INVESTIGATION THE COMMUNIST PAST
Csaba Gy. Kiss: Institutions Investigating Totalitarian Regimes in Central Europe
In my summarising report I make an attempt at presenting an overview of the most important institutions, research institutes which deal with total dictatorships, the fall of the communist regime and the period of democratic transition in our central European neighbourhood, primarily in the Visegrad countries. It is worth noting that in Poland the Czech Republic and Slovakia there are institutions which have already been investigating the era and the specific features of totalitarianism for years, charged partially with tasks of lustration (legal) as well as propagation. In Germany, on the other hand, a foundation was established in Berlin for the expert investigation of the past of the GDR. Beyond this limited scope I wish to present similar attempts in other central European countries as well. I have in mind first of all Romania, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.
Patryk Pleskot: Delicate Polish Mission: The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) in Poland
The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) started its activities on July 1, 2000. The headquarters of the Institute of National Remembrance is located in Warsaw. According to the law, there are also eleven Branch Offices of the IPN, established in the cities where Appellate Courts are located, and seven Delegations throughout Poland. When in December 1998 the Parliament of the Republic of Poland enacted the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), four official principles were considered as the most important reasons for founding of IPN. The first is preserving the remembrance about a great number of victims, losses and damages suffered by the Poles during World War II and afterwards. The second refers to the analysis of Polish struggles with occupants, Nazism and Communism. Another draws attention to the obligation of prosecuting crimes against peace, mankind and war crimes. Equally important for the legislators was the obligation to compensate all oppressed by the state which had violated human rights. To fulfill those aspirations, two juridical departments of the IPN have been created. The Vetting Office, created in 2007 aims at persuing the tasks specified by in the Act on the Institute and on the Act on the disclosure of information on documents of the state security bodies from the period 1944–1990. It also receives vetting declarations of the persons serving or seeking the public functions specified by the law. The Vetting Office is obliged to prepare and publish the catalogues containing personal data of employees, officers and soldiers of the state security bodies, individuals who held senior positions in the political parties and who were members of the Council of Ministers or managers of the central bodies of state administration of the People’s Republic of Poland.
Attila Szalai: Some Note on the Polish Institute of National Remembrance – Structure and Function
Among the former communist countries it was most likely Poland to set about professionally investigating the past with the greatest apparatus. Below we will outline the functioning of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance with the help of the also exceptionally professional website of the institution. The institution was called into life on January 19, 1999 by virtue of the act on the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej – IPN) – Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation adopted on December 18, 1998. The archives office of IPN is engaged in the recording, collecting, storing, processing, securing, making available and publishing of the documents of the security authorities of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union between September 1, 1939 until July 31, 1990, as well as the documents produced and accumulated by the Polish state security authorities from July 22 , 1944 until July 31, 1990. It investigates and processes the Nazi and communist crimes perpetrated on persons of Polish nationality or Polish citizens of other nationalities, as well as other crimes against peace, humanity or war crimes. It documents the politically motivated reprisals, instigated by the officers and their emissaries of the Polish state security agencies or the judiciary.
Vojtěch Ripka: Between Scholarly Research and Symbolic Transitional Justice – Approaching the Czech Communist Regime Today
The Czech research on Czechoslovak communist regime is situated within an environment of a heated debate on number of levels. These levels range from legal and financial through political to academic, while all these are interconnected to such an extent that it is nearly impossible to disentangle them. The debate includes various repertoire of actions and tools ranging from arguments using “Western academic standards” or “ethical concerns” through appeals to court to limited physical violence and hunger strikes. All these actions were relevant and took place even in 2013, though they might remind one of early 1990s. The actors are also of different kind, producing different forms of research: apart from “classical” academic institutions, there are number of NGO’s, political parties and their fringe organizations, think tanks, but also courts with Constitutional court at the forefront of the legal genre of the debate.
Tihomir Cipek: Confronting Croatia’s Communist Past
This text deals with the confrontation with the communist past in Croatia, which is characterised by the absence of a lustration process. This is explained by the ideology and structure of the Croatian governing party in 1990 – HDZ – whose politics defined the first decade of democratic transition. The leadership of the party which was mostly made up of former communists advocated for the politics of national reconciliation, which tried to use Croatian nationalism to reconcile communists and anti-communist, for which it received support of the very influential Catholic Church. The other reason was the Croatian defensive war against Greater-Serbian aggression. President of Croatia Franjo Tuđman considered participation in the war to be lustration of a sort. Former members of the Yugoslav People’s Army or the communist secret police performed a kind of self-lustration by taking an active part in the war on the Croatian side.
Peter Jasek: Causes and Consequences: Slovak Historiography
and the Communist Past
Slovak historiography has not paid the attention to the issue of communism that such an important topic would deserve for various reasons. It is a relatively new topic which the researchers, be it historians or others from related scientific areas. This statement is valid despite the fact that recently many archive resources were made available, which, alongside those who still remember period of communism, allow to map the very broad scope of aspects of communism, but a comprehensive publication based on a systematic research of archive documents has not been published in the Slovak historiography, yet. But it didn’t mean, that Slovak historiography has ignored period of communism. There are several very good books and partial studies fo cusing on the several issues.
János Sallai: The Pan-European Picnic on the Hungarian-Austrian Border: From Break up of the Iron Curtain to Releasing People of GDR (1989)
Modern history books often feature a comprehensive summary of the events of the autumn of 1989 that led to the opening of the borders. Most start with the words of former Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl who said: “Hungary hit the first stone out of the Berlin Wall!”, a historical sentence of proven facts. The study accompanies the process that took place 25 years ago, from the press announcement on May 2nd to releasing the people of GDR from Hungary on September 11th. The Hungarian Government by then had been conducting talks for a long time with the West German Government on resolving the issue of East Germans. The only possibility for resolving the situation was to let East Germans though, which was obviously welcome by the West German Government, and disapproved by the East German Government. Miklós Németh personally informed Helmut Kohl on that decision.
N. Szabó József and Zoltán Császár: The Hungarian Communist Party’s Cultural Policy in the Years of Democracy after World War II (1945-1946)
The research confirmed that after the war, in the year of the establishment of democracy leading up to the general elections in 1945, the Communist Party wished to support the country’s progress and to serve democratization, as well as to secure the interrelationship of universal and Hungarian culture with suggestions for reforms and modernization plans with varied depth and intensity in various fields of culture. It also turned out that in this period, apart from cultural education, there were no important differences between the Hungarian Communist Party’s cultural policy and that of the other parties, since all political forces desired the democratization of culture. Nor was there any essential difference between the cultural conceptions of the illegal leaders of the Hungarian Communist Party and those of the returning émigré leaders. The Hungarian Communist Party (abbreviated as MKP) followed a democratic cultural policy based on a multi-party system.