June 8, 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 on the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts. Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), 1990


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The main example for the agreement was the solution adopted in several Western European states concerning the war dead and their grave sites. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, this practice expanded to the former socialist countries16 and was integrated into agreements with the Russian Federation. In order to categorise the war graves agreement as a rapprochement between opponents, we must look at the reconciliation policy in the preceding decades. The approach under Adenauer with other Western countries, especially France, and subsequently Brandt’s “Ostpolitik” encouraged the signing of graves agreements with other countries. The war graves agreements therefore line up symbolically with the Elysée Treaty of 1963, the German-Polish Bishops’ Exchange of Letters in 1965 and Brandt’s genuflection in Warsaw in 1970, to name but a few.17 The signing of the German-Russian war grave agreement happened surprisingly quickly, on the heels of existing war grave policies in Western Europe. Naturally, the reunified Germany strove to conclude an agreement with Russia, the largest and most important state of the former Soviet Union. Additional treaties with other former Soviet states, including Ukraine and the Baltic states, followed in subsequent years.18 After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the new Russian Federation, weakened economically and politically, sought its role among the powers of Europe

II, 1551. For more about this, see Böttcher, Zwischen staatlichem Auftrag und zivilgesellschaftlicher Trägerschaft, 243; A. Petrig, “The war dead and their gravesites,” International Review of the Red Cross 91, no. 874 (2009): 359. In 2017, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the agreement was celebrated with a ceremony in Berlin, although this was not the first and only agreement concluded by Germany regarding war graves from World War Two. The Federal Republic of Germany concluded a war graves agreement with Belgium as early as 1954. As of 2018, 42 countries have agreements on German burial sites, from Australia to Azerbaijan and from South Africa to Norway. (accessed June 2, 2021).  Böttcher, Zwischen staatlichem Auftrag und zivilgesellschaftlicher Trägerschaft, 243.  For more information about Germany’s reconciliation politics with Poland, France and other countries, see L. Feldman, Germany’s foreign policy of reconciliation from enmity to amity (2012).  The agreement with Ukraine was dated May 5, 1996 and came into force on June 15, 1997: Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), 1998 II, 190; the agreement with Estonia was dated October 12, 1995 and came into force on October 26, 1996: Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), 1997 II, 1076; the agreement with Latvia was dated January 24, 1996 and came into force on June 30, 1997: Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), 1997 II, 1612; and the agreement with Lithuania was dated April 7, 1996 and came into force on August 30, 1997: Federal Law Gazette (BGBl.), 1997 II, 1776. An agreement was signed with Belarus in 1997, which has not yet been ratified by the Belarusian state. See (accessed on March 3, 2018).

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and the world. Was the quick signing of the agreement a sign that it wanted to be reintegrated into the community of power? An additional reason for the swift finalisation and acceptance of the agreement by the Moscow government was its concern at who should pay for German graves on Russian land. The agreement ensured the transfer of financial and maintenance responsibilities and construction obligations to Germany.19 Russia’s responsibilities consisted of allowing Germany to hire undertakers, architects and engineers and send them to Russia. So the economic reasons might also have been decisive. The agreement brought to an end the decades-long negotiations on access to and information about graves and the war dead. But the active implementation of the agreement, which had appeared to be such a willing sign of reconciliation, proved to be far removed from what was actually provided in writing. The VDK, which now had a legal basis on which to carry out its work, was hindered on many levels, from burial sites that had been destroyed or desecrated and “grave robbers”20 to permits not granted for exhumation and unsuitable land allocated for the construction of cemeteries, etc. The German Foreign Office, via its embassy in Moscow, tried to draw the attention of Russian institutions to the problem, but the local authorities were powerless or unwilling to help.21 Nevertheless, a handful of construction projects were granted and proved successful. Eventually, five large collective cemeteries were built in Russia, though not without delays, disagreements and protests. The sites were usually located outside the major centres, often in rural areas and small towns, in mountainous regions or on marshy soils that did not offer ideal conditions for cemeteries and graves containing human remains. It was easier to obtain permission for these areas than for favourable regions in cities or near important sites. Locals considered some of the sites under discussion “too Russian” and protested against their use as cemeteries for fallen soldiers. For example, the

 E. Siegel, “Versöhnung über den Gräbern. Kriegsgräberfürsorge in Russland,” in Osteuropa, Vol. 6 (2008), 307– 316.  Amateur historians and arms dealers especially sought out German graves to unearth valuable objects, such as gold teeth, rings, medals or identification tags. The remote and mostly unmonitored regions in which the graves were located offered an opportunity for grave robbers to avoid being detected while pillaging valuable objects. Even if the authorities had been able to identify them, they would not have faced any consequences for vandalism or desecration, as Russian law did not recognise German graves as official resting places. For more information, see: “Späte Kriegstrophäen,” Russischer Kurier, no. 21, December 21, 1993, press releases, folder St Petersburg – Sologubovka, Vorstandsarchiv of VDK Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V. at Bundesgeschäftsstelle Kassel (hereafter Vorstandsarchiv VDK).  Foreign Office to VDK, September 2, 1993 for persistent looting of German graves in the Russian Federation, folder USSR General 1988–1991, Vorstandsarchiv VDK.


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small town of Gagarin refused to allow the VDK to erect a burial ground.22 The local authorities claimed that a place named after the famous Soviet cosmonaut was not a suitable site for fallen German soldiers.23 In other communities, it only took a “no” from a Russian war veteran on the local council to bring the project to a halt.24 Two views of history and state convictions clashed: the German side with the VDK, which wanted to treat all the dead equally and allow each grave to have a cross with full name and rank as in Western Europe, and the Soviet/Russian side with its unresolved trauma and lack of reconciliation process. For example, when marking graves, local Russian authorities forbade putting up a separate cross and mentioning the military rank of the deceased. What was otherwise common practice in German military cemeteries in Western Europe had to be adapted in Russia. The VDK promised to find a compromise to respect the emotions and concerns of the Russian population and still achieve its own goals and tasks regarding the cemeteries.25

Collaboration, Benevolence and Protests – the Russian Responses Since its inception, the VDK positioned itself in Russia with information campaigns and attempts to enlighten and support the people. It sought to win over locals with flyers and publications about Soviet graves in Germany and especially through meetings with veterans.26 The association still continues to act in Russia according to its motto of “reconciliation over the graves” and to act as a “reminder for peace,” striving for communication between the two parties.

 Interview with Peter Lindau, Head of the Moscow VDK Office, December 8, 2017.  The VDK planned to create a collective cemetery in the town of Gagarin in the Smolensk region. The famous Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was born nearby and the place bears his name in his honour. The town is conveniently located on the main road from Moscow to Smolensk and was therefore ideal for a collective cemetery, but the negotiations dragged on for a long time and finally the cosmonaut’s daughter publicly rejected the construction of the German cemetery. The existence of a German military cemetery in the town which bore the name of one of the most famous heroes of the Soviet Union seemed impossible. Finally, the VDK built the collective cemetery in the village of Duchovchina.  Telephone interview with Peter Lindau, Head of the Moscow VDK Office, August 5, 2016.  Interview with Peter Lindau, Head of the Moscow VDK Office, December 8, 2017.  Note, April 22, 1993, Public Relations in Russia, folder USSR General 1988–1991, Vorstandsarchiv VDK.

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The VDK’s aim, based on Christian values, to give everyone a dignified and respectful burial and to eliminate discrimination based on country of origin or deeds meets with resistance and incomprehension in Russia. Not everyone wishes to reconcile with the Germans, to offer an outstretched hand across the graves – metaphorically – or to cooperate with the VDK in general. Without the support of local authorities, veterans and partners, the VDK would not be able to do its work. Cooperation with the Russian authorities is crucial for the success or failure of grave care. Official reactions have ranged from protests or refusals to process German applications to support for German campaigns. In Kursk, for example, the establishment of a German cemetery in Besedino was regarded as “treason.”27 The authorities were accused of “selling out” the memory of Russian descendants.28 Almost every local newspaper reported negative reactions to Besedino.29 In a meeting of the ultra-nationalist party LDPR,30 the “fascist memorial” was discussed, viewed as a “slap in the face” to veterans and cited as a strong reason for Germans to return to Germany and take the “remains of the fascist scum” with them.31 The majority of protests occurred during the last years of construction of the collective cemetery in Duchovchina in the Smolensk region. A local newspaper conducted interviews with inhabitants shortly after its establishment. Opinions ranged from defining the fallen Wehrmacht soldiers as “evil spirits of fascism”32 to classifying the entire memorial construction as “blasphemy.”33 The discussion about the treatment of fallen German soldiers also evokes criticism of the treatment of deceased Red Army soldiers. Russian citizens might be ashamed of how their own fallen soldiers are buried. While the Germans are buried in coffins and are identifiable, most of the dead in Russia are

 “Prostit’ ne znachit opravdat,” Khoroshiye Novosti (German translation), August 16, 2005, folder Press VDK, Records of the Moscow VDK Office.  “Prostit’ ne znachit opravdat,” Khoroshiye Novosti (German translation), August 16, 2005, folder Press VDK, Records of the Moscow VDK Office.  Kursk City Administration to Moscow VDK Office, March 2005, folder Russian Federation General 2000–2008, Vorstandsarchiv VDK.  ЛДПР (Либерально-Демократическая Партия России).  Kursk City Administration to Moscow VDK Office, March 2005, folder Russian Federation General 2000–2008, Vorstandsarchiv VDK.  O. Tjagnibeda and A. Rasmachnin, “Zhiteli Dukhovshchiny: Yesli fashistskoye kladbishche postroyat, zdes’ nachnetsya voyna,” Svobodnaya Pressa, April 16, 2010, war/article/24057/ (accessed May 21, 2021).  O. Tjagnibeda and A. Rasmachnin, “Zhiteli Dukhovshchiny: Yesli fashistskoye kladbishche postroyat, zdes’ nachnetsya voyna,” Svobodnaya Pressa, April 16, 2010, war/article/24057/ (accessed May 21, 2021).


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buried in mass graves without identification by name.34 The German cemetery in Besedino “will forever remind Russians of the lack of proper graves for Soviet soldiers,”35 according to an article in the newspaper Vestnik. In comparison with the Soviet graves in Germany, the differences are obvious. The Kurskaya Pravda stated in 2012, “We shamefully have to admit that the graves of Soviet soldiers in Germany are better cared for than those in Russia.”36 This perceived inequality in the treatment of the triumphant and the defeated deepened the resentment among the Russian public. As the official Russian responses show, reactions range from heated debate and protests to indifference, understanding and support. The rejection of German burial sites is rooted in the experience of pain and suffering of millions who died in German attacks. Exhumations of the dead remind many Russians of the war years and their prejudices against German soldiers. The creation of large grave sites and the reburial of those considered by Russians as “fascists” clash with the official narrative of the Great Patriotic War. The perceived German superiority in taking care of the Wehrmacht dead in financial and material terms shines a light on the rejection and reburial of the dead, and especially in the shortcomings of the Soviets in dealing with their own dead.

A “Materialised” Reconciliation The idea that “an enemy remains an enemy, even after death,” widely promoted in the 1990s and 2000s, made it difficult for Soviets/Russians and (West) Germans to come to terms.37 In attitudes to the war dead, the distinction between heroes – Soviet soldiers – and their enemies is still firmly established in public opinion in Russia. While at the highest state level the treaty was quickly implemented, reactions towards the VDK at the local level were rather ambivalent and hesitant.

 The identification rate of Soviet dead is only 1 or 2%, see “Die Toten tuen uns doch nichts,” Der Spiegel 43/1998 and the interview with Yuriy Nikolayevich Kazhkin (museum director in Gremyach’ye and a volunteer at exhumations of the Soviet fallen in the Voronezh region), November 24, 2017.  Article ij Vestnik, March 2, 2005, Collected press releases about Besedino, folder Country files Russian Federation General, 2000–2008, Vorstandsarchiv VDK.  Vladimir Sogachev, “Narodnij Sajuz president Furer ishchet soldat v Kurske,” May 19, 2012, Kurskaya Pravda.  In Soviet times, nobody took care of German cemeteries. The slogan “an enemy remains an enemy – even after death” was very common; see “Die Toten tuen uns doch nichts,” Der Spiegel, vol. 43, 1998.

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The VDK is a private association, but the German state acted as a sovereign power representing the association to negotiate the points of the agreement. There was no equivalent of this on the Russian side. The participation of civil movements in the negotiations or in the overall “reconciliation process” is a crucial factor in Germany’s “success story,” as can be seen in the process with other countries, e.g. France and Poland, where the will for reconciliation came from below, from the organisational and private level. In the Russian-German case, the rapprochement was initiated from the state level, while private and social movements slowly emerged, the governments in Bonn and Moscow mainly leading the negotiations. After the Cold War, early bilateral negations looked very promising, as Yodel states about German-Russian relations in the 1990s. There were no unresolved border disputes, no ethnic or religious conflicts, and no competition for domination on the world stage.38 It seemed like a very successful launchpad for a new beginning. But as described above, negotiations over the past and the preferential treatment of Nazi soldiers exceeded the Russians’ goodwill. Mayors and veterans forcefully made their opinions heard and insisted that exclusive rights should not be granted to deceased Wehrmacht soldiers. Authorities at local level were overwhelmed with German demands and instructions from Moscow. Russia was not prepared to play in the league as a weakened partner, and the country was not aware of the consequences yet to come linked with the graves. The agreement was one of the first signed by the Moscow government for the Russian Federation. Even with a new partner (which polls showed was still considered in the media and by locals as an enemy), and in the intended “reconciliation” in the agreement, the daily business of grave care turned out to be more complex than expected. The VDK insisted on signing the agreement as soon as possible, without taking into account the feelings or sensitivities of local people. The VDK took for granted the established working structures from the West, but appearances were deceptive. After the successful reconciliation processes with Poland and France, the German side expected something similar with Russia – despite the fact that in the French and Polish case, after decades of ups and downs, it took more than a signed agreement to achieve understanding. The process with Paris and Warsaw thus needed the support of citizens’ movements and private initiatives, in some cases also from the church.39

 J. Yoder, “From Amity to Enmity: German-Russian relations in the post-cold war period,” German Politics and Society 33, no. 3 (2015): 49. Online: DOI: 10.3167/gps.2015.330303).  Feldman, Germany’s foreign policy, 22.


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Overall, the agreement was imbued more with pragmatism than moral intention. The Russian government pushed through the signing without being aware of the consequences for itself and the local population. The regions where the VDK began to work were not prepared for the new German demands. VDK delegations searching for Wehrmacht graves were the first foreigners with whom the locals had come into contact since the war. Expecting to be greeted with an outstretched arm of friendship over the graves was not realistic. As expressed in the agreement’s text, the official will was probably there, but it was pushed by the state and not (yet) supported by the locals. The war graves agreement stood for an imposed reconciliation. The VDK insisted on signing the document, while Russia, from a political and moral point of view, was not ready to start a reconciliation process when dealing with the enemy’s war dead or even discussing their and its role in a reflective way. The various reactions and opinions illustrate the difficulties pertaining to the treatment of Germany’s fallen in Russia, both for locals and for the VDK, and the complex nature of the VDK’s tasks. The negotiations between the FRG/VDK and the Soviet Union on access to German graves lasted for decades. Despite the security provided by the agreement, the negotiations continued on a local level. Every cemetery was planned, and every exhumation had to be debated and decided upon, as per usual in diplomacy. The VDK was urged to find a middle ground between fulfilling its own tasks and the Russians’ reservations. Uncovering the remains of members of the Nazi Wehrmacht opened discussions, awakened memories of German attacks, occupation and war crimes and triggered a “moral trauma for the population” as well as painful memories of the unknown fate of loved ones and the lack of burial sites to visit.40 So what aspects play a role here? Was it a question of the ambitious notion of “reconciliation” – a moral gesture by two former enemies, as stated in the text of the agreement – or simply pragmatism and a desire to return to power games? According to Lily Feldman there is a clear difference here. While reconciliation is always a combination of morality and pragmatism, the dominance of one or the other will influence the degree of significance of the story. A genuine moral concern will place a high value on the story, while pragmatism diminishes its importance. As reactions to the VDK’s activities in Russia show, an emotional reconciliation did not occur. The agreement points in the direction of pragmatism. As Feldman explains, such approaches are often “related to pragmatic

 Petr Ivonavich Sukanov, “Tsentr patrioticheskogo vospitaniya Mologazhi,” Institut “Izvestiy” Yugo-Zalagnskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Vol. 4 (Seriya: Istoriya i pravo, 2014), 148.

The Politics of Graves


material needs, even as they may be inspired by a moral imperative.”41 This only proves the intentional meaning of such a process. The politics surrounding the graves appeared to be imposed and forced by their states’ leaders, therefore being pragmatic for both sides.

Conclusions The question of access to Nazi German cemeteries is an example of the resumption of bilateral relations after a war. In this particular case, the war graves point to rapprochement and newly established relations after more than 40 years. The different reactions and opinions illustrate the difficulties in dealing with the German fallen in Russia, both for locals and for the VDK. Despite the official ratification of the treaty, negotiations continued at the local level. The “politics of graves” is once again visible in the debates and negotiations on the exhumation of human remains and the construction of cemeteries. The uncovering of the remains of members of the National Socialist Wehrmacht opened discussions, awakening memories of German war crimes and occupation. Being confronted with the German war dead triggered rejection and misgivings within the war generation, since maintaining a sense of triumph at the Soviet victory was incompatible with concerns for and moral questions about the dead members of the Wehrmacht. The VDK’s work in exhuming bodies and rebuilding cemeteries only revealed the unprocessed and hitherto unconfronted one-sided Soviet/Russian narrative. Based on Feldman’s theory, these approaches address quite pragmatic needs, even though they may be inspired by a moral imperative, such as common understanding and reconciliation of how the agreement states in its preamble. This article shows a path of rapprochement that materialised in the war graves of the former enemy. Both partners signed the agreement and pushed for entente, but not for real reconciliation. A joint coming to terms with the war issue, an open and reflective discussion about war crimes and those who had died could not (yet) take place. The German war graves in Russia are an example of the “history of conflicts.” However, the war graves treaty is still in force today, and the VDK continues its activities. But apart from official delegations and wreath-laying ceremonies at military cemeteries, a common understanding of history is still lacking, and the conflict persists.

 Feldman, Germany’s foreign policy, 22.

Teemu Häkkinen

Peaceful Foreign Policy and Remembrance of War Effort. The Conceptualisation of Willingness to Defend in Finland and Its Connections to Previous Armed Conflict, 1960s–1989 Abstract: In Finland, a conceptualization of willingness to defend has been a traditional part of the defence-related debates and the state has vested interests to maintain the high level of willingness. This paper examines the connections to the Second World War in political discourse related to willingness to defend. Based on the analysis of political and societal debates, I will demonstrate that the Second World War serves as an historical experience for the understanding of the concept by offering an idea of individual sacrifice relevant to the survival of the state, as a prime example. Keywords: defence; mass attitudes; political discourse; sacrifice; the Second World War

Introduction Warfare of today differs from that of the past, as the people at large often have little direct contact to the armed forces and the waging of war is often left to voluntary and highly trained professionals.1 As researchers Lars Mjøset and Stephen van Holde argue, the forming of an “intimate connection” between citizensoldier and nation-state represented a moment of transition from older recruitment models, including that of compulsory military service.2 In recent times more states, especially in Western countries, have ended the mass mobilisation of the people for purposes of defence, relying increasingly on technologically sophisticated defence materials and trained volunteers. Simultaneously, conflict

 This work was supported by the Kone Foundation project Maanpuolustustahto politiikan välineenä Suomessa, Ruotsissa ja Itävallassa. Vertaileva tarkastelu, 1939–2017.  Lars Mjøset and Stephen van Holde, “Introduction,” in The comparative study of conscription in the armed forces, ed. Lars Mjøset and Stephen Van Holde, Comparative social research, vol. 20 (New York: JAI, 2002), xiii–xix, here xiv.


Teemu Häkkinen

has become an event in which the boundaries between war and peace are increasingly difficult to determine, as the military historian Hew Strachan argues.3 Even in the absence of an existential threat to the sovereignty of most states in Europe, societies and states continue to have a connection to war, present in the history of past military conflicts. New generations learn from the past military conflicts in a way that affects future war-related expectations, and national politics of memory can sustain a major connection to past military conflicts as sources of national narratives and indeed of identities. In fact, as researcher Hylke Tromp underlines, expectations of individual behaviour are linked to established values and norms.4 It is the purpose of this paper to examine the connections to previous military conflict (the Second World War) in discourse related to Finland’s societal perception of defence and a willingness to defend. This attitude is revealed in the Finnish concepts maanpuolustustahto or puolustustahto, rendered roughly in English as a willingness to defend the country or, in the latter, an overall willingness to defend. At the same time they express a particular attitude and are decidedly political concepts in their connotation. In current research, a focus on attitudes is most often associated with questions of morale, but in a small country which is not a member of military alliance, the role of the public toward defence has become more prominent.5 For the purposes of this paper, the primary sources feature parliamentary debates of the Finnish Parliament between 1960 and 1990 and selected newspaper articles from Helsingin Sanomat, Ilta-Sanomat and Tiedonantaja. Of these, the first was the most circulated newspaper, the second was a tabloid paper and the third was a newspaper of the Finnish Communist Party. The methodological design involves critical and qualitative reading of source material in which the concepts maanpuolustustahto and puolustustahto (both meaning similar issue) act as key reference points and key search terms in terms of digitalised data (other than

 Hew Strachan, “Introductory essay: the changing character of war,” in Conceptualising Modern War, ed. Karl Erik Haug and Ole Jørgen Maaø (London: Hurst, 2011), 1–25.  Brad West and Haydn Aarons, “War memory, national attachment and generational identity in Australia,” Journal of Sociology 52, no. 3 (2016), 586–604; T.G. Ashplant, Graham Dawson and Michael Roper, “The politics of war memory and commemoration,” in The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration, ed. Michael Roper et al. (London: Routledge, 2000), 3–85; Hylke Tromp, “On the nature of war and of militarism,” in War. A cruel necessity? The Bases of institutionalized violence, ed. Robert A. Hinde et al. (London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1995), 126.  See Simon Wessely, “Twentieth-Century Theories on Combat Motivation and Breakdown,” Journal of Contemporary History 41, no. 2 (2006), 269–286; Teemu Häkkinen, Miina Kaarkoski and Jouni Tilli, “Maanpuolustustahto ilmiönä, käsitteenä ja tutkimuskohteena,” in Maanpuolustustahto Suomessa, ed. Teemu Häkkinen et al. (Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2020), 17–39.

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archival records of the Advisory Board for Defence Information, ABDI). Selection for the period of analysis stems from the launch in 1962 a political body, predecessor of ABDI, to advocate particular political attitudes and the subsequent political debates that heralded a completely new situation when the Soviet Union began to disintegrate in the end of 1980s, with implications for Finnish foreign policy. I will supplement the existing knowledge on the willingness to defend as a socially-constructed narrative and conceptualisation by offering more insights into how history matters.6 Concepts such as glory and honour may have been of major significance in some moments of history, but, as historian Jeremy Black suggests in his work on why wars occur, understanding how specific individuals and groups interpret concepts entails asserting what these ideas meant in decisive situations.7 Risto Sinkko, a Finnish scholar who has studied the Finnish willingness of defence especially in connection with military conscription, argues that in Finnish society everyone is confident in claiming that they understand the meaning of the concept maanpuolustustahto, although there is currently no particular definition of it.8 Practices of war remembrance play a role, not only in processes of mourning the casualties but also in defining approaches to death in war and to its heroic nature. War commemoration also relates to identity-building, in which a state may have a vested interest. The public visibility of war-related symbols and events influences societal positions towards dominant memories.9 I argue that historical examination of the language related to an armed conflict provides an avenue to explore the attitudes in society towards armed conflict.

References to Past Military Conflicts in Political Discourse I will start by analysing how politicians employ discourse related to connections between past armed conflict and the concept of willingness to defend. The focus on emphasising the will of citizens originated in the nineteenth century and in the Finnish national awakening, when the will of the people became a more

 Kari Laitinen and Arto Nokkala, Suomalainen asevelvollisuus – historiaa, haasteita ja tulevaisuutta. Puolustusministeriön julkaisuja 1/2005 (Helsinki: Puolustusministeriö, 2005) 39, 67.  Jeremy Black, Why Wars Happen (London: Reaktion Books, 1998), 26.  Risto Sinkko, Maanpuolustustahto asevelvollisen ja palveluksen onnistumista selittävänä tekijänä (Helsinki: Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu, 2015), 8–9.  Ashplant et. al., “The politics of war memory and commemoration,” 3–16.


Teemu Häkkinen

prominent political theme and illustrated, in terms of defence, the requirement of a small nation and, since 1917, of an independent state, to survive. The Winter War of 1939–1940 between the Soviet Union and Finland, the Continuation War of 1941–1944 between Finland and Soviet Union and the Lapland War of 1944–1945 between Finland and Germany are all part of the national historical, even canonical narrative that is broadly shared among the nations.10 Historian Paul Fussell is one the authors who have shed light on the impact of past conflict to coming generations, with an analysis of the literature on war. Fussell demonstrates how older myths are dissolved and how new myths relating to war come to the fore.11 Past military conflicts did indeed offer a logical point of reference for discussions dealing with national defence as a whole, but the discourse on defence was influenced by polarised political views in which the radical political left was openly critical towards military defence. After 1945 and until the late 1980s especially the leftist party Finnish People’s Democratic League was able to gain a significant foothold in Finnish politics and their Members of Parliament (MP) were able to influence national defence expenditure as well as political attitudes towards defence in general. The 1948 Agreement of Friendship, Co-operation, and Mutual Assistance between Finland and the Soviet Union provided the cornerstone of Finno-Soviet relations that also influenced Finnish defence, as did the Paris Peace Treaty of 1947, by imposing both expectations and restrictions regarding defence capabilities. In the Finnish Parliament, the 1947 Finno-Soviet treaty provided key political arguments, especially for the right-wing politicians more inclined to support military defence, as it required Finland to oppose any use of Finnish territory for a third-party attack against the Soviet Union. Treaties implied the way in which political discourse utilised the concept of willingness to defend, by defining what actually constituted a politically acceptable form of willingness. As historian Johanna Rainio-Niemi has shown, the Finnish foreign policy needed the use of conceptualisation surrounding willingness to defend to proclaim its neutrality in a credible manner.12

 Tiina Kinnunen and Ville Kivimäki, “Johdatus koettuun sotaan,” in Ihminen sodassa. Suomalaisten kokemuksia talvi- ja jatkosodasta, ed. Tiina Kinnunen et al. (Helsinki and Jyväskylä: Minerva, 2006), 13; Sirkka Ahonen, Suomalaisuuden monet myytit (Helsinki, Gaudeamus: 2017), 134–154.  Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 336–362. See also discussion by Joanna Bourke, “New military history,” in Palgrave Advances in Modern Military History, ed. M. Hughes et. al. (Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2006), 258–280.  Johanna Rainio-Niemi, The Ideological Cold War. The Politics of Neutrality in Austria and Finland (Routledge, 2014), 1–6, 64.

Peaceful Foreign Policy and Remembrance of War Effort


According to the parliamentary debates, the 1960s and 1970s featured discourse on willingness to defend in a manner that constantly focused on defining it as a source of national strength. This differed from the attitudes that had enabled co-operation with Nazi Germany in 1941–1944, and references associating willingness to defend with conflicts at that time were sparse. In this period of polarised parliamentary discourse, left-wing politicians often portrayed military defence as an anachronistic institution, whereas right-wing politicians drew attention to the Finno-Soviet Treaty and its defence obligations.13 The Ministry of Defence also publicly emphasised the role of willingness to defend as a political message, as the belief that “other states’ trust in our willingness to defend” was pivotal in supplementing the defence capabilities of the Finnish Defence Forces. Therefore the view of the Ministry, expressed in 1967, placed considerable emphasis on individual attitudes and mentalities to participate in national defence. In fact, the creation of a state body (the forerunner of ABDI) in 1962 to promote willingness to defend was proof of a major effort on the part of the government to influence public attitudes.14 War-related sacrifice emerged as a salient theme. It was not until the 1970s that the question of war veterans arose, in the form of public expenditure on their retirement benefits. In terms of willingness to defend, the issue of treating war veterans of past conflicts was seen as a relevant issue and even as a manifestation of the abilities of the nation to prevail in time of crisis.15 The scepticism of the radical political left against attaching too much importance to the war veterans’ benefits prompted some left-wing MPs to condemn the issue as too “bloodthirsty” (hurmahenkinen), in which discourse tried to point negative attention to any aspect that might involve glorification of past military effort. In 1970 this characterised their critical approach to war against the Soviet Union.16 In the 1970s, the Finnish Rural Party’s MPs started to differentiate between “healthy” willingness to defend and other [more aggressive, nationalist] forms of willingness. The MPs of that party argued for a neutral foreign policy, and the discourse did not incorporate experiences of war into political arguments, except when the nation commemorated the fortieth anniversary of the outbreak

 E.g. Valtiopäivät, Pöytäkirjat 4, Istunnot 122–150 (Helsinki, 1983), 3998, 4001.  Puolustusministeriö, Maanpuolustuksemme tienviitat (Helsinki, 1967), Puolustusministeriö; Rainio-Niemi, The Ideological Cold War, 131.  E.g. Valtiopäivät, Pöytäkirjat I, Istunnot 1–60 (Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1970, 1971), 594, 598, 590.  Valtiopäivät, Pöytäkirjat I (1970), 592, 595.


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of the Winter War, for instance.17 Here the outbreak of the Winter War was offered as a negative precedent of a situation in which the state had not invested enough resources in defence capabilities, putting enormous strain on the will of the people.18 To sum up, only a handful of MPs referred to “willingness to defend” in connection with armed conflict during the period studied. Next we will look at the newspaper material to illustrate that war was more present in relation to “willingness to defend” than the parliamentary discourse might have given reason to assume.

Other Public Discourses and the Second World War If the Finnish press coverage is studied, “willingness to defend” is present in different forms of military commemoration as a general basis and in relation to military parades and other public manifestations involving the military or military history. Here past military conflict provides a logical connection to the national identity surrounding the sense of public will that prevailed in difficult circumstances, especially in 1939–1940 and again in 1944. It was when the Soviet Union launched its major offensive against the Finnish positions, resulting in a major retreat of Finnish troops, that the Finnish front was able to hold out against the advancing Soviet front. In the public narratives on war, issues such as human sacrifice and landscapes connected to the Second World War constitute logical points of reference due to their role in national war-related heritage in Finland, too.19 However, as seen in the case of the political discourse, such references were usually lacking, as the attention of politicians was focused on more current issues, such as questions of defence capabilities. Other forms of discourses, however, reveal a different way of talking about past military conflicts.

 E.g. Valtiopäivät, Pöytäkirjat II, Istunnot 45–75 (Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1974), 1330, 1340, 1342, 1535; Valtiopäivät, Pöytäkirjat 2, Istunnot 49–95 (Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1979), 2233.  E.g. Valtiopäivät, Pöytäkirjat II, Istunnot 48–78 (Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1975), 1551–1552.  Petri J. Raivo, “‘This is where they fought’ Finnish war landscapes as a national heritage,” in The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration, ed. Michael Roper, Graham Dawson and T.G. Ashplant (London: Routledge, 2000), 145–164.

Peaceful Foreign Policy and Remembrance of War Effort


All the newspapers studied, regardless of whether they catered to left-wing or right-wing views, had a special connection to the commemoration of the Second World War in one way or another, with the key divide stemming from their approach to willingness to defend. Where newspaper coverage dealt with national parades held on Finnish Independence Day on December 6 or other military parades, the more right-wing or centrist newspapers usually remembered to quote speeches that used wording related to willingness to defend. A key source of inspiration for soldiers and civilians participating in the commemoration of the Second World War referred to the mandate of wartime commander-in-chief and subsequent President Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, regarding the need for Finns to maintain their “sacrificial willingness to defend” (uhrivalmis puolustustahto). This notion underlines the role of sacrifice in the Finnish discourse on past military conflict. Through sacrifice, individuals dedicated themselves entirely to the defence of the nation and the country, producing a symbol of inspiration for later generations that was expected to be clear also to foreigners.20 In many ways, the public discourse was not separated from the discourse of the Finnish Parliament; outside the parliamentary chamber politicians often gave speeches involving the concept of willingness to defend. Examples include the unveiling of war-related memorials, for example that in honour of the Battle of Summa (1939–1940). Other examples include discourse on how successful fighting indicated strong willingness to defend. A similar idea was associated with honouring the ending of the Winter War and related events. Reservists’ associations were seen to be of particular significance here.21 The right-wing and centrist discourse employed the idea of willingness to defend as a healthy incentive, if attached to a foreign policy of neutrality. They simultaneously maintained that such an idea has a clear connection to past armed conflicts as war experience showed that defence that the people were ready to stand by the state and thus its foreign policy if a crisis would occur. Therefore the conceptualisation of willingness to defend had two meanings, which did not compete as they supported each other and, in fact, occasionally coalesced. To add a third meaning, the general commentary related how present-day society provided incentives to individuals to protect the country; this

 Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, Muistelmat, trans. Lauri Hakulinen and assisted by Matti Sadeniemi, Eino Nivanka, and Maijaliisa Auterinen (Helsinki: Otava, 2008), 732; Tuomas Tepora, Sinun puolestas elää ja kuolla. Suomen liput, nationalismi ja veriuhri 1917–1945 (Helsinki: WSOY, 2011), 254–257; editorial: “Kuulkaapas kenraalit . . .,” Ilta-Sanomat, January 5, 1983, 2.  “Summan taistelujen muistomerkki Hämeenlinnaan,” Helsingin Sanomat, March 13, 1961, 5; “Talvisodan päättymisen muistojuhlassa Turussa 3000 miestä,” Helsingin Sanomat, March 15, 1965, 11.


Teemu Häkkinen

formed a frequent part of everyday commentary related to willingness to defend. It was especially notable in the discourse when the government launched specific courses to educate the political and societal elite about the objectives of security policy (conceptualised to combine both foreign and defence policies into a single state policy).22 Chronologically speaking, a modest change in ideology started to occur in the middle of the 1970s. In the left-wing narrative, the Second World War was viewed through two intertwined perspectives: a critical approach to the Continuation War of 1941–1944 that was conceived of as a right-wing aggressive plot, and on the other hand, a commemoration of the Soviet Union’s struggle against Nazi Germany in which socialist ideology was able to prevail over aggressive militarism.23 This form of discourse excluded the role of willingness to defend and replaced it with the will to maintain peace, associating peace with post-war international treaties. In response, left-wing criticism attacked the predecessor of ABDI for being too rightwing. This was part of their effort to promote their ideology; their longer-term goal to was to have a so-called “peace law” enacted during the 1970s, effectively condemning any form of speech or propaganda attached to aggressive foreign policy or promoting war as an instrument or, indeed, even as a positive event.24 If enacted, the law could have been used to curb public discourse treating the legacy of the Second World War in patriotic manner. This legislative effort, however, failed to gain majority support. As a result of left-wing discourse, even more centrist figures started to disengage from this willingness to defend from war. For instance, in 1974, Foreign Secretary Ahti Karjalainen, while speaking at an event arranged by military reservist associations, underlined that willingness to defend is not connected to the “war drums,” but should be understood in the context of Finland’s security policy.25 On the other hand, on the other side of the political spectrum a discourse connecting willingness to defend and past armed conflict continued; here the treatment of war veterans continued to be a key topic.26 By the 1980s the left-wing criticism had mostly faded. Instead the formation of ABDI in 1975 increased its  “Asenteiden taustat,” Helsingin Sanomat, December 27, 1964, 4; “Maanpuolustustahto kuuluu osana rauhanpyrkimykseen,” Helsingin Sanomat, July 19, 1965, 3; Pekka Suvanto, “Henkisen maanpuolustuksen kehitys,” Helsingin Sanomat, November 30, 1969, 8, 22.  Editorial: “Äärioikeistoa vastaan,” Tiedonantaja, May 15, 1971, 2; “Sotajuhlat jatkuvat,” Tiedonantaja, October 14, 1971, 7.  Nils Torvalds, “Oikeistolaiset järjestöt, osa 4,” Tiedonantaja, June 20, 1972, 6; Valtiopäivät 1973, Liitteet I–XIII A, n:o 28 (Helsinki, Valtion painatuskeskus), 66–67.  “Oikea puolustustahto ei ole hurraa-henkeä,” Helsingin Sanomat, May 5, 1974, 14.  Jukka Martinkari, “Olemme unohtaneet rintamamiehet,” Helsingin Sanomat, February 9, 1975, 11.

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individual-based education programmes with less emphasis on military defence. Moreover, the political discourse surrounding the willingness to defend focused on the importance of maintaining levels of willingness to defend. This rose to a high level in the early 1980s, according to the ABDI.27 Still, as Prime Minister Harri Holkeri outlined in 1989, the Winter War was memorialised. It served as a reminder of what could happen but only if the nation acted as a whole.28

Conclusions At the core of the Finnish discourse on willingness to defend are the competing ideologies of the Cold War period. Here commemoration of the Second World War offered the centrist and right-wing figures a frequent opportunity to emphasise the memories of the nation, but also to point out what could happen if Finland were to be drawn into a new war. Here defence, and particularly manifestation of a will to fight against an armed aggressor if necessary, also served as foreign policy instruments for a small, neutral European state. Therefore the intimate connection between the people and defence had to be maintained for the purposes of survival and, on the other hand, the to commemorate warrelated sacrifices and bolster nationalism.

References Ahonen, Sirkka. Suomalaisuuden monet myytit. Helsinki, Gaudeamus, 2017. Ashplant, T.G., Graham Dawson and Michael Roper. “The politics of war memory and commemoration.” In The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration, edited by Michael Roper, Graham Dawson and T.G. Ashplant, 3–85. London: Routledge, 2000. Black, Jeremy. Why Wars Happen. London: Reaktion Books, 1998. Bourke, Joanna. “New military history.” In Palgrave Advances in Modern Military History, edited by M. Hughes and W.J. Philpott, 258–280. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Findikaattori. “Maanpuolustustahto.” Last modified December 14, 2018. Accessed November 14, 2018. Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. Helsingin Sanomat. Helsinki: The Päivälehti Archives, 1960–1990.

 “Maanpuolustustahto,” Findikaattori, accessed November 14, 2018, https://findikaattori. fi/fi/77.  “Harri Holkeri laskee kaikki suomalaiset keskiluokkaan,” Helsingin Sanomat, August 22, 1989, 11.


Teemu Häkkinen

Häkkinen, Teemu, Miina Kaarkoski and Jouni Tilli. “Maanpuolustustahto ilmiönä, käsitteenä ja tutkimuskohteena.” In Maanpuolustustahto Suomessa, edited by Teemu Häkkinen, Miina Kaarkoski and Jouni Tilli, 17–39. Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2020. Ilta-Sanomat. Helsinki: The Päivälehti Archives, 1960–1990. Kinnunen, Tiina, and Ville Kivimäki. “Johdatus koettuun sotaan.” In Ihminen sodassa. Suomalaisten kokemuksia talvi- ja jatkosodasta, edited by Tiina Kinnunen and Ville Kivimäki, 9–18. Helsinki and Jyväskylä: Minerva, 2006. Laitinen, Kari, and Nokkala, Arto. Suomalainen asevelvollisuus – historiaa, haasteita ja tulevaisuutta. Puolustusministeriön julkaisuja 1/2005. Helsinki: Puolustusministeriö, 2005. Mannerheim, Carl Gustaf Emil. Muistelmat. Translated by Lauri Hakulinen and assisted by Matti Sadeniemi, Eino Nivanka and Maijaliisa Auterinen. Helsinki: Otava, 2008. Mjøset, Lars, and Stephen van Holde. “Introduction.” In The Comparative Study of Conscription in the Armed Forces, edited by Lars Mjøset and Stephen Van Holde. Comparative social research, vol. 20, xiii–xix. New York: JAI, 2002. Puolustusministeriö. Maanpuolustuksemme tienviitat. Helsinki: Puolustusministeriö, 1967. Rainio-Niemi, Johanna. The Ideological Cold War. The Politics of Neutrality in Austria and Finland. London: Routledge, 2014. Raivo, Petri J. “‘This is where they fought.’ Finnish war landscapes as a national heritage.” In The Politics of War Memory and Commemoration, edited by Michael Roper, Graham Dawson and T.G. Ashplant, 145–164. London: Routledge, 2000. Sinkko, Risto. Maanpuolustustahto asevelvollisen ja palveluksen onnistumista selittävänä tekijänä. Helsinki: Maanpuolustuskorkeakoulu, 2015. Strachan, Hew. “Introductory essay: the changing character of war.” In Conceptualising Modern War, edited by Karl Erik Haug and Ole Jørgen Maaø, 1–25. London: Hurst, 2011. Tepora, Tuomas. Sinun puolestas elää ja kuolla. Suomen liput, nationalismi ja veriuhri 1917–1945. Helsinki: WSOY, 2011. Tiedonantaja. Helsinki: Tiedonantajayhdistys, 1968–1990. Tromp, Hylke. “On the nature of war and of militarism.” In War. A Cruel Necessity? The Bases of Institutionalized Violence, edited by Robert A. Hinde and Helen E. Watson, 118–131. London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 1995. Valtiopäivät 1970. Pöytäkirjat I, Istunnot 1–60. Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1971. Valtiopäivät 1973. Liitteet I-XIII A. Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1973. Valtiopäivät 1974. Pöytäkirjat II, Istunnot 45–75. Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1974. Valtiopäivät 1975 II. Pöytäkirjat II, Istunnot 48–78. Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1976. Valtiopäivät 1979. Pöytäkirjat 2, Istunnot 49–95. Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1979. Valtiopäivät 1982. Pöytäkirjat 4, Istunnot 122–150. Helsinki: Valtion painatuskeskus, 1983. Wessely, Simon. “Twentieth-Century Theories on Combat Motivation and Breakdown.” Journal of Contemporary History 41, no. 2 (2006): 269–286. West, Brad, and Haydn Aarons. “War memory, national attachment and generational identity in Australia.” Journal of Sociology 52, no. 3 (2016): 586–604.

History and Politics beyond Europe

Łukasz Stach

Shadows of the Past. Japanese Imperial Policy and Its Influence on Contemporary Domestic and Foreign Policy of Japan Abstract: Despite the fact, that World War II in Asia ended in 1945, the history of Japanese militarism and imperialism has continued to put a long shadow on contemporary Japanese politics. The atrocities committed by Japan still shape relations between Japan and its past victims and Japanese domestic and foreign policy still face the problems connected with the heritage of the past. The text emphasises the fact that the memory of the painful past still affects Japanese politics and demonstrates the way in which history continues to be used as a tool to achieve purely political goals. Keywords: atrocities; historic problems; history; Japan; People’s Republic of China; South Korea; war crimes

Introduction In 2001, 64 years after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which began the Second Sino-Japanese War, and 56 years after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which preceded Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies, a photo of pop actress Zhao Wei, along with many others, was published in a Chinese fashion magazine. The photo prompted outrage from many of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) citizens. They strongly criticised the young actress and demanded an apology. Her songs disappeared from radio stations and billboard ads featuring her were taken down. The eruption of negative emotions about the pop starlet was caused by her appearance in a dress with Japan’s Rising Sun War Flag motif.1 An article posted on December 5, 2001 on the South China Morning Post website states (as of December 5, 2018), “Ms Zhao’s photo shoot in the September issue of Fashion Magazine poured salt on wounds most Chinese still feel from Japan’s invasion and the Nanjing Massacre during World War II.” This incident showed that anti-Japanese sentiment in China is still alive and is

 The photo of the dress: “Flag babes in Asia,” elsewhere.html.


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fuelled by the Chinese memory about the tragic past, especially that of the 1937–1945 period. Despite the fact that in 2015, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Japanese unconditional surrender was celebrated, the shadows of the past still influence the contemporary domestic and foreign policy of Japan. Nowadays, Japan is a constitutional monarchy and it has the third largest national economy in the world, in the terms of nominal GDP. Japan is classified as a very highly developed country, according to the Human Development Index (HDI). Moreover, Japanese society is a mostly pacifistic one, and Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan states: “Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognised.”2 Contemporary Japan is completely different from the Japan of 1937, a militaristic regime, which implemented a colonial and aggressive policy, based on a military expansion towards neighbouring nations and states. That policy, which resulted in military conflicts and inflicted tremendous human and material losses, was supported by the majority of the chauvinisticminded society, despite the fact that a significant part of national income was consumed by the army and the navy. In present day, only 1% of the Japanese GDP is spent on defence purposes and the majority of voters are against changes to the pacifistic constitution or the remilitarisation of the Japan. Despite this, memory of the painful history still arises and shapes Japanese domestic policy and relations with other states. The purpose of this paper is to explain how the perception of history influences Japanese policy, both foreign and domestic. Especially in foreign relations, there is a good deal of evidence that history is still shaping mutual relations between Japan and countries that experienced Japanese imperial policy from 1894–1945 – especially the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of Korea (ROK). Moreover, historical memory is one of the reasons why the deep-seated national rifts between Japan and some Asian countries (PRC, ROK) still exist. History often features as a tool in domestic or foreign policy, so instrumentalisation of the past has become part of politics, not only in Japan. Above and beyond, contemporary tensions between nations, economic or geopolitical competition, political conflicts, growing nationalism or the

 The Constitution of Japan.

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simple search for voters can create an environment where history returns and becomes an argument in political debates and clashes.

Historical Memory and Japanese Foreign Relations and Domestic Policy Historical memory is a part of the collective memory and identity of societies, from illiterate tribes, which cultivate memories about ancestors, to modern nations (like Japan or China) which carry forward memories of past actions. How historical memory matters in politics is not an easy question to answer, not only because is difficult to measure: “Historical memory is a fluid set of ideas often reshaped by time, emotion, and the politically savvy, not something solid, immutable, or truly measurable.”3 Moreover, research about the impact of historical memory on politics is difficult to isolate and understand. However, the past still appears in the political life of many nations. History and historical memory are used as a tool to mobilise people, distinguish friend from foe, and as an instrument of legitimacy of power and a tool in domestic or foreign policy. Political elites have a tendency to instrumentalise historical memory to achieve their own goals or interests. While Japan is not an exception, in the case of this country, history became a serious troublemaker in domestic and foreign policy. Japanese problems with history and historical memory are connected with the period of Japan’s imperialism and colonial policy, especially from 1910 (annexation of Korea) to 1945 (Japanese unconditional surrender). The Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) brought a “kill all, burn all, loot all” scorched earth policy, which resulted in the immense suffering of the Chinese people. After Pearl Harbor (December 1941), the Empire of Japan was able to conquer huge territories in South East Asia and Pacific, and, despite its name and intent, the so-called Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere actually promoted exclusively Japanese goals and interests. Forced labour, forced prostitution (the Japanese used the euphemism “comfort women”), economic exploitation, rapes, war crimes, repression and massacres were a sad reality of Japanese colonial rule, especially during the Asia-Pacific War. The memory of the past still knocks on the Japanese door and creates problems and tensions in domestic and foreign policy. Issues like the controversies

 Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, 2.


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about the Yasukuni Shrine, Japanese textbooks, apologies for expansionism and war still shape relations between Japan and some Asian countries (especially PRC and ROK) and have an impact on Japanese domestic policy. History haunts debates about remilitarisation of Japan and drives discussions on how to evaluate the heritage of the Japanese imperial policy or how to teach about it. There are many controversies, both amongst Japanese society and Japan’s political elites, about the past, including whether Japan should apologise for the Asia-Pacific War, or if it has done so already. Japanese society is divided, even on the fundamental issue of whether Japan was an aggressor or a victim of the Asia-Pacific War. For countries like PRC and ROK, the answer is simple – Japan conducted an imperial policy, which resulted in unjustifiable war atrocities. In Japan, this case is not so black and white. The Japanese point of view is shaped by Hiroshima, Nagasaki and US air raids on major Japanese cities. In fact, the last months of the Asia-Pacific War were a nightmare for the Japanese society. From June 1944, Japan faced air raids carried out mostly by US heavy bombers (B-29 Superfortress). From March 1945, B-29s made night attacks at low levels, using incendiary bombs. The results of the air attacks were devastating for Japanese society and economy, mostly because Japanese cities and industry were vulnerable to firebombing. But the best known – and the most controversial to this day – were the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In both bombed cities, over 120,000 people were killed, with thousands dying later due to poor medical treatment, severe wounds or radiation sickness. In short, the US air attacks against Japanese cities and industry resulted in huge number of total civilian casualties, as well as devastation of the Rising Sun economy. The estimates of the total number of Japanese civilians killed and injured vary considerably, depending on sources. The number of civilian victims ranges from over 240,000 killed and 200,000 wounded4 to 900,000 killed and over 1,300,000 wounded.5 The most oft-cited numbers are between 300,000–400,000 killed and 500,000 injured.6 Such a broad scale of unexpected destruction, including a result of atomic bombing, was a trauma for the Japanese society. Even those who survived often lost their relatives or properties. Consequences of the atomic bombing were the most shocking for the society and, to this day, Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the symbols of atrocities that brought the entire country to its knees and effectively ended the Asia-Pacific

 Koji and Sakaida, B-29 Hunters of the JAAF, 110.  The Effect of Strategic Bombing on Japanese Morale, 1.  The United States Strategic Bombing Surveys, 92.

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war. The memory of these horrifying experiences still lives on amongst Japanese society, which strongly criticises the bombings. According to the Pew Research Centre, in 2015, 79% of Japanese believed that dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was unjustifiable, with only 14% holding an opposite view.7 The destruction caused by these attacks and by firebombing has shaped Japanese memory about the wartime. Myths have been cultivated, the most important of which is that only the military elite were responsible for the war and Japanese society was a victim of a misguided policy, which led to destruction and a national catastrophe the continues to exact repercussions. In fact, after the Asia-Pacific War, responsibility for the aggressive policy and war criminality was narrowed down to small group of high-ranking Japanese military personnel and politicians. The International Military Tribunal for the Far East resulted in 25 convictions. Seven Class A war criminals were executed. Most others received life imprisonment, yet, by the end of the 1950s, all surviving prisoners were paroled. Aside from the main Tokyo Trial, Japanese suspected of committing war crimes were judged in other trials. Polish researcher Jakub Polit underlines the fact that only a small minority of Japanese war criminals faced justice and were sentenced. Amongst the 5,472 Japanese who were accused of committing war crimes, 920 received death sentences, 20 per cent were acquitted, and the rest were sentenced to prison or a life sentence.8 This data is incomplete; the total number of Japanese who took responsibility is actually higher.9 Despite this, the total number of sentenced war criminals was insignificant when compared to the mass scale of Japanese atrocities and the number of people involved in them. Moreover, Emperor Hirohito (1926–1989) avoided any responsibility, even though there are still ongoing disputes about his role during the wartime. According to Stephanie Lawson and Tannaka Seito, “The light sentences received by the convicted Class A war criminals (at least those not executed), and the failure to attribute any responsibility to Hirohito, is said to have contributed substantially to the perception that Japan failed to accept responsibility for atrocities committed in Asia. As a corollary, many Japanese continued to believe that the war in Asia was fought for a righteous cause, namely the liberation of Asian people from European imperialism, and that stories of atrocities were fabricated or, at most, exaggerated.”10

 Kohut and Stokes, “Legacy of WWII Still Evident in German and Japanese Public Opinion and Relevant Today In Dealing with Russia and China.”  Polit, Gorzki triumf, 945.  Margolin, Japonia 1937–1945, 424.  Lawson and Tannaka, “War memories and Japan’s ‘normalisation’ as an international actor,” 411.


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From the perspective of the victims of the Japanese imperial policy, any rhetoric that justifies colonial expansion or denies the wartime cruelties is unacceptable. The number of Japanese civilians killed during US air raids and nuclear attacks is significantly smaller than the total death toll caused by Japan’s expansionism. Bona fide assessments of how many people died as a result of Japanese imperial policy are extremely difficult to come by. Political scientist Rudolph J. Rummel (who coined the term “democide”) estimates that the Japanese military regime murdered from 3,000,000 to over 10,000,000 people.11 According to Werner Gruhl, around 5,000,000 civilians died at the hands of the Japanese, another 2,000,000 died due to exhaustion caused by forced labour, and 13,000,000 from starvation or diseases.12 While the majority of the victims were civilians, around 4,000,000 enemy soldiers died at the hands of the Japanese, mostly soldiers of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army. The total number of victims ranges between 3,000,000 and 27,000,000 or even more. In fact, there are still controversies about this issue. First of all, there are doubts if people who died from diseases or starvation should be treated as a victims of Japanese militarism. The second problem is connected with the fact that surviving statistics are sometimes highly inaccurate. Third, the number of victims has become a political agenda. French historian Jean-Louis Margolin underlines the fact that Sino-Japanese disputes about the past have resulted in revision of the number of Chinese who died as a result of Japanese aggression. At the beginning, Beijing upwardly adjusted the number of victims from 15,000,000 to 24,000,000, and later added another 11,000,000. Presently 35,000,000 is the official PRC estimation.13 From Tokyo’s point of view, these numbers are highly exaggerated. So, the dispute about the actual number of the victims is an example of the many controversies connected with Japanese imperial policy, both in Japan and in the countries that were its victims. Even if the total number of victims is closer to the lower estimates, they, too, are still shockingly high and remembrance of Japanese wartime atrocities is alive amongst the nations which suffered from Japanese hands. To this day, Japan is accused of avoiding the responsibility for the war, memorialisation of war criminals (e.g. Yasukuni Shrine), rewriting history (textbooks), glorification of imperial policy (rhetoric about the past, pop culture) and the fact that Japanese officials have not sufficiently apologised for the expansionism and atrocities.

 Rummel, Statistic of Democide, 32–47.  Gruhl, “The Great Asian-Pacific Crescent of Pain,” 244–245.  Margolin, Japonia 1937–1945, 16–17.

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The roots of Japanese problems with history may have been planted in the early stages of the Cold War. In fact, the Cold War helped significantly to hide the dark side of Japan’s history. China, the largest victim of Japanese imperialism, was surprisingly reluctant to bring Japanese war crimes to justice. After World War II, a civil war erupted in China between communists and nationalists. The victorious Chinese Communist Party was more vengeful towards Kuomintang (nationalists) than towards Japanese war criminals. Moreover, the newly established PRC was isolated by many important international actors, including US and Japan, and policies like the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution created chaos and resulted in a huge number of disenfranchisements and casualties. Later, the PRC’s willingness to end the political isolation and improve relations with Japan was considered more important than remembrance of victims of Japanese aggression. Last but not least, the PRC political elites’ view of history, based on the class-struggle idea, was similar to the myth created in post-war Japan, that only a small clique was responsible for war, and that Japanese workers and peasants were unwitting victims of their capitalistic and militaristic leaders. Furthermore, detailed studies about the 1937–1945 Sino-Japanese War have shown that communist forces avoided military engagements with invaders. Meanwhile, the Kuomintang army, which fought against the main Japanese force, suffered huge losses. This was the main reason why the Chinese Communist Party survived and won the civil war.14 In fact, history became a controversial issue in Sino-Japanese relations when the PRC’s economic transformation significantly improved Beijing’s international position. Others nations which experienced Japanese aggression also faced many problems in the post-war period; thus to demand that Japan should reckon with its imperial policy was snowballed into an impossible task. In many countries political instability, economic crisis, poverty, violent conflicts (Vietnam Wars, Korea War), partial political isolation (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or the Democratic Republic of Vietnam), nation and statehood building processes (Indonesia) and wartime collaboration with Japan (Indonesia) all made asking questions about Japanese expansionism difficult. Meanwhile, Japan itself, experienced an “economic miracle” and became the second-largest global economy by the 1980s, which significantly improved its international position. Underdeveloped countries, which had suffered at the hands of the Japanese during WWII, were in no position to demand recompense for war crimes from this new economic power.

 Wang, Never Forget National Humiliation, 86–89.


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The last, and presumably the most important, factor contributing to the historical memory of Japan in the first half of the twentieth century was the United States’ policy towards Japan. Communist expansion in Asia (China, Korean Peninsula, Indochina) was an unpleasant surprise for US political decision makers and their former hated enemy suddenly became a potential ally. When the Cold War began, United States insisted on Japan increasing its military expenditure; however, the “Yoshida doctrine” focused on reconstructing the Japanese economy instead of following the path of militarism. Nonetheless, countering the threat of communist expansion in Asia was more important for the US than demonstrating accountability for Japanese war crimes. While the International Military Tribunal for the Far East charged the leaders of the former Empire of Japan, many lesser-known war criminals escaped justice. Moreover, once the Korean War began, the US had different problems to solve rather than chasing Japanese war criminals. Additionally, the political situation in Japan made prosecution of war criminals difficult. When the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) came to power in 1955 and created the so-called “1955 System,” even modest efforts to settle Japan’s war crimes were stymied. Instead, the Japanese ruling party created national myths about the wartime past. The most important one was that the responsibility for the war was limited to a “militaristic clique,” while Japanese society was a victim of the war. In such circumstances, open and frank debate about the past was strained. Even when hidden, problems remained and have returned. Today’s powerful People’s Republic of China, which has introduced a new historical policy and a “Patriotic Education Campaign,” uses the interpretation of history as a tool of its politics towards Japan. South Korea has also become an economic power, and is, therefore, more reluctant to sanction Japanese attempts to whitewash wartime history. Additionally, history has an influence on Japanese domestic policy, which results in tensions amongst the society and political forces. The most controversial issues are presented below. Without knowing of these debates about the Japanese imperialism period and its consequences, it would be difficult to understand why disputes between Japan and the PRC or ROK sometimes cause such an emotional reaction, especially in China and South Korea.

Remilitarisation One of the most controversial political issues that arises when the history of Japanese expansion is evoked in a dispute is the question of the status of

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Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). In current times (April 2019), the Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo and his supporters underline the fact that today, the problem of Japan’s military security has become important due to the growing PRC military potential, North Korea’s nuclear and ICBM programme and the question of Washington’s security guarantees. Rapid changes in international relations and new security challenges need an adequate answer – improving the military capabilities of the JSDF or even remilitarisation. However, every attempt to change the exclusively defensive status of the JSDF, and even rhetoric about remilitarisation or revision of Japan’s pacifist Constitution, is strongly criticised by the People’s Republic of China, Japanese pacifists and part of the Japanese society. The PRC particularly is highly resistant to Abe Shinzo’s Abe efforts towards reinforcement of the Japanese military potential. On this subject, history is one of the main Chinese arguments. A quotation from a China Daily article from July 2, 2014 is an example of the current PRC rhetoric: “Abe says he wants Japan to become a ‘normal’ country. So Japan’s military needs to be like those of other countries. But he ignores why his country and its military have been deprived of this ‘normalcy.’ The recalcitrant attempts by Japanese politicians, including Abe, to rewrite history and their country’s unseemly record in World War II are reminders that Japan doesn’t deserve being treated as a normal country.” For political and military reasons, a stronger Japanese military potential may be problematic for Chinese geopolitical ambitions, so Beijing uses history as an instrument in contemporary politics, equating Abe Shinzo’s Abe policy with a comeback of Japanese militarism. It is not only the PRC that is strongly critical of the idea of Japan’s remilitarisation. Abe Shinzo and his efforts to change the Japanese military policy are condemned by some Japanese politicians (especially left-wing), pacifists and parts of the society. According to an Asashi Shimbun poll from May 2, 2018, 58% of respondents oppose constitutional revision under the Abe Shinzo administration. Interestingly, support for revision dropped from 38% in 2017 to 30%. In 2016, Asashi Shimbun reported that 68% of their respondents were against revising Article 9, while 27% supported the revision. Surveys conducted by Yomiuri Shimbun and Nikkei have shown that the majority of Japanese citizens oppose constitutional revision, including the most controversial Article 9.15 Despite the fact that Japanese society (in general) is sceptical about making changes to the constitution, the idea of a constitutional revision heats up the political debate in Japan. As Professor Sakaiya Shiro noted: “The LDP (the massive ruling party) and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (the largest opposition party)

 Coram, “The Question of Remilitarization: Is Japan’s Pacifist Nature in Danger of Reform.”


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are facing off against each other in the Diet over the constitutional issue. The current political set up [consists of] a right-wing party [which] actively calls for constitutional revision and a left-wing party [that] opposes those calls.”16 Moreover, 54% of supporters of the LDP are in favour of constitutional revision, while 35% are opposed. However, only 20% of respondents who do not support any political party are in favour of the revision of the constitution, especially under the Abe Shinzo administration. Some 67% of them are against it.17 To conclude, the idea of Japan’s remilitarisation is criticised by the PRC; Beijing eagerly reminds Tokyo that, in the past, militarism led Japan to expansionism and the results were catastrophic. The PRC underlines the fact that Japan still has not sufficiently apologised for its wartime past and that attempts are still made to rewrite history, by whitewashing Japanese crimes in school textbooks. In addition to this denunciation, remilitarisation is also disapproved of by the majority of Japanese society, as the polls have demonstrated,

Historical Textbooks Even in the age of the Internet, history textbooks are regarded as a major component in the construction and reproduction of national narratives.18 Textbooks profess to teach neutral knowledge, however, they are sometimes used as an “ideological tool to promote a certain belief system and legitimise an established political and social order.”19 Even in democratic countries, history education is not entirely free of political influence. Obviously, authoritarian and totalitarian regimes warmly welcome such an indisputable monopoly of how to teach about the past. Prof. Zheng Wang underlines the fact that in relations between China, Korea and Japan, history textbooks have become the sources of controversy and conflicts.20 Moreover, Japanese historian Shingo Minamizuka wrote: “One of the most important problems of the international relations in Far East Asia since the 1980s is the problem of recognition of historical past by the Japanese people and the Japanese Government led by Premier Koizumi.

 Shiro, “Decoding public opinion polls.”  “Poll: 58% oppose constitutional revision with Abe in charge,” Asashi Shimbun, May 2, 2018.  Wang, Never Forget National Humiliation, 95.  Michael W. Apple and Linda Christian-Smith, The Politics of the Textbooks, quote from Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, 43.  Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, 47.

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And the most important issue of the problem is the Japanese history textbook problem.”21 Some examples are provided below. In 1982, Asashi Shimbun reported that the Ministry of Education demanded that a textbook, which stated that the Japanese army invaded Northern China, be rewritten to state that the army “advanced into” China. The Chinese and South Korean governments strongly protested this change.22 In the 1990s, Japanese textbooks drew attention to war atrocities committed by Japan, by using the term “comfort women” to describe the women hired to satiate the sexual appetites of Japanese soldiers.23 This time, far-right movements and nationalists in Japan protested. The most controversial issue emerged in 1996, when the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform (JSHTR) was founded by nationalists scholars. From the beginning, the JSHTR planned to prepare the New History Textbook (Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho), which would present a revisionist point of view, especially concerning the wartime past. A draft textbook was ready in 2000 and, from the very beginning, was criticised because it presented a chauvinistic point of view, contained many errors and whitewashed the Japanese wartime past. After over 130 corrections, the New History Textbook was approved by the Ministry of Education.24 Not surprisingly, the controversial textbook gained a lot of attention and criticism, not only from China or South Korea, but also from many Japanese historians and teachers. Interestingly, the adoption rate of the New History Textbook in schools was minimal. Less than 0.4% of schools in Japan used the 2001 edition of this textbook.25 In the spring of 2005, the new edition of the New History Textbook was published. This, too, ignited outrage in some Asian countries, especially the PRC and ROK. Critics stated that this textbook provided a distorted view of Japan’s colonial and wartime activities. Both China and South Korea protested fiercely. Over the following weeks, anti-Japanese protests broke out in ten Chinese cities, a as protesters burned Japanese flags and carried banners with slogans like: “Japan must apologise to China,” “Boycott Japanese goods” and “Never forget national humiliation.”26 The publication of the New History Textbook was perceived as a victory for the Japanese nationalist right, but the majority of schools and teachers also rejected this edition of textbook, and its adoption rate was very low. Despite the fact that New History Textbook was chosen by only a tiny fraction of Japanese schools, conservative politicians, scholars and also

     

Shingo, “The History Textbooks Problem in Japan.” Shingo, “The History Textbooks Problem in Japan.” Shingo, “The History Textbooks Problem in Japan.” Beal and Nozaki and Yang, “Ghost of the Past,” 179–180. Romeu, “The Japanese History Textbook Controversy,” 48. Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, 48.


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middle-income earners showed sympathy to the historical explanation it presented. The rhetoric amongst these groups decreed that the “masochistic” view of Japanese history should be ended and a more positive version of history was needed. However, it led to the deterioration of the relations between Japan, the PRC, ROK and other Asian nations, which suffered at Japanese hands during the period of Japanese expansion.27 The textbook controversy has its impact not only in Japanese foreign relations, but also in domestic politics. The progressive camp, mostly Japanese socialists, the Japanese Teacher’s Union and left-wing academics, would like to denounce Japanese imperialism. On the other side, the Liberal Democratic Party, right-wing academics and nationalist and ultranationalist associations prefer a patriotism-enhancing education and opt to downplay the dark side of Japanese history – mostly connected with imperial expansion.28 Under LDP rule, the Ministry of Education has been criticised for promoting patriotic education and diminishing the exposure of Japanese imperialism and war crimes. However, nationalist-oriented textbooks have been chosen by a small margin of Japanese schools. Moreover, the Divided Memories and Reconciliation research project (Asia-Pacific Research Centre, Stanford University) has shown that Japanese history textbooks are far from being nationalistic, do not celebrate war and they offer “[. . .] a rather dry chronology of events without much interpretive narrative.”29 Notwithstanding the fact that textbooks avoid interpretation, their message is clear – Japan’s imperial expansion resulted in a series of wars, and war with the United States was a disastrous mistake.30 Daniel Sneider, one of the researchers involved in the project, states: “Contrary to popular belief, Japanese textbooks by no means avoid some of the most controversial wartime moments. The widely used textbooks contain accounts, though not detailed ones, of the massacre of Chinese civilians in Nanjing in 1937 by Japanese forces. Some, but not all, of the textbooks also describe the forced mobilisation of labour in the areas occupied by Japan, including mention of the recruitment of ‘comfort women’ to serve in wartime brothels. One clear lacuna is the almost complete absence of accounts of Japanese colonial rule in Korea.”31 South Korean textbooks are focused on the oppressive experience of the Korean people during Japanese colonial rule. Surprisingly, ROK textbooks say little about the Pacific war and there is no mention of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in the main

    

Shingo, “The History Textbooks Problem in Japan.” Tan, “The Forgotten History: Textbook Controversy,” 18. Sneider, “Divided Memories: History Textbooks.” Sneider, “Divided Memories: History Textbooks.” Sneider, “Divided Memories: History Textbooks.”

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textbook. In the PRC, older PRC textbooks have been strongly influenced by the ideology and passionate patriotic narrative. After 2002, textbooks offered a more nationalistic vision of the wartime history and downplayed the civil war between the communists and the Kuomintang, emphasising the vision of a united nation fighting with Japanese invasion. Moreover, Japanese war atrocities have been highlighted, especially the Nanjing Massacre. Generally, the majority of Japanese textbooks offer a neutral and bland tone of narration, as opposed to the patriotic passion presented by the Chinese or South Korean ones.32 Despite this, the most controversial textbooks (like Atarashii Rekishi Kyōkasho) attract the attention of public opinion and lead to tensions, especially since the PRC educational and propaganda system presents a patriotic and nationalistic vision of the wartime past. ROK textbooks also strongly underline the past suffering of Korean citizens at the hands of the Japanese. The PRC and ROK still accuse Japan of publishing textbooks that whitewash wartime crimes and are written in ultranationalist rhetoric, two aspects which only strengthen the popular belief of Chinese and Korean citizens that Japan is trying to diminish its responsibility for the aggression, colonialism and atrocities and does so through the help of textbooks. Moreover, in all these countries, perception of the past is different, and textbooks reveal this. Unsurprisingly, it leads to the situation described by Mariko Oi on BBC News on March 14, 2013: “While school pupils in Japan may read just one line on the massacre, children in China are taught in detail not just about the Rape of Nanjing but numerous other Japanese war crimes, though these accounts of the war are sometimes criticised for being overly anti-Japanese. The same can be said about South Korea, where the education system places great emphasis on our modern history. This has resulted in very different perceptions of the same events in countries an hour’s flying time apart.”33

Japanese Apologise, Rhetoric About the Past and “Comfort Women” Issue Has Japan apologised sufficiently for its colonial expansion and war crimes? In the eyes of Chinese and South Korean citizens, definitely not. As the Tokyo Weekender posted on its website on August 6, 2013, 78% of Chinese and 98% of

 Daniel Sneider, “Divided Memories: History Textbooks.”  Oi, “What Japanese history lessons leave out.”


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South Koreans said that Japan has not sufficiently apologised for its expansionism and World War Two. This perspective was particularly strong among the young generation (18 to 29-year-olds). On the other hand, 48% of Japanese respondents believed that Japan has already apologised enough for its militaristic policy. In fact, after WWII some Japanese officials, including some of the postwar prime ministers, made war apology statements. However, there is a controversy over whether they were formal apologies or just a remorseful or politically motivated rhetoric. Moreover, influential Japanese politicians (mostly connected with the nationalist right-wing) have issued statements that denied, justified or diminished war crimes committed by Japan. Such rhetoric fuels antiJapanese sentiment in Asia (especially in the PRC and ROK) and undermines the credibility of the apology issued by Japan. Japanese politicians, including the head of state, have apologised several times for Japanese imperialism and war crimes. For example, in 1972, during a visit in the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister Tanaka Kakuei said: “The Japanese side is keenly conscious of the responsibility for the serious damage that Japan caused in the past to the Chinese people through war, and deeply reproaches itself.”34 In the 1980s, Emperor Hirohito, Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro and Prime Minister Takeshita Noboru expressed regret and sorrow. Probably the best known Japanese statement of apology came from socialist Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi. He served as prime minister from June 1994 to January 1996, and during his premiership apologised several times for the war and atrocities. On August 31 1994 he said: “Japan’s actions in a certain period of the past not only claimed numerous victims here in Japan but also left the peoples of neighbouring Asia and elsewhere with scars that are painful even today. I am thus taking this opportunity to state my belief, based on my profound remorse for these acts of aggression, colonial rule, and the like caused such unbearable suffering and sorrow for so many people that Japan’s future path should be one of making every effort to build world peace in line with my no-war commitment.”35 On August 15, 1995, 50 years after the Asia-Pacific War, he stated: “During a certain period in the not too distant past, Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war, only to ensnare the Japanese people in a fateful crisis, and, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian  “Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.”  “Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama ‘On the Peace, Friendship, and Exchange Initiative’.”

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nations. In the hope that no such mistake be made in the future, I regard, in a spirit of humility, these irrefutable facts of history, and express here once again my feelings of deep remorse and state my heartfelt apology. Allow me also to express my feelings of profound mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, of that history.”36 All these apologies were part of Murayama’s policy aimed at reconciliation with the victims of the Japanese imperial policy. During his premiership, a description of “comfort women” was introduced in Japanese textbooks. As a results of this policy, the relationship between South Korea and Japan improved.37 However, nationalists in Japan protested, criticising both apologies and changes to the textbooks. In January 1996, Murayama resigned and the Liberal Democratic Party came to power again. The LDP has been disparaged, both in Japan and abroad, for supporting a nationalistic and revisionist point of view. Yet, after 1996, LDP leaders and representatives officially and unofficially apologised for wartime atrocities. There are at least two factors that strongly influence the perception of the Japanese apologies, especially in the People’s Republic of China. The first is connected with Japanese domestic policy. In most Japanese officials’ visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, their rhetoric denies or diminishes Japanese war crimes. Even discussion about what really happened in the past38 is considered unfairly biased toward Japan, a reason to see apologies as insincere, not just for the PRC. The second factor is bound up with international politics. Today, the PRC has become the second global economy and one of the most important players in international relations. At the beginning of China’s transition, Japan was a welcomed investor. However, this has changed. Economic competition between China and Japan, territorial disputes over the Senkaku Islands and the fact that Japan is an ally of the US have deteriorated mutual relations. Moreover, the history of China’s humiliation by Japan and Western colonial powers has become an important part of the modern Chinese national identity. In that context, history is a useful tool for the PRC, especially against Japan. Recognition of Japanese apologies would reduce the opportunities to use history as an instrument in Sino-Japanese relations. The situation is

 “Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama ‘On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war’s end’.”  Shingo, “The History Textbooks Problem in Japan.”  Dawid Askew underlines the fact that Nanjing Massacre become a part (he used the term “fundamental keystone”) of modern Chinese national identity. So every discussion about Nanjing, which questions official Chinese position, threatens this newly constructed Chinese self-identity. Nanjing become a useful tool in contemporary ideological and international contests. Askew, “The Nanjing Incident.”


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similar in South Korea, where anti-Japanese sentiment still exists, fuelled not only by the past, but also by contemporary territorial disputes over the Liancourt Rocks (Dokdo [ROK]/ Takeshima Islands [Japan]). In the PRC and ROK, there are two topics – amongst the many connected with Japanese war crimes – which are typical hot potatoes. The topic for China is the Nanjing Massacre. Moreover, both countries (especially South Korea) are very sensitive about issue of “comfort women.” In contemporary China, the Nanjing Massacre has become a symbol of Japanese war atrocities and every discussion that undermines the official PRC version is treated with anger by Beijing. It is not only a question of denying the Nanjing Massacre – even the debates and discussions on history aimed at explaining the details of the massacre are criticised by the PRC when the conclusions do not fit the official Beijing position. However, the biggest problem is connected with Japanese revisionists. The most famous of them, like Tanaka Masaaki or Higashinakano Shudo, argue that the Nanjing Massacre was a fabrication, and even if POWs were executed, it was a legitimate action under international law. Traditionalists like Fujiwara Akira or Honda Katsuichi maintain that the massacre happened, was illegal and that the number of victims may supersede 300,000. Extreme revisionists – like the aforementioned Tanaka Masaaki – have a completely different point of view and the number of victims is ridiculously low – under 100. Between these two views are those of so called “centrists” (e.g. Hata Ikuhiko) who are criticised both by the traditionalists and especially by the revisionists.39 The problem is not the discussion itself, but the fact that this discussion is strongly influenced by politics. The Nanjing Massacre troubles Sino-Japanese relations, especially when the most controversial voices are heard. This is especially true in present times, when the most radical ideas and sharp rhetoric are eagerly publicised by the mass-media. Contemporary media has a tendency to highlight scandals, exaggerate facts and even create fake news. The controversial past (like war crimes) is also a subject which may bring public attention. Under such conditions, even the most trivial incidents or ridiculous rhetoric become real problems. For example, in 2017, a Japanese hotel chain placed the book The Real History of Japan: Japan Pride in every room. Motoya Toshio the author of the book, stated that Rape of Nanjing was fabricated and maintains that “comfort women” were not coerced into serving in Japanese military’s wartime brothels.40 The PRC government protested and Chinese booking websites  Yamamoto, Nanking. Anatomy of an Atrocity, 251–254.  “Apa hotels won’t remove book that deny 1935 Rape of Nanjing for Olympics.” The Japan Times, June 3, 2017. China Daily published a text entitled: “Japan can’t buy pride by fabricating its history of war crime.” China Daily, June 7, 2017.

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started to boycott the hotel.41 If such incidents were created only by controversial (and, in the case of Motoya Toshio rich) individuals, the Nanjing Massacre would not be such a hugely sensitive issue in Sino-Japanese relations. However, some of the Japanese right-wings politicians and officials support the revisionist version of the Nanjing Massacre. For example, in 2014, Kawamura Takashi, mayor of the Japanese city of Nagoya, said that only “conventional acts of combat” took place and the “so-called Nanjing Massacre is unlikely to have taken place.” The statement enraged both PRC officials and citizens, and was fiercely criticised in the Chinese media.42 In the same year, Hyakuta Naoki, governor of the Japan broadcaster NHK, also denied the Nanjing Massacre, saying: “In 1938, Chiang Kai-shek tried to publicise Japan’s responsibility for the Nanking Massacre, but the nations of the world ignored him. Why? Because it never happened.”43 Despite the fact that Hyakuta Naoki explained that he spoke as a private citizen, China reacted with outrage and the PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman released a statement. Hyakuta’s declaration was interpreted as a part of Japanese strategy to whitewash its war crimes. The Chinese media also maintained this line. Xinhua Daily (February 6, 2014) reported: “Although Hyakuta’s speech was claimed to be ‘personal opinion,’ it came in perfect unison with the moves of the Abe administration, as the denial of the massacre is just like the acts of revising textbooks, rewriting the pacifist constitution and the visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. [. . .] Hyakuta’s fallacy itself deserves no comment, but the repeated reference of the cliché by Japanese right-wing forces needs to be observed with high vigilance.”44 The Japanese right-wing and revisionist rhetoric about “comfort women”45 has a similar effect – it fuels the tensions between Japan and – mostly – South Korea and China. Especially for South Korea, the subject of “comfort women” is a very sensitive one because the majority of military prostitutes, who served the needs of the Japanese army and navy, came from the Korean Peninsula. Every Japanese denial or justification of the forced prostitution and sexual slavery,

 “Japan’s hotelier’s Nanjing massacre denial angers China.” BBC News, January 19, 2017.  Armstrong, “Fury over Japanese politician’s Nanjing Massacre denial.” CNN, February 23, 2012.  Thiezzi, “NHK Governor: Nanjing Massacre Never Happened.”  Thiezzi, “NHK Governor: Nanjing Massacre Never Happened.”  “Comfort women” is an euphemism for “prostitutes.” During 1932–1945 the Japanese Army and Navy established and maintained so-called “comfort stations,” which were just brothels for the needs of Japanese military men. How many women from the territories annexed or occupied by the Japan were involved is still disputable, however, much evidence has shown that many of these women were forced to become military prostitutes or were sex slaves.


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which happened during the 1932–1945 period, has met with a response, especially from the PRC and ROK. Moreover, China and South Korea demand sincere apologises for the comfort women and material compensation for the victims. When the last surviving Chinese woman to sue the Japanese government for sex slavery died in August 2017, a journalist from South China Morning Post wrote on August 16, 2017: “Instead of sincere apology from Tokyo, Japan’s leader chose to honour country’s war criminals.” The “comfort women” issue is more problematic in relations between Japan and South Korea. As both countries are close allies of the US, Washington is reluctantly aware of tensions between Japan and the ROK, especially in the context of rapidly growing PRC power and the North Korean nuclear programme. Meanwhile, history affects mutual Japanese-ROK relations, and the “comfort women” issue is the biggest diplomatic dispute between the two countries. Until the end of 1980s the problem was mostly ignored in both countries, for pragmatic reasons.46 It was the democratisation of South Korea and a more open public debate in accordance with growing economic power of ROK that unveiled this matter, which happened in the 1990s. Earlier, the authoritarian South Korean regime (especially under President Park Chung Hee) perceived Japan as a model to imitate in terms of economic development, so the ROK ignored the problem, even when women activists tried to publicise the “comfort women” issue. From Japan’s point of view, this was desirable. The issue still existed and finally the controversy was brought to the surface. The ROK and PRC maintained that Japan had not officially apologised for the “comfort women” and sex slavery. Moreover, both countries demanded compensation for the former “comfort women.” In fact, in 1995, Japan established the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF) to distribute monetary compensation to “comfort women.” Despite the fact that it provided funds for the victims, the AWF was criticised from the very beginning. Some right-wing opponents claimed that “comfort women” were “prostitutes,” so financial compensation was unnecessary. While such opinions only fuelled the conflict, the rhetoric was not the most important element. The Asian Women’s Fund was a joint project of the Japanese government and the “people of Japan” and assumed only moral and not legal responsibility.47 Media in South Korea, and also some journalists in Japan, emphasised this fact and argued that the Japanese government was trying to escape its legal responsibility Moreover, there were many controversies surrounding the payments. South Korean media and NGOs insisted that the victims should refuse

 Jonnson, “Can the Japan-Korea Dispute on ‘Comfort Women’ be Resolved,” 4–6.  Wada, “The Comfort Women.”

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the “atonement money.”48 The AWF was disbanded in 2007, however, the debate over whether it achieved its goals is still ongoing. Many researchers and politicians, especially from South Korea, emphasise the fact that the endeavour to acknowledge the “comfort women” ended in failure.49 On the other hand, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasised the positive role of the AWF.50 In December 2015, eight years after the AWF was disbanded, the Japanese and ROK foreign ministers reached an agreement on the “comfort women” issue. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo expressed “his most sincere apologies and remorse” and the Japanese government promised that “[. . .] the Government of Japan will now take measures to heal psychological wounds of all former comfort women through its budget.”51 As a result, the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation was established in 2016, to support victims of Japanese wartime forced prostitution and sex slavery. However, in 2018, the foundation was dismantled by the South Korean government. The victims of sex slavery and their advocates underlined the fact that Japan refused to send a letter of apology.52 An opinion posted on the Xinhua website (July 7, 2019) stated that, from the South Korean perspective, money was not enough. Japan strongly criticised the dismantling of the foundation and declared that it did not accept the decision. From the Japanese point of view, the agreement of December 2015 “finally and irreversibly” resolved the ROK “comfort women” issue, especially because Japan had provided around $8.8 million for the foundation budget. For this much money and Abe Shinzo’s “most sincere apologies and remorse,” Tokyo expected to put an end to this troublesome issue for Japan. However, the “comfort women” matter still exists and embitters the ROKJapanese relations. In February 2019, South Korean National Assembly Speaker Moon He-sang requested an apology from Japanese Emperor Akihito addressed to “comfort women.” He also said that this would resolve the issue once and for all. Japanese officials criticised this statement.53 In general, efforts to resolve the “comfort women” issue have failed, especially in Sino-Japanese and ROKJapanese relations. Countries like the Philippines and Indonesia are much more reserved on the “comfort women” issue. In fact, for ROK and PRC “comfort women” the problem is a useful tool in modern-day relations with Japan. On the other hand, Japan would willingly close the wartime sex slavery matter on

     

Jonnson, “Can the Japan-Korea Dispute on ‘Comfort Women’ be Resolved,” 14. Puja, “The Failure of the Asian Women’s Fund,” 93–113. “History Issues Q&A.” “Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.” Kang, “South Korea Decides to Dismantle.” “Demand for ‘comfort women’ apology.” The Japan Times, February 13, 2019.


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the cheap, and was close to achieving this goal when the agreement with South Korea was reached in 2015. However, many South Korean officials, including President Moon Yae-in, as well as ROK citizens, opposed the agreement and the assertive option prevailed. The “comfort women” issue has not been “finally and irreversibly” resolved and it still influences Japanese relations with neighbouring countries, especially the ROK. The discussion about painful wartime history is not only connected with the Nanjing Massacre or “comfort women” Other Japanese wartime crimes and how historical facts are rewritten, denied, exaggerated or simply presented. Even contemporary pop culture has created problems and tensions. The Japanese WWII drama The Eternal Zero (Eien no Zero), directed by Yamazaki Takashi, became very popular amongst Japanese viewers. However, when Abe Shinzo expressed that he was “deeply moved” by the film, many Chinese bloggers and news websites condemned both him and the film. One of the commenters described the film as a “propaganda for terrorism.” Even in Japan, there were voices that criticised The Eternal Zero as a glorification of the Kamikaze pilots. Well-known Japanese animation director, Miyazaki Hayao, said: “They’re just continuing a phony myth, saying, ‘Take pride in the Zero fighter’. I’ve hated that sort of thing ever since I was a kid.”54 Interestingly, Miyazaki Hayao’s famous anime, The Wind Rises (based on the records and work of Horikoshi Jiro, the Japanese World War II aviation engineer, who designed the famous Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter) was also criticised, both by Japanese nationalists and South Korea. As The Guardian noted on its website on 23 August 2013, Japanese nationalists were disenchanted with the pacifist message of the The Wind Rises, and online, they called the director “anti-Japanese” and “traitor.” On the other hand, South Korea Internet users accused Miyazaki of glorifying the constructor of Japanese warplanes, which, incidentally, were also built by Korean forced labourers. Moreover, an American film critic commented: “The Wind Rises declines to challenge mainstream Japanese society’s distortions and denials of its wartime atrocities. Worse, it echoes Japan’s morally dishonest stance that it was a victim, rather than a perpetrator, of a global war – a whitewashed version of history that the film now imports to every country where it plays. [. . .] The point is that the film still accommodates Japanese society’s wilful amnesia about World War II.”55

 Schilling, “Debate still rages over Abe-endorsed WWII drama,” The Japan Times, February 20, 2014.  Kang, “The Trouble with The Wind Rises.”

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Yasukuni Shrine Any effort to find a symbol of the Japanese problems with wartime past, war crimes and historical memory will lead to the Imperial Shrine of Yasukuni. What is probably the most famous – or infamous – Shinto shrine commemorates those who died in the service of Japan, including over 1,000 convicted war criminals. The spirits of 14 A-Class war criminals were enshrined there in 1978, igniting the ire of foreign and domestic critics. Amongst them was wartime (1941–1944) Prime Minister Tojo Hideki, who was clearly responsible for Japanese aggression in Asia and the Pacific. The memorialisation of persons responsible for aggressive policy and war crimes has caused many controversies, and remains a problem in Japanese foreign relations, especially with the PRC. The Yasukuni Shrine becomes a sore point of political tension, when Japanese prime ministers, government officials and cabinet ministers visit it, even if the visits are private affairs. Japanese nationalists, far-right and right-wings politicians, including LDP leaders and members of the Diet of Japan, also commemorate fallen soldiers, who died for the Empire of Japan at this same shrine. For the PRC, ROK and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Yasukuni Shrine symbolises the heart of Japanese revisionism and glorifies Japanese militarism. Japanese officials who visit Yasukuni Shrine meet with severe criticism, especially from the neighbouring countries. China and South Korea strongly criticised former Japanese Prime Minister (2001–2006) Koizumi Junichiro, who visited the shrine six times during his premiership. After his visit in 2006, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun called on Tokyo to “prove that it has no intention to repeat the past” (The Guardian, August 16, 2006). The Chinese foreign ministry said in a statement: “On historical issues, Prime Minister Koizumi has consistently hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and lost the confidence, not only of the international community, but also of the Japanese people.” The visits had “undermined the political basis for ties between China and Japan” (The Guardian, August 16, 2006). This kind of rhetoric emerged during almost every Japanese official’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine. While Koizumi Junichiro was criticised not only by the PRC and ROK but also by Japanese citizens, the majority of Japanese supported the visits. Interestingly, in 2005, the Osaka High Court ruled that Koizumi Junichiro’s visits violated Japan’s constitutional separation of church and state. Mr Koizumi explained that he prayed at the shrine as a private citizen and he only paid his respect to those


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who died in the war, “[. . .] with the conviction that we (will) . . . never wage such a war again.”56 Koizumi Junichiro’s successor, Abe Shinzo, is less willing to pay a visit to the Yasukuni Shrine; however, he did visit in 2013, which – as reported on December 23, 2013 on the BBC website – infuriated China and South Korea, with Beijing calling the visit “absolutely unacceptable for the Chinese people.” Since then, Abe Shinzo has not visited the shrine again; however, every gesture connected with Yasukuni is criticised, especially by the PRC and ROK. For instance, when Abe Shinzo sent a ritual offering to the shrine in 2018, Seoul criticised the action.57 However, the PRC and South Korea were not always so eager to condemn Japanese officials who visited the Yasukuni Shrine. In fact, until 1985, the controversial shrine did not engender a diplomatic tension between the PRC and Japan. China unexpectedly protested that year, when Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro visited the shrine. Some 12 of the previous 16 Japanese prime ministers had visited the shrine and the PRC did not react with criticism.58 South Korea only began to criticise the visits starting in the 1990s. Before that, Japan was too important an economic partner and an investor. The country served as a role model to the PRC and ROK for how to create a highly developed economy. Under such circumstances, the issue of the Yasukuni Shrine was not important politically. However, the situation changed. Japanese society itself is divided on the Yasukuni Shrine, as we have seen. When Abe Shinzo visited the shrine, the media were mostly critical.59 However, the majority of Japanese citizens (almost 70% of the respondents) perceived the visit as acceptable, but only on the condition that the prime minister made the trip as a private citizen. The percentage of respondents who accept official visits is much lower – 33.5% in 2015. Interestingly, in 2014, this indicator was much higher – 47.7%. On the other hand, over 60% of Chinese respondents maintain that Japanese prime ministers should not visit the shrine at all – even as a private citizen.60 In the near future, the Yasukuni Shrine issue will continue to strain relations between Japan and the PRC, ROK and the DPRK. Professor Zheng Wang highlights the fact that the discussion about the Yasukuni Shrine shows a lack

 Onishi, “Koizumi Visits War Shrine,” The New York Times, October 17, 2005.  Lien and Shin, “Japan’s Shinzo Abe makes controversial offerings,” Independent, April 21, 2018.  Sakamoto, “Visits to Yasukuni Shrine.”  Sakamoto, “Visits to Yasukuni Shrine.”  “11th Japan-China Joint Opinion Poll.”

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of mutual acceptance and communication between the PRC, South Korea and Japan. For the Japanese, Yasukuni is a memorial of national heroes, whereas Chinese and Koreans see this shrine as a symbol of war and violent suppression.61 Moreover, the Yasukuni Shrine is useful to the PRC and ROK as an example of Japan’s drifting towards militarism, justification of wartime crimes and proof that all Japanese apologies for WWII are just empty rhetoric.

Conclusions History returns and shapes contemporary Japanese politics. In fact, Japan committed horrible war crimes, especially from 1937 to 1945. The large number of victims and the cruelty that characterised the Japanese policy towards many occupied regions (especially China) still determines the historical memories of many Asian nations and complicates relations with Japan. Especially in Chinese narratives, Japan is presented as a former invader that humiliated China. Nowadays, history is one of the most important parts of the Chinese “patriotic narrative,”and has become a kind of religion for its citizens.62 The so-called “patriotic turn,” introduced by Chinese Communist Party in the early 1990s, enhances both nationalism and anti-Japanese sentiments amongst PRC citizens.63 However, history became a tool in Sino-Japanese relations when the PRC economic and military potential had grown and China transformed itself into a surprisingly fast-growing market economy. A similar situation could be observed in South Korea. Thus, historical memory continues to shape Chinese, Korean and Japanese respondents’ attitudes towards their neighbours. It fuels negative attitudes, which are the consequence of contemporary political and economic issues: – Japan and the PRC are involved in territorial dispute over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea; – China’s growing military potential creates a serious concern in Japan. As a consequence, the Japan government has considered building “normal military forces,” not bound by the country’s long-standing pacifist constitution. Obviously, the PRC criticises any efforts to build-up military capabilities, accusing Tokyo of returning to militarism and recalling Japanese history of

 Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, 67.  Wang, “Never Forget National Humiliation.”  Wang, Never Forget National Humiliation, 119–122.


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“making sneaky attacks, as it did in launching wars with China, Russia and the United States in the recent 100 years.”64 The PRC and Japan are involved in geopolitical competition in the Western Pacific region. Japan is worried about China’s rise and looking for ways to contain it. For Beijing, Japan as a militarily weaker neighbour would be the desired solution. Obviously, such a clash of interests leads to growing mutual tensions. Japan and South Korea are involved in a territorial dispute over the Takeshima/Dokdo Island in the Japan Sea.

To conclude, Japan is involved is territorial disputes with the PRC and ROK. For opponents of Japan, history has become useful tool, an instrument to put pressure on Japan and a factor in mobilising PRC and ROK citizens against Japan. In one of the anti-Japanese South Korean leaflets entitled “Is ‘Dokdo’ a piece of Sashimi?” the following quote appears: “August 15th 1945. Korea finally gained independence from 35 years of brutal occupation by Japan. After 60 years, Japan now wants to reassert its territorial ambition by claiming that Dokdo, which had been Korean territory for 1500 years, is Japanese. At the same time, Japan wants to be ‘friends forever’ with Korea. Let the world know how twofaced Japan is.” Complicated history and contemporary disputes about the past also have a significant impact on Japan’s image in the eyes of the South Koreans and the Chinese. According to the Pew Research Centre, only 35% of South Koreans have a positive view of Japan; 67% report an unfavourable opinion. Negative attitudes are especially strong amongst people age 50 and over – only 28% of them have a favourable view of Japan.65 PRC citizens are even more critical, 90% of them harbour negative sentiments towards Japan.66 That said, colonial and wartime history as the sole explanation for these negative attitudes towards Japan is too simple an explanation. The painful past is a salient reason for the anti-Japanese sentiment in PRC and ROK. Yet other nations, which experienced the brutal face of Japanese imperialism and militarism, are not so critical towards Japan. Indonesia and the Philippines, for instance, which were occupied by Japan, give a Japan positive rating. Some 83% of Filipinos see Japan in favourable light, with a similar situation occurring amongst Indonesian citizens (68% positive view, 16% negative). The US and Australia, which fought in Japan during WWII and whose

 “China Criticises Japan’s Move to Expand Military Role.”  Stokes and Davlin, “4. Countries view of Japan.”  “Around Asia: Anti-Japan Sentiment is on the Rise.”

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POWs suffered heavily at Japanese hands, also have a positive view of Japan (81% in Australia, 68% in US).67 Anti-Japanese sentiment amongst PRC and ROK citizens is a consequence of both historical and contemporary disputes. In 2014, over 56% of Chinese respondents held the view that Japan’s lack of a proper apology for its militarism and invasion on China is the main reason for their negative attitude towards Japan.68 On the other hand, over 52% of Japanese underline the fact that Chinese criticism of Japanese military action, especially in 1937–1945, is the main reason why they have a negative attitude towards China.69 In 2002, 55% of Japanese respondents had a favourable view of the PRC; however, growing mutual tensions transformed that attitude. In 2018, 78% of Japanese had a negative view of China; only 17% respondents saw the PRC in a positive light.70 Results from the “Eleventh Japan-China Joint Opinion Poll Analysis Report on the Comparative Data” also clearly shows that history is an important issue in the mutual perception, both for the Japanese and Chinese societies. The major reason for the unfavourable impression of Japan by Chinese citizens was “Japan’s lack of proper apology and remorse over the history of invasion of China,” a view supported by 70.5% of Chinese respondents. Interestingly, the territorial dispute over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands was given as the reason for the negative view of Japan by 68% of PRC respondents. Moreover, when Chinese respondents answered the question “Things Comes [sic] to Mind When You Think of Each Other’s Country,” they often mentioned things like: the Nanjing Massacre (47.9%), the Yasukuni Shrine (16.3%) and the Japanese Army before and during WWII (20.7%). Another justification for the anti-Japanese sentiments is the issue of the Diayou/Senkaku Islands (50.6%) dispute. Generally, issues connected with war crimes were in the minds of Chinese respondents. Interestingly, 46% of the Chinese public perceived the contemporary Japanese socio-political system as “militarism.” On the other hand, over 55% of the Japanese mentioned “criticism of Japan over historical issues” as the main reason for the negative perception of the PRC in Japan. The second controversial issue – the Diayou/Senkaku dispute – was chosen by 46.4% of the respondents. The Second Sino-Japanese War was mentioned by only 6.3% of Japanese respondents.71 To conclude, disparate perceptions are the result of the previously mentioned political and economic issues that have been enhanced by memories of historical trauma.

    

Stokes and Davlin, “4. Countries view of Japan.” Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, 87. Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, 87. Stokes and Davlin, “4. Countries view of Japan.” “11th Japan-China Joint Opinion Poll.”


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Both the ROK and PRC have put a lot of effort into reminding the Japanese of their war crimes. Today the results are clearly visible. At the level of international relations, the past has the greatest impact on Sino-Japanese relations. Zheng Wang emphasises the fact that “China and Japan, more than seventy years after WWII has ended, still foster major differences regarding basic facts about the war; the Chinese believe that approximately 300,000 people were killed in Nanjing Massacre, while many Japanese believe this figure is greatly exaggerated and some even doubt whether the massacre actually happened.”72 The possibility of achieving a compromise between these views seems to be low, mostly because of politics. The political elites use the wartime history as an instrument of politics, historical truth and reconciliation are less important. From a purely political point of view, reconciliation would be unwelcome: the political elites would lose an opportunity to use history as an instrument. The Japanese problems with history cause controversies, not only in Japanese foreign policy; the dark shadows of the past continue to influence domestic policy. Japanese political elites, as well as Japanese society, are divided over the country’s responsibility for WWII atrocities, war crimes and other consequences of the Japanese imperial policy. History has become a controversial issue in Japanese domestic policy and continues to have a profound impact on it. In Japan, a nationalist electorate exists, one that right-wing politicians are unwilling to lose. The changing geopolitical situation encourages politicians like Abe Shinzo to consider revising Japanese pacifist policy. Part of the Japanese society is against the revision of that policy. Thus the question of remilitarisation is a controversial one, not only in Japan, but also in relations with the PRC. In conclusion, former Japanese imperial policy still has an influence on Japanese international relations, as well as on domestic policy. What happened many decades ago still shapes contemporary policy and has an impact on Japan’s image in Asia, especially in the ROK and PRC. The problem would be less significant if history was only part of academic discussions or debates. However, history has become a political issue and instrumentalisation of the past is present in contemporary Asian policy. Japan, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of Korea are model examples of this. At present, history is far too useful as an instrument of policy for main actors to relinquish its use and enact mutually acceptable decisions.

 Wang, Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict, 67.

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Asian Women Fund Global Domestic Product Human Development Index Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Japan Self-Defence Forces Japanese Society for the History Textbooks Reform Liberal Democratic party Non-Governmental Organization Prisoner of War People’s Republic of China Republic of Korea United States World War II

References “Apa hotels won’t remove book that deny 1935 Rape of Nanjing for Olympics.” The Japan Times, June 3, 2017. “Around Asia: Anti-Japan sentiment is on the rise.” Tokyo Weekender, August 6, 2013. Armstrong, Paul. “Fury over Japanese politician’s Nanjing Massacre denial.” CNN, February 23, 2012. Askew, David. “The Nanjing Incident. Recent Research and Trends.” Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, no.1 (2002). ticles/Askew.html. Beal, Tim, Yoshiko Nozaki and Jian Yang. “Ghost of the Past: The Japanese History Textbooks Controversy.” New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 3, no. 3 (2001): 177–188. “China Criticises Japan’s Move to Expand Military Role.” NDTV, July 2, 2014. https://www. Coram, Shanisa. “The Question of Remilitarization: Is Japan’s Pacifist Nature in Danger of Reform.” Scripps Senior Theses 919. 2017. Accessed March 11, 2019. http://scholarship. “Demand for ‘comfort women’ apology by Emperor angered many in Japan, Abe says, as U.S. seeks calm.” The Japan Times, February 13, 2019. news/2019/02/13/national/politics-diplomacy/demand-comfort-women-apologyemperor-angered-many-japan-abe-says-u-s-seeks-calm/#.XVxSyeMzaM9. Genron NPO. “11th Japan-China Joint Opinion Poll Analysis Report on the Comparative Data (2015).” The Genron NPO, October 25, 2015. polls/archives/5315.html.


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Gruhl, Werner. “The Great Asian-Pacific Crescent of Pain: Japan’s War from Manchuria to Hiroshima, 1931 to 1945.” In Japanese War Crimes: The Search for Justice, edited by Peter Li, 243–258. New Brunswick/London: Transaction Publishers, 2003. Hong, Cai. “Japan can’t buy pride by fabricating its history of war crimes.” China Daily, June 7, 2017. “Japan opens Pandora box.” China Daily, July 2, 2014. 2014-07/02/content_17637641.htm. “Japan PM Shinzo Abe visits Yasukuni WW2 Shrine.” BBC News, December 26, 2013. “Japan’s hotelier’s Nanjing massacre denial angers China.” BBC News, January 19, 2017. Jonnson, Gabriel. “Can the Japan-Korea Dispute on ‘Comfort Women’ be Resolved’.” Korea Observer 46, no. 3 (2015): 1–27. Kang, Inkoo. “The Trouble with The Wind Rises’.” The Village Voice, December 11, 2013. Kang, Hyunmin Michael. “South Korea Decides to Dismantle ‘Comfort Women’ Reconciliation and Healing Foundation’.” The Diplomat, November 27, 2018. 2018/11/south-korea-decides-to-dismantle-comfort-women-reconciliation-and-healingfoundation/. Kohut, Andrew, and Bruce Stokes. “Legacy of WWII Still Evident in German and Japanese Public Opinion and Relevant Today In Dealing with Russia and China’.” Pew Research Centre, 2015. Koji, Takai, and Henry Sakaida. B-29 Hunters of the JAAF. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2001. Lawson, Stephanie, and Tannaka Seito. “War memories and Japan’s ‘normalisation’ as an international actor: A critical analysis.” European Journal of International Relations 17, no. 3 (2011): 405–428. 1354066110365972. Lies, Elaine, and Hyonhee Shin. “Japan’s Shinzo Abe makes controversial offerings at shrine to the Japanese militarism,” Independent, April 2, 2018. uk/news/world/asia/shinzo-abe-yasukuni-shrine-war-dead-japan-south-korea-militarya8315586.html. McCurry, Justin. “Koizumi ignores protests in final shrine visit.” The Guardian, August 16, 2016. Margolin, Jean-Louis. Japonia 1937–1945. Wojna Armii Cesarza [Japan 1937–1945. The Emperor’s Army War]. Translated by Joanna Paulina Rurarz. Warszawa: Dialog, 2009. McCurry, Justin. “Japanese animator under the fire for film tribute to warplane designer.” The Guardian, August 23, 2012. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. “History Issues Q&A.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, n.d. Accessed May 21, 2019. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. “Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, n.d. Accessed May 22, 2019. kr/page4e_000365.html.

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. “Joint Communique of the Government of Japan and the Government of the People’s Republic of China.” Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, n.d. Accessed April 18, 2019. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. “Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama ‘On the Peace, Friendship, and Exchange Initiative’”. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed April 18, 2019. state9408.html. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. “Statement by Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama, ‘On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the war’s end’”. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, August 15, 1995. Accessed April 19, 2019. murayama/9508.html. Oi, Mariko. “What Japanese history lessons leave out.” BBC News, March 14, 2013. Onishi, Norimitsu. “Koizumi Visits War Shrine.” The New York Times, October 17, 2005. Polit, Jakub. Gorzki triumf. Wojna chińsko-japońska 1937–1945 [The Bitter Victory. SinoJapanese War 1937–1945]. Krakow: Avalon, 2013. “Poll: 58% oppose constitutional revision with Abe in charge.” Asashi Shimbun, May 2, 2018. “Pop star under fire for posing in outfit with Japanese flag’.” South China Morning Posts, December 5, 2001. Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet. “The Constitution of Japan.” n.d. Accessed November 15, 2018. constitution_e.html. Puja, Kim. “The Failure of the Asian Women’s Fund. The Japanese government’s legal responsibility and the colonial legacy.” In Denying the Comfort Women. The Japanese State’s Assault on Historical Truth, edited by Rumiko Nishino, Puja Kim and Akane Onozawa. London: Routledge, 2018: 93–112. Romeu, Maria Gabriela. “The Japanese History Textbook Controversy Amid Post-War SinoJapanese Relations.” Master Thesis, Florida International University, 2013. Rummel, Rudolph J. Statistic of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900. Münster: Lit Verlag, 1998. Sakamoto, Kazuya. “Visits to Yasukuni Shrine by the Prime Minister and the Japan-China Relations: What is Confusing the Debate?” The Japan Institute of International Affairs, n. d. Accessed April 28, 2019. its_to_Yasukuni_Shrine_by_the_Prime_Minister_and_Japan-China_Relations_What_is_ Confusing_the_Debate.pdf. Schilling, Mark. “Debate still rages over Abe-endorsed WWII drama.” The Japan Times, February 20, 2014. -rages-over-abe-endorsed-wwii-drama/#.XNXlwBQzaM9. Shingo, Minamizuka. “The History Textbooks Problem in Japan.” Non-Profit Organization International Forum of Culture and History, n.d. Accessed 3 April, 2019. pdf.


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Shiro, Sakaiya. “Decoding public opinion polls to understand the Japanese people’s fickle attitudes towards the constitution: A look back at the constitutional revision debate and the ‘Neo 1955 system.” Discuss Japan. Japan Foreign Policy Forum, October 11, 2018. Sneider, Daniel. “Divided Memories: History Textbooks and the Wars in Asia.”, May 29, 2019. “South Korea officially dissolved Japan-funded ‘comfort women’ fund, Tokyo says ‘never accept’ decision.” Xinhua, July 7, 2019. c_138202174.htm Stokes, Bruce, and Kat Davlin. “4. Countries view of Japan, Abe; Japanese views of China.” Pew Research Centre. November 12, 2018. tries-views-of-japan-abe-japanese-views-of-china/. Tan, Weilu. “The Forgotten History: Textbook Controversy and Sino-Japanese Relations.” Bachelor Thesis, University of Pittsburgh, 2019. The Effect of Strategic Bombing on Japanese Morale. United States Strategic Bombing Survey, Washington D.C.: Morale Division, 1947. The United States Strategic Bombing Surveys (European War)(Pacific War). Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Air University Press, 1987. Thiezzi, Shannon. “NHK Governor: Nanjing Massacre Never Happened.” The Diplomat, February 4, 2014. Wada, Haruki. “The Comfort Women, the Asian Women’s Fund and the Digital Museum.” The Asia Pacific Journal. Japan Focus 6 (2008). html. Wang, Zheng. Memory Politics, Identity and Conflict. Historical Memory as a Variable. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. Wang, Zheng. Never Forget National Humiliation. Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. Wang, Zheng. “Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations.” Paper presented at the international conference History as an Instrument of Contemporary International Conflicts. Poland, Krakow, October 25–27, 2018. “Why it is so hard for Japan to say sorry?” South China Morning Post, August 17, 2017. Xahlee. “Flag babes in Asia.” n.d. Accessed November 12, 2018. dosage_dir/lanci/elsewhere.html. Yamamoto, Masahiro. Nanking: Anatomy of an Atrocity. Westport: Preager Publishers, 2000.

Grzegorz Nycz

Disputes over Public Memory of U.S. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the Case of Smithsonian’s Enola Gay Exhibitions (1994–2003) Abstract: The paper analyses the U.S. memory politics dispute of veterans’ associations and intellectuals for and against the atomic bombings as a mean to end WWII despite Japan’s fierce resistance in the context of Smithsonian Enola Gay exhibits between 1994 and 2003. The dispute concerned alternatives to nuclear weapons. The first discussed exhibition case (1994) was centred on the broader context of the bombings (WWII losses of the U.S.) as a veterans’ expected scenario of the exhibition. The 2003 discussion was driven by leftist opposition to G.W. Bush military policies and protests of Japanese atomic victims organizations against the depiction of Enola Gay mission as heroic. Keywords: American-Japan historical relations; cultural memory; Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings; Smithsonian Enola Gay exhibit

Introduction This chapter addresses historical policy debates on atomic bombings of Japan. These took place in the U.S. post-Cold War public disputes related to Smithsonian Institution’s Enola Gay exhibitions. Protests against the 1994–1995 and 2003 Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum’s (NASM) Enola Gay B-29 exhibits demonstrated the strength of historical-political divisions in American society and confirmed the severe tensions between the traditional and the revisionist approaches to modern U.S. history. The controversial exhibition’s script, scheduled for the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War Two, attempted to revise the understanding of the bombings by focusing on two other relevant stories: the suffering of Japanese civilian victims and the consequences of the 1945 nuclear weapons usage disagreements, which resulted in the Cold War rivalry of superpowers, deterring each other through threats of mass destruction. The veterans’ critique, supported by right-wing politicians, led to Senate and House resolutions calling the Smithsonian to change its revisionist narrative towards more national-oriented. This would protect the memory of the service of


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World War Two Allied soldiers from the negative image related to the atrocities caused by the atomic bombings. Finally, the broader exhibition plan was withdrawn under veterans’ pressure to present only the renovated bomber’s fuselage. In 2003 the exhibit of the entire refurbished Enola Gay bomber was criticised by atomic victims’ associations and U.S. academic circles supporting their historical perspective.

The 1994–1995 Controversy of Smithsonian’s NASM Enola Gay Exhibition The NASM Enola Gay B-29 exhibit was prepared from 1987, soon after Martin Harwit (astronomy professor at Cornell University) took office as the museum’s director, planning to link the exhibition with a criticism of nuclear weapons (or targeting the civilian population through nuclear deterrence).1 As Michael Hogan noted, the controversy of the first script of the Enola Gay exhibition lay within the concept of a broadened view of atomic bombings as the first step towards the Cold War’s dangerous nuclear arms race (and Mutual Assured Destruction).2 This view, which attributed Cold War rivalry to the impact of U.S. 1945 atomic bombings of Japan, was supported by the revisionist historical school, and further developed by Gar Alperovitz’s 1960s research, among that of others.3 The veterans’ associations preferred that the exhibit focus on U.S. war efforts and sacrifices, rather than on the destructive effects of the atomic bombings or controversial factors concerning the decision to drop the bomb, such as payback for Japanese attacks, diplomatic meddling or even racis (this last factor was to be separated from the highly disputable matter of a marked reduction in future battlefield casualties by means of atomic weapons).4 The July 1993 exhibition programme

 John Correll, “The Smithsonian and the Enola Gay”(2004), 3, Accessed 13 April, 2018, http:// pdf; Robert C. Post, Who Owns America’s Past? Smithsonian and the Problem of History, Kindle (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003), 110.  Michael Hogan, “The Enola Gay Controversy: History, Memory, and the Politics of Presentation,” in Hiroshima in History and Memory, ed. Michael Hogan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 204–207 (200–232).  Samuel J. Walker, “The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update,” in Hiroshima in History and Memory, ed. Michael Hogan (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 14–15 (11–37); Gar Alperovitz, The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb, Kindle (New York: Vintage Books, 1995).  Hogan, “The Enola Gay Controversy: History, Memory, and the Politics of Presentation.”

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claimed first that the atomic bombings were not necessary to end World War Two (though the U.S. decision-makers were not aware of this) and second that they began the Cold War’s extensive nuclear race of arms.5 As Harwit stressed, though Truman’s Secretary of War Henry Stimson clearly predicted the atomic bomb’s impact on the post-World War Two world, the veterans’ associations strongly opposed the linkage presented in the exhibition between the atomic bombings of Japan and Cold War nuclear rivalry.6 American Legion’s narrative saw the Enola Gay crew as war heroes, and their mission as a consequence of the Japanese attack against Pearl Harbor.7 In 1994 Newt Gingrich (House Speaker and Republican right-winger) represented 81 members of the Congress demanding that NASM director Harwit be replaced due to the non-traditionalist Enola Gay exhibition.8 Gingrich, convinced that the controversial exhibit could lead to anti-American sentiment, attempted to negotiate the replacement with the Smithsonian’s secretary Michael Heyman.9 The Senate Resolution of September 19, 1994 (sponsored by a prominent Republican senator, Nancy Landon Kassebaum) claimed that the Enola Gay bombing helped to provide the peace (“was momentous in helping to bring World War Two to a merciful end, which resulted in saving the lives of Americans and Japanese”).10 A similar resolution of the House passed on the same day (sponsored by Republican congressman Pat Roberts) labelled the 1994 Smithsonian exhibition plan “revisionist and offensive to many World War Two veterans.”11

 Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, “Tentative Exhibit Title: The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb, and the Onset of the Cold War, Projected Dates: May 1995 to January 1996” (1993), Accessed 13 April, 2018, media/enolagay/07-93.asp.  Martin Harwit, An Exhibit Denied. Lobbying the History of Enola Gay (New York: Copernicus Springer, 1996), 230.  American Legion, “Crew of the Enola Ga,” 1995, Accessed 20 April, 2018,https://www.le  The Baltimore Sun, “Enola Gay Exhibit,” The Baltimore Sun, February 6, 1995, Accessed 13 April, 2019,; The Baltimore Sun, “Controversy Heating up a Year before Enola Gay’s Museum Debut,” The Baltimore Sun, May 9, 1994, http://articles.baltimoresun. com/1994-05-09/news/1994129177_1_enola-gay-smithsonian-multiple-viewpoints.  Fred Barnes, “Revenge of the Squares,” The New Republic (1995): 23 (23–29).  Nancy Kassebaum Landon, “A Resolution to Express the Sense of the Senate Regarding the Appropriate Portrayal of Men and Women of the Armed Forces in the Upcoming National Air and Space Museum’s Exhibit on the Enola Gay” (1994), Accessed 13 April, 2019, https://  Pat Roberts, “To Express the Sense of the House Regarding the Appropriate Portrayal of Men and Women of the Armed Forces in the Upcoming National Air and Space Museum’s


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By January 1995 the revised script of the Enola Gay exhibition included a broad narrative of aggressive Japanese steps leading to Pearl Harbor attack (Japan’s war crimes in China, the rape of Nanking, among other atrocities) and the main chapters of the Pacific war.12 It presented the atomic bombings as an alternative to the planned invasion of Kyushu (Operation Olympic) – in other words, an act which would result in fewer losses of lives for the U.S., its allies and soldiers in countries occupied by Japan. For the U.S. President Harry Truman, even the Luzon-scale casualty estimates (31,000) were much too high,13 stressed this narrative. The revised exhibition script explained that during a hypothetical invasion of Japan (Operation Downfall) including Kyushu and Honshu operations (the November 1945 Olympic and March 1946 Coronet, respectively, i.e. amphibious landings in Japan), U.S. losses could reach half a million and Japanese casualties would be even higher.14 By early 1995 among the disputable issues between NASM management and the veterans’ associations remained a number of casualties avoided by the atomic bombings.15 Fiasco of the exhibition could be explained by Harwit’s decision to change the script in early January 1995 to address the sensitive matter of the estimated U.S. casualties that would be avoided due to the atomic bombings, lowered to 63 thousand in Kyushu invasion losses estimate (if the bomb had not been dropped).16 In the end, the proposed NASM exhibit on the end of

Exhibit on the Enola Gay” (1994), Accessed 20 April, 2018, 103rd-congress/house-resolution/531.  Smithsonian Institution, “The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II” (1995), 75–79, Accessed 13 April, 2018,  Smithsonian Institution, “The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II” (1995), 75–79, Accessed 13 April, 2018,  Smithsonian Institution, “The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II” (1995), 75–79, Accessed 13 April, 2018,; Barton Bernstein, “The Alarming Japanese Buildup on Southern Kyushu, Growing U.S. Fears, and Counterfactual Analysis: Would the Planned November 1945 Invasion of Southern Kyushu Have Occurred?,” Pacific Historical Review 68, no. 4 (1999): 561–609.  Edward Tabor Linenthal, “Anatomy of a Controversy,” in History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past, ed. Edward Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt, Kindle (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996), 9–62; Edward Tabor Linenthal, “The A-Bomb Controversy at the National Air and Space Museum,” The Historian 57, no. 4 (1995): 686+, Accessed 13 April, 2019,  Stanley Goldberg, “The Debacle of the Enola Gay Exhibit: The Politicization of History,” Medicine & Global Survival 2, no. 2 (1995): 88; John Correll, “The Activists and the Enola Gay” (1995), 3, Accessed 13 April, 2018, EnolaGayArchive/082195specialreport.pdf; The Air Force Association, “The Enola Gay and

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World War Two was cancelled on January 30, 1995 by the Smithsonian Institution due to significant veterans’ associations pressure, to be replaced by a plain B-29 Enola Gay presentation without additional World War Two and Cold War narratives.17 The limited exhibition of B-29 fuselage opened on June 28, 1995 and attracted almost 100,000 visitors within a month.18 In July 1995 the B-29 fuselage was attacked by protesters opposing nuclear bombings (the police intervened, arresting three of the anti-bomb activists, who according to the media, here a LA Times report, were using human ashes and blood against the plane).19 By its closure in 1998 the B-29 exhibit had attracted about four million visitors.20 Annualy NASM was attracting ca nine million visitors in early 2000s, and its new UdvarHazy center opened December 15, 2003 with the new Enola Gay exhibit quickly attracting 220 thousand visits by the end of the year, while in 2004 the Udvar-Hazy visits reached 1.6 million a year.21 In 2019 the NASM Udvar-Hazy Center, where Enola Gay was presented, still attracted circa 108,000 visitors monthly (1.3 million annually), until the COVID outbreak of 2020, which reduced the number of visits in the center to 292,000 from January to October.22

the Smithsonian Chronology of the Controversy Including Key Documents 1993–1995” (1996), Accessed 13 April, 2019,; Harwit, An Exhibit Denied. Lobbying the History of Enola Gay, 380–383; Philip Nobile, “On the Steps of the Smithsonian. Hiroshima Denial in America’s Attic,” in Judgment at the Smithsonian, ed. Philip Nobile (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1995), xxxix–xli.  Correll, “The Smithsonian and the Enola Gay”; Arthur Hirsch, “Smithsonian Cancels Exhibit on Atomic Bomb,” The Baltimore Sun, January 31, 1995, Accessed 23 April, 2018, http://; Arthur Hirsch, “Enola Gay Exhibit Opens without an Agenda,” The Baltimore Sun, June 28, 1995, Accessed 23 April, 2018, enola-gay-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-bombings-of-hiroshima.  Correll, “The Activists and the Enola Gay,” 1.  LA Times and Associated Press, “3 Arrested After Protest at Smithsonian Enola Gay Exhibit,” LA Times, July 3, 1995, Accessed 13 April, 2019, news/mn-19893_1_enola-gay.  The Air Force Association, “The Enola Gay and the Smithsonian. Chronology of the Controversy 1993–1995” (1996), Accessed 13 April, 2019, Documents/EnolaGayArchive/EG_chronology93-95.pdf.  Smithsonian Institution, Accessed 13 April, 2018, stats.  Statista, Accessed 13 April, 2019,


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The Controversy of Enola Gay Exhibition in 2003 NASM prepared an exhibit of the fully renovated Enola Gay B-29 bomber in its newly opened Udvar-Hazy Center with a plan to present it in December 2003. By autumn 2003 plans for this exhibit seemed to raise no controversies in the U.S., or certainly none on the scale of the 1994–1995 debate. Yet, while domestic objections to the Enola Gay exhibit in 2003 could be seen as few in comparison to the previous controversy, the new NASM exhibition did garner the protests of Japanese atomic victims’ associations. In August 2003 the Japanese Hiroshima associations criticised the planned Enola Gay exposition for not properly mentioning the suffering of atomic bomb casualties. The new element of this exhibition was the presentation of the entire Enola Gay B-29 airplane (the 1995 exhibition presented only the fuselage). Atomic victims’ associations deputies protested against showing Enola Gay to the public due to the traumatic memories it would evoke.23 Hiroshima city officials were considering the lodging of a formal complaint, while the Hiroshima Hidankyo and the Gensuikyo associations of victims e-mailed requests to NASM director Jack Dailey demanding that the exhibition to be withdrawn.24 The Hidankyo representatives met with U.S. anti-atomic circles in late September 2003 (Peace Action, Catholic Worker, DC Antiwar Network) including American University (AU) faculty to discuss protest strategy in the case of the new Enola Gay exhibit (later the protesting groups were linked as the Committee for a National Discussion of Nuclear History and Current Policy).25 The protests were led by historian Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at AU.26 In November 2003 the Smithsonian issued a statement (referring to the petition from the Kuznick-led Committee) dismissing the idea of turning the exhibition into a point of national discussion on nuclear policies, stressing that Enola Gay helped to bring an end to war, while B-29 aircrafts became critically

 David Rennie and Colin Joyce, “Enola Gay Flies into New A-Bomb Controversy,” The Telegraph, August 21, 2003, Accessed 13 April, 2019, news/northamerica/usa/1439422/Enola-Gay-flies-into-new-A-bomb-controversy.html.  Rennie and Joyce.  Lawrence Wittner, “The Enola Gay, the Atomic Bomb and American War Memory,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 3, no. 6 (2005): 1–6, Accessed 13 April, 2018,–Wittner/1777/article.pdf.  Wittner; American University (2018), “Peter Kuznick,” Accessed 13 April, 2018, https://www.; Peter Kuznick, “The Decision to Risk the Future: Harry Truman, the Atomic Bomb and the Apocalyptic Narrative,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 5, no. 7 (2007): 1–23, Accessed 13 April, 2019, https://–Kuznick/2479/article.pdf.

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important to U.S. deterrence after the war.27 At the same time, NASM refused to include an account of Japanese casualties of atomic bombings in the exhibit (as Dailey explained in the press, to give a balanced view on the ending of World War Two voices of all victims of the war should be represented).28 At the December 2003 opening, Japanese sources confirmed the presence of Tanaka Teruni, secretary general of Hidankyo, among the four-member delegation of atomic bomb victims’ associations. The hibakusha (atomic victims) representation requests included an exhibition of photographs and other materials documenting the suffering of the bomb’s casualties as a condition of the Enola Gay exhibit.29 The opening was interrupted by anti-nuclear activists supporting the protesting Japanese atomic bomb survivors (two protesters were arrested for throwing red paint at the Enola Gay).30 Kuznick’s (and other signatories’) open letter on the 2003 exhibit stated that the exhibition “legitimizes what happened in 1945 and helps build support for the Bush administration’s dangerous new nuclear policies.”31 Kuznick’s petition of 177 signatories was backed by Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and Oliver Stone, among others.32 John Dower, who signed Kuznick’s letter, condemned President George W. Bush’s policies, criticised the doctrine and practice of the G.W. Bush administration in the context of the war

 Smithsonian Institution, “Statement on Exhibition of the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay,” November 7, 2003, Accessed 13 April, 2018, leases/statement-exhibition-b-29-superfortress-enola-gay.  Lawrence van Gelder, “Smithsonian Rejects Pleas On Labeling Of Enola Gay,” The New York Times, November 12, 2003, Accessed 13 April, 2019, smithsonian-rejects-pleas-on-labeling-of-enola-gay.html; Jacqueline Trescott, “Enola Gay Exhibit Won’t Be Changes,” The Washington Post, November 11, 2003, Accessed 21 May, 2018, https:// 531a37d0-86f4-4101-9ac1-ba10bcffcc87/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6d63b33b402f; Sam Husseini and David Zupan, “Controversial ‘Enola Gay’ Exhibit: Interviews Available” (2003), Accessed 13 April, 2019,  Japan Press Weekly, “Do Not Gloss over Enola Gay: A-Bomb Sufferers to Visit U.S. Museum,” Japan Press Weekly, 2003, Accessed 13 April, 2019, enolagay.html.  BBC, “Enola Gay Display Angers Victims,” BBC News, December 16, 2003, Accessed 13 April, 2019,  Peter Kuznick and Committee for a National Discussion of Nuclear History and Current Policy, “A Statement” (2003), Accessed 13 April, 2019, 1773.  Robert Dudney, “Enola Gay II,” Air Force Magazine, December 2003, Accessed 13 April, 2019,


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against terrorism and the U.S. intervention in Iraq, claiming that the cabinet of this president was compromised by a groupthink syndrome.33 The Enola Gay has remained a part of the Udvar-Hazy Center World War Two aviation exhibition,34 remaining on display fully assembled until the museum was closed in 2020 due to COVID outbreak.35 Gallup 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 25-28 July 2005 20-23 July 1995 2-5 December 21-24 November 19-21 July 1990 1994 1991 for


10-15 August 1945

no opinion

Figure 1: U.S. respondents’ views on atomic bombings (Gallup). Source: David Moore, “Majority Supports Use of Atomic Bomb on Japan in WWII,” Gallup News, August 5, 2005, Accessed 23 April, 2018,

 John Dower, Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9–11 / Iraq, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010), 233, 441–446, 778–779, loc. 345–370; Irving Janis and Leon Mann, Decision Making. A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice and Commitment (New York: The Free Press, 1977).  National Air and Space Museum. “Boeing B-29 Superfortress ‘Enola Gay,’” 2018, Accessed 13 April, 2019,  Steven F., Udvar-Hazy Center, Accessed 13 April, 2019, dia-gallery/web10673-2007hjpg.

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Conclusions The controversial aspects of NASM 1994–1995 exhibition plan concerned the decision to use atomic bombs against Japan in the context of predicted losses in the event of amphibious landing, as well as the bombings’ role in shaping U.S.Soviet relations (and the Cold War). Among other possible reasons of the atomic bombing of Japan was also fierce determination of the Japanese to fight until the bitter end, proved by suicidal but partly efficient kamikaze airplane attacks. As the Gallup findings, presented above (Figure 1), proved, the U.S. public opinion views on Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings changed within 60 years of WWII from clear 80% support (and 10% condemnation) after the war to below 60% support and almost 40% disapproval in 2005. The academic discussion on the first NASM exhibition, which was cancelled in January 1995 and replaced by a narrow presentation of the repaired B-29 Enola Gay fuselage, revealed the scope of divisions in matters of U.S. historical policy, influenced at that time by the pressure of veterans determined to maintain their righteous place in the main narrative of World War Two. As we have seen, these protestors gained right-wing support. The Smithsonian NASM’s 2003 presentation of the renovated Enola Gay B-29 bomber plane attracted criticism for a non-sensitive approach towards atomic bomb victims and for giving support to offensive contemporary U.S. nuclear posturing. The opening of that exhibition was disrupted by protests of Japanese atomic victims’ associations, supported by U.S. anti-nuclear activists and intellectuals (of leftist-liberal stance). Despite the critical voices concerning controversial nuclear policies of the Republican camp (G.W. Bush’s administration) through this Enola Gay exhibit, as noted, the bomber remained on display until the COVID outbreak of 2020.

References Alperovitz, Gar. The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb. Kindle. New York: Vintage Books, 1995. American University. “Peter Kuznick.” 2018. Accessed 13 April, 2019,https://www.american. edu/customcf/au-experts/details.cfm?user=D2F26FEE3D3FECDD403B6398CC1C882C. Atomic Heritage Foundation. “Controversy over the Enola Gay Exhibition.” 2016. Accessed 13 April, 2019, Barnes, Fred. “Revenge of the Squares.” The New Republic, Vol. 212, Issue 11, March 13, 1995, pp. 23–29. BBC. “Enola Gay Display Angers Victims.” BBC News, December 16, 2003. Accessed 13 April, 2019,


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Correll, John. “The Activists and the Enola Gay.” 1995. Accessed 13 April, 2018, http://www.air Correll, John. “The Smithsonian and the Enola Gay.” 2004. Accessed 13 April, 2018, Controversy.pdf. Dower, John. Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9–11 / Iraq. Kindle. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. Dudney, Robert. “Enola Gay II.” Air Force Magazine, 2003. Accessed 13 April, 2019, 1203edit.pdf. Gelder, Lawrence van. “Smithsonian Rejects Pleas On Labeling Of Enola Gay.” The New York Times, November 12, 2003. Accessed 13 April, 2019, 12/arts/smithsonian-rejects-pleas-on-labeling-of-enola-gay.html. Goldberg, Stanley. “The Debacle of the Enola Gay Exhibit: The Politicization of History.” Medicine & Global Survival 2, no. 2 (1995): 81–90. Harwit, Martin. An Exhibit Denied. Lobbying the History of Enola Gay. New York: Copernicus Springer, 1996. Hirsch, Arthur. “Enola Gay Exhibit Opens without an Agenda.” The Baltimore Sun, June 28, 1995. Accessed 23 April, 2018, 1995179143_1_enola-gay-hiroshima-and-nagasaki-bombings-of-hiroshima. Hirsch, Arthur. “Smithsonian Cancels Exhibit on Atomic Bomb.” The Baltimore Sun, January 31, 1995. Accessed 23 April, 2018, features/1995031159_1_heyman-atomic-enola-gay. Hogan, Michael. “The Enola Gay Controversy: History, Memory, and the Politics of Presentation.” In Hiroshima in History and Memory, edited by Michael Hogan, 200–232. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Husseini, Sam, and David Zupan. “Controversial ‘Enola Gay’ Exhibit: Interviews Available.” 2003. Accessed 13 April, 2019, Janis, Irving, and Leon Mann. Decision Making. A Psychological Analysis of Conflict, Choice and Commitment. New York: The Free Press, 1977. Japan Press Weekly. “Do Not Gloss over Enola Gay: A-Bomb Sufferers to Visit U.S. Museum.” Japan Press Weekly, 2003. Accessed 13 April, 2019, 2003/2361/enolagay.html. Kassebaum Landon, Nancy. A resolution to express the sense of the Senate regarding the appropriate portrayal of men and women of the Armed Forces in the upcoming National Air and Space Museum’s exhibit on the Enola Gay. 1994. Accessed 13 April, 2019, Kuznick, Peter, and Committee for a National Discussion of Nuclear History and Current Policy. “A Statement.” 2003. Accessed 13 April, 2019, 1773. Legion, American. “Crew of the Enola Gay.” 1995. Accessed 20 April, 2018, https://www. Linenthal, Edward Tabor. “Anatomy of a Controversy.” In History Wars: The Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past, edited by Edward Linenthal and Tom Engelhardt, Kindle, 9–62. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1996.

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Linenthal, Edward Tabor. “The A-Bomb Controversy at the National Air and Space Museum.” The Historian 57, no. 4 (1995): 686. Accessed 13 April, 2019, read/1G1-17404071/the-a-bomb-controversy-at-the-national-air-and-space. Moore David. “Majority Supports Use of Atomic Bomb on Japan in WWII,” Gallup News, August 5, 2005. Accessed 23 April, 2018, National Air and Space Museum. “Boeing B-29 Superfortress ‘Enola Gay.’” 2018. Accessed 13 April, 2019, Nobile, Philip. “On the Steps of the Smithsonian. Hiroshima Denial in America’s Attic.” In Judgment at the Smithsonian, edited by Philip Nobile. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1995, pp. xviii–xcvii. Post, Robert C. Who Owns America’s Past? Smithsonian and the Problem of History. Kindle. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013. Rennie, David, and Colin Joyce. “Enola Gay Flies into New A-Bomb Controversy.” The Telegraph, August 21, 2003. Accessed 13 April, 2019, news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1439422/Enola-Gay-flies-into-new-A-bombcontroversy.html. Roberts, Pat. To express the sense of the House regarding the appropriate portrayal of men and women of the Armed Forces in the upcoming National Air and Space Museum’s exhibit on the Enola Gay. 1994. Accessed 20 April, 2018, 103rd-congress/house-resolution/531. Smithsonian Institution. “Statement on Exhibition of the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay.” 2003. Accessed 13 April, 2018, ment-exhibition-b-29-superfortress-enola-gay. Smithsonian Institution. “The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II.” 1995. Accessed 13 April, 2019, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. “Tentative Exhibit Title: The Crossroads: The End of World War II, the Atomic Bomb, and the Onset of the Cold War, Projected Dates: May 1995 to January 1996.” 1993. Accessed 13 April, 2018, The Air Force Association. “The Enola Gay and the Smithsonian. Chronology of the Controversy 1993–1995.” 1996. Accessed 13 April, 2019, Documents/EnolaGayArchive/EG_chronology93-95.pdf. The Air Force Association. “The Enola Gay and the Smithsonian Chronology of the Controversy Including Key Documents 1993–1995.” 1996. Accessed 13 April, 2019, http://secure.afa. org/media/enolagay/chrono.asp. The Baltimore Sun. “Controversy Heating up a Year before Enola Gay’s Museum Debut.” The Baltimore Sun, May 9, 1994. Accessed 13 April, 2019, 1994-05-09/news/1994129177_1_enola-gay-smithsonian-multiple-viewpoints. The Baltimore Sun. “Enola Gay Exhibit.” The Baltimore Sun, February 6, 1995. Accessed 21 May, 2018, Times, LA, and Associated Press. “3 Arrested After Protest at Smithsonian Enola Gay Exhibit.” LA Times, July 3, 1995. Accessed 21 May, 2018, news/mn-19893_1_enola-gay.


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Trescott, Jacqueline. “Enola Gay Exhibit Won’t Be Changes.” The Washington Post, November 11, 2003. Accessed 21 May, 2018, lifestyle/2003/11/11/enola-gay-exhibit-wont-be-changed/531a37d0-86f4-4101-9ac1ba10bcffcc87/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6d63b33b402f. Walker, Samuel J. “The Decision to Use the Bomb: A Historiographical Update.” In Hiroshima in History and Memory, edited by Michael Hogan, 11–37. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Wittner, Lawrence. “The Enola Gay, the Atomic Bomb and American War Memory.” The AsiaPacific Journal 3, no. 6 (2005): 1–6. Accessed 13 April, 2018,–Wittner/1777/article.pdf.

Budi Agustono and Farida R. Wargadalem

Japan’s Power in East Sumatra and South Sumatra Abstract: This paper aims to focus on the historical relationship of the Japanese occupation in East Sumatra and South Sumatra. Various policies continued to be implemented in accordance with the conditions of war at that time. For three and a half years, the policies carried out were to provide land for planting food commodities, mobilisation of Romusha, giving opportunities for figures to occupy important positions in the government until the promise of independence for Indonesia. After Indonesia’s independence (1945), a new round of IndonesianJapanese relations began. The relationship between the two countries became collaborative and more fluid, and continued to develop until the present day. Japan remains one of Indonesia’s important partners in various fields, especially in the field of economy trade. Keywords: Asia-Pacific War; East Sumatra; Japanese occupation; South Sumatra Japan’s ambition to become Asia’s leading power was proven by its planned and relatively swift domination in the Pasifik arena in WWII. The control of natural resources in Southeast Asia was executed by commandeering raw materials and taking over mining areas, especially in the Dutch East Indies. Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula, united under the control of the Japanese twenty-fifth army military government based in Singapore, were described as “the nuclear zone in Southern Area,” because of their strategic importance as well as their economic value as sources of oil, rubber, tin, coal and bauxite.1 Therefore, Japan saw the conquest of Sumatra as the key to critical control of all Indonesian regions.2 In addition, the country was in a very strategic location. To conquer Sumatra, Japan

 Anthony Reid, “The birth of the Republic in Sumatra,” Indonesia no. 12 (Oct. 1971): 22.  The Japanese occupation period in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia, was more concise compared to Western colonialism. It was only about three and a half years, 1942–1945. The propaganda of Japan when she landed in the region was to build “Greater East Asia.” To realize that, Japan tried to win support from as many population as possible in the occupied territory, so that she cooperated with those who influenced the grassroots level with the objective that mobilisation would be successful. The Japanese military administrators realised the importance of Islam as a power factor in the Indonesian. Therefore, Japan used ulama or kiyai (religious leaders/ scholars) as its main agents of propaganda. See Harry J. Benda, The Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation 1942–1945 (The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958).


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first occupied Palembang (one of the most important areas of the Netherlands outside Java) and its entire territory at the end of February 1942. Furthermore, Japan confiscated all Dutch colonial relics such as Royal Dutch shell oilfields, suppressed all political actions and existing social organisations. The Japanese made Palembang the most important base in its occupation in the western part of Indonesia. After occupying Palembang, Japan successfully invaded the regions of Aceh, Medan, Padang and Lampung.3 In addition, the invaders conquered Java and other regions. All Dutch East Indies’ territories were officially subdued by the Japanese military government in the Kalijati Capitulation on March 8, 1942. Japan’s conquest of East Sumatra took place on March 12, 1942 through an amphibious landing in Tanjung Tiram. On the following day a group of Japanese army troops successfully entered Medan using bicycles taken from the local residents. When they entered the city, the Dutch Police Chief Commissioner, P.H.J.M. Maseland, who married a Japanese woman, greeted the Japanese troops sympathetically. Meanwhile the major, the sultan and other important officials waited at the police station.4 The first action taken by the Japanese military government in Medan on March 13, 1942 was to broadcast strict regulations throughout the city.5 In addition to these regulations a curfew was imposed, from 7.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. Anyone who did not comply with the ban and was found on the road or outside their houses would be punished and given a warning shot beforehand.6 During the reign of Japan, Sumatra Island was divided into ten residencies or shu. Each shu was led by a chokan. Medan and Palembang were two cities under the control of each chokan. By 1939 under the aegis of the Dutch Medan had been identified as a Stadsgemeente (City Council). However, under the Japanese rule on March 13, 1942 the Medan City Council became the Medan Shi headed by a Medan Sityo, Mayor of Medan. His government ended on August 24, 1945 when Japan surrended to the Allied powers. The structure of municipal government in Medan at that time was as follows:  Mestika Zed, Kepialangan Politik dan Revolusi Palembang 1900–1950 (Jakarta: LP3ES, 2003), 226–233.  Tengku Luckman Sinar, Sejarah Medan Tempo Doeloe (Medan: Perwira, 1991), 100.  The announcement contained: closure of banks and the post office, prohibition of Dutch Indies radio broadcasting, prohibition of radio broadcasting with other countries, confiscation of weapons by police and maintenance of order via use of weapons if necessary by police. See M.A. Loderichs, D.A. Buiskool, B.B. Hering et al., Medan: Beeld van Een Stand (Purmerend: Asia Maior, 1997).  M.A. Loderichs, D.A. Buiskool, B.B. Hering et al., Medan: Beeld van Een Stand (Purmerend: Asia Maior, 1997).

Japan’s Power in East Sumatra and South Sumatra

Mayor (Sityo) Secretary Vice Secretary Treasurer


Shinichi Hayasaki Mr. Mohd. Jusuf Mr. Loeat Siregar and S. M. Tarigan Jap Gim Sek and Nakafuyi

Meanwhile, in accordance with its main objective of controlling strategic resources, Japan demontrated its authority through uncompromising and indiscriminate eradication of the Dutch. For example, the Palembang resident secretary was killed and the head of Bukit Asam Meijn coal company committed suicide. As a result of Japan’s draconian policies, various Indonesian politial movements and organisations that had developed during the Dutch era gradually retreated to the heartland. Many nomads in Palembang returned to their hometowns in order to save their families.7 Yet, after several months of this stringent practice the Japanese military government changed its strategy and invited Dutch movement leaders to take part in activities. Despite harsh practices, the Japanese government in Indonesia generally maintained the structure of the established Dutch colonial system. While names of official polices and programs were changed there was no change to the Dutch government structure. One unique example of this took place in Medan, where the head of the city administration (Medan Sityo) was a Japanese, Shinichi Hayasaki, but the one who carried out the daily practice of the Medan administration was Mr. Mohd. Jusuf who was assisted by his secretaries. Residents considered Jusuf as mayor of Medan.8 The Japanese military government viewed East Sumatra as a rich source of raw materials for the needs of the war, especially the rubber plantations and oil mining at Pangkalan Brandan. During the occupation, plantations with export commodities such as tobacco received less attention because Japan was focused on the logistics of the war. In fact, tobacco lands were given to workers and other residents to plant food. For instance, much of the Deli Tua Tobacco Plantation was not used for tobacco because Japan ordered locals to grow food crops such as rice, corn, sweet potatoes and to develop other industrial crops, such as fiber, nuts and jatropha. With tobacco lands requisitioned for food and tobacco production at a sharp decline, this industry descended to a possible

 Mangkualam Asnawi, Padamu Terletak Qadar Sebuah Autobiografi (Jakarta: CV. Mirasari, 1997), 43; Nurhamidah, “Perkembangan Kota Medan 1909–1951,” in e-USU Repositor (Medan: Universitas Sumatera Utara, 2004), 21.  Karl J. Pelzer, Toean Keboen dan Petani: Politik Kolonial dan Perjuangan Agraria (Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 1985), 153. Also see Nasrul Hamdani, Komunitas Cina di Medan dalam Lintasan Tiga Kekuasaan 1930–1960 (Jakarta: LIPI Press, 2012), 115.


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nadir during the Second World War. The Japanese government authorised the Deli Tua plantations to grow only 100 hectares of this tobacco; whereas the amount of tobacco production in 1943 reached 40,000 bales, the following year recorded a drastic decline of approximately 1,000 bales. Meanwhile in Palembang, Japan controlled the oil refining centers in Plaju and Sungai Gerong. The latter was the biggest oil refinery in terms of producing the largest quantities of oil to meet Japan’s war needs in the Pacific and other regions. The Japanese took over all Indonesian trade activities including the supervision of clothing/textiles and comestibles such as rice, sugar, salt, kerosene, cooking oil, soap and matches. All types of valuable assets (motorcycles, cars, boats, motorboats and goods made of iron/steel) belonging to residents had to be reported to the Japanese military government. The governement recorded all wealth, including the amount of rice/field production that was handed over to the Japanese authorities without compensation. Not only tobacco lands but also tea and coffee plantations were requisitioned for the cultivation of jatropha, quinine and other crops supportive to the war effort. Jatropha plants were needed for lubricating Japanese military machines, while quinine plants were used for making anti-malarial drugs. At that time malaria was a prevalent and debilitating contagious diseases. Japan fully controlled the residents’ basic needs and established predetermined prices and venues at which supplies could be bought and sold. Residents in Palembang, for instance, were only allowed to buy their daily necessities in a place called Toko Gabungan (Joint Store). In the rural areas, the distribution of basic needs was carried out through the heads of clans and villages. Because they were awarded in relatively small quantities, the prices of these necessities skyrocketed. Supply and prices were adversely effected, moreover, by the manipulations of various clan and village officers. Under such conditions, it became increasingly difficult for the indigenous population to obtain daily necessities.9 During the Japanese occupation, jatropha, quinine and rubber became the most essential plants as a result of Japan’s wartime needs. Farmers and other residents were mobilised to support food procurement programs for war and to step in as reserve soldiers. Such a condition was supported by an unadvanced political movement in Sumatra which was another benefit received by Japan.10 Various policies were carried out by the Japanese occupation government regarding land and land ownership issues in East Sumatra. Plantation land was  Ibid, 154; Ministry of Information of the Republic of Indonesia 1954. South Sumatra Province, 72; K.H.O. Gajahnata, et al., Sejarah Teknik Minyak Plaju (APTEMIP) 1942–1945 (Palembang: Universitas Sriwijaya, 2000), 6.  Nasrul Hamdani 2012, 115.

Japan’s Power in East Sumatra and South Sumatra


confiscated and became Japanese property. As a result, the privileges held by the traditional rulers and the land lease rights they enjoyed were abolished.11 East Sumatra’s plantation area was eventually divided into five divisions, each of which was governed by a body called Syonan Gomu Kumia.12 Japan’s power during the occupation continued to diminish the dignity and the domination once enjoyed by indigenous noblemen. During the celebration of local memorial services and holidays, local sultans had to share the stage with the politicians, and were encouraged to sing the praises of Japan. A tragic scene took place when the noblemen of the sultanate had to demonstrate the way to hold a hoe, in order to show the occupying forces how to farm. Local elite were asked to involve the Japanese in gotong royong (working together in a field), an awkward event for both parties. Though the Japanese were the rulers and Sumatra’s noblemen the elite, even they had to serve Japan and make a living.13 We see evidence of this in an ariticle in the daily newspaper “Kita Sumatora Sinbu” headed “Soeltan Asahan Toeroet Berladang” with one translation of a quote mentioning that: “. . . The Sultan of Asahan joined working in the field. Locals certainly never expected that their Sultan of Asahan would work in the field together with other farmers until they saw it themselves. The Sultan was told to interact with farmers in order to motivate other indigenous elite to work in the field of agriculture.”14 In addition to harnessing local workers, Japan also tried to regulate administrative arrangements by dividing Sumatra into several divisions. However, this division did not significantly alter the partition of territory established during the Dutch East Indies period. In effect, the Japanese military government marely changed Dutch terms into Japanese terms (Table 1). Japan facilitated propaganda by overseeing what was published in Indonesian newspapers in every shu. In East Sumatra, for example, the newspaper “Sumatra Sinbun,” published in November 1942, changed its name to “Kita Sumatora Sinbun” in August 1943. This newspaper was published by Syonan Sinbun Kai, whose head office was in Medan.15  Michael van Langenberg, National Revolution in North Sumatra: Sumatra Timur and Tapanuli 1942–1950, doctoral thesis, University of Sydney, 1976, 229.  Syonan Gomu Kumia was the body in charge of coordinating plantation yields. This body was based in Singapore. F.J.J. Dootjes, Kroniek 1941–1946, 49.  Anthony Reid, Sumatera Revolusi dan Elite Tradisional (Jakarta: Komunitas Bambu, 2011), 153.  Kita Sumatora Sinbun, September 6, 1943.  The head of this newspaper was Djamaloedin (Adi Negoro), while the business manager was M. Zainoeddin. In addition to his job as a journalist, Djamaloeddin (Adi Negoro) was also one of the advisory members of Mayor of Medan, Hayasaki. See Anthony Reid 2011, 154.


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Table 1: Transition from the Netherlands’ Indies bureaucracy to Japan’s bureaucracy. Mestika Zed. 2005. Gyugun Cikal Bakal Tentara Nasional di Sumatera, Jakarta: LP3ES, 21; Ma’moen Abdullah et al. 1984/1985. Kota Palembang sebagai Kota Dagang dan Industri, Department of Education and Culture, Director General of History and Traditional Values, IDSN Project, 109–110. No.

Administration Unit of Dutch Period

Position Holder

Administration Unit of Japanese Period

Position Holder








Assistant Resident







Fuku bunshu-tyo








Vice Demang









Sub-Village (Dusun)

Head of Nagari/Dusun


Ku co

Though the news covered in “Kita-Sumatora-Sinbun” was diverse, all accounts contained propaganda for both domestic and overseas consumption. One of the headlines for news published in Indonesia, for example, was “Toean Tozyo sekali lagi mengoetjapkan djandjinja jang memberi pengharapan kepada bangsa Indonesia di Djawa,” which translates as: “Once again, Mr. Tozyo fulfilled his promises by awarding appreciation to the Indonesian people in Java.” The article described how Mr. Hideki Tozyo, the Japanese Prime Minister, had invited the people of Java to jointly assist the Japanese military in fighting allies and destroying British and American influence in Greater East Asia.16 Few local journalists and politicians were employed in “Kita-SumatoraSinbun.” Therefore, some of them worked in Sendenhan, the Japanese Propaganda Bureau. Mohammad Said (Penjedar) and the Gerindo leader, Saleh Umar, were employed there after being released from Japanese custody for their alleged involvement in the Aron incident in Pancur Batu. Sendenhan produced propaganda for various cultural activities including concerts, art exhibitions, lectures and anti-Western drama performances.17 Meanwhile, the art that was encouraged and therefore developed in Palembang was restricted to performances in cinemas, which functioned mainly as Japanese political propaganda

 Sumatra Sinbun, (1943), 13.  Anthony Reid 2011, 155.

Japan’s Power in East Sumatra and South Sumatra


platforms. Almost every week such performances took place in Saga and Elite cinemas. The only movies played were those that portrayed Japanese heroism of Japanese military success in various battles.18 Likewise, songs performed were Japanese and full of enthusiasm (sinsin). Such songs were also taught at schools in order to indoctrinate the young of all things Japanese. In this way Japan’s eminence would be fast spreading from the youngest generation (schoolaged children) to the oldest generation. Thus, there was a planned effort to erase the memory of the Indonesia’s own history and culture. Various Japanese policies in Palembang restricted and monitored local or national events. Yet perhaps because of the needs at that time, the occupying force began to loosen their strict supervision by allowing the establishment of the “Barisan Keamanan Umum,” the Public Security Front organisation. As the name suggests, this entity was aimed at maintaining the security of the people. There followed the etablisment of other Indonesian intelligence organisations, i.e. “Tokkokan” and “Boeroeng Hantoe.”19 At the same time as the establishment of such organizations, Ir. Soekarno arrived in Palembang on his trip from Padang to Jakarta, after he was released from Dutch imprisonment. On that occasion, a meeting between the youth who were members of the Indonesian Movement (Gerindo) and the members of Raya Indonesia Party (PIR) took place. The meeting resulted in an agreement/commitment regarding the direction of the Indonesian struggle, stating that “1) unity among all leading local figures in dealing with Japanese fascism should be maintained, 2) community relations should be maintained, 3) steps taken both legally and illegally should be regulated.”20 This meeting indicated that there was a consolidation in various political movement groups in Palembang. Due to diverse and numerous difficulties caused by Japan’s occupation, resistance occurred in the villages of Banda, Puninjawa and Baturaja in August and September 1942. Opposition actions against Japan also occurred in Air Itam Marga Penukal. Since the Dutch colonial period, this area had become the base of Indonesia’s resistance through the Sarikat Islam organisation (“Sarikat Abang” in 1917/1918). Toward the end of 1944 the group was led by Abdul Saleh Mattjik and Hamzan Kuntjit (activists of Partai Serikat Islam Indonesia, the Indonesian Islamic Union Party). Their efforts were brutally crushed by the Japanese and leading figures including Mattjik and Koentjik were imprisoned. In addition,

 Makmun Abdullah et al., Kota Palembang sebagai Kota Dagang dan Insdustri (Department of Education and Culture, Director General of History and Traditional Values, IDSN Project, 1984/1985), 114.  Mestika Zed 2003, 239–240.  Ministry of Information of the Republic of Indonesia (1954). South Sumatra Province, 182.


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more than 92 people were put behind bars. Most of them died in prison, brutally murdered. Only five of them survived including Koentjit and Mattjik.21 By mid-1943 the war had shifted directions. Japan, which had been the attacking party, now sought to “survive” from the strengthening Allied counterattack. The country changed its colonial pattern by offering “promises” of independence in order to get support from Indonesian fighters and local citizens. Through the “Badan Pembantu Pemerintah” (Government Assistance Agency), the occupying forces recruited indegenous peoples to build roads, bridges, military barracks, defense holes,22 airports and the Musi Harbour, and to work on large plantations and government buildings. This forced labour practice, known as “Romusha,” provided no actual pay or health insurance. In general, the population of South Sumatra at that time lacked both food and clothing, and struggled with the heavy workload levied by the Japanese. Those few who were paid, like other plantation workers, received limited funds and were obligated to plant more food for the needs of war.23 During this time Japan founded youth organisations that were engaged in the military, including “Heiho” (Auxiliary Soldiers) and “Gyugun” (People’s Army). Both groups were trained militarily in special camps (Lahat, Pagaralam) for between four and four and a half years by the Japanese military. After graduation, participants were assigned heavy and rough tasks, for example maintaining security and moving military equipment and food items. Recruitment to Gyugun was more selective than to Heiho: Gyugun members were expected to be fit and ready to fight. Toward the end of Japanese rule in Palembang (South Sumatra), the occupied forces relaxed their manner of conduct to accommodate the desires of the independence fighters and the indigenous people. This new policy was realised by the appointment of the Palembang native Raden Hanan as mayor. It was an extraordinary event; Hanan was the first and the only native Indonesian appointed as a mayor during the Japanese military administration. Another accomodating measure was permission to establish “Chuo Sangi In,” an Advisory Board for the  Sejarah Militer Daerah Militer IV Sriwijaya, Kenangan 30 tahun, daerah militer Sriwijaya (Palembang, 1975); Ministry of Information of the Republic of Indonesia (1954). South Sumatra Province; Ma’moen Abdullah (1984/1985), 114; Ma’moen Abdullah, Kota Palembang sebagai Kota Dagang dan Insdustri (Department of Education and Culture, Bagian Proyek inventarisasi dan Pembinaan Nilai-Nilai Budaya Propinsi Sumatera Selatan, 1991/1992), 142 and 157.  Defense holes are used for the defense of Japanese soldiers, the storage of weapons and ammunition, and activities such as the meeting army and imprisoning and torturing the prisoners of war.  Ramadhan K.H., Ibnu Sotowo Saatnya Saya Bercerita! (Jakarta: National Press Club of Indonesia, 2008); Ma’moen Abdullah 1991/1992, 158–159.

Japan’s Power in East Sumatra and South Sumatra


Sumatra region. This situation, which later changed its name to the “People’s Representative Council” of Sumatra, strengthened the country’s unity by allowing leading figures such as A. K. Gani, Adi Negoro and Mohammad Syafei to conduct safaris to various regions in Sumatra sunctioning the need for an “Indonesian Independence Investigation Committee” from June to early August 1945. This was a true step towards independence and emerged at the same time as other independence movements from various regions in Indonesia.24 After Indonesia’s independence (1945), a new round of Indonesian-Japanese relations began. Based on the Treaty of San Francisco (1951), Japan had to pay war reparation of 800 million US dollars to Indonesia. This sum was realised on January 20, 1958.25 In addition, various relationship agreements were established, including the Treaty of Amity and Commerce (1961), and the “Air Relations Agreement” (1962). In the meantime, there was a change in Indonesia’s government system; the fall of the government of President Soekarno (Old Order) made way for the New Order under the leadership of President Soeharto. The government of Soeharto needed huge funds to restore the economy, which at that time was so crippled that the inflation rate had reached 500%. Japan took advantage of opportunities to further strengthen its position in Indonesia by providing soft loan funds of 30 million US dollars. As a result, Indonesia’s exports to Japan reached the highest figure, i.e. 53%, while the import figure was 29%. Japan also invested heavily in Indonesia in the form of factories, especially in Java. The overwhelming dominance of Japan gave rise to people’s jealousy because those who enjoyed the benefits were some of the ruling elites. The feeling of antipathy towards Japan gave rise to increasingly more aggressive actions resulting in the “Malari” (January Fifteenth Disaster) in January 1974, which was a riot that began with massive demonstrations by students and the community, and culminated in the burning of buildings and some 800 Japanese-made cars. In addition, shops that sold Japanese products were looted. There were ultimately many positive effects of the “Malari.” IndonesiaJapan relations became more open, not only in the economic field, but also in other fields such as science and technology. Japan-Indonesia societies emerged, such as the Japan-Indonesia Association, Nihon-Indonesia Yukodantai Kyogikai, Tokyo Kai Songs and others. As a result of these first steps, the relationship between the two countries became positive and fluid and continued to develop.

 Mestika Zed 2003, 263–264, 272–274.  The Japanese paid compensation for their three and a half years of occupation of Indonesia 13 years after it ended. The Netherlands, which treated Indonesia as its colony from the 16th to the mid-20th century, did not pay any compensation for it.


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To this day, Japan remains one of Indonesia’s important partners in various fields, especially in the field of economy.

Glossary Badan Pembantu Pemerintah Government Assistence Agency Barisan Keamanan Umum Public Security Front Chou Sangi In Central Advisory Board Gotong Royong Mutual Aid Gyugun People’s Army Heiho Auxiliary Soldiers Malari January Fifteenth Disaster Medan Sityo Mayor of Medan Romusha Forced labors during Japanese occupation Sendenhan Japanese Propaganda Bureau Stadsgemeente City Council Syonan Gomu Kumia Agency that regulates the plantation area in East Sumatra

References Asnawi, Mangkualam. Padamu Terletak Qadar Sebuah Autobiografi. Jakarta: CV. Mirasari, 1997. Benda, Harry J. The Crescent and the Rising Sun: Indonesian Islam under the Japanese Occupation 1942–1945. The Hague: W. van Hoeve, 1958. Dootjes, F.J.J. Kroniek 1941–1946. Amsterdam: Ooskust van Sumatra Instituut, 1948. Gajahnata, K.H.O., et al. Sejarah Teknik Minyak Plaju (APTEMIP) 1942–1945. Palembang: Universitas Sriwijaya, 2000. Hamdani, N. Komunitas Cina di Medan dalam Lintasan Tiga Kekuasaan 1930–1960. Jakarta: LIPI Press, 2012. Kita Sumatora Sinbun, September 6, 1943. Langenberg, M. “National Revolution in North Sumatra: Sumatra Timur and Tapanuli 1942–1950.” PhD dissertation. University of Sydney, 1976. Loderichs, M.A., D.A. Buiskool, B.B. Hering, et al. Medan: Beeld van Een Stand. Purmerend: Asia Maior, 1997. Makmun, Abdullah, et al. Kota Palembang sebagai Kota Dagang dan Insdustri. Department of Education and Culture, Director General of History and Traditional Values, IDSN Project, 1984/ 1985. Makmun, Abdullah, et al. Department of Education and Culture, Bagian Proyek inventarisasi dan Pembinaan Nilai-Nilai Budaya Propinsi Sumatera Selatan. 1991/ 1992. Ministry of Information of the Republic of Indonesia, South Sumatra Province 1954.

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Nurhamidah. “Perkembangan Kota Medan 1909–1951.” In e-USU Repository. Medan: Universitas Sumatera Utara, 2004. 1–32. Pelzer, K.J. Toean Keboen dan Petani: Politik Kolonial dan Perjuangan Agraria. Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 1985. Ramadhan, K.H. Ibnu Sotowo Saatnya Saya Bercerita!. Jakarta: National Press Club of Indonesia, 2008. Reid, A. “The birth of the Republic in Sumatra.” In Indonesia, no. 12 (1971): 21–46. Reid, A. Sumatera Revolusi dan Elite Tradisional. Jakarta: Komunitas Bambu, 2011. Sejarah Militer Daerah Militer IV Sriwijaya. Kenangan 30 tahun, daerah militer Sriwijaya. Palembang: Sejarah Daearah Militer IV Sriwijaya, 1975. Sinar, T.L. Sejarah Medan Tempo Doeloe. Medan: Perwira, 1991. Sumatra Sinbun, July 13, 1943. Zed, Mestika. Kepialangan Politik dan Revolusi Palembang 1900–1950. Jakarta: LP3ES, 2003.

Maya Hadar

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the IsraeliIranian Conflict in Historical Context Abstract: Although they shared a historical alliance and enjoyed realpolitik cooperation in the past, Iran and Israel are currently far apart, and what separates them is more than a vast swath of desert. In stark contrast to former relations, and while Iran is not directly involved in the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict, fierce anti-Israel rhetoric, the pursuit of nuclear capabilities and involvement in the Syrian civil war make Iran Israel’s most critical contemporary national security challenge. This paper provides a historical and geopolitical exploration of the Israeli-Iranian relationship meant to explain the underlying causes for the shift in attitudes. Keywords: Israeli-Iranian relations; Middle East; Periphery Doctrine; Syrian civil war

Introduction Though a vast swath of desert lies between Israel and Iran, in many respects the fundamental interests of the two countries are complementary. The persistent Arab-Israeli conflict does not directly apply to Iran, and there is considerable goodwill and appreciation on the part of the Israeli public towards the Iranian people, as well as a genuine desire for better relations (Sachs 2014). However, the Islamic Republic, which governs Iran, is viewed very differently by Israelis; it is the most prominent current embodiment of Islamic radicalism, drawing on the Muslim world’s anger and hatred of Israel (Allin and Simon 2010). The regime’s fierce anti-Israel rhetoric and pursuit of nuclear capabilities makes it the most critical contemporary national security challenge, according to the Israeli government. Israel’s grave concerns over the policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran are amplified by Iran’s continued destabilising role in several countries, such as in Iraq and Syria and among Palestinian militant groups.


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This paper will explore and analyse the Israeli-Iranian relationship from geopolitical and historical points of view. After a brief presentation of Israeli Iranian relations, critical milestones in the said relationship will be discussed.1 This paper should be read in conjunction with the summarized timeline of Israeli-Iranian relations depicted in Figure 1 (1948–1992) and in Figure 2 (1993–2018).

In the Beginning Since the end of the nineteenth century, the Middle East2 has been in a permanent state of flux due to decolonisation, nation-state building, economic and domestic policy challenges and intra-regional conflicts. While the Middle East came under French and British rule following the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the First World War, it predominantly served as a battlefield of superpowers after the Second World War (Hasan 1982). The Middle East continues to be a focal point for superpowers to this day. American interests in the region are mainly economic, strategic and political,3 whereas the former Soviet Union, nowadays Russia, is directly concerned with the region due to its geographical proximity.4 During the first decades of the post-colonial era, a pattern emerged in the Middle East: the two protagonists of the Cold War, US and Russia, cultivated their local partners, while Turkey and Iran played limited roles. Frequent interArab conflicts, primarily between extremist regimes allied with the Soviet Union and pro-Western, conservative governments, accompanied the rampant ArabIsraeli conflict (Rabinovich 2015b). Due to its significant size and location along the east-west transit route, Iran has long enjoyed a preeminent position in its territorial region and beyond (Zarif 2014). After Israel was established (1948), and following the Israeli  Due to space limitation, I will focus on Iranian-Israeli linkage and interests. Despite their undoubted importance, less attention will be given to relevant regional and global players (Hezbollah, Palestinian Militants, Hamas, Iraq and the Kurds).  The “Middle East” is the area stretching from the eastern Mediterranean to Iran. It includes Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and sometimes also Egypt (Cambridge Dictionary n.d.)  American policies and concerns regarding the Middle East mainly revolve around oil (see, for example, the Carter Doctrine), the containment of communism (see, for example, the Eisenhower Doctrine) and the “Twin Pillar System,” as well as Israel’s security (Hasan 1982).  Russia has a three thousand mile long border with the Middle East. Former interests in the area included the soviet penetration of the Arab core (McLane 1973, 1, 8), improving ties with the northern Tier (in the 1960s), and maintaining military presence in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean as part of a general development of naval strength throughout the world (Hasan 1982).

Figure 1: Timeline Israeli Iranian relations 1948–1992. Source: Maya Hadar.

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context



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war of independence fought with its Arab neighbours,5 the prospect of pogroms against Iraqi Jews cultivated (Reich 2008). At that time, Iran supported Israeli efforts by smuggling Iraqi Jews, forbidden to leave Iraq, through its territory, to Israel. Following Israel’s Periphery Doctrine6 in the 1950s, and the 1953 Iranian coup d’etat which brought pro-Western Pahlavi to power, Israel reached out to the new regime in an attempt to establish diplomatic relations with Iran. This attempt was unsuccessful, mainly due to Iranian domestic opposition. However, Pahlavi valued the Israeli-Iranian shared interest in resisting the spread of pan-Arabism and their mutual alignment against the Soviets. He believed that friendship with Israel would foster American support (Simon 2010). Consequently, Israel managed to keep a small, permanent mission in Tehran, and ambassadors were eventually exchanged in the 1970s (ibid.).

A Congruence of Interests Formed by Regional Power Configuration During the next two decades and up until the Iranian revolution, Israel and Iran enjoyed realpolitik cooperation, based on a shared regional strategic interest in pan-Arabism and in diminishing Soviet influence (Parsi 2004). Iran was the second Muslim-majority country to recognise the state of Israel – a mere year after its’ establishment (March 14, 1950).7 As two predominantly nonArab countries,8 such cooperation made sense in light of the power balance in the region. With time, military and trade relations between the two countries increased; thousands of Israeli military advisors were sent to Iran to work in the defence industry and contributed to the creation of an influential Iranian military aimed  Which, from an Israeli perspective, resulted in an Israeli victory and a strategic defeat for the neighbouring Arab countries.  The Periphery Doctrine or the “Alliance of the Periphery” is a foreign policy strategy developed by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, targeting Turkey, pre-revolutionary Iran and imperial, predominantly Christian Ethiopia (Simon 2010). The doctrine called for Israel to develop close strategic alliances with non-Arab Muslim states in the Middle East in order to counteract the united opposition of Arab states to its existence (Alpher 2015; Reich 2008).  The first Muslim majority country to recognize Israel was Turkey (Anadolu Agency 2016).  While predominantly Jewish, it is important to note that about 21% of Israeli citizens are Arabs (Central Bureau of Statistics 2017). The major part of the Iranian population is Shi’a Muslim, 10% is Sunni Muslim and the largest minority group is Christians (Iran Population 2019 n.d.).

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context


at deterring Soviet influence.9 Israeli technical consultants were also sent to Iran to support its agricultural and health sectors. At the time, the expatriate community became large enough to warrant the establishment of an Israeli school in Tehran (Simon 2010). Iran purchased $500 million worth of arms from Israel (yearly, under Reza Shah) and exported petroleum to Israel during the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) embargo (Hosseini n.d.). In the two years that preceded the revolution (1975–1977), Iranians even enjoyed some 40 tons of Israeli oranges a year (Cohen and Ashkenazi 2009). For Israel, the flourishing relationship marked the success of the Periphery Doctrine and ensured the security of Iran’s large Jewish population (Sarshar 2012, 89–90).

From Allies to Enemies By the mid-1970s, Iran had acknowledged that in order to obtain and maintain its domination in the Persian Gulf and its own long-term security, it needed to be seen as a legitimate power in the eyes of its Arab neighbours. This necessitated a more conciliatory policy towards them. However, improved IranianArab relations were unlikely while Iran maintained ties with Israel (Parsi 2004). The “Algiers Accords,” signed between Iran and Iraq in the spring of 1975 constituted a turning point in the Israeli-Iranian relations – once Iran had cemented its strategic position in the Persian Gulf, distancing itself from the Jewish state was vital in order to win the acceptance of the Arabs (ibid.). Only a few weeks later the Iranian Shah was quoted as saying: We followed the principle “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”, and our relations with Israel began to develop. But now the situation has changed . . . I think occasionally of a new equilibrium in the region . . . Perhaps [it] can be integrated into an Islamic framework. (ibid., 59–60)

The nationwide anti-monarchical uprising, known as the Islamic Revolution of 1979, resulted in the establishment of a new order in Iran. The revolution, which caught both Israel and the US by surprise (Simon 2010), had a profound effect on the country’s foreign relations, both in its immediate neighbourhood as well as throughout the greater Middle East and the rest of the world (Zarif 2014). Iran’s post-revolutionary foreign policy was based on several objectives embedded in

 A joint multi-billion-dollar Israeli-Iranian missile project, codenamed “Flower,” is an example of such military cooperation and one of six “Oil to Arms” contracts signed by the two countries in 1977 (NTI 2011; Sciolino 1986).


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the country’s new constitution.10 Following the revolution, Israeli-Iranian cooperation and diplomatic relations between the countries came to an end.11 At the same time, Turkey was becoming a prominent political force in the Middle East. By throwing their hats into the Middle Eastern ring, Iran and Turkey, two powerful actors, profoundly affected the region’s politics.12 These nonArab, Muslim states were actively seeking to promote their brand of Islam in the Arab world (Rabinovich 2015a). Yet, Iraq’s 1980 invasion of Iran urged the new regime to turn to Israel for vital supplies as the Iranian military, which was lacking Western assistance, grew increasingly desperate (Simon 2010). Transfers of weapons, aircraft spare parts and combat engineering equipment from Israel to Iran continued until the mid-1980s, when it gradually diminished and stopped, partially due to Iran’s failure to pay on time (ibid.). By 1982, the year of the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon (operation “Peace for Galilee”/ “The First Lebanon War”), it became clear to Israel that weapon sales were not about to renew Iranian friendship. Consequently, no further deals were publicly acknowledged after the said invasion. As Arab-Israel hostilities ran deeper than Arab-Iranian grievances, the Jewish state needed Iran more than Tehran needed Tel-Aviv. After befriending Egypt (1979–1989), neutralising Iraq, quadrupling its oil income and taking advantage of Israel’s proximity to Washington to establish its position in the Middle East, Iran had clearly outgrown much of its need for Israel (Parsi 2004). Most importantly, the Islamic revolution added ideological motivation to Iran’s strategic drift away from its former ally. On the Israeli side, the 1978 Camp David Accords13 and the 1979 EgyptIsrael Peace Treaty ended the imminent threat of a renewed Arab-Israeli war (Simon 2010). Additionally, the Iran-Iraq war weakened both countries, contributing to the diminishing need for a periphery strategy. Throughout the 1980s, Israel unsuccessfully pursued relations with Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, failing to comprehend the strategic reasoning behind the regime’s ideological rhetoric. While Iran rejected such cooperation, their shared threats prompted Iran at

 The preservation of Iran’s independence, territorial integrity, national security and the achievement of long-term, sustainable national development as noted in Article 3 of the Iranian constitution (Papan-Matin trans. 2014).  The revolutionary interim government stated that Iran-Israel relations were to cease a mere week after the revolution took place (Hosseini n.d.).  This trend increased in the beginning of the 2000s as Turkey’s foreign policy shifted from Europe to its immediate neighborhood and with the election of Erdogan as president in 2014.  Signed at the White House by Egyptian President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin on September 17, 1978 (Israeli Ministry of foreign Affairs 1978).

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context


that time to abstain from turning its anti-Israel rhetoric into policy actions (Parsi 2004). The 1988 ceasefire between Iran and Iraq eliminated a possible basis for a secret engagement with Israel (Simon 2010). Moreover, following the collapse of the Soviet-Union in 1991, a potential Soviet attack on Iran seemed unlikely. Iranian interest therefore shifted to alluring Arab and Muslim public opinion, thus reinforcing the ideological hostility toward Israel and supporting the pre-revolution regime. The termination of the Cold War also terminated the Iranian-Israeli cold peace. The fall of the Soviet Union improved the security environments of both countries, but without Iraq countering Iran, Israel feared that the latter would develop into a menacing force (Parsi 2004).

Iran Seeking Hegemony By late 1992, Iran was again seeking a pivotal role in Persian Gulf affairs, though it struggled to realise regional domination in a mostly Sunni Muslim domain (ibid.). With its Persian majority, Iran was and is still perceived by the Arab world as a foreign actor (Zimmt 2017). As such, at that time, Iran was seeking American14 rather than Arab support and legitimacy. The country became keener on pacifying Washington at the expense of its anti-Israel endeavours. However, the Iranian role in the region was undoubtedly undermined by American policies following US President George H.W. Bush’s decision to halt the military advance after liberating Kuwait (Hahn 2012; Parsi 2004). The Iranian response to the American-Israeli attempt to create a “new Middle East” from which Iran was excluded was to turn its anti-Israel rhetoric15 into policy (including supporting violent Palestinian groups). Israeli-Iranian relations further deteriorated as Iran took a prominent position against Israel by training, equipping and sponsoring Lebanon’s Hezbollah. The failure of the Oslo peace process, the unsuccessful Camp David summit and the outbreak of the second intifada,16 all in the early 2000s, dismissed a strategic threat and enabled Tehran to contemplate moderation towards Israel (Parsi

 This is true also in light of their behind-the-scenes cooperation in the 1991 Gulf war (Parsi 2004).  The Islamic Republic’s leaders have frequently referred to Israel as the “Little Satan,” accompanying the “Great Satan,” the US (Hagee 2011; Stein 2007).  Popular uprising of Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in an attempt to end Israeli occupation of these territories.

Figure 2: Timeline Israeli Iranian relations 1993–2018. Source: Maya Hadar.

220 Maya Hadar

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context


2004; Reich 2008). However, the rest of the first decade of the twenty-first century brought with it an increase in instability and violence to the crisis-ridden Middle East. That was mostly due to a series of external military interventions.17 Following the Bam earthquake in Iran in 2003, Israel offered to send its world-renowned search and rescue teams to aid recovery efforts. The offer was declined (Stein 2007). In 2009, Israel made another failed attempt to seek cooperation with Iran. By 2010, the regional rivalry between the countries had further deteriorated due to Iran’s controversial pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities and its defamatory anti-Israeli rhetoric: Iranian officials repeatedly and publicly stressed Israel’s illegitimacy and the need to eliminate it.18 Since 2011, political upheavals in the Arab world, referred to as “The Arab Spring,” brought about a sudden increase in violence. The toppling of dictators and the accompanying collapse of the security apparatus created a power vacuum which was soon filled by extremist and violent non-state actors in countries such as Iraq and Syria, thus further destabilising the region (Zarif 2014).

“Prudence and Moderation” In June 2013, Hassan Rouhani was elected Iranian President as 50.7% of the population (about 72% turnout) chose him as the successor to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (BBC 2013). Rouhani pledged more significant engagement with the West (and easement of the international sanctions imposed on Iran in protest of its nuclear programme) while urging the world to “speak to the Iranian people with respect and recognize the rights of the Islamic republic” (ibid.). With “prudence and moderation”19 as his campaign slogan, Rouhani’s coming to power offered the promise of a positive change to the country’s domestic politics and foreign relations (Khani 2013). This trend of moderation, however, did not relate to Israel; Iran, under Rouhani, still pledged to continue supporting the Palestinians and its principled rejection of “Zionist encroachments” of Palestine (Zarif 2014).

 Particularly in Afghanistan, since 2001, and in Iraq since 2003.  In 2005, President Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust in a speech at a conference in Tehran titled “The World without Zionism” (October 26, 2005). Ahmadinejad persistently stated that Israel should be “wiped out” ( 2005; Haaretz service and agencies 2006).  Prudent moderation is an approach based on realism and common sense, constructive interaction with the international community, distancing oneself from emotions, rhetoric and demagogy, and opposing extremism of any kind (Khani 2013).


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With Rouhani rising to power, the US and the rest of the West faced a dilemma: whether to maintain the old strategy of attempting to isolate Iran or accept it as an important regional and international player with whom they could constructively engage (Khani 2013). At first, it appeared as though the latter prevailed.20 Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency signed a joint statement on a framework for cooperation, aimed at ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme (IAEA 2013). Yet, Rouhani’s main first-term achievement was a deal struck in 2015 with five global powers (UK, Russia, France, China and Germany and the European Union), led by the US. According to the deal, crippling economic sanctions were lifted, in exchange for limitations to Iran’s controversial nuclear energy programme (BBC 2016a). Rouhani gained an amnesty just before the 2017’s Iranian election took place, as the US agreed to keep the deal on track despite President Trump’s threats to terminate it (BBC 2016b, 2017). In May 2017, Iran re-elected Rouhani for a second presidential term with 57% of the votes (73% turnout) (News Wires 2017).

Recent Events (Early 2018) The social protest that took place in Iran at the beginning of 2018 reflected “the deep tension between the Islamic leadership’s commitment of vast resources to the assertion of Tehran’s regional hegemony and the yearning of middle-class Iranians for an improvement in their economic wellbeing”21 (Itzchakov 2018b). Whereas the Revolutionary Guards acted to expand the “axis of resistance” through ex-territorial proxy groups, domestic unemployment exceeded a national average of 12.7%, and was as high as 60% in peripheral regions (The World Bank 2018). Together with a rise in the cost of living and the grave issues of drug trafficking and addiction in Iran (the highest in the Middle East), the frustration of ordinary Iranians escalated. The Iranian security establishment’s aggressive

 The US commented that it would “engage Iran directly” to find a “diplomatic solution that will fully address the international community’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program,” whereas the British Foreign Office urged Rouhani to “set Iran on a different course for the future: addressing international concerns about Iran’s nuclear program . . . and improving the political and human rights situation for the people of Iran” (BBC 2013).  Such expectations originate in promises made by President Rouhani as part of his first presidential campaign back in 2013 concerning the reduction of corruption in the political establishment. Moreover, the economic benefits expected following the 2015 US backed nuclear deal failed to translate to tangible change for the Iranian people (Smith 2018).

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context


attempts to stop the demonstrators resulted in at least 21 deaths and more than 3,700 arrests (Smith 2018). As the security establishment leaders had emerged from an Islamic revolution themselves, there was little chance of them underestimating the threat of social unrest, or failing to respond harshly.22 Moreover, during his second term, Rouhani was less successful in standing up to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards, negatively affecting the economic welfare of Iranian citizens (Itzchakov 2018b). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the Iranian anti-government protesters, wishing them “success in their noble quest for freedom” while deriding as “laughable” Tehran’s public accusations that Israel, the US or Saudi Arabia23 were actually supporting the demonstrations (Reuters 2018a). Yet Tehran was justified in its claims: President Trump repeatedly and publicly supported the uprisings, stating that oppressing regimes “cannot endure forever” and that “the world is watching” (Weber 2017). On February 10, 2018, an Iranian UAV drone, launched from Syria, entered the Israeli airspace and was intercepted by an Israeli Air Force helicopter. The drone fell in northern Israel, which took possession of it. In response, Israel carried out its most massive air strikes yet against “Iranian sites” in Syria.24 Syrian television reported new “Israeli aggression,” explosions around Damascus (Syrian Arab News Agency 2018). During the operation, Syrian anti-aircraft missiles targeted an Israeli F-16 jet. The two Israeli pilots managed to eject before it crashed in northern Israel. While Israel carried out numerous attacks inside Syria during the Syrian war, this marked the first time in which Israel publicly acknowledged doing so. It was also the first time in which an Israeli plane was shot down since the first Lebanon War in 1983 (Carmeli 2018). Whereas Brigadier General Ronen Manelis, spokesman of the Israeli Defence Forces, noted, “This is a serious Iranian attack on Israeli territory . . . Iran is dragging the region into a situation in which it doesn’t know how it will end,” an unnamed Israeli officer noted “. . . we are not looking to escalate the  Which may account to both the harsh response of the police in suppressing the uprising as well as Rohani and Khamenei’s acknowledgement of the protesters’ right to be heard (Dehghanpisheh 2018).  Saudi Arabia is the most direct rival to Tehran in the region. The former also forged a 40state anti-terrorist coalition that appears to be primarily an alliance against the Islamic Republic (Zimmt 2017).  While the Israeli Defence Forces set that the operation targeted four Syrian air-defense batteries, four Iranian targets and the trailer from which the drone was launched, opposition sources in Damascus argued that the strike targeted a control tower of a Syrian military airfield and a weapons depot. Sources in Damascus noted casualties among Syrian forces (Al Jazeera 2018; Kubovich et al. 2018).


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situation. This was a defensive effort triggered by an Iranian act of aggression, and we are defending our airspace, our sovereignty and civilians” (Reuters 2018b). The pro-Assad military alliance warned Israel that any new act of “terrorism” would be met with a “severe and serious response” (Kubovich et al. 2018). Russia called on both sides to exercise restraint (Phillips 2018). Whereas the described events underscored the possibility of a wider escalation between Israel and Iranian-backed forces in Syria (e.g. Hezbollah), such concerns have not materialised to date (2020). Yet, the incident constituted the beginning of a new phase in the Iranian Israel conflict; Iran no longer conducts itself using proxies, but rather directly challenges Israel (Itzchakov 2018a).

Conclusions Iran possesses several unique attributes within the broader context of the Middle East: it borders seven countries and has access to the Caspian Sea as well as to the Persian Gulf; both are of interest to the coastal states and numerous outside powers (Zarif 2014); the country has persistently practised genuine nonalignment,25 lending it particular freedom of action within the existing global order. It has accumulated a rich collective memory and has a unique cultural identity emanating from its dynamic blend of Iranian and Islamic culture. Yet, few regimes evoke such strong concern to so many different countries as does the Islamic Republic of Iran (Rabinovich 2015a).26 Recently, it was argued that Iran has emerged as the big winner of the “Arab Spring” and made significant gains through its proxies in Syria, as well as in Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon (Miller 2018). Iranian hostility towards Israel has persisted since the Islamic revolution (1978–1979) and intensified in the last decade. That is mainly due to Iran’s evolving political system and the Middle East’s geopolitical transformation. While Israel is not perceived as a direct threat, it is currently viewed by the Iranian regime as a significant regional rival (Kaye, Nader, and Roshan 2011). Alongside an ideological hostility towards Israel (Menashri 1999) and the perception of latter as an imperialistic power in the Middle East (Kaye, Nader, and Roshan 2011; Thaler et al. 2010), Iranian anti-Israeli attitudes originate in the Iranian perception of the US as an Israeli ally, and, therefore, its most significant adversary. As such, “Iran has

 It is a member in the Non-Aligned movement and held its chair between 2012 and 2015.  Iran is not just a regional power-seeking hegemony; it is also a revolutionary regime seeking to transform the region’s politics and upend the status quo in several Middle Eastern countries (Rabinovich 2015b).

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context


found its anti-Israel stance to be a useful card over the years in its outreach to Arab masses to undermine the legitimacy and popularity of pro-American leaders” (Kaye, Nader, and Roshan 2011, 56). Iranian policies towards Israel are also shaped by conspiratorial and anti-Semitic views, expressed by conservatives and reformists. Trusting that Hamish e Yek Pay e Yahudi Dar Miyan Ast (“There is always a Jewish hand involved”),27 American hostility towards Iran and international sanctions are primarily viewed as dictated by “the Zionist lobby.”28 Iran also sees Israel (and the US) as undermining its internal stability and instigating unrest. Though it was argued that the regime places such blame on Israel which acted “to absolve itself of Iran’s myriad social, economic, and political problems” (Kaye, Nader, and Roshan 2011, 60), such Israeli interferences are plausible.29 Iranian leaders further accused Israel (Bozorgmehr 2010; Fars News Agency 2011) and the US (Ritter 2006) of supporting the Mujahedin Khalq Organization, a highly committed anti-revolutionary group, the reformist-revolutionary Green Movement30 and Kurdish and Baluchi31 insurgents. The Iranian regime seems to consider Israel as an American Achilles’ heel; by threatening Israel’s existence, Iran hopes to deter the US from attacking it, while Iran builds fundamentalist support at home. Although the Israeli-Iranian conflict is only a generation in the making and lacks many characteristics of a genuine protracted conflict, Iran’s pursue of nuclear capabilities,32 its’ increasing involvement in the Syrian war (in close

 “Hamish e Yek Pay e Yahudi Dar Miyan Ast,” Basirat News, July 8, 2010.  In an interview with CNN in 1998, Iranian president (at the time) Khatami said: “Obviously, Washington is the U.S. capital where policy decision on U.S. national interests must be made. However, the impression of the people of the Middle East and Muslims in general is that certain foreign policy decisions of the U.S. are in fact made in Tel Aviv and not in Washington” (CNN 1998). According to Larijani, speaker of Iran’s parliament and former national security advisor and nuclear negotiator, even UN sanctions against Iran are “spearheaded by the Zionist lobby” (Al-Thani 2010).  Israel was widely regarded as responsible for the Stuxnet attacks and for the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists (Kaye et al. 2011).  “Tardid nadaram ke Mousavi va Karroubi Ba Biganegan dar ertebat hastand” (“I have no doubt that Mousavi and Karroubi are connected with the foreigners”) including the Zionist regime, as quoted in Kaye, Nader and Roshan (2011 footnote 18).  According to Press TV (2009, May 29), Iran mosque blast bears U.S. and Israeli thumbprints. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are also cited by the regime as foreign supporters of the Baluchi insurgents.  The Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons capability is more likely driven by the regimes’ quest for self-preservation and expansion of its regional power than it is a product of direct rivalry with Israel, as the former constitutes a source of pride for the self-sufficient, technologically advanced Iran.


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proximity to Israel’s northern border), alongside its clear anti-Israel rhetoric, make it a security-strategic threat for Israel.33 As such, not only is the relationship between the two states likely to deteriorate in the short run, but further challenges undoubtedly await.

References Al Jazeera. “Israeli F-16 Jet Shot down by Syria Fire, Says Military.” Al Jazeera, October 4, 2018. Allin, Dana, and Steven Simon. The Sixth Crisis: Iran, Israel, America, and the Rumors of War. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2010. Alpher, Yossi. Periphery: Israel’s Search for Middle East Allies. Lanham, Maryland, US: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015. Al-Thani, Jumada. “Speaker Blames Zionist Lobby for Iran’s Sanctions Resolution, Ahmadinejad Downplays It.” Al-Jazeerah, June 10, 2010. Anadolu Agency. “Turkey-Israel Relations: A Timeline.” Anadolu Agency, June 27, 2016. BBC. “Hassan Rouhani Wins Iran Presidency.” BBC News, June 15, 2013, sec. Middle East. BBC. “Iran Sanctions Lifted over Nuclear Deal.” BBC News, January 16, 2016, sec. Middle East. 2016a. BBC. “Syria: The Story of the Conflict.” BBC News, March 11, 2016, sec. Middle East. 2016b. BBC. “Iran Nuclear Deal: Key Details.” BBC News, October 13, 2017, sec. Middle East. Bozorgmehr, Najmeh. “Iran Executes Alleged Israeli Spy.” Financial Times, December 28, 2010. Cambridge Dictionary. “The Middle East.” Cambridge Dictionary. Cambridge University Press, n.d. Camp David Accords, Israel.-Egypt., Sep. 17, 1978, available on the website of the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs: Carmeli. “Shot down of the fighter Jet: an even unexperienced in 34 years”. Ynet, February 11, 2018 [in Hebrew].,7340,L-5104285,00.html. Central Bureau of Statistics. “Population of Israel on the Eve of 2018.” Press release. Israel, 2017. CNN. “Transcript of Interview with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.” January 7, 1998. “Iranian Leader: Wipe out Israel.” Cnn.Com International. October 27, 2005.

 This threat is further increased due to the lack of “backchannels” of communication between the two countries that may be used in order to de-escalate future volatilities.

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context


Cohen, Amiram, and Eli Ashkenazi. “Iran and the Israeli ‘Citrus Fruit Conspiracy.’” Haaretz, April 27, 2009. Dehghanpisheh, Babak. “Iran Has Foiled Plot to Use Protests to Overthrow System, Leader Says.” Reuters, January 9, 2018. Fars News Agency. “Seditionists Collaborate with Zionists to Overthrow Islamic Republic.” February 2, 2011. Haaretz service and agencies. “Ahmadinejad at Holocaust Conference: Israel Will ‘Soon Be Wiped Out’”. Haaretz, December 12, 2006. jad-at-holocaust-conference-israel-will-soon-be-wiped-out-1.206977. Hagee, John. In Defense of Israel: The Bible’s Mandate for Supporting the Jewish State. Charisma Media, 2011. Hahn, Peter. “A Century of US Relations with Iraq.” Origins, April 2012. http://origins.osu. edu/article/century-us-relations-iraq/page/0/1. Hasan, Sabiha. “Super Powers in the Middle East: An Overview.” Pakistan Horizon 35, no. 4 (1982): 68–83. Hassan Khani, Mohammad. “Replying to Iranian ‘Prudence and Moderation.’” The Japan Times, September 23, 2013. mentary/world-commentary/replying-to-iranian-prudence-and-moderation/. Hassan Khani, Mohammad. 2013. “Replying to Iranian ‘Prudence and Moderation.’” The Japan Times. September 23, 2013. mentary/world-commentary/replying-to-iranian-prudence-and-moderation/. Hosseini, Mir M. “The Iranian History Article: Shah Censors Israel Relations.” n.d. http://www. IAEA. “IAEA, Iran Sign Joint Statement on Framework for Cooperation.” November 11, 2013. “Iran Population 2019.” n.d. Itzchakov, Doron. “Iran’s New Anti-Israel Resistance Axis.” BESA Center, 2018a. Itzchakov, Doron. “Protests in Iran: Social Challenges vs. Foreign Policy Ambitions.” Perspectives. BESA Center, 2018b. Kaye, Dalia D., Alireza Nader and Parisa Roshan. “Israel and Iran: A Dangerous Rivalry.” RAND Monographs. Santa Monica, California: RAND National Defense Research Institute, 2011. Kubovich, Yaniv, Jack Khoury, Noa Landau and Noa Shpigel. “Israel Downs Iranian Drone, Strikes Syria; Israeli F-16 Shot Down.” Haaretz, February 10, 2018. McLane, Charles. Soviet-Middle East Relations. Vol. 1-3. London: Central Asian Research Centre, 1973. Menashri, David. “Iran After Khomeini: Revolutionary Ideology vs. National Interests.” Tel Aviv: The Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, 1999. Miller, Benjamin. “How Iran Became the Dominant Power in the Middle East.” BESA Center, 2018. News Wires. “Iran’s Rouhani Re-Elected President in Landslide Victory.” France 24, May 20, 2017.


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NTI. “Iran Missile Chronology.” Monterey Institute of International Studies: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 2011. Papan-Matin, F. (2014). The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1989 edition). Iranian Studies, 47(1), 159–200. Parsi, Trita. “Whither the Persian-Jewish Alliance?” Bitterlemons International. December 16, 2004. Phillips, Jack. “Missiles Fired at Israel. Here’s How Israel Responded”. May 10, 2018. https://www. Rabinovich, Itamar. “Israel and the Middle East’s Grim Realities.” Horizons, no. 3 (2015a).–issue-no3/israel-and-themiddle-easts-grim-realities. Rabinovich, Itamar. “Israel and the Changing Middle East.” Middle East Memo, no. 34 (2015b). Reich, Bernard. A Brief History of Israel. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: George Washington University, 2008. Reuters. “Netanyahu Wishes Success to Iran Protesters, Denies Israeli Involvement.” January 1, 2018. 2018a. nyahu-wishes-success-to-iran-protesters-denies-israeli-involvement-idUSKBN1EQ0TM. Reuters. “Israel Does Not Seek Escalation in Region – Israeli Military Spokesman.” Reuters, October 2, 2018. 2018b. /israel-does-not-seek-escalation-in-region-israeli-military-spokesman-idUKKBN1FU0CW. Ritter, Scott. Target Iran: The Truth about the White House’s Plans for Regime Change. New York: Nation Books, 2006. Sachs, Natan. Israel and Iran’s Role in the Middle East. 2014. timonies/israel-and-irans-role-in-the-middle-east/. Sarshar, Houman. “Juedeo- Persian Communities of Iran.” Encyclopedia Iranica, 2012. Sciolino, Elaine. “Document Detail Israeli Missile Deal With the Shah.” The New York Times, 1986. Simon, Steven. “Iran and Israel.” The Iran Primer. November 27, 2010. http://iranprimer.usip. org/resource/iran-and-israel. Smith, Alexander. “Iran ‘dodged a Bullet’ over Protests but Danger Lurks for Regime.” NBC News, January 10, 2018. Stein, Alex. “An Israeli in Tehran.” The Guardian, May 10, 2007. http://www.theguardian. com/commentisfree/2007/may/10/alex. Syrian Arab News Agency. “Syrian Air Defense Intercepts Israeli Reconnaissance Planes over Quneitra, Forces Them to Leave Syrian Spaces.” February 14, 2018. p=127427. Thaler, David E., Alireza Nader, Shahram Chubin, Charlotte Lynch and Jerrold D. Green. Mullahs, Guards, and Bonyads: An Exploration of Iranian Leadership Dynamics. Vol. 878. Santa Monika, CA: Rand Corporation, 2010. The World Bank. “Islamic Republic of Iran.” Country’s Profile, 2018.

From Allies to Enemies; Putting the Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Historical Context


Weber, Joseph. “Trump Redoubles Support of Iran Protests, Saying the ‘World Is Watching.’” Text Article. Fox News, December 30, 2017. 30/iran-slams-trump-as-opportunist-and-deceitful-after-support-anti-governmentprotests.html. Zarif, Mohammad Javad. “What Iran Really Wants.” Foreign Affairs, April 17, 2014. Zimmt, Raz. “Iran in the Post-Islamic State Era: Aims, Opportunities and Challenges Updated Review.” The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, 2017. https://

Joanna Bar

History and its Impact on Contemporary International Relations: The Case of Rwanda Abstract: The purpose of this article is an analysis of the historical policy of the government of Rwanda and its impact on the choice of international cooperation partners. Contemporary Rwanda creates an active international policy; the strategic selection of partners was made in the 1990s, in connection with the ravages of genocide and the need to reorient directions of foreign cooperation. Rwanda is one of only a few African countries in which the change of alliances was carried out so radically, on purpose and rationally. Nowadays, the Rwandan authorities show a strong will that international relations should only pursue the most important interests of the state in accordance with its current needs. Keywords: East Africa; historical policy; international relations; Rwanda Contemporary Rwanda, rebuilt after the tragedy of the 1994 genocide, has become a significant player on the international stage, co-deciding on the political stability and economic development of the East African region. The state creates an active international policy; the strategic selection of partners was made in the 1990s, in connection with the ravages of genocide and the need to reorient current directions of foreign cooperation. Rwanda is one of only a few African countries in which the change of alliances was carried out so radically and, at the same time, on purpose and rationally. Political and economic relations with former colonisers have been preserved, but their importance has been secondary to the strong ties that unite contemporary Rwanda with the United States of America, Great Britain and the countries of the region. At the end of the nineteenth century, Germans took power over Rwanda. They lost it as a result of World War I, along with rule over all other colonies. Between 1922 and 1962 Rwanda was managed by Belgians, who acted first as the mandataries of the League of Nations, and then as the United Nations’ administrators. Following the German protocol, Belgians consistently maintained sociopolitical relations from the pre-colonial period, favouring the socially privileged ethnic group Tutsi, who constituted about 15% of Rwandans (some 84% of Rwandans were the second ethnic group, Hutu peasants, and 1% was related to Pygmy population, the Twa). From today’s point of view, it is known that the three


Joanna Bar

population groups living in Rwanda, clearly different in their anthropological type, had arranged their relations before the arrival of Europeans, according to most researchers.1 Thus, the Germans and Belgians did not carry out arbitrary social stratification, but, acting in their own interests, strengthened existing divisions. The most influential at the court of the Tutsi king became the main partners in the governance and were afforded important positions in the colonial administration and easier access to education.2 In 1935, the Belgians introduced the so-called ethnic identity cards, a clear expression not only of social discrimination against Hutu and Twa, but a reinforcement of the thoughtless categorisation of the indigenous population of the country. The policy pursued by the Belgians raises difficult questions about the extent to which they played the role of catalyst for the conflict that was developing then, and which, sixty years later, led to the tragedy of genocide. One incident that suggests such a link occurred at the end of the 1950s was the rapid change in the Belgian policy that seemed to act as an incendiary spark in the internal conflict in Rwanda. In an attempt to stop Tutsi’s national independence aspirations, the Belgians began to support Hutu’s socio-political demands and their quest for the creation of a representative government that more accurately reflected the ethnic composition of state. This, in turn, elicited a sharp reaction from Tutsi politicians, who realised that if this postulate was implemented, the electoral system would ensure total dominance of Hutu.3 The turning point in the process of regaining independence were the events of January 28, 1961, which are known in history under the name Coup of Gitarama. At the rally organised by Hutu the fall of the monarchy was announced and the republic was proclaimed. Rwanda gained independence in 1962. The so-called Hutu revolution resulted in the takeover of power by politicians representing interests of this ethnic group. On the first anniversary of regaining independence, on July 1, 1963, several thousand Tutsi were murdered. This pogrom, like all subsequent ones, was characterised by both the massive scale of murders and the impossibility of accurately determining the number of fatalities, which, was estimated to be between 14 and 20,000. As in the case of subsequent pogroms, the killing was justified by the need to suppress potential attempts of the Tutsi counterrevolution. At the time of this slaughter, the great Tutsi exodus to neighbouring countries began, a diaspora which lasted until 1990.4

 Czekanowski, Forschungen im Nil-Kongo Zwischengebiet, vol. I.  Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis. History of a Genocide, 26–40.  Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and the Genocide in Rwanda, 76–102.  Bar, Rwanda, 102–127.

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The Belgians maintained correct diplomatic relations with the newly created state and its government. Bearing in mind the tragic experiences of Belgian settlers in the Congo, efforts were made to prevent a similar disaster in Rwanda, and to safeguard the economic interests of both the Belgian state and its citizens in the new political reality. At the time of the geopolitical realities of the Cold War, the newly created republic took a pro-Western course, while the history of Christianity had already tied it to Catholicism. One of the first decisions of the new authorities regarding the definition of future directions of foreign policy was to establish friendly relations with France. In 1962, President Charles de Gaulle signed a cooperation agreement with President Grégoire Kayibanda, and thus French-speaking Rwanda, although it had never been directly associated with France, found itself in the circle of Frenchspeaking countries. This decision proved to be significant for the future of the country, which was reflected in the active involvement of France in the 1990 conflict. Cooperation with France was consistently continued by the successors of President de Gaulle: Georges Pompidou, Valery Giscard d’Estaing and Francois Mitterrand. These were also the first years of Rwanda’s active presence on the international political stage, with particular commitment to the Francophone community. In 1975, the summit of Organization Commune Africaine et Mauricienne (OCAM), an organisation of Francophone countries, was held in Kigali, the country’s capital. Cooperation with France remained the main pillar of Rwandan foreign policy until 1994. It is impossible to understand contemporary Rwandan-French relations without being aware of the role that France played in October 1990. France supported the Rwanda government when the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed section of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), represented the interests of Tutsi refugees and opposed the ruling regime in Kigali entering from Uganda to the north-eastern areas of Rwanda. On October 6, French Prime Minister Michel Rocard announced the start of “Operation Noroit,” under which a strong elite group of 600 French commandos was sent to Rwanda. Officially, the purpose of the operation was to evacuate civilian French citizens living in Rwanda. In fact, French civilians were evacuated within the first week of fighting, while French soldiers remained in Rwanda until December 1993. By taking command, they pushed RPF troops away from the capitol. Rwanda, as a member of OCAM, has previously received French assistance of four million francs. By the time of France’s intervention in 1990 the country had sent financial assistance amounting to 55 million francs. Moreover France sent more troops. According to Marcin W. Solarz, beginning in the autumn of 1990, the French government, as part of allied aid, sent huge amounts of equipment to Rwanda and organised training for the Rwandan army, which


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subsequently increased its numbers from 5,000 to 30–50,000 thousand soldiers.5 From the point of view of the goal of strengthening French influence in individual African countries, this policy served its purpose, but it contributed to the escalation of the conflict in Rwanda and, consequently, to the genocide of 1994. Between June and August 1994 France organized security zones in Rwanda in “Operation Turquoise.” Though this action was originally planned by President Mitterrand as a strictly military operation to stop the RPF from taking power in the country, its goals were changed under the influence of the mission commanders’ reaction to mass murders carried out on the Tutsi population. France’s first deliveries with humanitarian aid, mainly with the most needed food and medicine, followed the soldiers. In a parallel move, an incentive to stem the spread of a cholera epidemic was undertaken.6 Despite the generous humanitarian aid that France gave to Rwanda and its immigrants, relations with France were consistently bad after 1994. Contemporary Rwandan authorities take the view that France is responsible for the many casualties during this period. In their opinion had the RPF forces taken power in Kigali in October 1990 casualties would have been minimal.7 The rise of America’s influence in Rwanda was the cause of resentment among the French politicians who generated diplomatic incidents directed against members of the new ruling power in Kigali. Apart from this, in France today there is still a large group of Rwandans, responsible for the 1994 genocide. The French are aware that bringing this group to court could highlight the politically uncomfortable details of the role played by France in the events of 1990–1994. Yet blocking the extradition of Rwandan war criminals for years also means stopping the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ITCR). Another consideration is the presence of numerous Hutu immigrants in France, many of whom stand accused of involvement in the crimes of genocide, although not all have been officially prosecuted via international arrest warrants. One of the climaxes of this Rwandan-French “cold war” occurred on November 24, 2006, when France issued arrest warrants for seven Rwandans associated with the RPF. These suspects were accused by France of shooting down the plane of Hutu President Habyarimana in April 1994, a plane which also carried French citizens (two pilots and a mechanic). Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere ruled that the assassination was carried out by RPF soldiers on the orders of the RPF leader Paul Kagame, who wanted to take power. In 2006 Rwanda broke  Solarz, Francja wobec Afryki subsaharyjskiej. Pozimnowojenne wyzwania i odpowiedzi, 218–221.  Meredith, Historia współczesnej Afryki. Pół wieku niepodległości, 462–464.  Bar, Po ludobójstwie. Państwo i społeczeństwo w Rwandzie 1994–2012, 124–131.

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off diplomatic relations with France, giving its ambassador 24 hours to leave the country. Anti-French demonstrations organised in Kigali at that time attracted 25,000 participants. At the same time Rwanda officially accused the former French political and military authorities of involvement in the genocide of 1994. The Rwandan Ministry of Justice, on the basis of an independent commission investigation, accused 33 high level French politicians in its report (including former Prime Minister of the French Republic Dominique de Villepin and President Francois Mitterrand) and 20 military men of political military and diplomatic support for the team of Rwandan authorities responsible for genocide. Kigali also accused the French authorities of concealing the truth about the role they played in training the Interahamwe paramilitary organisation and supporting the leaders of Hutu – in other words, in aiding the perpetrators of mass slaughter. What is more, the report alleges that the French military themselves were directly murdering Tutsi and Hutu who hid the Tutsi.8 The diplomatic relations between France and Rwanda were not reestablished until the end of 2009. That year an international arrest warrant for Agathe Habyarimana, widow of President Habyarimana, was handed over to France. In April 1994, thanks to the help of French commandos, Agathe Habyarimana had left Rwanda and, after a short stay in the Congo, settled in France. A decade later her application for political asylum was rejected, positing that she was at the centre of the regime responsible for genocide.9 In February 2010 President Nikolas Sarkozy visited Rwanda. Regarding events of 1994, he spoke about “blindness,” “serious mistakes of judgement” and “too late and too weak” intervention to prevent crimes, but did not directly address the subject of France’s guilt. He did not join the group of politicians representing the United States, Belgium and the United Nations, who – without direct responsibility for the outbreak of the conflict – apologised to the Rwandans for not responding effectively to the genocide. However, symbolic gestures (the presidents of both countries, Sarkozy and Paul Kagame, shook hands) from this visit seem to have had measurable results. The first of the positive effects of Sarkozy’s visit to Rwanda was the restoration of the Rwandan ambassador in Paris. Another result was the arrest in France on March 2, 2010 of Agathe Habyarimana. The widow of President Habyarimana was accused by Rwanda of participating in genocide and prosecuted by an international warrant. Released from bail on the same day, she

 „Rwanda formalnie oskarża Francję o udział w ludobójstwie w 1994 r,“, August 5, 2008.  „Wdowa po prezydencie Rwandy aresztowana we Francji,“, March 2, 2010.


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was put under police surveillance. Ultimately, in September 2010, the French court of appeal did not agree to her extradition. As in many cases of this type, the court’s ruling questioned the possibility of a fair trial in Rwanda. Another visible positive effect of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the two countries was Rwanda’s agreement to conduct an international investigation into the circumstances of the presidential plane crash of April 6, 1994. This investigation was conducted under the control of the Rwandan justice system in the area of Kigali from September 11 through 18, 2011. Its results were made public on January 11, 2012. French investigators finally confirmed that the rocket that hit the presidential plane was launched from military base under the full control of elite units of President Juvenal Habyarimana. This information also confirmed the official Rwandan interpretation of events of April 6, 1994, and challenged the French judiciary with difficult questions related to the role of French military in preparing for the genocide, including the nature of the presence of French gendarme Paul Barril at Kigali Airport during Habyarimana’s assassination, the disappearance of black boxes and false reporting in the investigation conducted by Judge Bruguiere.10 Today’s Rwanda’s relations with France are peaceable and mutually supportive. Despite the diplomatic war of the previous decade, Rwanda is still (since 1970) a member of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), and the formal closure of disputes with France has revived Rwanda’s activity in the organisation’s forum. The memory of the role played by France during Rwanda’s internal conflict of 1990–1994 did, however, result in a fundamental change in priorities in the selection of international alliances. The decision to establish stronger ties with Anglophone countries was related to a deliberate choice of an ally in changed political reality. It should be noted that historically, and through the entire twentieth century, Rwanda’s political ties with Great Britain were mainly insignificant, conditioned by the colonial division of Africa. Rwanda, first as a German and then as a Belgian colony, had never established close relations with Britain, although it bordered British colonies in Africa from the north (and, from 1919, also from the east). As mentioned, after independence, Rwanda became involved with the Francophone power, which became a dominant influence until 1994. Contemporary strategic decisions regarding new foreign policy priorities are not only related to the aforementioned role of France during 1990–1994

 Brändle, “Neue Studie: Völkermord an den Tutsis war lange geplant,” Der Standard, January 11, 2012.

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internal conflict, but also to personnel changes within the highest authorities, the majority of whom are former RFP soldiers. Many contemporary Rwandan politicians have grown up and received education in English-speaking Uganda. President Paul Kagame, as a high-ranking officer in the Ugandan army, received military training in the United States in Kansas in 1990, directed by the U.S. Army Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. The first premise for stronger relations with Great Britain was the help Rwanda received in the second half of the 90s from the British Department for International Development (DFID).11 At the end of first decade of the twentyfirst century, strong political ties with Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations become a reality. In 2009, Rwanda became the fifty-fourth member of the British organisation, the Commonwealth of Nations. Rwanda was one of only two Commonwealth member states (Mozambique was the other) which had not been a colony of Great Britain. There is no doubt that the decision to join the Commonwealth was an expression of independent political will, followed by real political commitment to the Community’s activities. On December 9, 2011, at the request of the Rwandan government, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Kigali to support the next phase of his Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) project, launched in February 2008.12 During the meeting with President Kagame, Blair expressed his appreciation for the pace of work in the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI) implemented in Rwanda. This work was carried out with the support of the World Bank and the African Development Bank in recognition of the role of the Rwandan government as a leader in aid effectiveness.13 Since the second half of 1994, cooperation with the United States has remained one of the lasting pillars of modern Rwandan foreign policy. Although in 1994 the Americans did not live up to the expectations of providing assistance to Rwanda during the toughest weeks of genocide (they did not support the postulates of the active involvement of the UN forces in Rwanda), they maintained their support for President Habyarimana’s regime, and after the war they were quick to provide humanitarian aid and support to the new Rwandan authorities. These factors help demonstrate that, after 1994, the Americans replaced the Belgians and the French in the role of protectors of the government in Kigali.

 De Lorenzo, „The Rwandan Paradox. Is Rwanda a Model for an Africa beyond Aid?,“ AEI, January 1, 2008.  “AGI. Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative.”  “President Kagame and Tony Blair commend new capacity building partnership,” Paul Kagame, December 9, 2011.


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Since then, they have become supporters of the current President Kagame, whose articles are printed in “The Washington Post” and the “Financial Times” among other Anglophone press. Paul Kagame has cultivated an international image, traveling often, promoting both his person and his country. It is no accident that one of the most positive biographies of President Kagame came from the pen of famous American publicist Stephen Kinzer (with the significant subtitle: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It),14 while the president’s main critics come from Belgian and French political and scientific milieus (including Filip Reyntjens15). Taking advantage of political support, President Kagame establishes economic contacts favourable for his country. English still remains the official language of the country as does French, and the local tongue, Kinyarwanda. The benefits of this alliance are two-sided. In the first years after the conflict Rwanda used to be primarily a recipient of development assistance, although it was one of the few African countries that sought to gain economic independence as soon as possible. Nowadays the alliance also benefits the United States, which has gained a loyal ally on the turbulent border with the Democratic Republic of Congo and, indirectly, access to valuable Congolese raw materials such as diamonds, gold, coltan or cobalt. With respect to America’s policy towards Sub-Saharan Africa, Rwanda has a similar strategic objective as Kenya has, except that the alliance has a shorter history and does not reflect a need to control the kind of Islamic fundamentalists that threaten the East African region from the north, but to safeguard it against potential Congolese rebel attacks from the west. No less important for the US is certainly the strengthening of their position as a rival for influence in the region; in this case, limiting that of France. The regional cooperation mentioned in the introduction is today mainly implemented within the East African Community. The East African Community (EAC), a regional intergovernmental organisation founded on November 30, 1999, includes such member states as Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda (Rwanda and Burundi joined the Community in 2007, South Sudan in 2016). The EAC was conceived to reactivate and expand the work of an earlier organisation founded in 1967 by Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda (so within the former British East Africa). Unlike its predecessor (which collapsed in 1978), not only has the contemporary Community been operating stably for almost 20 years, but it has also proved to be successful in improving the economic

 Kinzer, A Thousand Hills.  Reyntjens, Rwanda, ten years on: From genocide to dictatorship.

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growth and political stability of its member states. Today’s EAC is regarded as one of the youngest sub regional organisations in Africa and one of the most advanced ones with regard to the implementation of integration processes.16 Despite the doubtless successes achieved so far, the Community must constantly negotiate new challenges in order not to follow in the footsteps of its predecessor, which only managed to survive for a decade due to a lack of willingness to cooperate from the member states’ leaders, among other factors. Nowadays, such cooperation between the heads of member states on the African continent is smooth, although mutual animosity is still present, most often voiced by Tanzanian politicians, who reproach Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda for closer cooperation with one another than with other countries. The contemporary success of the EAC is related to the implementation of current political and economic goals, and historical relationships have been replaced by the requirements of modern interests. At the end of this text, it is worth adding a few sentences about contemporary bilateral relations of Rwanda with the former colonial states: Germany and Belgium. The traditional interests of German historians and political scientists in the fate of the former colonies such as Rwanda are documented by new publications of German authors (including Marx Jorg) as well as research works and programs implemented in Rwanda. Contacts have also recently been expanded to the level of intergovernmental economic agreements. In 2011, according to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of the Republic of Rwanda, Germany was included in the group of seven partners of the country, providing direct budget support for Rwandan development. An example of Rwandan-German cooperation conducted at the non-governmental level is the implementation in Rwanda of a pilot programme, System Certified Mineral Trading Chains (CTC), in cooperation with the German Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources. Its purpose is to support the development of authenticated commercial networks in order to verify the supply chain for raw material buyers in conflict regions.17 Rwandan-German cooperation also includes the construction of a solar power plant on the outskirts of Kigali, in which work is jointly shared with the German Bundesanstalt für Geologie und Rohstoffe (BGR). This project assesses Rwandan geothermal energy resources. There are plans to build the first railway line in Rwanda, designed by specialists from Deutsche Bahn. These investments do not

 Lizak, Afrykańskie instytucje bezpieczeństwa, 425.  Blore, Implemening Certified Training Chains (CTC) in Rwanda.


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concern Rwanda alone: German investors are currently building a new headquarters for the East African Community in Tanzanian Arusha. As regards bilateral relations with Belgium, in the 1990s political relations with Brussels were normalised, despite the fact that Belgium, in previous decades, along with France, was a staunch supporter of President J. Habyarimana and, after 1994, granted asylum to war criminals. Belgium’s attitude during the genocide was conditioned by the murder of ten Belgian soldiers protecting the home of Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingijama, which resulted in the immediate decision to withdraw from Rwanda all Belgian soldiers serving in UN mission branches. In the post-war period, relations with Belgium have improved since the Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten (VLD) took power in that country in 1999. One year later, in April 2000, on the sixth anniversary of the genocide, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt apologised for his country’s passivity and lack of effective campaigning to obtain help from the world.18 Currently, Brussels Airlines is one of the most important carriers connecting Rwanda with Europe, while remaining one of only two European carriers (next to KLM) represented at the capitol airport of Kigali. Their activity is concrete and symbolic proof of the links connecting the former colony with the metropolis. Contemporary Rwandan authorities show a strong will that international relations should only pursue the most important interests of the state in accordance with its current needs. This priority dominates over historical sentiments; negative perceptions of cooperation undertaken on the terms of being the weaker partner prevail.

References “AGI. Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative.” Bar, Joanna. Po ludobójstwie. Państwo i społeczeństwo w Rwandzie 1994–2012 [After the Genocide. State and Society in Rwanda 1994–2012]. Kraków: Księgarnia Akademicka, 2013. Bar, Joanna. Rwanda. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo TRIO, 2013. “Belgian apology to Rwanda.” BBC News, April 7, 2000. 705402.stm. Blore, Shawn. Implemening Certified Training Chains (CTC) in Rwanda. Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), March 4, 2011. men/Min_rohstoffe/CTC/Downloads/CTC-Abschlussbericht.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=4.

 “Belgian apology to Rwanda,” BBC News, April 7, 2000.

History and its Impact on Contemporary International Relations


Brändle, Stefan. „Neue Studie: Völkermord an den Tutsis war langegeplant.“ Der Standard, January 11, 2012. Czekanowski, Jan. Forschungen im Nil – Kongo – Zwischengebiet, Bd. I, Ethnographie. Zwischenseengebiet. Mpororo / Ruanda. Leipzig: Klinkhardt, 1917. De Lorenzo, Mauro. „The Rwandan Paradox. Is Rwanda a Model for an Africa beyond Aid?“ AEI, January 1, 2008. Kinzer, Stephen. A Thousand Hills: Rwanda`s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It. New Jersey: Wiley, 2008. Lesiak, Magdalena. „Francja odmówiła ekstradycji wdowy po byłym prezydencie Rwandy [France Refused to Extradite the Widow of Former President of Rwanda].“, September 28, 2011. Lizak, Wiesław. Afrykańskie instytucje bezpieczeństwa [African Security Institutions] Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, 2012. Mamdani, Mahmood. When victims become killers: colonialism, nativism and the genocide in Rwanda. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001. Meredith, Martin. Historia współczesnej Afryki. Pół wieku niepodległości [History of Modern Africa. Half a Century of Independence]. Warszawa: Dialog, 2011. “President Kagame and Tony Blair commend new capacity building partnership.” Paul Kagame, December 9, 2011. Prunier, Gérard. The Rwanda Crisis. History of a Genocide. New York: Columbia University Press, 1997. Reyntjens, Filip. “Rwanda, ten years on: From genocide to dictatorship.” African Affairs, no. 103 (2004): 177–210. „Rwanda formalnie oskarża Francję o udział w ludobójstwie w 1994 r. [Rwanda Formally Accuses France of Participating in the 1994 Genocide].“ August 5, 2008.,114873,5558011,Rwanda_formalnie_os karza_Francje_o_udzial_w_ludobojstwie.html. Solarz, Marcin W. Francja wobec Afryki subsaharyjskiej. Pozimnowojenne wyzwania i odpowiedzi [France and Sub-Saharan Africa. Post-Cold War Challenges and Answers]. Warszawa: Aspra, 2004. „Wdowa po prezydencie Rwandy aresztowana we Francji [Widow of the President of Rwanda Arrested in France].“, March 2, 2010. sci/1,114873,7619186,Wdowa_po_prezydencie_Rwandy_aresztowana_we_Francji_.html.

Successes and Failures: Methods of Getting Out of Historical Conflicts

Stefan Troebst

The Resurfacing of the “Titanic” in the Balkan Bermuda Triangle: Political Conflicts over History between Sofia, Skopje and Athens before and after 1989 Abstract: The article argues that the epochal year of 1989 caused an unexpected shift in the Cold War conflict of the Balkan triangle of Bulgaria-Greece-Yugoslavia/ Macedonia. With the emergence of the new Republic of Macedonia in 1991, the former Bulgarian-Yugoslav controversy over Macedonia, its history, language, ethnic composition etc. abated, whereas a new and even more bitter conflict over the same issues (plus name and national symbols) sprang up between Greece and what is now internationally called FYROM, “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.” While the signing of a Bulgarian-Macedonian treaty on friendship, good neighbourhood and cooperation in 2017 was no longer a surprise at that time, the signing of a “Final Agreement for the Settlement of Differences” between Athens and Skopje in 2018 definitely was. Since then, the southernmost post-Yugoslav republic has figured as the “Republic of North Macedonia.” And, unusually for bilateral treaties, both documents contain detailed provisions outlining how the divergent interpretations of history – Balkan, national, regional – should be harmonised. Keywords: Athens; Balkans; Bulgaria; FYROM; Greece; Macedonia; Prespa Agreement; Skopje; Sofia; Thessaloniki; Yugoslavia

Introduction The Italian writer and journalist Guido Ceronetti, who died in 2018 at the age of 91, once compared what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989 with a “resurfacing of the Titanic”; a drowned and thus forgotten part of Europe (and history?) breached the water’s surface causing wide-spread excitement, astonishment and, partly, shock. A contrasting metaphor, the Bermuda Triangle, which actually connotes the mysterious disappearance of ships and planes, stands for conspiracy theories of all sorts, even the belief in the existence of aliens. In the triangle to be dealt with here, with the corner points of Sofia, Skopje and Athens/ Thessaloniki, secret machinations of conspiracy theories are widespread and


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popular, though ships and planes are rarely involved. Instead, here political actors, backed by national historiographies, bolster their own historical narratives by revealing the falsehoods of the historical accounts of their neighbours.1 In Bulgarian politics of history the existence of a Macedonian nation (and language) is still contested,2 while in Macedonian politics of history, the historical, cultural and linguistic ties with Bulgaria and the Bulgarians are minimised.3 And in Greek politics of history the current Macedonian historical narrative, with its reference to the ancient Macedonia of Alexander the Great, is denounced as an illegitimate “annexation” of the Hellenic heritage.4 Only the third side of the triangle – the Bulgarian-Greek one – offers less controversial politics, although taboo topics like the systematic expulsion of Greeks from Bulgaria during the twentieth century and the Bulgarian occupation of parts of north-eastern Greece in both World War I and II have the potential to impair bilateral relations.5 That is the situation today, but how did things look like before the “Titanic” resurfaced’? To some extent, they looked the same, if we focus on relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia – then Yugoslavia’s southernmost republic. But to some extent, they looked very different, when relations between the NATO member state Greece and non-aligned Yugoslavia (including its constituent Socialist Republic of Macedonia) are considered. To put it in a nutshell: while from the mid-1960s on relations between Sofia and Skopje were tense due to

 Spyridon Sfetas, “The Fusion of Regional and Cold War Problems: The Macedonian Triangle Between Greece, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, 1963–80,” in The Balkans in the Cold War. Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World, ed. Svetozar Rajak at al. (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 307–329; Tchavdar Marinov. “Regionalism in South-Eastern Europe,” in Regionalism and Modern Europe. Identity Construction and Movements from 1890 to the Present Day, ed. Xosé M. Núñez Seixas and Eric Storm (London etc.: Bloomsbury, 2018), 307–321.  Bozhidar Dimitrov, The Ten Lies of Macedonism (Sofia: Kom Foundation, 2007); Ron Synowitz, “Skopje, Sofia Not Speaking Same Language When It Comes To Macedonian,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Balkan Report, December 16, 2018 (  Ulf Brunnbauer “Ancient Nationhood and the Age-long Struggle for Statehood: Historiographic Myths in the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM),” in Myths and boundaries in SouthEastern Europe, ed. Pål Kolstø (London: Hurst, 2005) 262–296.  Adamantios Skordos, „Makedonischer Namensstreit und griechischer Bürgerkrieg. Ein kulturhistorischer Erklärungsversuch der griechischen Makedonien-Haltung 1991,“ SüdosteuropaMitteilungen 51, no. 4 (2011): 36–56.  Teodora Dragostinova, Between Two Motherlands. Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900–1949 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011); Hans-Joachim Hoppe, “Bulgarian nationalities policy in occupied Thrace and Aegean Macedonia,” Nationalities Papers 14, no. 1–2 (1986): 89–100.

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endemic disputes over the common history, relations between Skopje and Athens/Thessaloniki were relatively relaxed; here the common history was a latent rather than present source of conflict. The end of the Cold War and the violent disintegration of Yugoslavia, however, brought about significant changes. On the one hand, Greeks discovered that their northern neighbour was no longer federal Yugoslavia but an independent Republic of Macedonia, whereas “Mother Bulgaria” soon realised that “the prodigal daughter,” Macedonia, had little intention of returning to mother’s lap. Less than two years after 1989, the comfortable security of the decades of the East-West conflict – Bulgaria as a Warsaw Pact member, Greece in NATO and Macedonia safely within neutral Yugoslavia – had disappeared. Instead, a new perception prevailed that the “resurfacing of the Titanic” not only brought new liberties and opportunities but also difficult-to-master challenges and new threats to the country’s internal and external security. In the search for orientation in a drastically changed international and subregional environment concepts like “national identity” defined by “national history” appeared as reliable landmarks. This naturally implied that the neighbours’ rival and, more often than not, contradictory concepts of the “national identity” and “national history” had to be delegitimised, preferably with arguments produced by one’s own professional historians. Whereas the pre-1989/91 “historiographical warfare” between Sofia and Skopje simply went on, a new front opened up between Skopje and Athens/Thessaloniki – resulting in a bad surprise for both sides.

The Bulgarian-Macedonian Controversy before and after 1991 After World War II, both Bulgaria and Yugoslavia became communist regimes of the Stalinist type. While Tito split off from the Soviet camp and propagated “a third path to socialism,” Bulgaria remained a firm ally of the USSR. This included the full implementation of the so-called “Leninist principles of nationality policy.” Accordingly, another Macedonian minority within Bulgaria was recognised and Macedonian-language schools were opened. In the 1960s then, a sharp U-turn in Sofia’s nationality policy took place: all Macedonians of Bulgaria were now categorised as ethnic Bulgarians. This started a decade-long propaganda war with Belgrade and Skopje, since the Bulgarian Communist Party as well as the Bulgarian government denied even the existence of a Macedonian nation with its own language and history on Yugoslav territory. Bilateral


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relations between Bulgaria and Yugoslavia deteriorated to a level thus far unknown between formerly “socialist brotherly peoples.”6 Accordingly, Robert R. King, a Balkan specialist at US “Radio Free Europe,” stated in 1973: Not only has the Macedonian debate been the most extensive and the most bitter, it has also been the least esoteric of the nationality debates between Communist parties. Although both sides generally stayed within the framework of historical debates, they have gone farther by specifically accusing each other of making territorial claims.7

Things got worse when, in 1977, post-Mao China reactivated its Balkan policy by supporting not only neutral Yugoslavia under Tito but also the hesitant Soviet ally of Romania under Ceausescu. Bulgaria, under its head of party and state Todor Zhivkov, increasingly felt encircled by two hostile socialist neighbours and the two NATO member states, Greece and Turkey.8 A consequence was the stepping-up of the nationalist propaganda campaign against Yugoslav Macedonia, which lasted throughout the 1980s. The palace revolt against Zhivkov in November 10, 1989 and the beginning of democratisation in Bulgaria in 1990 did not bring about a change. To the contrary, a newly founded organisation of Bulgarian citizens declaring themselves to be ethnic Macedonians, OMO Ilinden, infuriated Bulgarian nationalists who were in the camp of the still ruling post-communists as well as that of the democratic opposition. Some Bulgarians joined a new political party, the “Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation.” Despite its name, this was a rabidly nationalist formation of Bulgarians aiming at the “reunification” of Bulgaria with now independent Macedonia into a greater Bulgarian state.  Stefan Troebst, Die bulgarisch-jugoslawische Kontroverse um Makedonien 1967–1982 (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1983); Panto Kolev red, Makedonskijat văpros v bălgaro-jugoslavskite otnošenija 1950–1967 g. Dokumentalen sbornik (red. Panto Kolev. Sofia: Dăržavnite arhivi, 2009); Iva Burilkova and Cočo Biljarski red, Makedonskijat văpros v bălgaro-jugoslavskite otnošenija 1968–1989 g. 2 vols. (Sofia: Dăržavnite arhivi, 2012); Spyridon Sfetas, O akyrichtos polemos gia to Makedoniko. Voulgaria – Giougkoslavia 1968–1989 (Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 2010); Spyridon Sfetas, “The Bulgarian-Yugoslav Dispute over the Macedonian Question as a Reflection of the Soviet-Yugoslav Controversy (1968–1980),” Balcanica ΧLΙΙΙ (2012): 241–271 ( %20Sfetas.pdf).  Robert R. King, Minorities under Communism. Nationalities as a Source of Tension among Balkan Communist States (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973), 219.  Jordan Baev, Drugata studena vojna. Săvetsko-kitajskijat konflikt i Iztočna Evropa (Sofia: Voenno izdatelstvo, 2012), 223–224; Jovan Čavoški, “Between Ideology and Geopolitics: SinoYugoslav Relations and the Wider Cold War, 1950–1970s,” in New Sources, New Findings: The Relationship between China, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, ed. Péter Vámos (Shanghai: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2013), 187–406 (402–404).

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Bulgaria’s anti-Macedonian propaganda and politics of the 1960s to the 1990s had visible effects on the politics of history in Yugoslav Macedonia and then in independent Macedonia. Up to the 1960s, politicians and historians in Skopje had strictly applied Marxist-Leninist theory, even towards Macedonian national history. Since, according to the founding fathers of Marxism, nations are the product of the capitalist mode of production, the establishment of the first proto-industrial manufactories in the then Ottoman Macedonia during the 1830s was proclaimed to be the birth date of the Macedonian nation. In the 1970s, however, this date was shifted back into the tenth century AC, to the medieval empire of Tsar Samuil who was now proclaimed ruler over a mighty Macedonian state. This proclamation strongly contradicted the Bulgarian perception of Samuil as tsar of what, in Sofia, was traditionally called the First Bulgarian Empire.9 Yet, by the 1990s, the search for national roots in Skopje led even further back into history, to Alexander the Great (in Slavic languages: Alexander the Macedonian) and his father, Philipp II, rulers of ancient Macedonia in the fourth century BC. “We Macedonians,” came the new message from Skopje to Sofia, are an older people than you, who arrived in the Balkans during the sixth century AC, 1,000 years later than we did.10

The Greek-Macedonian Controversy before and after 1989/91 This newly constructed ethno-genetic link of independent Macedonia’s titular nation to the ancient Macedonians enraged first historians and archaeologists, and then clerics and politicians in Macedonia’s southern neighbour, Greece.11 In Athens and, in particular, in Thessaloniki, Alexander and Philipp were and still are perceived as top representatives of Greece’s ancient Hellenic heritage.  Maria Hviding, “The tug-of-war over Tsar Samuil – Bulgarian or Macedonian?,” Café Balkans. Actualité balkanique éclectique, April 27, 2014 ( 04/27/the-tug-of-war-over-tsar-samuil-bulgarian-or-macedonian/).  Stefan Troebst, “IMRO + 100 = FYROM? The Politics of Macedonian Historiography,” in The New Macedonian Question, ed. James Pettifer (London, New York, NY: Macmillan, St Martins Press, 1999), 60–78.  Loring M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict. Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997); John Shea, Macedonia and Greece: The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation (Jefferson, NC, London: McFarland, 1977); Adamantios Skordos, Griechenlands Makedonische Frage. Bürgerkrieg und Geschichtspolitik im Südosten Europas 1945–1992 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2012).


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The usurpation of this heritage by Slavs, speaking what was called by Greek nationalists “an unintelligible Serbian-Gypsy dialect,” was intolerable. One result of this position was massive Greek political, diplomatic and economic pressure on Skopje. Borders were closed for trade. And the new state was forced to change its national flag, which displayed a symbol used by Philipp II, the eight-ray sun, respectively the star of Vergina, and to replace the term “Republic of Macedonia” with the provisional name: “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” abbreviated FYROM.12 The emergence of the bitter Greek-Macedonian dispute over the history, the name and the symbols of the new Macedonian state came as a shock to the government in Skopje and to the Slavic-speaking majority of the country. From this point on, relations with all four neighbours became tense: Greece protested the name issue, Bulgaria the reinterpretation of history, rump-Yugoslavia (Serbia) perceived hostile military gestures by Belgrade and Albania demanded full political participation for the large Albanian minority in Western Macedonia. The founding of a second Albanian state, the Republic of Kosovo in 2008, brought the number of unruly neighbours to five.

A Changing International Environment A stabilising element, however, was the strong engagement of the international community in Macedonia – first CSCE (today OSCE), then the UN (including US blue helmets) and the EU, and finally NATO. Not only the spillover effects of the Serbian war against the Kosovo Albanians in 1999, in the form of a wave of some 400,000 Kosovar refugees and expellees entering Macedonia within just two weeks, but even the clash of Macedonian security forces with Albanian insurgents in 2001 could thus be contained. Also, the continuing Greek pressure on Skopje and the volatile inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia slowly led to a reformulation of Sofia’s policy towards its southwestern neighbour. In the Bulgarian perception the fact that the “prodigal daughter Macedonia” did not ruefully “come home” was, on the one hand, regretted. On the other, however, the potential integration of another strong Muslim minority,

 In 1996, the British historian Norman Davies tongue-in-cheek proposed an in his view historically more correct form: FOPITGROBBSOSY, an acronym standing for “Former Province of Illyria, Thrace, Greece, eRome, Byzantium, Bulgaria, Serbia, the Ottoman Empire, Serbia and Yugoslavia.” See Norman Davies, Europe. A History (Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 135.

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the Macedonian Albanians, in addition to Bulgaria’s Muslims – Turks, Pomaks and Roma – was not considered to be an asset. Thus, in 2017, Sofia and Skopje signed a Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborhood and Cooperation, which seemed to put an end to the long-standing dispute on history, language and identity of the Macedonians, at least on the governmental level.13 Several hundreds of thousands of Macedonians had already made their peace with Bulgaria by applying for Bulgarian citizenship in order to get the red passport with the inscription Evropejski săjuz – European Union – allowing for free movement (and expanded employment opportunities) in Germany, Italy, the UK (at that time), Austria, Sweden and elsewhere. The Macedonian-Bulgarian rapprochement of 2017 probably also played a role in the decision of the Greek government to start negotiations with Skopje in order to overcome the name blockade. On June 17, 2018, in the presence of the two prime ministers, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, plus the longstanding UN intermediator Matthew Nimetz, and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, the two countries’ foreign ministers, Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov, signed the so called Prespa Agreement, wherein the main clause was the declaration of intent on the Macedonian side to rename the country. The former “Republika Makedonija” became the “Republika Severna Makedonija” – “Republic of North Macedonia,” thereby opening a window of opportunity for Macedonia’s NATO and EU membership. How long this window will stay open is difficult to say. On September 30, 2018, a referendum on the name change in Macedonia resulted in a majority of “yes” votes, yet failed to meet the quorum of 50% of the voters. On December 3, 2018, a narrow twothird majority of the Macedonian parliament voted for including the name change into the constitution, ballots in the Macedonian parliament (January 15, 2019) as well as in the Greek one (February 2019), which led to the ratification of the Prespa Agreement. Still, the risk that a “resurfaced Titanic” might sink for a second time lingers on. This, because of the dangerous forcefield of the Bermuda Triangle, by which I mean the “western Balkans,” caused by local populists, nationalists, right-wing extremists and Russophiles, as well as by Russia itself, by China and by ISIS, continues to cause trouble.

 Dogovor za prijatelstvo, dobrososedstvo i sorabotka megu Republika Makedonija i Republika Bugarija, August 1, 2017 ( telstvo_Dobrososedstvo_Sorabotka_Megju_Republika_Makedonija_I_Republika_Bugarija.pdf).


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The Prespa Agreement of 2018 The document signed by Greece and Macedonia in the small fishing village of Psarades on the shore of the Greek part of Lake Prespa14 and cryptically entitled “Final Agreement for the Settlement of the Differences as Described in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993), the Termination of the Interim Accord of 1995, and the Establishment of a Strategic Partnership between the Parties” is a highly unusual piece of international law. Even the first sentence in the preambula highlights this specificity: The First Party, the Hellenic Republic (the ‘First Party’), and the Second Party, which was admitted to the United Nations in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly resolution 42/225 of 8 April 1993 (the ‘Second Party’), [are] jointly referred to as the ‘Parties’.15

While Greece is represented with its constitutional name – “Hellenic Republic” – the constitutional name of Macedonia – “Republic of Macedonia” – is not mentioned, nor is its provisional moniker: “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.” Moreover, many of the detailed provisions of the agreement concern matters not usually dealt with in this type of diplomatic texts and thus make it a rather unique bilateral treaty. This goes, in particular, for topics like history and language. For example, paragraph 4 of Article 7 reads: The Second Party notes that its official language, the Macedonian language, is within the group of South Slavic languages. The Parties note that the official language and other attributes of the Second Party are not related to the ancient Hellenic civilization, history, culture and heritage of the northern region of the First Party.16

 In choosing Psarades for reasons of geographic vicinity to the Macedonian shore of Lake Prespa, the Greek foreign ministry was obviously not aware of the fact that up to the 1920s the village was inhabitated predominantly by Slavic-speakers and was carried the Slavic name Nivitsi. Even more astonishing is that political actors in Athens seemed not to have realized that in late March 1949, at the end of the Greek Civil War, Psarades was the site of the Second Congress of the pro-Communist Macedonian National Liberation Front, an armed formation allied with the armed forces of the Greek Communist Party. Two months earlier, at the Fifth Plenum of the party some, Zachariadis had declared that after a Communist victory over the Royal Greek Army and its US allies a reunification of Greek Macedonia with Yugoslav Macedonia would be possible. See Skordos, Griechenlands Makedonische Frage, 171–181.  Final Agreement for the Settlement of the Differences as Described in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993), the Termination of the Interim Accord of 1995, and the Establishment of a Strategic Partnership between the Parties (Prespes, June 17, 2018), 1 (  Ibid., 7.

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Equally specific on a non-diplomatic topic is paragraph 2 of Article 8: Within six months following the entry into force of this Agreement, the Second Party shall review the status of monuments, public buildings and infrastructures on its territory, and insofar as they refer in any way to ancient Hellenic history and civilization constituting an integral component of the historic or cultural patrimony of the First Party, shall take appropriate corrective action to effectively address the issue and ensure respect for the said patrimony.17

And finally, paragraph 5 of Article 8 contains the following bizarre conditions: Within one month of the signing of this Agreement, the Parties shall establish by exchange of diplomatic notes, on a parity basis, a Joint Inter-Disciplinary Committee of Experts on historic, archaeological and educational matters, to consider the objective, scientific interpretation of historical events based on authentic, evidence-based and scientifically sound historical sources and archaeological findings. The Committee [. . .] shall consider, if it deems appropriate, revise any school textbooks and school auxiliary material such as maps, historical atlases, teaching guides, in use in each of the Parties [. . .]. To that effect, the Committee shall set specific timetables so as to ensure in each of the Parties that no school textbooks or school auxiliary material in use the year after the signing of the Agreement contains any irredentist/revisionist references. [. . .].18

In short, The Prespa Agreement is an attempt by Greece to impose its own historical narrative on Macedonia, which is thereby forced to considerably revise its own historical narrative. As during the Cold War, nowadays, too, governmental politics of history create a policy not only in domestic politics but also in bilateral and international relations. In both countries, Greece and Macedonia, the public reaction to the core points of the agreement, particularly the name issue, was mixed – violent outrage on behalf of political extremists, tacit consent on behalf of moderate forces. The same goes for Balkan experts worldwide.19 EU and NATO officials were, of course, full of praise; politicians and diplomats of the Russian Federation, appalled. The British author James Pettifer sardonically wrote, “The 20page ‘agreement’ seems to have been written by an unknown junior operative

 Ibidem.  Final Agreement, 7–8.  Stefan Rohdewald, “Citizenship, Ethnicity, History, Nation, Region, and the Prespa Agreement of June 2018 between Macedonia and Greece,” Südosteuropa 66, no. 4 (2018): 577–593; Biljana Vankovska, “A diplomatic fairytale or geopolitics as usual: A critical perspective Solving the Name Dispute of the agreement between Athens and Skopje,” OSCE Yearbook 24 (2018): 113–133; Christian Hagemann, “Goodbye FYROM, Welcome North Macedonia. Solving the Name Dispute with Greece and the Way Forward,” Südosteuropa-Mitteilungen 59, no. 1 (2019): 7–19.


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in a think tank not widely known for Balkan expertise.”20 In a letter to the editor of the website Balkan Insider Macedonian nationalists like the historian Blaže Ristovski, and also internationally known figures like the writer Milan Kundera and the political philosopher Johan Galtung, took issue with what they called “the Prespa agreement” for not showing “respect for international law, human rights and democratic principles”: An agreement trying to define political, historical and cultural boundaries between ‘classical Macedonia’ and (would be) North Macedonia is a bizarre undertaking in the 21st century. The construction of identities is not for governments. Macedonia is subjected to arbitrary international engineering against the will of the people. With little public support a highly polarized atmosphere deepens internal divisions. The asymmetric ‘deal’ will not lessen regional tensions as only the weaker (Macedonian) side was forced to compromise, to force (North) Macedonia into NATO – itself in an identity crisis. [. . .] NATO membership is unlikely to bring social and economic progress or security to the small Macedonian state [. . .].21

There was, however, no international echo to this protest of Russophiles, leftists and post-Communists.

Epilogue In the Sofia-Skopje-Athens triangle the use of historical arguments in the political realm, here, in particular, with respect to bilateral relations, has proven to be a main obstacle for constructive regional cooperation. It has strongly enforced populist tendencies, fed oppositional nationalist movements, some of which even use racist hate-speech, and, in general, created a hostile climate among the three neighbours – with far-reaching consequences in many fields of the everyday lives of inhabitants of the region. A particularly striking example is the extremely poor state of traffic infrastructure in the southern Balkans, which remains on the level of that which existed in the early stages of the Cold War. Between Macedonia and Greece a total of three road border crossings exist and the only functioning railroad line trains run infrequently and irregularly. Not much better is the situation between

 James Pettifer, “Should Albanians Support or Use the New Name?,” Koha (Prishtina), June 20, 2018.  “Letter to the Editor: Academics Take Issue With Prespa Agreement,” Balkan Insider, August 29, 2018 (

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Greece and Bulgaria. Only one railroad connection exists and it is in poor shape. And it took a long time after 1989 for both governments to open new crossings on their 500-kilometer-long common border. Macedonia and Bulgaria are not connected by a direct railroad line and construction for such a line, initiated 1942, was stopped, not for the first time, some years ago. Bulgaria has refused to open additional road border crossings to supplement the existing three created during communist times. And whether the Chinese plan to build a high-speed railroad line from Thessaloniki via Skopje to Belgrade and further to Budapest will ever be realised is an open question. To travel the Balkan triangle from Athens via Thessaloniki and Sofia (and Nish in Serbia) to Skopje and back to Athens today by train is a tedious enterprise that takes a long time – approximately 48 hours. Yet, to overcome the political conflicts concerning the history between Sofia, Skopje and Athens could take the same amount of time, in years. Postscriptum: If a historian were in a position to give a recommendation to politicians in Sofia, Skopje and Athens it would need to be an equally blunt and naïve one: “Leave history to us and mind your own business!”

References Baev, Jordan. Drugata studena vojna. Săvetsko-kitajskijat konflikt i Iztočna Evropa. Sofia: Voenno izdatelstvo, 2012. Brunnbauer, Ulf. “Ancient Nationhood and the Age-long Struggle for Statehood: Historiographic Myths in the Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).” In Myths and boundaries in South-Eastern Europe, edited by Pål Kolstø, 262–296. London: Hurst, 2005. Burilkova, Iva, and Cočo Biljarski red. Makedonskijat văpros v bălgaro-jugoslavskite otnošenija 1968–1989 g. 2 vols. Sofia: Dăržavnite arhivi, 2012. Čavoški, Jovan. “Between Ideology and Geopolitics: Sino-Yugoslav Relations and the Wider Cold War, 1950–1970s.” In New Sources, New Findings: The Relationship between China, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, edited by Péter Vámos, 187–406 (402–404). Shanghai: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, 2013. Danforth, Loring M. The Macedonian Conflict. Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1997. Davies, Norman. Europe. A History. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Dimitrov, Bozhidar. The Ten Lies of Macedonism. Sofia: Kom Foundation, 2007. Dogovor za prijatelstvo, dobrososedstvo i sorabotka megu Republika Makedonija i Republika Bugarija, August 1, 2017. Prijatelstvo_Dobrososedstvo_Sorabotka_Megju_Republika_Makedonija_I_Republika_ Bugarija.pdf. Dragostinova, Teodora. Between Two Motherlands. Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900–1949. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011.


Stefan Troebst

Final Agreement for the Settlement of the Differences as Described in the United Nations Security Council Resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993), the Termination of the Interim Accord of 1995, and the Establishment of a Strategic Partnership between the Parties (Prespes, June 17, 2018). pdf. Hagemann, Christian. “Goodbye FYROM, Welcome North Macedonia. Solving the Name Dispute with Greece and the Way Forward.” Südosteuropa-Mitteilungen 59, no. 1 (2019): 7–19. Hoppe, Hans-Joachim. “Bulgarian nationalities policy in occupied Thrace and Aegean Macedonia.” Nationalities Papers 14, no. 1–2 (1986): 89–100. Hviding, Maria. “The tug-of-war over Tsar Samuil – Bulgarian or Macedonian?” Café Balkans. Actualité balkanique éclectique, April 27, 2014. 2014/04/27/the-tug-of-war-over-tsar-samuil-bulgarian-or-macedonian/. King, Robert R. Minorities under Communism. Nationalities as a Source of Tension among Balkan Communist States. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973. Kolev, Panto. Makedonskijat văpros v bălgaro-jugoslavskite otnošenija 1950–1967 g. Dokumentalen sbornik. Sofia: Dăržavnite arhivi, 2009. “Letter to the Editor: Academics Take Issue With Prespa Agreement.” Balkan Insider, August 29, 2018. Marinov, Tchavdar. “Regionalism in South-Eastern Europe.” In Regionalism and Modern Europe. Identity Construction and Movements from 1890 to the Present Day, edited by Xosé M. Núñez Seixas and Eric Storm, 307–321. London etc.: Bloomsbury, 2018. Pettifer, James. “Should Albanians Support or Use the New Name?” Koha (Prishtina), June 20, 2018. Rohdewald, Steffan. “Citizenship, Ethnicity, History, Nation, Region, and the Prespa Agreement of June 2018 between Macedonia and Greece.” Südosteuropa 66, no. 4 (2018): 577–593. Sfetas, Spyridon. O akyrichtos polemos gia to Makedoniko. Voulgaria – Giougkoslavia 1968–1989. Thessaloniki: Institute for Balkan Studies, 2010. Sfetas, Spyridon. “The Bulgarian-Yugoslav Dispute over the Macedonian Question as a Reflection of the Soviet-Yugoslav Controversy (1968–1980).” Balcanica ΧLΙΙΙ (2012): 241–271. 20Spyros%20Sfetas.pdf. Sfetas, Spyridon. “The Fusion of Regional and Cold War Problems: The Macedonian Triangle Between Greece, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, 1963–80.” In The Balkans in the Cold War. Security, Conflict and Cooperation in the Contemporary World, edited by Svetozar Rajak at al., 307–329. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. Shea, John. Macedonia and Greece: The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation. Jefferson, NC, London: McFarland, 1977. Skordos, Adamantios. Griechenlands Makedonische Frage. Bürgerkrieg und Geschichtspolitik im Südosten Europas 1945–1992. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2012. Skordos, Adamantios. „Makedonischer Namensstreit und griechischer Bürgerkrieg. Ein kulturhistorischer Erklärungsversuch der griechischen Makedonien-Haltung 1991.“ Südosteuropa-Mitteilungen 51, no. 4 (2011): 36–56.

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Synowitz, Ron. “Skopje, Sofia Not Speaking Same Language When It Comes To Macedonian.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Balkan Report, December 16, 2018. Troebst, Stefan. Die bulgarisch-jugoslawische Kontroverse um Makedonien 1967–1982. Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1983. Troebst, Stefan. “IMRO + 100 = FYROM? The Politics of Macedonian Historiography.” In The New Macedonian Question, edited by James Pettifer, 60–78. London, New York, NY: Macmillan, St Martins Press, 1999. Vankovska, Biljana. “A diplomatic fairytale or geopolitics as usual: A critical perspective Solving the Name Dispute of the agreement between Athens and Skopje.” OSCE Yearbook 24 (2018): 113–133.

Przemysław Furgacz

Israeli-Polish Political Dispute over the Amendment of the Act of the Institute of National Remembrance Abstract: The paper describes in a succinct and compact manner the eruption and evolution of the political feud between Poland and Israel over the legislation enacted by the Polish parliament at the beginning of 2018. This instituted criminal sanctions for accusations of Polish responsibility for Nazi crimes during World War II. The move was widely interpreted in Israel as an attempt to whitewash Polish history and a step toward the implementation of censorship for historians. The author briefly discusses how the political and diplomatic confrontation evolved and its ramifications for bilateral Polish-Israeli relations. Keywords: culture memory; Israeli-Polish relations; politics of memory; the Amendment of the Act of Institute of National Remembrance

Introduction The objective of the text is to briefly and succinctly present the Polish-Israeli political strife over the legislation introducing criminal sanctions against parties that accused Poland of being responsible for Nazi crimes. This feud unexpectedly and rapidly erupted, contributing significantly to the deterioration of Polish-Israeli relations. In addition, it engaged U.S. diplomats who attempted to obviate the unfortunate dispute. What is more, despite being defused superficially, the strife still plays a role in relations between Tel Aviv and Warsaw. Therefore, the author would like to find answers for the following research questions: What are the short term consequences of the aforementioned IsraeliPolish strife? Did third parties play a role in exacerbating and/or solving the contention? What were the primary causes of the ill-fated disputation? What can we conclude about the past from this particular argument? Due to the limited space the author cannot describe the strife in its entirety and complexity, but will confine the focus to selected aspects, ramifications and qualities of this specific case of political contention.


Przemysław Furgacz

The Political Disputation between Israel and Poland, 2018–2019 In late January and early February of 2019 the Polish Sejm (parliament) passed an amendment that penalises those who “accuse, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich” (precise wording of Article 55A of the amended Act).1 As can be clearly seen, this wording is very general, very sweeping and – as a matter of fact – nobody was sure what it would mean in practice. Israeli politicians across the political spectrum interpreted it as a sort of Holocaust denial. Israeli public opinion was, to a considerable degree, outraged by this amendment. The government staunchly protested and essentially initiated a negative public relations campaign against this law and the Polish government in the Western world. The issue suddenly and unexpectedly became important to the extent that major, well-known Western media organisations like CNN dedicated noticeable attention to it.2 On January 26, 2018 the Polish Sejm enacted the controversial amendment. Subsequently, many Polish lawyers argued that the disputed Article 55A is imprecise, loose and may be unconstitutional.3 In a very short period of time a plethora of articles, commentaries and opeds addressing this matter cropped up in various Israeli and Western newspapers and on Internet sites. Most of the Israeli media displayed a critical tone toward the Polish government. Some journalists were emotional, aggressive and bitter.4

 The 2018 Amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance.  Aleksandra Rybińska, “Gazety są pełne żółci,” Sieci, November 5–11, 2018, 35–37.  Prawnicy o artykule 55a o ochronie dobrego imienia, TVN24, sci-z-kraju,3/prawnicy-o-art-55a-o-ochronie-dobrego-imienia,811373.html (accessed February 20, 2019). Later the Constitutional Tribunal admitted that the amendment is unconstitutional. See: Nowelizacja ustawy o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej, Trybunał Konstytucyjny, http://trybunal. (accessed August 23, 2019).  Compare for instance: Menachem Levine, “Why Poland’s new Holocaust law is a mockery,” Washington Times, February 20, 2018, why-polands-new-holocaust-law-is-a-mockery/ (accessed February 24, 2018); Jack Rosen, “I Take Poland’s Holocaust Revisionism Personally: Poles Hid My Grandfather and Uncle, Then Burnt Them to Death,” Haaretz, February 25, 2018, search?q=cache:VoWjd42fMZsJ: (accessed February 26, 2018); Anshel Pfeffer, “The Polish Were Once Victims of Historical Whitewashing. Now They Are Doing the Same,” Haaretz, and “Decades after Holocaust, Poles still

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However, there were also more neutral, more nuanced and balanced texts. For instance, articles written by Seth Frantzmann and published in the “Jerusalem Post” – in my personal conviction – gave an overarching impression of coherency, logic and understanding and, therefore, potency. Frantzmann basically argued that the turmoil in Israel was disproportionately large, vis-à-vis the amendment.5 Actually, the debate in Israel emerged concerning an overall evaluation of Polish state and societal attitude towards persecution of Jews during the Second World War. Among the few Israeli commentators who did not blame Poland for the Holocaust was Frantzmann – and Moshe Arens. Arens argued that, in contrast to great powers which totally ignored the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Polish underground movement gave support to Jewish fighters.6 Yuli Tamir in turn reported her discussions with Poland’s former president Lech Kaczyński.7 Shlomo Avineri asserted that many young Israelis associate the Holocaust with Poland instead of with Germany. He believed that in order to change this, educational trips for Israeli pupils should start in Germany, not in Poland.8 Daniel Blatman stressed that Israeli expectations that the Polish government would officially acknowledge collusion with the Nazis in the Shoah would never come to fruition, because Poland did not collude, in reality. In addition, he noted that Israel’s interpretation of the controversial law – that it was merely a move of the right-wing Law and Justice party – was an illusion; the belief that Polish people were the victims of the Nazi’s atrocious occupation is widely shared across the Polish political spectrum,

struggle with role,” Times of Israel, February 2, 2018, (accessed February 2, 2018).  Compare: “Setting history straight – Poland resisted Nazis,” The Jerusalem Post, January 29, 2018, (accessed January 29, 2010) and Seth J. Frantzmann, “How Israel, the Diaspora and Poland can overcome Holocaust debate,” The Jerusalem Post, February 27, 2018, (accessed February 27, 2018).  Moshe Arens, “Blaming Poland for the Holocaust Is Unjustified,” Haaretz, February 4, 2018, (accessed February 5, 2018).  Yuli Tamir, “Germany Bought Israel’s Forgiveness With Money. Poland Couldn’t Offer You a Thing,” Haaretz, February 8, 2018, K0FmIJ-e2n0J: giveness-poland-had-nothing-to-offer–1.5803505+&cd=1&hl=pl&ct=clnk&gl=pl (accessed February 8, 2018).  Shlomo Avineri, “Holocaust Trips to Poland for Israeli Youth Should Start in Germany,” Haaretz, March 5, 2018, WUJ: (accessed March 6, 2018).


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including among people staunchly opposing the Law and Justice.9 The famous Yad Vashem Institute decried this amendment, concurrently arguing that Polish authorities are right when they protest against using the term “Polish death camps.” Oded Even Or argued that Israel should oppose the contentious amendment on the basis that it might actually disincline historians from studying some aspects of Poland’s history due to the hazard of facing criminal sanctions. For their part, Israeli politicians mostly targeted the amendment on the basis of “Polish complicity” in the Shoah.10 The first criticism is justified; the second is doubtful. We do not know with absolute certainty what happened behind the scenes. But we do know that the crisis between Poland and Israel was defused with the publication of a joint statement by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on June 27, 2018. This statement, characterised as typical diplomatic babble and yet, in fact, very short, required backstairs negotiations of more than four months. In general, the Israeli Prime Minister clearly supported the Polish government in asserting that the phrases “Polish concentration camp” and “Polish death camp” were “blatantly erroneous and diminishe(d) the responsibility of Germans for establishing those camps.”11 Most Poles regarded this phrase as absolutely intolerable and unacceptable because it suggested that the Polish nation or state constructed and triggered these infamous camps. On the contrary, they insisted that the camps were designed by the German Nazi aggressors in occupied Poland in times when there was not a political entity called Poland in any form, either residual or symbolic. Actually, one interpretation of the Polish conservative intentions behind the controversial amendment asserted that it was meant to show disapproval of the terms “Polish concentration/death camp” by criminalising them.

 Daniel Blatman, “Polish Honor and Israeli Hypocrisy,” Haaretz, February 22, 2019, https:// opinion/.premium-polish-honor-and-israeli-hypocrisy-1.6959842+&cd=1&hl=pl&ct=clnk&gl=pl (accessed February 27, 2019).  Oded Even Or, “When Israel Ignorantly Blames the Holocaust on the Poles, It Boosts Their Illiberal Nationalists,” Haaretz, January 30, 2018, search?q=cache:2fgJ08L08YwJ: (accessed January 31, 2018).  “Joint declaration of prime ministers of the State of Israel and the Republic of Poland,” June 27, 2018, (accessed November 30, 2019).

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According to what some authoritative journalists wrote, the White House put substantial pressure on both the Polish and Israeli authorities to end this dispute, which, from Washington’s viewpoint was completely unnecessary, stupid and senseless. It was also against the U.S. national interests because it alienated two close U.S. allies. In both cases the pressure was exerted behind the scenes rather than openly. Of course, Israel is a close U.S. ally, but with Brexit and the growing number of important military installations and bases of the U.S. Armed Forces under construction in Poland, that country, too, has become increasingly more germane for the U.S. The diplomatic disputation between Israel and Poland quickly drew the attention of Washington. The U.S. State Department cautioned that the implementation of the new law could have aftershocks on “Poland’s strategic interests and relationships – including those with the United States and Israel.”12 According to media leaks that seem credible, the U.S. diplomats in behind-the-scenes talks with representatives of Polish authorities unambiguously declared that unless Poland withdrew from the amendment a sort of secret unofficial sanctions would be practised vis-à-vis Poland and Polish authorities. The journalists had access to diplomatic documents that proved the breakout of a crisis in U.S.-Polish bilateral relations. According to them these unofficial sanctions would be the following: – Polish political leaders, including the president and the prime minister, would not be hosted in the White House – only meetings on low diplomatic level would be continued; – funding of planned joint military projects would be blocked; – no new U.S. troops in Poland would be deployed; – if any U.S. citizens were punished on the basis of the new law, U.S.-Polish relations would worsen. Reportedly, Wesley Mitchell – the then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, took the harshest tone in diplomatic conversations.13 Concurrently, the U.S. diplomacy pressed the Israeli government not to escalate the diplomatic dispute with Poland. Washington encouraged both sides to defuse the tension. From the U.S. perspective it was the Polish government which was primarily responsible for the eruption of strife, all the more

 “Decades after Holocaust, Poles still struggle with role,” Times of Israel, February 2, 2018, (accessed February 2, 2018).  Andrzej Gajcy and Andrzej Stankiewicz, Amerykańskie sankcje wobec polskich władz, March 5, 2018, (accessed March 10, 2018).


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because, reputedly, before the enactment of the contentious law, U.S. diplomats had warned, off the record, that they opposed the planned amendment. As noted, both Israel and Poland are important allies of Washington in their respective regions of world. The Donald Trump administration appears to have been particularly inclined to support the Israeli government point of view and national interests in foreign policy decision-making. Unlike his predecessor in the White House, Trump enjoyed good personal relationships with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Opinion polls show that Trump is liked in Israel more than preceding American presidents.14 Washington’s controversial decision to officially recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital city and – in the wake of that – to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as well as to recognise the occupied Golan Heights as sovereign Israeli territory – all this, despite opposition from America’s European and Middle Eastern allies – indicate that the Trump administration greatly respected Israeli wishes.15 For his part, the Polish Prime Minister supported the “free and open historical expression and research on all aspects of the Holocaust so that it can be conducted without any fear of legal obstacles,” a provision of the declaration. In other words, the joint declaration appears to be a typical tit-for-tat transaction,16 a kind of compromise. However, the pure fact that the Polish government withdrew from the controversial amendment and changed its stance, conceding to Tel Aviv’s wishes, may be justifiably interpreted as a victory for the Israeli side. To borrow from boxing terminology here, it was not a “knock out” but, all the same, an Israeli victory on points. Nonetheless, there were some voices in Israel, mostly from Netanyahu’s political opponents, that this declaration was humiliating for Israel. These voices asserted that the Israeli Prime Minister had capitulated, or even betrayed the victims of the Shoah. The Yad Vashem historians criticised the Israeli authorities for their part: the historical assertions, presented as unchallenged facts, in the joint statement contain grave errors and deceptions, and (that) the essence of the statute remains unchanged even after the repeal of the aforementioned sections, including the

 Jakub Woziński, “Izraela miłość do Trumpa,” Gazeta Finansowa, March 29, 2019, https:// (accessed April 1, 2019).  Shlomo Brom, “Recognition by the US Administration of Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights: Political and Security Implications,” INSS Insight, 1156 (2019), https://www. cal-security-implications/?offset=1&posts=1158&type=399 (accessed April 2, 2019).  “Israeli man charged with assault for spitting at Polish envoy,” Times of Israel, May 16, 2019, (accessed May 17, 2019).

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possibility of real harm to researchers, unimpeded research, and the historical memory of the Holocaust.17 So opinions were and still are divided over this. Yet, it seems that the low-point in bilateral Polish-Israeli relations was overcome, thanks to this declaration. Governments of both countries arguably came to the conclusion that the further escalation of the strife did not lie in their best interests. That is not to say that the diplomatic incidents regarding this question would not reoccur in the future. As the course of events had proved, the issue is still emotional for both states. For example, during the Middle Eastern conference in Warsaw in February 2019, Prime Minister Netanyahu, in his conversation with Israeli journalists, purportedly opined in Hebrew that “Poles cooperated with the Germans” during the Holocaust. That is at least what was reported by “The Jerusalem Post.” Warsaw addressed Tel Aviv for clarification. Netanyahu denied that he ever expressed these words.18 There is not any recording from this conversation, so basically we are not able to determine whether Netanyahu lied about his words or whether Israeli journalists intentionally or unintentionally misquoted him. For a time thereafter it appeared that a diplomatic crisis between Israel and Poland had been obviated but later, newly nominated Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, in a TV interview, stated that “many Poles” had collaborated with the Nazis under the occupation and therefore shared responsibility for the Holocaust. In addition, Katz concurred with former Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir who said that “Poles suckle anti-Semitism with their mothers’ milk.”19 The Polish government interpreted these words as racist and demanded an official apology. When Katz said that he would not back down, Polish authorities cancelled the planned visit of the Polish Prime Minister and his delegation to

 David Silberklang, Dan Michman and Havi Dreifuss, “Yad Vashem historians respond to the joint statement of the Governments of Poland and Israel concerning the revision of the January 26, 2018, amendment to Poland’s Act on the Institute of National Remembrance,” Yad Vashem, July 5, 2018, (accessed July 9, 2018). Detailed version: action.html.  Tovah Lazaroff, “Polish Crisis Likely Over After Israeli Clarification of Netanyahu Comment,” The Jerusalem Post, February 15, 2019, nyahu-in-Warsaw-says-Poles-had-cooperation-with-Germans-in-Holocaust-580700 (accessed 19 February 2019).  “Israeli minister not backing down over Polish remarks,” France24, February 22, 2019, marks (accessed February 26, 2019).


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Israel.20 Katz was also condemned by the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland and Ronald Lauder, chief of the Jewish World Congress.21 Warsaw was displeased with Netanyahu’s and Katz’s behaviour. It was viewed as a sign of ingratitude and disregard because the Polish authorities earlier agreed to host the evidently antiIranian Middle-Eastern conference in Warsaw on February 13–14, 2019. Washington wanted this conference to further the anti-Iranian coalition in the Middle East and to tighten relations of Arab Gulf states to Israel.22 When Warsaw arranged the conference, bilateral relations of Poland and Iran virtually broke down as a result of the aforementioned behaviour of Netanyahu’s and Katz. Moreover, Warsaw exposed itself to criticism from Paris and Berlin, which staunchly opposed harshly anti-Iranian Trump policy and ostentatiously dispatched diplomats of the lowest rank possible (in case of France, merely the director of department) to attend.23 In May 2019 the Polish ambassador in Israel, Marek Magierowski, was physically attacked by one of Israel’s citizens of Jewish origin. The impetuous man blocked Ambassador Magierowski’s car outside the Polish embassy in Tel Aviv. When the ambassador attempted to take a photo of a man he opened the car’s door and rudely spat at the ambassador twice.24 The unpleasant and unnecessary

 “Poland seeks apology over Israel foreign minister’s Holocaust remarks,” CBC, February 19, 2019, (accessed February 22, 2019).  Jan Rokita, „Morawiecki wygrywa z Netanjahu,“ Sieci, 2019, no. 8 (323): 24. However according to some commentaries the U.S. this time supported Warsaw; apart from the tweet of U.S. ambassador in Poland Georgette Mosbacher there is hardly an argument for such an assertion. Equally, the tweet of ambassador Mosbacher can be explained as a manner to enhance the U.S. image of Poland. Hence, it seems justified that on this occasion Washington remained neutral.  On Middle-Eastern conference in Warsaw see: Dion Nissenbaum, “Ambitions for an ‘Arab NATO’ Fade Amid Discord,” Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2019, ticles/ambitions-for-an-arab-nato-fade-amid-discord-11550601661 (accessed February 20, 2019); Hussein Ibish, Warsaw Conference Highlighted the Challenges Facing Anti-Iran Coalition, Stratfor, February 18, 2019, lenges-facing-anti-iran-coalition (accessed February 21, 2019).  Marcin Zaborowski, Konferencja bliskowschodnia, czyli jak zostać podwykonawcą USA, „Polityka,“ February 12, 2019,,1,konfer (accessed February 22, 2019).  Raphael Ahren, “Israeli man charged with assault for spitting at Polish envoy,” Times of Israel, May 16, 2019, ting-at-polish-envoy/ (accessed May 16, 2019). The aggressor, Arik Lederman, told the police that the ambassador’s bodyguard expressed the word “Zhid” and that is why he spat the ambassador in anger. The humoristic aspect of this story is that most probably Lederman misinterpreted this word as an insult, because indeed in Russian language this word has a

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incident was decried by the Polish Prime Minister.25 It gained publicity because the assailant turned out to be a well-known Israeli architect – Aric Lederman. The Polish-Israeli disputation over history reached a culmination in the physical assault on the diplomat. During the hottest phase of Polish-Israeli row, a plethora of fake news emerged in the Israeli media, for instance an article about the alleged devastation of the Jewish cemetery in Świdnica.26 This may have indicated that some people were interested in stirring up emotions. Furthermore, during the Warsaw Middle-Eastern Summit (February 13–14, 2019), an American journalist of MSNBC station, Andrea Mitchell, said in her correspondence for Warsaw: “Polish Jews ghetto uprising against Polish and Nazi regime.” Rightly or wrongly, many people in Poland interpreted these words not as a symptom of ignorance, but as a deliberate provocation.27 Mitchell apologised after the intervention of Polish, Israeli and U.S. authorities as well as the World Jewish Congress. Overall, such incidents exert a negative influence on mutual relations between Poland and Israel. Many Polish citizens fall under a kind of massive propaganda spell at these times. Many commentators claim that the unexpected re-emergence of diplomatic rows was primarily an effect of the campaign in the run-up to parliamentary elections in Israel, scheduled for April 9, 2019. Secondly, the discord was an extension of the preceding strife over the disputed amendment. Israeli right-wing politicians used strong dignity rhetoric to appeal to the most nationalist elements of society. Netanyahu was criticised in Israel by many of his political opponents – first and foremost, by Yair Lapid and Benjamin Gantz – for issuing the joint declaration from June 2018. Today, two years later, the Likud – Netanyahu’s party – is seriously jeopardised by the growing popularity of its principal adversary, the Blue and White Party, as well as numerous right-wing nationalist parties,28

pejorative meaning, yet in Polish this word is neutral. It means simply “Jew.” Lederman might have known the Russian language sufficiently well, but not Polish.  Raphael Ahren, “Israeli apologizes for spitting at Polish envoy, as Warsaw demands justice,” Times of Israel, May 15, 2019, ting-at-polish-envoy-claims-guard-called-him-zhid/ (accessed May 16, 2019).  Marcin Makowski, Uderzenie kłamstwem, “Do Rzeczy,” 2019, no. 21, 20.  Andrea Mitchell is privately a wife of the former Chairmen of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan. In Poland some commentators wondered whether she might intentionally lie to provoke an emotional backlash of Polish society or for other reasons. However, it appears more likely that her abusive statement was simply a sign of ignorance.  Shlomo Brom, “Recognition by the US Administration of Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights: Political and Security Implications,” INSS Insight 1156 (2019): 2, https://www. cal-security-implications/?offset=1&posts=1158&type=399 (accessed April 2, 2019).


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including the Israel Beitenu. Many moves and actions of Israeli politicians in the realm of foreign policy cannot be satisfactorily explained if the factor of the domestic political situation is not taken into account.29 The specific electoral system of the Knesset – Israel’s parliament – without election thresholds – vastly contributes to the marked fragmentation of the political scene. The presence of many varied parties in the Knesset compels Israeli politicians from the mainstream parties to create and uphold very broad coalitions, often with extremist parties. Holding large coalition grouping including many parties is harder than keeping a coalition with only one or two parties. As a consequence, successive Israeli prime ministers often become hostages of (minor) far-right nationalist parties; which electorate is reluctant to make any concessions on foreign policy matters. According to some explanations, Russian secret services could have ignited or at least stoked up the disputes.30 This opinion gained some prominence in Poland but not in Israel. The followers of this conviction argue that Russian intelligence services are adept at inserting wedges between different U.S. allies and – more broadly – in the Western world. It may be assumed that both in Poland and in Israel the Russian Federation has numerous intelligence assets and influences. In the case of Israel this influence is mainly the result of the large emigration of Soviet and Russian Jews in the 1980s and 1990s. The mere fact that Russianspeaking Israelis usually vote for right-wing nationalist parties like Israel Beitenu is telling. Additionally, in the past, Soviet intelligence proved that it can successfully sow a discord between the Polish and Jewish nation. Admittedly, there is no strong evidence revealed so far to support this thesis, nonetheless many reports in recent years prove that Russian intelligence agencies actively impact the political system of various Western states, including the results of elections. It would not be prudent to reject such a hypothesis, a priori. Unquestionably, Moscow’s interest lies in creating a rift in relations between Poland and Israel, as well as one between Poland and the U.S. The circumstantial evidence supporting this thesis is the appearance of Yakov Kedmi in the broadcast led by Vladimir Solovyov – the infamous Kremlin propagandist employed in the Russian state television, Rossiya 1. Kedmi – presented as an Israeli social activist – fulminated about 500,000 Jews purportedly exterminated by Poles during the Second World War – the number immensely exaggerated, to put it mildly.31 On another television occasion, Kedmi opined that “For a Pole, hating Jews is the same as  That is an opinion expressed by one of the experienced former diplomats of Israeli citizenship during private conversation with the author.  Konrad Kołodziejski, “Kto nas rozgrywa?,” Sieci, 2019, no. 8 (323): 25–27.  Maciej Pieczyński, “Izraelsko-rosyjski antypolonizm,” Do Rzeczy, no. 12 (2019): 74–75.

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hating Russians.”32 Unquestionably, the Kremlin intends to take advantage of the Israeli-Polish disputation over history to advance its own aims. Polish and Israeli societies are also divided regarding the evaluation of the Red Army and the Stalinist Soviet Union. In Poland the Red Army is usually treated as an army of the hostile totalitarian state, which conspired with the Third Reich to partition Poland and to persecute Polish people. Poles usually perceive the Red Army as the occupant. In contrast to Poland, in Israel, the perception of the Red Army as liberator of the mercilessly oppressed by the evil Nazi empire Jews prevails. In these respects, policies of the Russian Federation and Israel are more convergent than policies regarding the histories of Poland and Israel. Whereas in Poland, the Red Army monuments are step by step removed, in Israel, new Red Army soldiers’ monuments are being erected, such as the one in Netanya in 2012.33 Polish political elites observe the tightening relations between Netanyahu and Putin with reserve and distrust. In Poland the intensification of Israeli-Russian relations under the Netanyahu government is viewed suspiciously. In recent years leading Israeli officials and diplomats have been meeting more often with their Russian counterparts. This is, of course, the result of the crucial role Russia has played in the Syrian war since at least September 2015, when the Kremlin embarked on the military intervention there. Israeli authorities want to convince Moscow to push Iranians out of Syria, especially from the Syrian-Israeli borderlands. Additionally, Israeli strategists see Russia as a bulwark against Turkey’s southern expansion under the ambitious and anti-Israeli Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Conclusions What can we conclude from these disputes? Firstly, disputes over history may crop up suddenly and unexpectedly, even between states which maintained good if not very good mutual relations for years. Usually strifes over history take place between feuding, hostile and antagonistic countries. Consider Turkey and Armenia, or Japan and China, or Poland and Russia. And yet, in this respect, the Polish-Israeli argument over the controversial law is quite an atypical case. Not many people realise that

 See: “Yakov Kedmi: Russia Is Too Lenient! Time to Take Tougher Stance Against Russophobia!,” YouTube, May 26, 2019, (access: 27 May 2019), minute 1:20–2:00.  Konrad Kołodziejski, “Historyczny sojusz,” Sieci, no. 12 (2019); 12.


Przemysław Furgacz

Poland and Israel used to closely cooperate in a secret world of intelligence. At least two Polish intelligence officers died in the Middle East because they gathered information which could be useful for the U.S. and Israel. In late 2018 a Polish military attaché in Teheran was knocked down fatally when he tried to pass through the pedestrian crossing. It certainly was not a random accident. Secondly, nations with traumatic events from past are especially prone, susceptible and inclined to involvement in disputations over history. Poles – and all the more, Jewish Israelis – are both very traumatised nations. Poland is an excellent example of a state engaged in many disputations over history – primarily with Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania and, more recently, Israel. Thirdly, politicians are often interested in fuelling and fanning disputations over history. Interestingly, the time at which Polish-Israeli disputation emerged more or less coincided with the time in which Israeli police initiated investigations against the incumbent prime minister of Israel. Police have recommended Netanyahu be charged by the attorney general in the so-called “1000” and “2000” cases in which he and his close political circle have been heavily involved. One may suspect that it would be in Netanyahu’s interest to draw the attention of the Israeli public opinion away from these accusations and investigations. Some political commentators opined that this Israeli-Polish squabble over the controversial law was an excellent opportunity for Netanyahu to exploit. It is not possible to verify this at the moment. It is also not possible to falsify this thesis for the time being. Another case of politicians who clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously intended to amass political capital on this disputation was the case of Yair Lapid in Israel, one of the main political rivals of Benjamin Netanyahu. Lapid, in his public statements regarding the issue, evidently preferred harsh, rather than conciliatory, language. Fourthly, arguably such disputations will crop up from time to time unless governments coordinate their education policies. When children and teenagers are not taught to believe in the unity of humanity and in the spirit of respect for other nations, cultures, religions, any agreement or reconciliation will be virtual, tenuous and short-lived. Any reconciliations between nations are nothing more than a shallow and superficial show carried out by politicians unless they are associated with a long-term proper education policy. Accords through gestures of politicians fall short. To prevent such strife in the future, governments ought to cooperate much more in the area of history education. Fifthly, politicians go where the votes are. Politicians in their rhetoric tend to endear themselves to their voters. They often stoke up international quarrels when such disputes are beneficial to their agendas. If they see that they can capitalise on emotional hassles they do not hesitate to resort to unfriendly, extraordinarily emotional, black-and-white rhetoric.

Israeli-Polish Political Dispute over the Amendment of the Act


Last but not least, simple misunderstandings are very possible. Polish authorities most probably passed the contentious law in order to fight with the widely perceived and totally unsubstantiated, slanderous and defamatory terms like “Polish concentration camps” and “Polish death camps.” Conversely, Israeli government and Israeli society interpreted this law as an attempt to punish historians who dare to write and speak about Poles who collaborated with the Third Reich against the cruelly persecuted Jews during the World War II, in particular the so-called shmaltsovniks. No one can say for sure how, in practice, the law would be implemented. The contentious law has not ever been implemented. As a result of the infelicitous strife, the three decades of friendly bilateral relationships of Israel and Poland now are under question. Polish and Israeli societies have, in many respects – though not all – divergent views about their shared past. That means no matter how strongly Polish and Israeli political leaders would like to assure that the end of the contention is near, the discrepancies between interpretations concerning the facts and appraisals of history are not going to vanish. Realistically, we can count only on a less emotional, less abusive, and a more understanding and informative debate.

References Ahren, Raphael. “Israeli apologizes for spitting at Polish envoy, as Warsaw demands justice.” Times of Israel, May 15, 2019. Ahren, Raphael. “Israeli man charged with assault for spitting at Polish envoy.” Times of Israel, May 16, 2019. Arens, Moshe. “Blaming Poland for the Holocaust Is Unjustified.” Haaretz, February 4, 2018. Avineri, Shlomo. “Holocaust Trips to Poland for Israeli Youth Should Start in Germany.” Haaretz, March 5, 2018. RfwAfJhcSWUJ: Blatman, Daniel. “Polish Honor and Israeli Hypocrisy.” Haaretz, February 22, 2019. 1&hl=pl&ct=clnk&gl=pl. Brom, Shlomo. “Recognition by the US Administration of Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights: Political and Security Implications.” INSS Insight 1156 (2019). https://www.inss.


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“Decades after Holocaust, Poles still struggle with role”. Times of Israel, February 2, 2018. Frantzmann, Seth J. “How Israel, the Diaspora and Poland can overcome Holocaust debate.” The Jerusalem Post, February 27, 2018. 543804. Gajcy, Andrzej, and Andrzej Stankiewicz. Amerykańskie sankcje wobec polskich władz, March 5, 2018. Ibish, Hussein. Warsaw Conference Highlighted the Challenges Facing Anti-Iran Coalition. Stratfor, February 18, 2019. “Israeli man charged with assault for spitting at Polish envoy.” Times of Israel, May 16, 2019. “Israeli minister not backing down over Polish remarks.” France24, February 22, 2019. “Joint declaration of prime ministers of the State of Israel and the Republic of Poland.” June 27, 2018. Accessed November 30, 2019. news/news/joint-declaration-of-prime-ministers-of-the-state-of-israel-and-the-republicof-poland.html. Kołodziejski, Konrad. “Historyczny sojusz.” Sieci 327, no. 12 (2019): 12. Kołodziejski, Konrad. “Kto nas rozgrywa?” Sieci 323, no. 8 (2019): 25–27. Lazaroff, Tovah. “Polish Crisis Likely Over After Israeli Clarification of Netanyahu Comment.” The Jerusalem Post, February 15, 2019. nyahu-in-Warsaw-says-Poles-had-cooperation-with-Germans-in-Holocaust-580700. Levine, Menachem. “Why Poland’s new Holocaust law is a mockery.” Washington Times, February 20, 2018. Makowski, Marcin. “Do Rzeczy,” Uderzenie kłamstwem, no. 21 (2019): 19–21. Nissenbaum, Dion. “Ambitions for an ‘Arab NATO’ Fade Amid Discord.” Wall Street Journal, February 19, 2019. Nowelizacja ustawy o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej. Trybunał Konstytucyjny, n.d. /art/10463-nowelizacja-ustawy-o-instytucie-pamieci-narodowej/. Or, Oded Even. “When Israel Ignorantly Blames the Holocaust on the Poles, It Boosts Their Illiberal Nationalists.” Haaretz, January 30, 2018. https://webcache.googleusercontent. com/search?q=cache:2fgJ08L08YwJ: clnk&gl=pl. Pfeffer, Anshel. “The Polish Were Once Victims of Historical Whitewashing. Now They Are Doing the Same.” Haaretz, and “Decades after Holocaust, Poles still struggle with role,” Times of Israel, February 2, 2018. Pieczyński, Maciej. “Izraelsko-rosyjski antypolonizm.” Do Rzeczy, no. 12 (2019): 74–75.

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“Poland seeks apology over Israel foreign minister’s Holocaust remarks.” CBC, February 19, 2019. Prawnicy o artykule 55a o ochronie dobrego imienia. TVN24, n.d. wiadomosci-z-kraju,3/prawnicy-o-art-55a-o-ochronie-dobrego-imienia,811373.html. Rokita, Jan. „Morawiecki wygrywa z Netanjahu.“ Sieci 323, no. 8 (2019). Rosen, Jack. “I Take Poland’s Holocaust Revisionism Personally: Poles Hid My Grandfather and Uncle, Then Burnt Them to Death.” Haaretz, February 25, 2018. premium-the-poles-who-hid-my-grandfather-and-uncle-then-burnt-them-to-death-1. 5847612+&cd=1&hl=pl&ct=clnk&gl=pl. Rybińska, Aleksandra, “Gazety są pełne żółci.” Sieci 308, no. 45 (2018): 35–39. “Setting history straight – Poland resisted Nazis.” The Jerusalem Post, January 29, 2018. Accessed January 29, 2010. Silberklang, David, Dan Michman and Havi Dreifuss. “Yad Vashem historians respond to the joint statement of the Governments of Poland and Israel concerning the revision of the January 26, 2018, amendment to Poland’s Act on the Institute of National Remembrance.” Yad Vashem, July 5, 2018. /05-july-2018-07-34.html (detailed version: historians-reaction.html). Tamir, Yuli. “Germany Bought Israel’s Forgiveness With Money. Poland Couldn’t Offer You a Thing.” Haaretz, February 8, 2018. cache:K0FmIJ-e2n0J: Woziński, Jakub. “Izraela miłość do Trumpa.” Gazeta Finansowa, March 29, 2019. “Yakov Kedmi: Russia Is Too Lenient! Time to Take Tougher Stance Against Russophobia!” YouTube, May 26, 2019. Zaborowski, Marcin. Konferencja bliskowschodnia, czyli jak zostać podwykonawcą USA. „Polityka,“ February 12, 2019. 1782104,1,

Emmanuelle Hébert

Historical Commissions: A Mean to Overcome Traumatic Historical Experiences? Abstract: How do states address uses of the past in bilateral relations and how do they attempt to limit these actions? How and why do historical commissions not achieve their primary goal, i.e. reconciliation? To tackle the politicisation of the past, historical commissions have been established in order to create a dialogue about history and to appease bilateral relations. Three main points direct this research. First, it deals with reconciliation as the objective of historical commissions. Second, it concerns reconciliation in practice within historical commissions. Third, it emphasises five strategies to address common history in order to appease bilateral relations. Keywords: common history; historical commission; memory; Poland-Germany; Poland-Russia; reconciliation; uses of the past

History and the emotions linked to the past have been a source of conflicts. In particular, the different interpretations of events – or the impossibility to talk about these “white spots” (topics that suffered from official oblivion) – bring tensions between groups within society, but also among various countries. Indeed, the past leaves its mark on politics. It can also become a tool for legitimising action.1 In international relations, the past can be used for various goals.2 Memory can be misused3 or abused.4 How do states address these uses of the past in bilateral relations and how do they attempt to limit these actions? This leads to a second line of questioning: how and why do historical commissions (not) achieve their primary goal, i.e. reconciliation? To tackle this politicisation

1 cf. Lavabre, and her distinction between the weight and the choice of the past: Marie-Claire Lavabre, Le Fil rouge. Sociologie de la mémoire communiste (Paris: Presses de la Fondation nationale de sciences politiques, 1994). 2 Valérie Rosoux, Les usages de la mémoire dans les relations internationales (Bruxelles: Bruylant, 2001). 3 Marie-Claire Lavabre, “Usages et mésusages de la notion de mémoire,” Critique internationale 7 (2000): 48–57. 4 Tzvetan Todorov, Les abus de la mémoire. Paris: Arléa, 2004 (1995).


Emmanuelle Hébert

of the past, historical commissions have been established – in the interwar period, but mostly in the 1950s and especially in the 1970s – in order to create a dialogue about history and to appease bilateral relations. In this way historical commissions are actors of conflict transformation. Indeed, they foster reconciliation through historical dialogue. For some, they are based on the supposed “historians’ fraternity,” united in their mission of dialogue,5 and even form “the best potential for reconciliation,” because they “engage rivals directly.”6 Reconciliation is difficult to define. If one looks at its etymology in different languages, reconciliation is linked to union, return to unity, harmony, or expiation.7 Gardner Feldman considers five disciplinary viewpoints – religious, philosophical, psycho-social, legal or coming from political sciences – that insist each on different aspects of reconciliation. Depending on the perspective, the actions taken will differ.8 They circulate from one activity to the other.9 Rosoux, senior FRS-FNRS research Fellow at the Université catholique de Louvain, distinguishes three main approaches to reconciliation. The first one is spiritual and linked to religion. It insists on the rehabilitation of victims, but also of the perpetrators. The second one is psycho-social and looks at the emotions at stake. The third one, structural, studies the different practice of cooperation.10 Historical commissions imply scientific debates based on facts, employing historical techniques. However, emotions are also present in these discussions. This chapter is based on two case studies: the Polish-(West-)German Schoolbook Commission, established in 1972, and the Polish-Russian Group for Difficult Matters, created in 2002 and reactivated in 2008. These two cases constitute the

5 Marina Cattaruzza and Sacha Zala, “Negotiated history ? Bilateral historical commissions in twentieth-century Europe,” in Contemporary history on trial. Europe since 1989 and the role of the expert historian, ed. Harriet Jones, Kjell Östberg and Nico Randeraad (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007), 123–143. 6 Alexander M. Karn, “Depolarizing the past: the role of historical commissions in conflict mediation and reconciliation,” Journal of International Affairs 60, no.1 (2006): 31–50. 7 For a deeper study of the etymology of reconciliation in different languages, see Corine Defrance, “La ‘réconciliation’ après les conflits: un ‘savoir-faire’ européen? Éléments d’introduction,” Les Cahiers Sirice 1, no. 15 (2016): 8. 8 Lily Gardner Feldman, Germany’s Foreign Policy of Reconciliation. From Enmity to Amity (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012). 9 Sandrine Lefranc, “La consécration internationale d’un pis-aller: une genèse des politiques de réconciliation”, in L’Europe et ses passés douloureux, ed. Georges Mink and Laure Neumayer, op. cit., 233–246. 10 Valérie Rosoux, “Portée et limites du concept de réconciliation. Une histoire à terminer,” Revue d’Etudes comparatives Est-Ouest 45, no. 3–4 (December 2014): 25.

Historical Commissions: A Mean to Overcome Traumatic Historical Experiences?


strongest added-value of this chapter. If the first one has been well studied,11 the deep and systematic analysis conducted over several years brings a new perspective, especially as regards the common textbook project, which has, to my knowledge, not been thoroughly studied yet.12 The second case has been far less worked upon, despite its very intriguing functioning and role in Polish-Russian relationship and reconciliation. The corpus forms a second stark point of this chapter: collected within the framework of my PhD, it is composed of 54 interviews, archives collected in Poland and in Germany, as well as additional sources such as participant observations, discourses, articles from the press and opinion polls on reconciliation in Poland. Quite often, historical commissions are analysed rather traditionally, from a historical perspective, looking at the dialogue based on the written scientific production of the group, or sometimes at the efficiency of the process, such as Alexander Karn explaining that historical commissions succeed only where groups divided by the past are committed to negotiation,13 Lucyna Czechowska presenting several “keys for the success of historical commissions,”14 or Stefan Guth considering that the Polish-East German historical commission, such as the other commissions within the Eastern bloc, could not succeed as the countries were supposedly friends and could not debate much on difficult matters.15 I want to go one step further and use, first, with Thomas Strobel, a multidisciplinary approach, mustering especially perspectives from sociology and oral history. Second, I mobilise, first and foremost, a political sciences perspective, focussing on bilateral relations and strategies of negotiations, linking therefore memory and history to diplomacy and international relations through historical dialogues.

11 Many of the actors involved in the process have themselves published several articles or even defended a doctoral thesis on the topic. See, for example, Włodzimierz Borodziej, “The GermanPolish Textbook Dialogue,” in Sharing the Burden of the Past: Legacies of War in Europe, America, and Asia, ed. Andrew Horvat and Gebhard Hielscher (Tokyo: The Asia Foundation, Japan Office, 2003), 35–42; Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, “Powstanie Wspólnej Polsko- Niemieckiej Komisji Podręcznikowej 1937/1938–1972,” in Po Dwóch stronach historii. Polsko-niemieckie inicjatywy edukacyjne, ed. Dariusz Wojtaszyn and Thomas Strobel (Wrocław: GAJT Wydawnictwo, 2012), 35–54, or Thomas Strobel, Transnationale Wissenschafts- und Verhandlungskultur. Die Gemeinsame Deutsch-Polnische Schulbuchkommission 1972–1990 (Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2015). 12 It constitutes however one of the chapters of my PhD. 13 Alexander M. Karn, “Depolarizing the past: the role of historical commissions in conflict mediation and reconciliation,” Journal of International Affairs 60, no. 1 (2006): 31–50 (37). 14 Lucyna Czechowska, “Klucz do sukcesu dwustronnych komisji podręcznikowych,” Kultura i Edukacja 103, no. 3 (2014): 153–183. 15 Stefan Guth, “Erzwungene Verständigung? Die Kommission der Historiker der DDR und der Volksrepublik Polen 1956–1990,” Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte 57, no. 4 (2009): 497–543.


Emmanuelle Hébert

Three main points direct this research. First, it deals with reconciliation as the objective of historical commissions. Second, it concerns reconciliation in practice within historical commissions. Third, it emphasises five strategies to address present common history in order to appease bilateral relations.

Objective Reconciliation Historical commissions have been created in a context favourable to rapprochement since the beginning of the twentieth century – or even at the end of the nineteenth century – and during the interwar period. It is, however, only since the end of the Second World War that they have flourished in the world, especially in Europe. As Władysław Markiewicz, the first Polish co-president of the Polish-German Schoolbook Commission stated, “[h]istorical schoolbook commissions have grown as mushrooms after the rain after the end of WWII.”16 In particular, the 1970s constituted a momentum for such commissions: they appeared within one bloc, but also across the Iron Curtain. Willy Brandt’s Ostpolitik played an important role in the reestablishment of Polish-WestGerman diplomatic relations, allowing for the creation of the commission in 1972 under the UNESCO umbrella. Thirty years later, and after the implosion of the USSR, a Polish-Russian commission called the “Group for Difficult Matters” emerged, following the normalisation of Polish-Russian relations. The objective of both commissions is often described as reconciliation.

Implicit or Explicit Goal Reconciliation seems to be the goal of such commissions. It appears in official speeches held by ministers, and also by heads of state and government. In 2015, the German President Joachim Gauck underlined the “success of reconciliation through the dialogue on schoolbooks” between Germany and Poland.17

16 Władysław Markiewicz, Sto lat przeciw głupocie. Rozmowa z przyjaciółmi Pawłem Kozłowskim i Jerzym Słabickim (Cracow: Universitas, 2016), 194. 17 Bundespräsident Joachim Gauck, quoted in: Eckhardt Fuchs and Steffen Sammler, eds., Schulbücher zwischen Tradition und Innovation. Ein Streifzug durch die Geschichte des GeorgEckert-Instituts (Brunswick: Georg Eckert Institut, cover page, 2015), available on the Georg Eckert Institute’s website: schen_Tradition_und_Innovation_GEI.pdf (accessed September 28, 2017).

Historical Commissions: A Mean to Overcome Traumatic Historical Experiences?


As early as 1985, despite the ancient conservative opposition to this commission, the Chancellor Helmut Kohl confirmed his support for the commission as a tool for reconciliation: “I support the activity of the German-Polish Schoolbook Commission as an important additional contribution toward reconciliation and understanding toward our Eastern Neighbour.”18 Many other political leaders have made similar statements since. In March 2017, while the PolishRussian Group was rekindled, the Polish foreign affairs minister took a stand on the “need for social dialogue, for developing people-to-people contacts, for cultural cooperation and for rebuilding bilateral economic relations with [the] Russian neighbour.” He added: “The reactivation of the Polish-Russian Group for Difficult Matters must serve this goal.”19 Members of the commissions themselves, in their speeches and articles – as well as in our interviews – also mention reconciliation. Markiewicz is “obviously, obviously!” convinced of the underlying objective of the creation of the Polish-German commission.20 Antoni Czubiński, his successor as co-president of the commission, writes in 1991: “there is no doubt that reconciliation was, is and will be necessary” between Germany and Poland and that the PolishGerman Schoolbook Commission is one of the tools to reach this goal.21 The German co-president of the commission, Walter Mertineit, who replaced Georg Eckert after his death in 1974, gave a talk in the United States in 1979, entitled: “History and Reconciliation,”22 about the works of the commission. Reconciliation was however less frequently cited as the objective for the Polish-Russian Group, both when it was created in 2002 and reactivated in 2008. Indeed, according to Leszek Jesień, a former Secretary of State, director of European Studies at the Collegium Civitas in Warsaw, and member of the Group, “[i]t is a too strong statement. Reconciliation requires a whole series of gestures, their persistence, a will toward a common path to the future and the present. This will does not exist for the moment.”23 However, reconciliation is

18 Letter from Helmut Kohl to Professor von Simson, quoted in UNESCO Aktuell from April 24, 1985, 12/85. Archives of the Georg Eckert Institute in Brunswick. 19 W. Waszczykowski, Speech on the opening of the new group for difficult matters, March 9, 2017. 20 Interview Władysław Markiewicz, Konstancin-Jeziorna, July 8, 2016. 21 Antoni Czubiński, ʺPojednanie polsko-niemieckie. Czy w stosunkach polsko-niemieckich istnieje potrzeba pojednania?,ʺ Przegląd Zachodni, no. 4 (1991): 125. 22 Walter Mertineit, “History and Reconciliation. Annotations to the work of the Joint Textbook Revision Commission of the Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Republic of Poland. Paper submitted to the 94th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, New York, December 28–30, 1979.” Archives of the Georg Eckert Institute in Brunswick. 23 Interview Leszek Jesień, Warsaw, March 7, 2016.


Emmanuelle Hébert

implicitly present in the process. For example, Vladimir Putin’s symbolic gestures during his first visit to Poland24 had a profound echo. Beyond the official programme, the Russian president put flowers on the monument to the Polish Underground State. His decision to stop at such a “lieu de mémoire”25 has a high symbolic value: through it Putin indicated that he was ready for a rapprochement with Poland and that Russia would be ready to acknowledge past mistakes. Adam D. Rotfeld, former Polish foreign affairs minister, member of the NATO experts’ committee and co-President of the Polish-Russian Group for Difficult Matters from 2008 to 2015, compared the French-German and GermanPolish reconciliations to the Polish-Russian rapprochement during a conference in Warsaw in 2013.26 Moreover, in the introduction to the book published by the Polish-Russian Group, the two co-presidents use the term “reconciliation” – pojednanie – five times to designate the process started between the two countries.27

Contestations Despite this, the concept of reconciliation has been criticised, even within the commissions. Indeed, in Poland and Germany especially, reconciliation began to constitute the goal for most public policy. After a time of intense political use of the term, some researchers denounced this practice as abuse. Klaus Bachmann, a German journalist and historian who worked both in Germany and Poland, speaks even of the “kitsch of reconciliation”;28 what was kitsch “were all the insignificant things sold as reconciliation [Versöhnung], reconciliation [Aussöhnung],

24 Source: “Rola gestu w historii. Prezydent Aleksander Kwaśniewski, gość Radia Zet,” Gazeta wyborcza, January 19–20, 2002, article found in the Polish national archives: Archiwum Akt Nowych, t9 (18), 12/269 “Polska-Rosja. Wizyta prezydenta Putina w Polsce w I’ 2002r.” 25 Pierre Nora, Les Lieux de mémoire. Tome 1 (Paris: Gallimard, 1984). 26 Interview Adam D. Rotfeld, Warsaw, December 16, 2015. See also Adam D. Rotfeld, Europa: wspólne wartości a pamięć historyczna (Warsaw: Centrum im. Profesora Bronisława Geremka, 2014). 27 Adam D. Rotfeld and Anatolij W. Torkunow, “Wprowadzenie. Poszukiwanie prawdy,” in Biale plamy. Czarne plamy. Sprawe trudne w relacjach Polsko-Rosyjskich (1918–2008), ed. Adam D. Rotfeld and Anatolij W. Torkunow (Warsaw: Polski Instytut Spraw Miedzynarodowych, 2010), 11–22. 28 Klaus Bachmann, “Die Versöhnung muβ von Polen ausgehen,” Die Tageszeitung, August 5, 1994. The text is available in Hans-Henning Hahn’s book (2008) on memory culture and reconciliation kitsch: “Die Versöhnung muβ von Polen ausgehen,” in Erinnerungskultur und Versöhnungskitsch, ed. Hans-Henning Hahn, Heidi Hein-Kircher and Anna Kochanowska-Nieborak (Marburg: Verlag Herder-Institut), 17–20.

Historical Commissions: A Mean to Overcome Traumatic Historical Experiences?


understanding, instead of clearly stating the interests on both sides.”29 Some members of the Polish-German Schoolbook Commission themselves refer to the kitsch of reconciliation, both during our interviews and in their writings.30 Others reject the word reconciliation for its religious connotation or blurred definition. One interviewee explains: “I myself do not know what is reconciliation, it is a notion from the theologian sphere, more than the historical or political one.”31 Other rejections of the term are much stronger: “I don’t like the word ‘reconciliation’”;32 “As far as I am concerned, in general I don’t believe in reconciliation [. . .] I have always been very distant to the term ‘reconciliation’”.33 Moreover, some of the actors have doubts regarding who should offer reconciliation: “who has to [re]concile34? I personally do not have any problem toward the Germans”;35 “[re]conciling is possible between persons and not nations, and only the persons who suffered from the damages or those who provoked the sufferings can [re]concile with each other, however how their children or their grandchildren can [re]concile, I myself have never known what it is about.”36 The same kinds of remarks are present in both the Polish-German and the PolishRussian cases. It is particularly in the second or third generations of actors after WWII that one finds the greatest rejection of this notion. Nonetheless, reconciliation is still very present in discourses concerning the commission. It was especially important for the first generation of members of the Polish-German Commission. Some younger members also insist on this objective, while being conscious of how the term has been misrepresented. The discussions of reconciliation are less clearly denoted in the Polish-Russian Group for Difficult Matters, but it appears nonetheless in Adam D. Rotfeld’s discourses.37

29 Klaus Bachmann, “Versöhnungskitsch nach 10 Jahren- was davon blieb,” in Erinnerungskultur, ed. Hahn, Hein-Kircher and Kochanowska-Nieborak, 22. 30 Robert Maier, Discussion around our presentation during the Fellows’ Seminar at the Georg Eckert Institute in Brusnwick, March 14, 2017; interview Hans-Jürgen Bömelburg, Frankfurt (Oder), June 9, 2017; interview Igor Kąkolewski, Frankfurt (Oder), June 8, 2017. Cf. Hahn, Hein-Kircher and Kochanowska-Nieborak, eds., Erinnerungskultur und Versöhnungskitsch. 31 Interview Wojciech Kriegseisen, Warsaw, October 2, 2015. 32 Interview Sławomir Dębski, Warsaw, February 15, 2016. 33 Interview Włodzimierw Borodziej, Warsaw, July 21, 2015. 34 The Polish verb pojednać – to reconcile – is based on the verb jednać, whose closest translation would be “to concile,” or “to unite.” 35 Interview Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, Warsaw, November 16, 2015. 36 Interview Włodzimierz Borodziej, Warsaw, July 21, 2015. 37 Interview Adam D. Rotfeld, Warsaw, December 16, 2015. See also Adam D. Rotfeld, Europa: wspólne wartości a pamięć historyczna.


Emmanuelle Hébert

As we have seen, the concept and use of the term reconciliation is criticised within historical commissions. But how is it put into practice within these commissions?

Reconciliation in Practice within Historical Commissions In practice, the commissions meet in plenary sessions, where a historian from each side presents findings on the same topic before opening a discussion. The principle is to create a dialogue over history, and, in a spirit of “reconstructive ethics,”38 to listen to the other’s viewpoint and therefore to put these visions into perspective in a “[common] effort of plural reading,” to “tell [them] otherwise.”39

Three Levels of Action Historical commissions constitute an instrument of foreign policy.40 Depending on their autonomy, they can become memory entrepreneurs41 that foster reconciliation through their actions. They can have an impact on all the sociological layers of this policy. First, they act at the macro level. The discourses quoted above illustrate this level of action. The very action of decision-making or providing support through funding emphasises this work even more. Second, their role at the mezzo level is obvious. They are indeed linked to education and schoolbooks. While analysing schoolbooks and proposing recommendations for the drafting of new ones, they promote a change in official historical narratives directed toward younger generations. Elizabeth Cole – as the UNESCO has

38 Jean-Marc Ferry, L’éthique reconstructive. Paris: Cerf, 1996. 39 Paul Ricoeur. “Quel éthos nouveau pour l’Europe?,” in Imaginer l’Europe. Le marché intérieur européen, tâche culturelle et économique, ed. Peter Koslowski (Paris: Cerf, 1992), 111. 40 Emmanuelle Hébert, “Historical Commissions as a Foreign Policy Tool,” in Models of European Civil Societies. Transnational Perspectives on Forming of Modern Societies in Central Europe, ed. Adam Jarosz and Katarzyna Kącka (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, CGS Studies, 2018) vol. 7, 59–71. 41 Elizabeth Jelin, Los trabajos de la memoria (Madrid: Siglo XXI de España Editores S.A, 2002), 48–49; Emmanuel Droit, “Le Goulag contre la Shoah,” Vingtième Siècle. Revue d’histoire 94, no. 2 (2007): 101–120.

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been doing since the 1950s42 – insists on the necessity of “new representations on former enemies” and on education on tolerance, inclusiveness and critical thought – which are exactly the tasks assigned to historical commissions.43 Third, they play a role even at the micro level of foreign policy. Stemming from the Polish-Russian Group for Difficult Matters, a Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding was created in Warsaw in 2011, together with its counterpart established in Moscow one year later. The centre based in Warsaw organises, for example, a Polish-Russian sailing school for youth from the two countries. Pupils learn how to live together on a boat for two months, while all the instructions are given in a third language: English. Moreover, the centre pushed for the implementation of a small border traffic area around the Kaliningrad oblast, as an incentive for rapprochement between the two countries.44 Indeed, before Poland entered the Schengen Area, residents of the two countries could move freely from one region to the other. The idea was to reestablish people-to-people contacts and regular exchanges between Poles and Russians living in the region. In spite of all these attempts to link the initiatives with civil society, historical commissions do not have strong connections to civil society organisations. Their influence on public debates is rather limited – with the exception of a few specific moments, such as around the drafting of recommendations for history and geography schoolbooks in the 1970s–80s. However, they help find compromises and temper historical tensions between two countries.

Appeasement? The historians’ continuous work toward what Luisa Passerini designated as “sharable memories” is vast and can influence each country’s foreign policy. The commission’s diplomatic role is indeed important. It depends on the commission’s autonomy from politics. They participate in conflict transformation processes. Through the debates and publications, some events of the past were long

42 Cf. UNESCO, Bilateral consultations for the improvement of history textbooks, Educational Studies and Documents, Paris, UNESCO Educational Clearing House, July 1953, n°4, p.4, op. cit.; André Aubert, « Enseignement de l’histoire et compréhension entre les peuples », in : Comité national français auprès de l’UNESCO, L’Enseignement de l’histoire et la compréhension internationale, Sèvres, 1951, pp.3–6., loc. cit. 43 Elizabeth Cole, “Introduction,” in Teaching the Violent Past. History Education and Reconciliation, ed. Elizabeth Cole, 1–28 (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007). 44 See annual reports of the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding, 2012–2016.


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discussed within the commissions, but were generally resolved afterwards. That is the case of the Katyń massacres of 1940, which became a “lieu de mémoire”45 of Soviet crimes against the Polish people. It was “the most difficult issue” for the group:46 an issue that remained unrecognised by the Soviet Union, it was forbidden to discuss until the end of communism in Poland. It constitutes one example among others of so-called “białe plamy” (“white spots”),47 events that were silenced and obliterated48 from official memory. Several actors involved in the Polish-Russian Group referred to the event many times – six, seven, eight, nine, even 12 times – during our interviews.49 In the common book published by the Group for Difficult Matters,50 the Polish and Russian authors agree on the facts and numbers, so that, according to some actors, the issue is less often raised – or even addressed – in bilateral relations.51 On the contrary, some events, although debated within the commissions, remain explosive within society. Katyń events have led to a consensus as regards the facts and the responsibility. Nonetheless, their legal designation continues to awaken vivid emotions between Poland and Russia. One side defines them as a genocide, while the other violently rejects such designation.52 As regards the Polish-German commission, there is no disagreement on the issue of the expulsions nowadays.53 However the early works (1970s) of the commission have been almost totally blocked. The issue arises regularly in public debate, while Erika Steinbach’s organisation Bundes der Vertriebenen insists on building a centre for the expellees in Berlin. On the fate of the Soviet prisoners of war in Poland in 1919–1921, the Polish-Russian Group agreed on the number of casualties among the prisoners – between 17,000 and 20,000. Nonetheless, political instrumentalisation has exaggerated that number since the publication of the book; by 2010 the number of casualties was said to be 35,000, as Putin

45 Pierre Nora, Les lieux de mémoire. 46 Interview (Master thesis) Wojciech Materski, Warsaw, April 18, 2012. 47 Violetta Julkowska, “Białe plamy,” in Modi Memorandi. Leksykon kultury pamięci, ed. Magdalena Saryusz-Wolska and Robert Traba (Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar), 59–60. 48 Cf. Valérie Rosoux, Les Usages de la mémoire dans les relations internationales. 49 Cf. interview Wojciech Materski, Warsaw, April 24, 2015; interview Artem Malgin, Moscow, November 14, 2016; interview Sławomir Dębski, Warsaw, February 15, 2016; interview Adam D. Rotfeld, Warsaw, December 16, 2015; interview Dariusz Gabrel, Warsaw, January 7, 2016; interview Władysław Stępniak, Warsaw, January 18, 2016. 50 Adam D. Rotfeld and Anatolij W. Torkunow, eds., Biale plamy. 51 Interview Artem Malgin, Moscow, November 14, 2016. 52 Interview Dariusz Gabrel, Warsaw, July 7, 2016. 53 Interview Robert Maier, Brunswick, March 28, 2017.

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stated himself.54 The question of how these deaths came about has not been solved either: did the Poles let them die on purpose or did they die because of the bad conditions in Poland at that time? Right in the middle of the continuum from appeased to explosive pasts lie events that do not directly affect victims or their families any more, but still stir up strong emotions. The Order of the Teutonic Knights, which, with the agreement of the Polish King, shared a territory within Poland for several centuries in the late Middle Ages, caused a long and painful debate within the PolishGerman Commission.55 These knights developed their power and constituted almost a state within the state. The question regarding their role is still controversial today: did they bring civilisation and order or did they constitute a kind of Prussian colonisation over Polish lands?

Different Strategies to Present the Common History Analysing the Polish-German common historical schoolbook,56 I identify five strategies to present bilateral history. The first one is the domination of one viewpoint, be it Polish – especially as regards Polish and Central European history – or German – e.g. around the tests of competences or the image of the Pole as a peasant, a depiction which appeared throughout the whole drafting process.57 A second strategy consists in a compromise. Compromise can take two forms. First, it can mean the smallest common denominator, with a little paragraph on an issue. This is, for example, the case of interpreting battles such as Grunwald (211) or Thermopiles (83). Second, it can take the form of many pages on one subject. The book’s chapters on religion are relatively long. In the subchapter entitled “Pray! Defend! Work! – everyone has their place in society,” the final two pages cite various sources. It is among the longest chapters in the book 54 Interview Władysław Stępniak, Warsaw, January 18, 2016. According to our interviewee, some actors from the Russian side themselves seemed to be astonished by such a high number. 55 Cf. the first conference organised by the Polish-German Schoolbook Commission in 1974 in Toruń dealt with the Order of the Teutonic Knights. 56 Europa, nasza historia. Tom I. Historia w źródłach, obrazach i odwołaniach do współczesności (Warsaw: Wydawnictwa szkolne i pedagogiczne/ Eduversum, 2016). In order to reach such findings, a deep analysis over the schoolbook was necessary. In this part, only the quintessence of the research is presented. 57 Fieldwork notes, March 2017, Brunswick.


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(164–169). The one on the “conquests in the name of the cross” is even longer (184–190). In the second volume, the subject of the French Emperor Napoléon provokes one of the most complex debates: hero to the Poles, enemy to the Germans, the Polish editor insisted that the emperor enter the book. Many pages are finally dedicated to him.58 A third strategy – avoiding a subject – is the least developed in the project. One could nonetheless underline the presence of a Polish national supplement, where some of the most conflictual national and bilateral events are narrated. Juxtaposition constitutes a fourth strategy. History is exposed as a mosaic of small narratives, explaining the different events of the (common) past. This strategy is the result of two situations. First, the authors could not agree on the significance of an event, therefore two perspectives are presented. This is the case of the Act of Gniezno in 1000 (159) – and whether or not the Act heralds the coronation of Bolesław I the Brave. A second possibility is a juxtaposition of two viewpoints justified by their relevance. For example, the chapter on the Crusades contains an abstract from Western crusaders, put into perspective with an abstract from the local Arab population (191). In the chapter regarding Antiquity, the juxtaposition of opinions on the artefacts taken from Egypt and exhibited in German museums allows for a reflection on the deontology of history (59). A fifth strategy concerns the new framing of the negotiation on history, while often adding a new element. The presentation of Silesia as a region “that divides and unites” was not planned at the beginning, but offered the opportunity to solve the issue regarding the controversy over historical claim to these border regions. To counter the impact of the German civilisation on Polish territories, linguistic influences are exhibited to show that Polish language and culture have had an influence over German culture.

Conclusions To conclude, states interpret and reinterpret the past especially through the efforts of bilateral historical commissions. While aiming at reconciliation – explicitly or implicitly – these commissions create a dialogue on history and attempt to appease bilateral relations. They work at the three levels of foreign policy: macro, mezzo and micro levels. Five strategies are emphasised while

58 Europa, nasza historia. Tom 2. Czasy nowożytne (do 1815 roku) (Warsaw: Wydawnictwa szkolne i pedagogiczne/Eduversum, 2017), 224–235.

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presenting common history: domination of one viewpoint, compromise, avoidance, juxtaposition and reframing of the negotiation. These commissions constitute important steps toward dialogue and understanding. However, they do not constitute a miraculous tool that would solve every discord. Some new issues emerge, while some old ones are recalled. The commissions face several limits, such as their dependence on politics and on the context in general, or the goodwill of the actors. As one of our interviewees, well established within the Polish-German project, stated, “there is no reconciliation forever, is there? There is no friendship forever or love forever. There need, for it to be forever, there need to always be dealt with [. . .] this dialogue. It is not that we will [. . .], French and Germans, Poles and Germans, be forever reconciled. No, it is not a question of a certain good stage of dialogue, which ends with a common narrative about history.”59

References Primary Sources Archives Archives of the Georg Eckert Institute in Brunswick. Archiwum Akt Nowych, t9 (18), 12/269 “Polska-Rosja. Wizyta prezydenta Putina w Polsce w I’ 2002r.”

Interviews Interview Hans-Jürgen Bömelburg, Frankfurt (Oder), June 9, 2017. Interview Włodzimierz Borodziej, Warsaw, July 21, 2015. Interview Sławomir Dębski, Warsaw, February 15, 2016. Interview Dariusz Gabrel, Warsaw, January 7, 2016. Interview Leszek Jesień, Warsaw, March 7, 2016. Interview Igor Kąkolewski, Frankfurt (Oder), June 8, 2017. Interview Wojciech Kriegseisen, Warsaw, October 2, 2015. Interview Robert Maier, Brunswick, March 28, 2017. Interview Artem Malgin, Moscow, November 14, 2016. Interview Władysław Markiewicz, Konstancin-Jeziorna, July 8, 2016. Interview (Master thesis) Wojciech Materski, Warsaw, April 18, 2012.

59 Interview Igor Kąkolewski, Frankfurt (Oder), June 8, 2017.


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Interview Wojciech Materski, Warsaw, April 24, 2015. Interview Adam D. Rotfeld, Warsaw, December 16, 2015. Interview Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, Warsaw, November 16, 2015. Interview Władysław Stępniak, Warsaw, 18 January 2016. Maier, Robert. Discussion around our presentation during the Fellows’ Seminar at the Georg Eckert Institute in Brusnwick, March 14, 2017.

Others Annual reports of the Centre for Polish-Russian Dialogue and Understanding, 2012–2016. W. Waszczykowski, Speech on the opening of the new group for difficult matters, March 9, 2017. Fieldwork notes, 2014–2019.

Secondary Sources Aubert, André. “Enseignement de l’histoire et compréhension entre les peuples”, in : Comité national français auprès de l’UNESCO, L’Enseignement de l’histoire et la compréhension internationale, Sèvres, 1951, pp.3–6. Bachmann, Klaus. “Die Versöhnung muβ von Polen ausgehen.” Die Tageszeitung, August 5, 1994. Bachmann, Klaus. “Die Versöhnung muβ von Polen ausgehen.” In Erinnerungskultur und Versöhnungskitsch, edited by Hahn, Hans-Henning, Hein-Kircher, Heidi and Kochanowska-Nieborak, Anna, 17–20. Marburg: Verlag Herder-Institut, 2008. Bachmann, Klaus. “Versöhnungskitsch nach 10 Jahren- was davon blieb.” In Erinnerungskultur und Versöhnungskitsch, edited by Hahn, Hans-Henning, Hein-Kircher, Heidi and Kochanowska-Nieborak, Anna, 21–32. Marburg: Verlag Herder-Institut, 2008. Borodziej, Włodzimierz. “The German-Polish Textbook Dialogue.” In Sharing the Burden of the Past: Legacies of War in Europe, America, and Asia, edited by Horvat, Andrew and Hielscher, Gebhard, 35–42. Tokyo: The Asia Foundation, Japan Office, 2003. Brückmann, Asmut, Kabisch, Eva-Maria, Kowalewski, Krzysztof, Peters, Jelko, PytlińskaMarkowicz, Olga, Pieńkowska-Wiederkehr, Patrycja, Pysiak, Jerzy, Sajkowski, Ryszard, Scholz, Birgit, Schröder, Helge, Wallmeier, Franz-Josef, Wilińska, Marta, Wilk, Mateusz, Wunderer, Hartmann. Europa, nasza historia. Tom I. Historia w źródłach, obrazach i odwołaniach do współczesności. Warsaw: Wydawnictwa szkolne i pedagogiczne/ Eduversum, 2016. Brückmann, Asmut, Gutowski, Krzysztof, Huneke, Friedrich, Kopczyński, Michał, Kowalewski, Krzysztof, Scholz, Birgit, Schröder, Helge, Ugniewski, Piotr, Wallmeier, Franz-Josef, Wijaczka, Jacek, Wunderer, Hartmann. Europa, nasza historia. Tom 2. Czasy nowożytne (do 1815 roku). Warsaw: Wydawnictwa szkolne i pedagogiczne/Eduversum, 2017. Cattaruzza Marina, Zala Sacha. “Negotiated history? Bilateral historical commissions in twentieth-century Europe.” In Contemporary history on trial. Europe since 1989 and the role of the expert historian, edited by Jones, Harriet; Östberg, Kjell and Randeraad, Nico, 123–143. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2007. Czechowska, Lucyna. “Klucz do sukcesu dwustronnych komisji podręcznikowych.” Kultura i Edukacja 103, no. 3 (2014): 153–183.

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Czubiński, Antoni. “Pojednanie polsko-niemieckie. Czy w stosunkach polsko-niemieckich istnieje potrzeba pojednania?” Przegląd Zachodni, no. 4 (1991): 125–128. Defrance, Corine. “La ‘réconciliation’ après les conflits: un ‘savoir-faire’ européen? Éléments d’introduction.” Les Cahiers Sirice 1, no. 15 (2016): 5–14. Droit, Emmanuel. “Le Goulag contre la Shoah,” Vingtième Siècle. Revue d‘histoire 94, no. 2 (2007): 101–120. Ferry, Jean-Marc. L’éthique reconstructive. Paris: Cerf, 1996. Fuchs, Eckhardt, and Sammler, Steffen, eds., Schulbücher zwischen Tradition und Innovation. Ein Streifzug durch die Geschichte des Georg-Eckert-Instituts. Brunswick: Georg Eckert Institut, 2015. Guth, Stefan. “Erzwungene Verständigung? Die Kommission der Historiker der DDR und der Volksrepublik Polen 1956–1990.” Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte 57, no. 4 (2009): 497–543. Hahn, Hans-Henning, Hein-Kircher, Heidi and Kochanowska-Nieborak, Anna, eds. Erinnerungskultur und Versöhnungskitsch. Marburg: Verlag Herder-Institut, 2008. Hébert, Emmanuelle. “Historical Commissions as a Foreign Policy Tool.” In Models of European Civil Societies. Transnational Perspectives on Forming of Modern Societies in Central Europe, edited by Jarosz, Adam and Kącka, Katarzyna, 59–71. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, CGS Studies vol 7, 2018. Jelin, Elizabeth. Los trabajos de la memoria. Madrid: Siglo XXI de España Editores S.A., 2002. Julkowska, Violetta. “Białe plamy.” In Modi Memorandi. Leksykon kultury pamięci, edited by Saryusz-Wolska, Magdalena and Traba, Robert, 59–60. Warsaw: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, 2014. Karn, Alexander M. “Depolarizing the past: the role of historical commissions in conflict mediation and reconciliation.” Journal of International Affairs 60, no. 1 (2006): 31–50. Lavabre, Marie-Claire. Le Fil rouge. Sociologie de la mémoire communiste. Paris: Presses de la Fondation nationale de sciences politiques, 1994. Lavabre, Marie-Claire. “Usages et mésusages de la notion de mémoire.” Critique internationale 7 (2007): 48–57. Markiewicz, Władysław. Sto lat przeciw głupocie. Rozmowa z przyjaciółmi Pawłem Kozłowskim i Jerzym Słabickim. Cracow: Universitas, 2016. Nora, Pierre. Les Lieux de mémoire. Tome 1. Paris: Gallimard, 1984. Ricoeur, Paul. “Quel éthos nouveau pour l’Europe?” In Imaginer l’Europe. Le marché intérieur européen, tâche culturelle et économique, edited by Peter Koslowski. Paris: Cerf, 107–116, 1992. Rosoux, Valérie. Les usages de la mémoire dans les relations internationales. Bruxelles: Bruylant, 2001. Rosoux, Valérie. “Portée et limites du concept de réconciliation. Une histoire à terminer.” Revue d’Etudes comparatives Est-Ouest 45, no. 3–4 (2014): 21–47. Rotfeld, Adam D., and Torkunow, Anatolij W. “Wprowadzenie. Poszukiwanie prawdy.” In Biale plamy. Czarne plamy. Sprawe trudne w relacjach Polsko-Rosyjskich (1918–2008), edited by Rotfeld, Adam D. and Torkunow, Anatolij W., 11–22. Warsaw: Polski Instytut Spraw Miedzynarodowych, 2010. Rotfeld, Adam D. Europa: wspólne wartości a pamięć historyczna. Warsaw: Centrum im. Profesora Bronisława Geremka, 2014.


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Ruchniewicz, Krzysztof. “Powstanie Wspólnej Polsko- Niemieckiej Komisji Podręcznikowej 1937/ 1938–1972.” In Po Dwóch stronach historii. Polsko-niemieckie inicjatywy edukacyjne, edited by Wojtaszyn Dariusz and Strobel Thomas, 35–54. Wrocław: GAJT Wydawnictwo, 2012. Strobel, Thomas. Transnationale Wissenschafts- und Verhandlungskultur. Die Gemeinsame Deutsch-Polnische Schulbuchkommission 1972–1990. Göttingen: V&R unipress, 2015. Todorov, Tzvetan. Les abus de la mémoire. Paris: Arléa, 2004 (1995). UNESCO, Bilateral consultations for the improvement of history textbooks, Educational Studies and Documents, Paris, UNESCO Educational Clearing House, July 1953, n°4.

Maria Kostromitskaya

Possibilities of Building a Memory Dialogue between Russia and Poland Concerning Soviet Repression Abstract: This article considers how the cultural memory of the Stalin’s repressions was formed in Russia and Poland, as well as the possibilities of building a shared, dialogical memory between these countries. The author suggests possible ways of building dialogic memory. In particular, at the first stage, it would probably be more productive to speak about the victims and the fact that not only Poles but also many nations and people of different nationalities suffered from the Stalin’s terror and that the Russians form the largest percentage. Keywords: cultural memory; dialogic model of cultural memory; memory of the Soviet repressions; Polish-Russian relations

The relationship between Russia and Poland has a long and complex history. The tragic events of the twentieth century, affecting both countries, are often interpreted by their politicians and ordinary citizens in different ways. One of such controversial pages of our history is mass deportation and repression against Poles at the beginning of the Second World War. It was not an isolated action by the Soviet authorities, but only one of the numerous repressive actions that were carried out against people of various nationalities (collectivisation, “big terror,” so-called national operations, etc.). Therefore, repression against Poles is only a small part of the Soviet punitive policy in the perception of Russians. I will be taking a look at the main features of the cultural memory of the Soviet repressions in Russia and Poland throughout my article, and based on this analysis I will try to find possible ways of building a dialogue between countries, as a result of which a common memory of these events could be formed over time. Aleida Assman, a German memory scholar, identifies four models of cultural memory: dialogical oblivion, “remember to never forget,” “remember to overcome” and the dialogical model, which is the only one related to the memorial policy of two or several countries connected to each other by a common history of experience of violence. This model has just begun to take shape and has not yet acquired sustainable forms in memorial politics. However, as Assman points out, “knowledge of the injuries that your country has inflicted on other countries is an essential prerequisite for the development of strong good-neighbourly


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relations across borders between state” and “the deeper the understanding, the less neurotic the relationship will be.” The memory of the Soviet repressions in Russia and in Poland has a number of distinctive features and differences that make it difficult for Poles and Russians to understand each other on this issue. In Poland, after the fall of the communist regime, a whole complex of commemorative practices connected with the memory of Soviet terror took shape rather quickly. The Poles, like other nations, “who gained independence after the collapse of the Eastern bloc, based their identity primarily on the role of the victim, making the traumatic history of Stalinist repression and the Soviet occupation a collective reliance of the attitude towards the past.” In this case, the initiators of preserving this memory in Poland were the repressed themselves and their relatives. For example, in 1988, the people who survived the deportation founded the Union of Siberians (Związek Sybiraków),1 which has branches in more than 50 cities in Poland now. Siberians in Poland are people who were in exile not only in Soviet times, but also in the times of the Russian Empire. It is noteworthy that this organisation with the same name was first established in 1928 on the initiative of soldiers and officers of the fifth Polish Siberian division, who were exiled in Siberia and fought on the “White” side during the civil war in Russia. The modern Union of Siberians has its coat of arms, anthem and standards. Since 1990 the Siberians have been making an annual pilgrimage to Jasna Góra – the Catholic monastery in the city of Częstochowa – on the second Saturday and Sunday of May. They also organise various commemorating events, such as September 172 (on that day the Soviet Union attacked Poland in 1939). The initiatives of the Union of Siberians soon gained the support of the state. It was granted the status of an organisation of veterans, and people who survived deportation were equated in their rights and privileges with veterans. In 2013 the Polish Sejm established September 17 as the Day of the Siberian. Many monuments dedicated to the deportees have appeared in the country. All this indicates a high level of consensus in the Polish society towards these events, which is not surprising because the role of the victim features strongly in the national memory, especially for Poland, which actually disappeared from the map of Europe for 123 years under occupation beginning at the end of the eighteenth century. However, the activities of the Union of Siberians is not the only component of the Polish memory concerning the Soviet terror. Much attention

1 It was not the only one, but it was probably the first organisation of this kind in Poland. Then, in 1992 the Federation of Katyn Families (Federacja Rodzin Katyńskich) was established. 2 The Siberians celebrated September 17 for the first time in 1991.

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is paid to the Katyn massacre, as well as to the memory of the resistance to the communist regime. It is important to note that the memory of the Soviet terror in Poland does not face a similar contradiction to that in Russia where the repression was carried out not by external forces, but by the state itself. Russians, reminiscing about the Soviet terror, inevitably face the question: who committed all these crimes, who is responsible for them? Yet the modern Russian state is not prepared to recognise that the Soviet regime was criminal. Soviet structures (state and law enforcement agencies, including the NKVD [НКВД – The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs]) undoubtedly underwent transformation, but it was far from complete. There was no lustration, and the Soviet nomenclature readily accepted the transition to a market economy. The court trial concerning offenses of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) took place in 1992, and decided that CPSU was not guilty of repressions or for the merger of the party with the state; instead only the top leadership and Joseph Stalin personally were responsible for these crimes: “The Soviet regime was not declared criminal, communism was not condemned as a misanthropic ideology, and the crimes of Stalinism were not qualified as crimes against humanity. The “Russian Nuremberg” did not take place, and the CPSU . . . was restored under a new name.”3 In addition, Boris Yeltsin declared the Russian Federation a successor state of the USSR. Perestroika was largely a “revolution of the elites” rather than a popular protest movement, as it was in Poland in 1989. Therefore, the preservation of Soviet terror memory did not find much support in the Russian government. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, we have been witnessing a decline in interest regarding the theme of repression in Russian society, a conceit which has been actively discussed in public space since the late 1980s. A sign of this is the closure of archives that were declassified after Perestroika and the cultivation of nostalgia for the Soviet Union, which is supported by the population. People who were tired of the economic difficulties of the 1990s readily support the great-power policy. Now “the Soviet system is drawn as an embodiment of the original Russian principles of nationality, sobornost, community and power.”4 The strengthening of the chain of command and security agencies has begun, which is justified by the idea of a strong state. The topic of Soviet terror is being displaced from public space in every possible way: the Perm 36 3 Nikolai E. Koposov, Pamyat’ strogogo rezhima. Istoria i politika w Rossii (Moskva: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2011), 133. 4 Nikolai E. Koposov, Pamyat’ strogogo rezhima. Istoria i politika w Rossii (Moskva: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2011), 130.


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Museum was reorganised, its exposition turned into a story about the work of NKVD officers, the Memorial society was given the status of a “foreign agent,” historian Yuri Dmitriev was arrested (he discovered the burial of the executed in Sandormoh and worked in the archives for years to recover their names), etc. Still, we cannot say the memory of the Soviet repression is marginal in Russia. There is a museum of GULAG history, the Sakharov Center and the Memorial Society, which, in addition to research and advocacy work, carries out educational work and various commemorative activities, such as the “Return of names.”5 A year ago (2017), a larger monument to the political repression victims was erected in Moscow, at the opening of which the president gave a speech, though he did not even mention who was responsible for all these crimes. Today “there are no culprits in the official Russian narrative. Only victims who came out of nowhere . . . as if it were a disease, a natural disaster.”6 In general, not much is said about Soviet terror in public spaces. Moreover, there is no consensus regarding the assessment of these events in modern Russian society. Moreover, we can observe the normalisation of the Soviet terror: according to the Levada Center data, over the past ten years the share of Russians qualifying Stalin’s repressions as “a crime without justification” has almost decreased: from 72% to 39%.7 According to Nikolaj E. Koposov, a researcher of the totalitarian past memory in Russia, “knowledge of the crimes from the past is the basis of moral relativism today [in Russia], not a conscious civic position.”8 If we are to talk about repressive companies against other States, it is extremely difficult to preserve such memory at all. As Assman notes, national memory preserves the most glorious episodes of the past. And in relation to the traumatic past, only three interpretations are allowed: “the role of the victor who has overcome the evil; the role of the fighter and martyr who resisted the evil; the role of the passive victim who suffered from a crime.” Surveys show that most modern Russians do not even know when and how the Soviet Union joined the Second World War,9 which seems to be the result of historical policies both in Soviet times and in modern Russia. 5 “Return of names” is an event organized by the Memorial Society from 2007. Every year on October 29, the eve of the State Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Repression, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., people read the names of people who were shot in Moscow during the Soviet terror in Moscow on Lubyanskaya Square (and in other cities). 6 Jessy Kaner, “Ludi ne khotiat byt’ zhertvami.” Pochemu rossianie snova interesuyutsa proshlym (2019), accessed January, 30, 2019, 7 q.v. 8 Nikolai E. Koposov, op. cit., 207. 9 According to the 2009 Levada Center survey, only 16% of Russians know that in September 1939 Soviet troops entered Poland, 23% found it difficult to answer and 61% knew nothing about

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The myth of war began to form even before the end of the War, when it was first called the “Great Patriotic War.” Initially this nickname was perceived as a newspaper cliché, but then it became the official name. By May1942, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR had established the Military Order of the Patriotic War. However, the key point here is not the name, but the dates which the USSR assigned after the end of the War: 1941–1945. Before now, many people in Russia believed that the USSR was attacked by Nazi Germany in the summer of 1941, and until then had not participated in the war. Information about events of 1939–1940 was hushed up during the Soviet years and still in Russia today mention of it is discouraged. The logic of this myth is based on the need of creating a non-contradictory and unambiguously positive image of the victorious nation, which not only protects the motherland, but also liberates the whole world from fascism. At the same time, the contribution of the allies to the victory is practically not taken into account. In Russia and in some other countries of the former Soviet Union, victory day is celebrated on May 9, rather than on the eighth as in the rest of the world, which underscores the country’s unwillingness to recognise that the victory was achieved due to joint efforts. Thus, the myth of war is a “interdiction myth” that overshadows the memory of repression. It also emphasises the unity of the state and people, proving the need for strong power, armed forces and law enforcement agencies. The population willingly supports it; as the memory of crimes does not contribute to the patriotism and unity of the nation, many Russian politicians and journalists speak out for a national history free from “detractors.” Sometimes the memory of a state crimes can be preserved, as it was in Germany. But so far this case is more of an exception to the general rule. It is unlikely that in the near future Russia will be able to learn from the German experience, which has been shaped by a number of circumstances: losing the Second World War, the Nuremberg process and the banning of Nazi parties at the legislative level, lustration, powerful international pressure and also generation changes. Active discussion of guilt and responsibility for the crime of Nazism began in Germany only in the 1970s after the Eichmann Trial. The release of Hannah Arendt’s book Eichmann in Jerusalem had a great impact on public opinion; it influenced the protest youth movements in 1968. Conversely, in modern Russia there are no such prerequisites for condemning the crimes of communism.

it. q.v.: “Левада-центр,” О трагедии в Катыни и отношениях с Польшей, 30, 2019, https://


Maria Kostromitskaya

Thus, even the preservation of the memory of the communist regime repressions against its own citizens faces numerous difficulties in Russia. It is even more difficult to form a common memory between Russia and Poland. The most difficult issue in Russian-Polish memorial policy is the Katyn massacre, perhaps the most serious crime committed by the Soviet Union against Poles. The Soviet leadership denied their guilt for long time, accusing Nazi Germany of this crime. The Soviet-Polish Commission for solution the issue was established only in the late 1980s. On April 13, 1990 Mikhail Gorbachev handed over to Polish President Wojciech Jaruzelski declassified lists of prisoners of the three NKVD special camps and a number of other materials, and also admitted the guilt of the NKVD leadership.10 However, as early as November 1990, Gorbachev ordered a start to the search for “archival materials concerning events and facts from the history of the Soviet-Polish bilateral relations, which demonstrated that the Soviet side was harmed.”11 Soon the fate of Soviet prisoners of war who died in Polish captivity in 1920 was opposed to the Katyn crime. According to the latest bilateral publications of the original documents, the number of dead Red Army soldiers does not exceed 20,000 people,12 though this does not prevent some Russian authors from inflating the number of victims to 60,000–80,000 and more. This discourse has not lost its fervour. Recently even Vladimir Putin said that perhaps the Katyn crime was Stalin’s revenge, at a press conference in Smolensk, which took place after his visit to the memorial in Katyn on April 7, 2010.13 At the same time, Putin admitted the guilt of the totalitarian regime, but added that “it would be . . . lies, falsely blaming the Russian people for these crimes”;14 apologies for Katyn were not made then. The only head of state who apologised for this crime was Boris Yeltsin, although he pointed out that “Russia cannot take responsibility for the Katyn crime. The party did it. Totalitarianism did it.”15

10 Inessa S. Yazhbovskaya, Katynskiy Sindrom – kliuchevaya problema dvustoronnikh otnosheni? Sensus Historiae. Studia interdyscyplinarne X (2013/1), accessed January, 30, 2019, http://, 135. 11 Inessa S. Yazhbovskaya, Katynskiy Sindrom – kliuchevaya problema dvustoronnikh otnosheni? Sensus Historiae. Studia interdyscyplinarne X (2013/1), accessed January, 30, 2019, http://, 136. 12 For a detailed analysis of this issue, see V. Oskockiy, Polemika: stalinizm, ksenofobia i antisemitizm v sovremennoy russkoy literature (Moskva: Academia, 2005); Zbrodnia Katyńska w oczach współczesnych Rosjan, “Zeszyty Katyńskie,” no. 22 (2007); Zbrodnia Katyńska między prawdą i kłamstwem, “Zeszyty Katyńskie,” no. 23 (2008). 13 q.v.: 14 “The official site of the prime minister of the Russian Federation,” Vladimir Putin’s speech, accessed Janyary, 30, 2019, 15 Inessa S. Yazhbovskaya, op. cit., 137–138.

Possibilities of Building a Memory Dialogue between Russia and Poland


The polls conducted by the Levada Centre in 2010–2011 show that the majority of Russians know little about the Katyn massacre and only 28% feel shame about it in varying degrees. Among those cognisant of the fact that Polish officers in Katyn were shot by the NKVD (53%), slightly more than half of those surveyed doubted the reliability of this information.16 If you look at the subject of Katyn on the Russian-language Internet, you will immediately find a lot of materials (videos, including films,17 articles, books, user posts) focused on Nazi Germany’s guilt. A number of Russian public persons purposefully promote this version. Thus, there is no consensus on the issue of responsibility for Katyn in Russian society today. All of the above suggests that building a memory dialogue between Russia and Poland will face many difficulties. Nevertheless, it is thought possible. At the same time, among the countries of Eastern Europe affected by communism, Poland has the greatest potential for building a dialogue and would become the initiator of forming a shared memory. Stefan Troebst, German historian and slavicist, distinguishes four types of relations to communism in the post-Soviet space: 1. Communism was imposed from the outside and was “a lie,” including ethnically (this perception dominates in the Baltic States); 2. lack of basic consensus and political debates about the socialist past; 3. dual attitude: on the one hand, communism was imposed, on the other hand, it contributed to the modernisation of the country, i.e. it had a positive impact (Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia); 4. authoritarian power was withdrawn from communist structures (Russia and other CIS countries).18 The second one of these models is probably the most suitable for building dialogical memory and is characteristic of Poland’s perspective. Moreover, Poles have already initiated joint projects to study and preserve the memory of repressions. For example, the Union of Siberians organised an exchange between Polish and Russian schoolchildren to study the history of the Gulag. For more than ten years, the department of the Union of Siberians in Bystritsa Kłodska has been conducting joint Polish-Russian expeditions to the north of Russia, in which schoolchildren, teachers and researchers from both countries take part. According to the results of the expeditions, bilingual compilations,

16 q.v.: 17 q.v. for example, Yuri Mukhin. Katinskaya podlost. 18 Stefan Troebst, “Kakoy takoy kover . . . Kultura pamyati b postkommunisticheskikh obshchestvakh Vostochnoy Evropy: popytka obshchego opisanya i kategorizacii,” in Istorii i nacii v zerkale istoricheskoy pamyati: sbornik statey (Moskva: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2011), 142–180.


Maria Kostromitskaya

“Youth before history,” were published. Also Poles, whose relatives died in the Gulag or exile, often initiate the installation of memorial signs (usually crosses) in the places of burial of the repressed in Russia. Sometimes the appearance of the Polish monument causes a “chain reaction” and memorial signs of other countries emerge next to it. In turn, it is unlikely that the Russian side will become the initiator of the Russian-Polish dialogue. However, there are people who realise the importance of preserving the memory of repressions, and some are actively engaged in research and educational activities. For example, employees of the International Memorial (which has offices in many cities in Russia and abroad) could support the Polish initiative. Taking into account that the Russian authorities do not deny the Soviet repressions, including Katyn, but hardly talk about the culprits, at the first stage, it would probably be more productive to speak about the victims and the fact that not only Poles but also many nations and people of different nationalities suffered from the Soviet terror and that the Russians form the largest percentage. The perception of Soviet repression as a shared tragedy may further lay the foundation for the creation of a shared memory, not only between Russia and Poland, but also between other countries affected by the communist regime. It is important to note that from time to time collective initiatives on this issue appear in Europe. For example, at the beginning of 2018, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia and Germany agreed to establish a centre to study communist crimes in Tallinn. To note, representatives from Russia (for example, employees of the Memorial) did not participate in this meeting and, most likely, were not even invited. In my opinion, such a strategy does not contribute to the development of a comprehensive dialogue, as Russia is, simultaneously, the country most affected by communism and probably the main one, but not the only one, guilty, because the Soviet Union included many countries and crimes were committed by people of different nationalities. However, as mentioned above, it would be more productive to start building a collective memory and talking about common victims. In Poland, as in some other countries, there are memorable dates dedicated to particular crimes (the Day of Siberians, the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Katyn crime). In Russia October 30 is the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Political Repression, dedicated to all victims of communist terror. This therefore has a greater potential to become a common memorable date. There is also a common day of memory – August 23 in Europe – but it is simultaneously dedicated to the crimes of communism and Nazism. This matching will not find support among the Russian population, but will rather provoke conflict, considering the longstanding cult of victory in the Great Patriotic

Possibilities of Building a Memory Dialogue between Russia and Poland


War, which can be viewed as a kind of civil religion. Even a comparison of these two regimes would be unacceptable to many Russians.19 Besides the shared memorable date, other educational projects can be organised, such as an international film festival with the screening of various films about the Soviet repressions, which would contribute to the forming of an understanding of the scale and cruelty of terror among Polish and Russian viewers. Holding a joint exhibition would give a comprehensive coverage of these issues both in Poland and Russia, and possibly in other countries. Thus, the recognition of Russia by foreign countries as a country most affected by communism would probably resonate with the Russians, as most of them do not deny the fact of the repression, and would contribute to building a dialogue. The acceptance that the Soviet repression engendered a tragedy in many countries and the creation of a shared “information field,” a shared memorial date and commemorative practices, could become the basis for joint research on the crimes of communism in the future. The international community might be able to influence the expansion of research on communist crimes in Russia, first against its own citizens, and thereby provoke public debate and help Russians preserve the memory of Soviet terror. It would then be possible to begin the long-awaited dialogue about communist crimes against other states.

List of Abbreviations NKVD (rus: НКВД) CPSU GULAG (rus: ГУЛАГ) CIS countries

The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs The Communist Party of the Soviet Union Main Administration of Concentration Camps in USSR The Commonwealth of Independent States

19 For example, in answering the question “can we talk about common features in the state systems that were built in the 1930s by Stalin in the USSR and Hitler in Germany,” 37% of respondents think that such a comparison is completely unacceptable and 25% do not see anything in these regimes in common; Lev Gudkov, Bolshoy terror i repressii, accessed January, 30, 2019,


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References Assmann, Aleida. Hovoe nedovolstvo memoryalnoy kultury. Moskva: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2016. Etkind, Aleksandr. Krivoe gore: pamyat’ o nepogrebennykh. Moskva: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2016. Gudkov, Lev. Bolshoy terror i repressii. Accessed January, 30, 2019. 2017/09/07/16561/. Kaner, Jessy. “Ludi ne khotiat byt’ zhertvami.” Pochemu rossianie snova interesuyutsa proshlym. 2019. Accessed January, 30, 2019. Koposov, Nikolai E. Pamyat’ strogogo rezhima. Istoria i politika w Rossii. Moskva: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozreni e, 2011. Levada-Centr. Pakt Molotova-Ribbentropa i napadenie SSSR na Polshu osenyu 1939 goda. Accessed January, 30, 2019. Levada-Centr. O tragedii v Katyni i otnosheniyah s Polshej. Accessed January, 30, 2019. The official site of the prime minister of the Russian Federation. “Vladimir Putin’s speech.” Accessed January 30, 2019. 10122/print/. Troebst, Stefan. “Kakoy takoy kover . . .” Kultura pamyati b postkommunisticheskikh obshchestvakh Vostochnoy Evropy: popytka obshchego opisanya i kategorizacii, in “Istorii i nacii v zerkale istoricheskoy pamyati: sbornik statey,” 142–180. Moskva: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2011. Yazhbovskaya, Inessa S. „Katynskiy Sindrom – kliuchevaya problema dvustoronnikh otnosheni?“ Sensus Historiae. Studia interdyscyplinarne 10, no. 1 (2013). Accessed January, 30, 2019.

List of Contributors Budi Agustono Professor of History at Faculty of Cultural Sciences at University of Sumatera Utara, Indonesia. He pursued a PhD in 2010 on The Social History of Pakpak People in North Sumatera, Indonesia. His MA is on the life of nobility in Serdang Sultanate. He is interested in political history and ethnic politics. His teaching focus is on modern Indonesian political history and ethnicity. His publications among others are “The Dutch Colonial Economic Policy: Coffee Exploitation in Tapanuli Residency, 1849–1928” (Kemanusiaan: The Asian Journal of Humanity, 2018), The History of Coffee Exploitation in Tapanuli Residency, 2018, Pathology Laboratory: An Institution of Tropical Diseases in Medan, East Sumatra, 1906–1942 (Cogen Arts and Humanities, 2021) and Benih Mardeka in the Political Movement in East Sumatra 1916–1923 (forthcoming). He is currently undertaking research on cinemas in the city of Medan, North Sumatera, Indonesia. e-mail: [email protected] Joanna Bar Prof. Joanna Bar, PhD is a political scientist, historian and ethnologist, as well as associate professor at the Institute of Political Science and Administration of the Pedagogical University of Krakow. Her research field centres around the social and political change in east African countries, with a particular focus on contemporary social and political changes in Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania. She is also a member of the Jagiellonian Centre for African Studies. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3256-8074 Mykola Balaban PhD student in History and a lecturer at Ukrainian Catholic University Lviv. He has researched the mass violence in the city of Lviv during the summer of 1941. After his service at the Ukrainian Army in 2014–2015, he studied Russian military aggression in Eastern Ukraine. Mr. Balaban co-authored a book Donbas in flames: a guide to a conflict zone (2017), and in April 2018 published an article, “The face of post-truth politics: Observations from the trenches,” which was an attempt to bring together his front-line recollections and theoretical background. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9496-9634 Khatuna Chapichadze A PhD in Social Sciences, political scientist, Associate Professor and a Supervisor of the Bachelor’s Educational Program in European Studies at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Faculty of Engineering Economics, Media Technologies and Social Sciences, Georgian Technical University (GTU, Georgia). She has also been an Adjunct Faculty Member at the Department of Political Science, San Diego State University (SDSU), San Diego (CA, United States) and a Politics Professor at San Diego State University Georgia (SDSU-G) since 2017. Prof. Chapichadze is an Expert of the Central-European Institute of Research and Strategic Analysis CIRSA, Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland (since 2017) and has been a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Humanities, AGH University of Science and Technology in


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Krakow (Poland) (since 2015), as well as a Lecturer at the University of Business and Entrepreneurship in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski (WSBiP), Ostrowiec Św., Poland (since 2021). From 2015 she has served as a Reviewer of the Scientific Journal “Ante Portas – Security Studies,” indexed in Index Copernicus and ERIH PLUS and issued by the University of Business and Entrepreneurship in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski (Poland). e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: number: 0000-0002-3556-0927 Olga Dianova An applicant and extern of Russian State University for the Humanities, alumna of the Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow (2015) and Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Poland (Dual Master’s Degree Progam – “Transitology and Historical Comparative Method”). She has taken part in many Russian-Polish conferences and summer schools. She has extensive experience in research case studies of cultural memory. She worked as an editor of the Orthodox Encyclopedia and as a citizen journalist on religious and historical websites. Her current research interests are history of Christian Churches and schism, neo-martyrs and victims of the Great Terror, history of Russian diaspora in Poland and memory research. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6230-9711 Olga Dudar Associate Professor, Historical and Civic Education Department, Institute of the Postgraduate Education, Borys Hrinchenko Kyiv University. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1715-480X Bartosz Dziewanowski-Stefańczyk PhD, historian, deputy head of Academic Department at the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity and cooperator of the Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He worked for the Center for Historical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin and was scientific secretary of the Polish-German Textbook Commission. He specializes in Polish-German relations, cultural diplomacy and memory politics. e-mail: [email protected] Przemysław Furgacz PhD, University of Business and Entrepreneurship in Ostrowiec Świętokrzyski, Poland; defended PhD dissertation in Jagiellonian University in Cracow; since 2019 has been the Dean of the Faculty of Technical and Social Sciences; he has given lectures in Lithuania, Slovakia, Latvia and Georgia. He has been a vice-chairman for geoeconomics of the Polish Geostrategic Society since July 2020, a secretary of the Central-European Institute of Research and Strategic Analysis since March 2017 and a member of the European International Studies Association since January 2019. His research interests concentrate on the following fields: international political, economic and military relations, security policy, economic security, military science, international finances, advanced military technologies, geoeconomics, history, U.S.-China relations, the Middle East, the Central-Eastern Europe. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7734-5408

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Maya Hadar Maya Hadar (PhD, LL.M, M.A Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution) is a former legal officer in the Israeli Defense Forces and a researcher at the Institute for Peace Support and Conflict Management of the Austrian National Defense Academy. Currently an assistant professor at Masaryk University, her research interests include identity and memory politics, patriotism and social cohesion, alongside Israeli society and politics. Teemu Häkkinen Has a PhD in general history and works currently as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Jyväskylä. His research interests focus on history and political research. He has studied political debates in parliaments, concepts and borderlines between political decision-making and armed conflict. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0130-7314 Emmanuelle Hébert Alumna from the College of Europe and the Institute for European Studies (Université Libre de Bruxelles), she holds a PhD in political sciences from the Université catholique de Louvain and Université Paris Nanterre (cotutelle). She has been a guest lecturer at the Université de Namur, Université catholique de Louvain and Sciences Po. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2275-5490 Nina Janz Historian, specialising in military history of WWII and digital humanities. Postdoctoral researcher at the University of Luxembourg (C2DH), project “warlux” – Luxembourgish Soldiers in WWII. Previously archivist at the Military Archive in Freiburg (Section WWII and Wehrmacht); research assistant at GHI Moscow and German War Grave Commission in digitising project of records of Soviet POWs. Research Fellow at Institute for Oral History in Voronezh and the A.I.C.G.S./Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. PhD (2019) at Hamburg University in cultural anthropology about fallen soldiers of the Wehrmacht in Germany and Russia, Studies in Archival Science and European History in Marburg, Hagen and Haifa. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD 0000-0001-6251-7740 Łukasz Kamiński PhD, historian, specialising in history of communism and anticommunist resistance. Assistant professor at University of Wrocław. Worked from 2000–2016 in the Institute of National Remembrance, 2011–2016 as its president. Since 2017 president of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience. Founder and president of the Paweł Włodkowic Institute. Co-editor (with Grzegorz Waligóra) of the history of Solidarity (in 6 volumes, 2010). e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD 0000-0002-4845-3004


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Maria Kostromickaya Graduated from the Russian State University for the Humanities (РГГУ), the faculty of cultural studies. She investigated the repression against the Poles in Moscow in 1918–1940 in the framework of the project The Topography of Terror ( e-mail: [email protected] Przemysław Łukasik Graduate of history and international relations at the Jagiellonian University, assistant professor at the Department of International Relations and Area Studies at the Pedagogical University of Krakow. Research interests include: transatlantic relations, German-American relations, Historical remembrance and politics of memory e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2358-9770 Grzegorz Nycz PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Institute of Political Science and Public Administration at the Pedagogical University of Cracow. He specialises in the analyses of U.S. foreign and security policy (theory and practice), including strategic race of arms post-Cold War game of alliances. He has published six monographic volumes covering the range of U.S. foreign and security policy concerns of the former and present Cold War rivalry, published by Westphalia Press, Jagiellonian University Press and Lodz University Press. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0002-6579-4230 Jan Rydel Professor of history, Head of the Department of International Relations and Area Studies at the Institute of Political Sciences and Administration of the Pedagogical University of Krakow. His research areas are Central and Eastern Europe and Polish-German and Polish-Austrian relations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, international politics of remembrance and military history. He is Deputy Chairman of the ENRS Steering Committee and coordinates the Polish party in the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS), and also member of the board of the Polish-German Foundation for Science. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9656-2192 Łukasz Stach Assistant professor (PhD) at the Jagiellonian University, Institute of the Middle and Far East. He is the author and co-author of over 40 scholarly articles and monographs, and author or editor of six books. His current research interests have been focused on two main issues. The first one is the security threats in Southeast Asia and the second one is on young Polish voters’ values and attitudes towards democracy. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9931-981X

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Malkhaz Toria Associate Professor of History and the Head of the Memory Study Center in the Caucasus at Ilia State University (Tbilisi). In August 2019, he was nominated as country representative to the Assemblies of the European Network of Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS). His research interests include Georgian medieval and modern history, ethnic processes during the tsarist and Soviet periods, the role of historical discourse and memory politics in regional conflicts in Georgia and the construction of dividing boundaries and politics of exclusion in breakaway regions of contemporary Georgia. e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1221-2361 Stefan Troebst A historian and Slavicist. From 1999 to 2021 he was Professor of East European Cultural History at Leipzig University. He studied in Tübingen and at the Free University of Berlin (then West Germany), Sofia (Bulgaria), Skopje (then Yugoslavia, today North Macedonia), Bloomington, IN (U.S.A.), and holds PhD and habilitation degrees in Modern as well as Russian and East European History. His fields of research are international and interethnic relations in Eastern Europe and the comparative cultural history of contemporary Europe. He has published widely on culture, history and politics of the Balkans, East-Central Europe, Russia and the Baltic Sea Region. From 1984 to 1991, he was Assistant and Associate Professor of Soviet and East European History at the Institute of Russia and Eastern Europe of the Free University of Berlin. From 1992 to 1995, he worked as German member of missions of long duration of the Conference for (later: Organization on) Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE/OSCE) in Macedonia and Moldova. From 1996 to 1998, he served as founding director of the Danish-German European Centre for Minority Issues (ECMI) in Flensburg, Germany. e-mail: [email protected] Zheng Wang Zheng Wang is the Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPCS) and Professor in the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University. Dr. Wang’s research interests lie in three closely connected areas: (1) identity-based conflicts, nationalism, and the politics of historical memory; (2) peace and conflict management in East Asia, with a special focus on China’s rise and its impact on regional peace and security; and (3) foreign-domestic linkage in Chinese politics and foreign relations. Dr. Wang is the author of the book Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations (Columbia University Press, 2012) e-mail: [email protected] ORCID iD: Farida R. Wargadalem Historian at History Education of FKIUP Sriwijaya University Palembang Indonesia. She pursued a PhD in 2021 on “The Palembang Sultanate in the Maelstrom of Conflict.” She is interested in the history of Srivijaya and Sultanate Palembang. Her teaching focus is local history and wisdom and maritime history. Her publications include “Modernisation of shipping and river sailing business in Palembang in 1860–1930” (Advanced Science Letters 23, no. 10 (2017)), “Challenges in Conserving Bahal Temples of Sriwijaya Kingdom in North


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Sumatra” (International Journal of Engineering and Advanced Technology (IJEAT) 9, no. 1 (October 2019)), “Preservation of Megalithic Sites as Integrated Tourism Objects in Lahat Regency” (Paramita: Historical Studies Journal 30, no. 1 (2020)) and “Pemberontakan PRRI Sumatra Selatan Tanpa Dewan Garuda” (Journal Sejarah. Budaya. dan Pengajarannya 14, no. 2 (2020)). She also conducts research on the history of the Palembang traditional food “pempek.” e-mail: [email protected]