cultural memory

  • A Case of Successful Transitional Justice: Fritz Bauer and his Late Recognition in the Federal Republic of Germany

    Germany is an example of a country which has been implementing transitional justice for decades and is still active in this field. What is more, contemporary Germans have recently come to terms with their not-so-distant past and their negligence in this area by showing the falsehood, backwardness, and injustice as negative foundations of the young Federal Republic. This article evokes the person of Fritz Bauer, the prosecutor in the state of Hessen. His struggle for human dignity and the memory of his achievements after his death exemplify an accomplished case of transitional justice and the memory of it. During his lifetime he contributed to bringing to trial numerous Nazi criminals, even at the cost of habitual threats and disregard. Forgotten for a few decades, Bauer and his legacy have been recently rediscovered and studied. Eventually, Bauer became a movie character and was finally brought back to the collective memory of Germans. The belated, but a well-deserved wave of popularity of Fritz Bauer in the German culture memory proves that reflections on the transitional justice are still topical and important.

  • Sarmatism as Europe’s founding myth

    “More and more phenomena are assuming a political dimension, and the surrounding world of politics is beginning to overwhelm us. Despite its grounding in rationality, and despite eff orts to adapt it to the changing forms of social life, it systematically yields to derealisation. The key notions in this area, such as liberty, equality, democracy, raison d’état, revolution, counter-revolution, are becoming increasingly disconnected, receive variegated explanations and interpretations in political practice, are readily subject to manipulation.” Cultural myth expresses a collective, emotionally charged belief in the veracity of a conceptual content, a memory, and simultaneously provides a model, a set of rules for social behaviour. Leszek Kołakowski draws attention to the ubiquity of mythological thinking in contemporary culture in which it addresses the universal need to fi nd meaning and continuity in the world and its values. Myth is then a particular mode of perception, cognition, and understanding of reality, part of man’s mentality, his national and cultural identity.

  • Upadek Związku Radzieckiego w świetle rosyjskich podręczników do historii

    The aim of the article is to point out how in contemporary Russian school history textbooks the collapse of the Soviet Union and its consequences for Russia, Europe and the whole world are shown. By combining this information with public opinion polls, aimed at analyzing Russian attitude to this controversial period in history, an attempt was made to find an answer to the question of how in the cultural memory of Russians, transmitting the experience of the older generations to the younger, this groundbreaking change in the political system operates nowadays. The conducted analysis has shown that many Russian history textbooks present a balanced, unemotional picture of the process the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, there are also such textbooks, which include emotional negative opinions about the collapse of the Soviet superpower, considering this event as one of the most tragic moments in the history of the 20th century. The article cites excerpts from history textbooks for history, juxtaposing them with public opinion surveys (regarding the evaluation of the last CPSU Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev; an opinion about the possibility of avoiding the collapse of the USSR, the factors that cause the greatest sorrow for the state union). This juxtaposition has revealed that despite the passage of time, there is lack of one, acceptable to the general public version of events that took place a quarter of a century ago. Just as Russians evaluate events focused around the collapse of the USSR and its consequences differently, so authors of textbooks offer students interpretations of groundbreaking events very diverging from each other. Therefore, the article shows that the historical education of young Russians in relation to this specific period will be the sum of the family stories, reading textbook recommended by the teacher and teacher comments. This leads to the conclusion that the collapse of the USSR is an event affecting the cultural memory of Russians, though the evaluation of this period are still evolving.

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