Bringing the Dark Past to Light


Bringing the Dark Past to Light

The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe

Edited and with an introduction by John-Paul Himka and Joanna Beata Michlic

792 pages
6 photographs


July 2013


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June 2019


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July 2013


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About the Book

Despite the Holocaust’s profound impact on the history of Eastern Europe, the communist regimes successfully repressed public discourse about and memory of this tragedy. Since the collapse of communism in 1989, however, this has changed. Not only has a wealth of archival sources become available, but there have also been oral history projects and interviews recording the testimonies of eyewitnesses who experienced the Holocaust as children and young adults. Recent political, social, and cultural developments have facilitated a more nuanced and complex understanding of the continuities and discontinuities in representations of the Holocaust. People are beginning to realize the significant role that memory of Holocaust plays in contemporary discussions of national identity in Eastern Europe.

This volume of original essays explores the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish past in postcommunist Eastern Europe. Devoting space to every postcommunist country, the essays in Bringing the Dark Past to Light explore how the memory of the “dark pasts” of Eastern European nations is being recollected and reworked. In addition, it examines how this memory shapes the collective identities and the social identity of ethnic and national minorities. Memory of the Holocaust has practical implications regarding the current development of national cultures and international relationships.

Author Bio

John-Paul Himka is a professor of history and classics at the University of Alberta. He is the author of Last Judgment Iconography in the Carpathians. Joanna Beata Michlic is the director and founder of the Hadassah–Brandeis Institute Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust at Brandeis University and is the author of Poland’s Threatening Other (Nebraska, 2006).


"This pioneering work in the field of Holocaust studies should be a part of any library with even the most modest of holdings about the Shoah."—David M. Crowe, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"The manner in which Nazi-occupied nations have responded to the Holocaust since the fall of communism is a subject of no small importance. Fortunately, Bringing The Dark Past To Light addresses this topic seriously and comprehensively."—Sheldon Kirshner, Times of Israel

"A remarkable collection."—Kelly McFall, New Books in Genocide Studies

"This is a magnificent work of scholarship. The essays in this substantial book provide models of balance and rectitude."—Patterns of Prejudice

“An excellent collection that addresses a very timely topic and fills a real gap in our knowledge. It will be of interest not only to specialists on the Holocaust but also to anyone—specialist and nonspecialist alike—interested in the issues and problems of postcommunist Europe.”—Samuel Kassow, professor of history at Trinity College and author of Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto

“An extraordinary volume and a feat of editorial ingenuity. . . . No matter what you know or think about contemporary Europe and the politics of Holocaust memory, you will be enlightened and surprised by this remarkable book.”—Doris L. Bergen, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto, and author of War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations 
Preface and Acknowledgments 
John-Paul Himka and Joanna Beata Michlic
1. "Our Conscience Is Clean": Albanian Elites and the Memory of the Holocaust in Postsocialist Albania 
 Daniel Perez
2. The Invisible Genocide: The Holocaust in Belarus 
 Per Anders Rudling
3. Contemporary Responses to the Holocaust in Bosnia and Herzegovina 
 Francine Friedman
4. Debating the Fate of Bulgarian Jews during World War II 
 Joseph Benatov
5. Representations of the Holocaust and Historical Debates in Croatia since 1989 
 Mark Biondich
6. The Sheep of Lidice: The Holocaust and the Construction of Czech National History 
 Michal Frankl
7. Victim of History: Perceptions of the Holocaust in Estonia 
 Anton Weiss-Wendt
8. Holocaust Remembrance in the German Democratic Republic--and Beyond 
 Peter Monteath
9. The Memory of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Hungary 
 Part 1: The Politics of Holocaust Memory 
 Paul Hanebrink
 Part 2: Cinematic Memory of the Holocaust
 Catherine Portuges
10. The Transformation of Holocaust Memory in Post-Soviet Latvia 
 Bella Zisere
11. Conflicting Memories: The Reception of the Holocaust in Lithuania
 Saulius Sužied<edot>lis and Šarūnas Liekis
12. The Combined Legacies of the "Jewish Question" and the "Macedonian Question" 
 Holly Case
13. Public Discourses on the Holocaust in Moldova: Justification, Instrumentalization, and Mourning 
 Vladimir Solonari
14. The Memory of the Holocaust in Post-1989 Poland: Renewal--Its Accomplishments and Its Powerlessness 
 Joanna B. Michlic and Małgorzata Melchior
15. Public Perceptions of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Romania 
 Felicia Waldman and Mihai Chioveanu
16. The Reception of the Holocaust in Russia: Silence, Conspiracy, and Glimpses of Light 
 Klas-Göran Karlsson
17. Between Marginalization and Instrumentalization: Holocaust Memory in Serbia since the Late 1980s 
 Jovan Byford
18. The "Unmasterable Past"? The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Slovakia 
 Nina Paulovičová
19. On the Periphery: Jews, Slovenes, and the Memory of the Holocaust
 Gregor Joseph Kranjc
20. The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Ukraine 
 John-Paul Himka
Omer Bartov

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