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Newsletter No. 14 (March 2021)

Dear readers,

we hope that you are all in good health wherever you are right now. Spring is coming and with it hopefully a bit of relief in our everyday lives during this pandemic. We want to provide you again with a quick overview of our latest publications in the Cultures of History Forum.

The past months saw a series of interesting articles published in the rubric “Politics of History”:
In November, Raphael Utz discussed for us the 2018 Russian feature film ‘Sobibor’ and the story it tells about Sobibór and the Holocaust. Apart from revealing the completely ahistorical character of this movie, as well as a deeply antisemitic undercurrent in its presentation, the article also highlighted the broader political context of this production, raising questions about the current Russian history policy regarding the Holocaust.
This review was published also as part of our continuous Focus ‘Remembering the Shoah’ in Central and Eastern Europe.

The current public and political controversies around the statue of the Soviet Marshal Ivan Stepanovich Konev in downtown Prague was the subject of the article by Jakub Vrba in December. In it, the author discussed the reasons why the controversy, which involved not only Czech historians and politicians, but also Russian Federation representatives and lawyers has flared up now and to what extent it is the result of changing narratives and shifting memory politics in the Czech Republic.

While the controversial statue in Prague was removed, the government in Hungary decided to erect a new memorial right opposite the parliament building in Budapest. Ágoston Berecz discussed the degree to which the new Trianon memorial reveals the current government’s flirtation with irredentist, 'Greater Hungary'-fantasies. While briefly reviewing public reactions to the new installation, the author's main focus was on the monument’s construction of a historical narrative of Hungary's pre-Trianon 'Golden age' which he discussed in its historical evolution. 

We all are very concerned about the news from Belarus, about the human rights violations and relentless crackdown on peaceful protesters by the regime’s police forces. Taking a slightly different approach to the analysis of the anti-government protests that seemed to come out of nowhere after the rigged election in August last year, Nelly Bekus looked at the role of historical symbols and images for mobilizing the anti-government protests and for coping with the state-inflicted violence. At the centre of her most interesting analysis were memory-related images and slogans used during the protests and the identities and values they represent.
We hope you enjoy the reading! We would like to already alert you to an exciting set of publications in the coming weeks: an interview with legal scholar and lawyer Aleksandra Gliszczyńska-Grabias, who talked with us about the legal and political dimensions of the recent libel lawsuit against the two Holocaust historians Jan Grabowski and Barbara Engelking in Warsaw, and an article by Katrin Stoll, who will discuss the consequences of the lawsuit and the recent court verdict for Holocaust research in Poland.

Stay with us and be assured that we will continue to provide you with interesting discussions of the ever-evolving historical cultures of Central, East and South East Europe. You can also follow us on the Imre Kertész Kolleg’s facebook page as well as on Twitter (@CulturesHistory).

Eva-Clarita Pettai & Juliane Tomann
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Imre Kertész Kolleg / Cultures of History Forum · Am Planetarium 7 · Jena 07743 · Germany

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