Typical Aspects

Based on all the workshop presentations, the participants were asked to collect ideas on questions we had prepared before already:

1. Do winners and losers of recent transformations deal with the past differently?

Here we defined historic winners as those, who are more happy with their situation after an historic event than they saw themselves before. This definition intentionally highlights to things: The definition is necessarily subjective. And already the definition is an aspect of the way we deal with the past.

2. Does public debate focus too much on “victims” and “perpetrators”?

Public debates on historic events are usually highly politized and there is often the attempt
to use them as an instrument in the interest (or against) certain groups. Usually, the role of a victim can be more easily assigned (and accepted) than the one of a perpetrator. Thus, commemoration often focuses on victims far earlier than on perpetrators. If, when and to which extend each of the groups is taken into consideration also depends on their specific power in a given context. The focus on persons rather than structures or dependencies may be a result of our tendency to memorize and commemorate things far more, if they have an emotional impact on us.

3. Can fascism and communism be commemorated separately?

We identified a lot of common features as both used the same tools, but agreed that these similarity do not constitute an identity since fundamental differences exist regarding the general aim. In order not to excuse one of both based on political choices, commemoration should always highlight the actual experience (not the ideology behind). Therefore, it should not be accepted to be a part of political debates on current issues.

4. Do outsiders interfere too much?

We agreed that already the definition of insiders and outsiders is highly debatable. Different societies react in very different ways: while some reject interference in a kind of reflex, others readily absorb it. Here it also depends where the interference comes from. The way outside intervention is perceived changes over time. Often the awareness that it came from ,outside’ fades away. Finally we agreed that outside interference often can be instrumentalised for example by politics. Also the degree to which this happens determines the actual impact. 

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