Secret Agents and the Memory of Everyday Collaboration in Communist Eastern Europe
279 pages

Vous pourrez modifier la taille du texte de cet ouvrage

Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne
En savoir plus

Secret Agents and the Memory of Everyday Collaboration in Communist Eastern Europe

Obtenez un accès à la bibliothèque pour le consulter en ligne
En savoir plus
279 pages

Vous pourrez modifier la taille du texte de cet ouvrage


Detailed case study review of secret agents and a re-thinking of history of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Whilst debates over secret agents and the public revelation of lists of former collaborators have fascinated both post-Communist societies and the wider world, it is surprising how little has been written either on the nature of Communist-era collaboration or the processes through which post-Communist societies have sought to make sense of what collaboration was, and how it should be dealt with in the present. This is surprising given the amount of work that has been produced on the themes of resistance and victimization.

Unlike more popular (and often lurid) accounts of collaboration, which naturalise the concept as an obvious and incontestable characterization of Communist-era behaviour, ‘Secret Agents and the Memory of Everyday Collaboration in Communist Eastern Europe’ rather interrogates the ways in which Post-Socialist cultures produce the idea of, and knowledge about, ‘collaborators’. It addresses those institutions which produce the concept and examines the function, social representation and history of secret police archives and institutes of national memory that create these histories of collaboration. This work seeks to provide a more nuanced historical conception of ‘collaboration’, expanding the concept towards broader frameworks of cooperation and political participation in order to facilitate a better understanding of the maintenance of Eastern European Communist regimes.

This work contends that secret police files are too often used to provide a one dimensional historical account of the ‘mechanisms of oppression’. It demonstrates, through case studies, how secret police files can be used to produce more subtle social and cultural histories of the socialist dictatorships. Of particular importance is the focus on the microhistorical. Contributions here explore the motivations and moralities of becoming an agent, the personal decisions and social consequences such steps involved as well as the everyday milieus in which agents lived and were active. This book analyses communities of cooperation, with particular focus on local and mid-level party organizations, organs of the church organs and artist or intellectual networks. Ranging across differing categories of collaborators and different social milieux across East-Central Europe, this work provides a comparative account of collaboration and participation with a range hitherto unavailable.

Frameworks: Collaboration, Cooperation, Political Participation in the Communist Regimes By the editors; Part 1: Institutes; Chapter 1: A Dissident Legacy, The ‘Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records of the Former GDR’ (BStU) in United Germany, Bernd Schaefer; Chapter 2: In Black and White? The Discourse on Polish Post-War Society by the Institute of Polish Remembrance, Barbara Klich-Kluczewska; Chapter 3: The Exempt Nation: Memory of Collaborationism in Contemporary Latvia, Leva Zake; Chapter 4: Institutes of Memory in the Slovak and Czech Republics – What Kind of Memory? Martin Kovanič; Chapter 5: Closing the Past – Opening the Future. Hungarian Victims and Perpetrators of the Communist Regime, Péter Apor and Sándor Horváth; Chapter 6: To Collaborate and to Punish. Democracy and Transitional Justice in Romania, Florin Abraham; Part 2: Secret Lives; Chapter 7: ‘Resistance through Culture’ or ‘Connivance through Culture.’ Difficulties of Interpretation; Nuances, Errors, and Manipulations, Gabriel Andreescu; Chapter 8: Intellectuals between Collaboration and Independence. Politics and Everyday Life in the Prague Faculty of Arts in Late Socialism, Matěj Spurný; Chapter 9: Tito and Intellectuals – Collaboration and Support, 1945–1980, Josip Mihaljević; Chapter 10: Spy in the Underground. Polish Samizdat Stories, Paweł Sowiński; Chapter 11: Entangled Stories. On the Meaning of Collaboration with the Former Securitate, Cristina Petrescu; Part 3: Collaborating Communities; Chapter 12: Finding the Ways (around). Regional-level Party Activists in Slovakia, Marína Zavacká; Chapter 13: ‘But Who is the Party?’ History and Historiography in the Hungarian Communist Party, Tamás Kende; Chapter 14: Forgetting ‘Judas’. Priest Collaboration in Slovak Catholic Memory after 1989, Agáta Drelová; Chapter 15: Informing as Life-Style. Unofficial Collaborators of the Hungarian and the East-German State Security (Stasi) Working in the Tourism Sector, Krisztina Slachta.



Publié par
Date de parution 27 septembre 2017
Nombre de lectures 2
EAN13 9781783087259
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0076€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Secret Agents and the Memory of Everyday Collaboration in Communist Eastern Europe
Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
The Anthem Series on Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies publishes original research on the economy, politics, sociology, anthropology and history of the region. The series aims to promote critical scholarship in the field and has built a reputation for uncompromising editorial and production standards. The breadth of the series reflects our commitment to promoting original scholarship on Russian and East European studies to a global audience.
Series Editor
Balázs Apor—Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
Editorial Board
Bradley F. Abrams—President, Czechoslovak Studies Association, USA
Jan C. Behrends—Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam, Germany
Dennis Deletant—University College London, UK
Tomasz Kamusella—University of St. Andrews, UK
Walter G. Moss—Eastern Michigan University, USA
Marshall T. Poe—University of Iowa, USA
Arfon Rees—University of Birmingham, UK
Maria Todorova—University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
Secret Agents and the Memory of Everyday Collaboration in Communist Eastern Europe
Edited by Péter Apor, Sándor Horváth and James Mark
Anthem Press
An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company

This edition first published in UK and USA 2017
75–76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK
or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK
244 Madison Ave #116, New York, NY 10016, USA

© 2017 Péter Apor, Sándor Horváth and James Mark editorial matter and selection; individual chapters © individual contributors.

The moral right of the authors has been asserted.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

ISBN-13: 978-1-78308-723-5 (Hbk)
ISBN-10: 1-78308-723-4 (Hbk)

This title is also available as an e-book.
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Collaboration, Cooperation and Political Participation in the Communist Regimes
Péter Apor, Sándor Horváth and James Mark
Chapter 1. A Dissident Legacy and Its Aspects: The Agency of the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records of the Former GDR (BStU) in United Germany
Bernd Schaefer
Chapter 2. Goodbye Communism, Hello Remembrance: Historical Paradigms and the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland
Barbara Klich-Kluczewska
Chapter 3. The Exempt Nation: Memory of Collaboration in Contemporary Latvia
Ieva Zake
Chapter 4. Institutes of Memory in Slovakia and the Czech Republic: What Kind of Memory?
Martin Kovanic
Chapter 5. Closing the Past—Opening the Future: Victims and Perpetrators of the Communist Regime in Hungary
Péter Apor and Sándor Horváth
Chapter 6. To Collaborate and to Punish: Democracy and Transitional Justice in Romania
Florin Abraham
Chapter 7. “Resistance through Culture” or “Connivance through Culture”: Difficulties of Interpretation; Nuances, Errors and Manipulations
Gabriel Andreescu
Chapter 8. Intellectuals between Collaboration and Independence in Late Socialism: Politics and Everyday Life at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague
Matěj Spurný, Jakub Jareš and Katka Volná
Chapter 9. Deal with the Devil: Intellectuals and Their Support of Tito’s Rule in Yugoslavia (1945–80)
Josip Mihaljević
Chapter 10. A Spy in Underground: Polish Samizdat Stories
Paweł Sowiński
Chapter 11. Entangled Stories: On the Meaning of Collaboration with the Securitate
Cristina Petrescu
Part III. Collaborating Communities
Chapter 12. Finding the Way Around: Regional-Level Party Activists and Collaboration
Marína Zavacká
Chapter 13. Wer aber ist die Partei? History and Historiography
Tamás Kende
Chapter 14. Just a Simple Priest: Remembering Cooperation with the Communist State in the Catholic Church in Postcommunist Slovakia
Agáta Šústová Drelová
Chapter 15. Unofficial Collaborators in the Tourism Sector (GDR and Hungary)
Krisztina Slachta
Péter Apor and Sándor Horváth
List of Contributors
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ÁBTL Állambiztonsági Szolgálatok Történeti Levéltára (Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security) BStU Die Behörde des Bundesbeauftragten für die Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes der ehemaligen Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records of the Former GDR)—Germany CC Central Committee CDU Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands (Christian Democratic Union)—Germany CNSAS Consiliul Naţional pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securităţii (National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives)—Romania ČSSD Česká strana sociálně demokratická (Social Democratic Party of the Czech Republic)—Czech Republic FDP Free Democratic Party (Freie Demokratische Partei)—Germany Fidesz Fidesz—Magyar Polgári Szövetség (Hungarian Civic Alliance, the acronym Fidesz stands for Alliance of Young Democrats)—Hungary HZDS Hnutieza demokratické Slovensko (Movement for Democratic Slovakia)—Slovakia IM Inoffizieller Mitarbeiter [Unofficial Collaborator]—Germany IPN Instytut Pamięci Narodowej (Institute of National Remembrance)—Poland ISP PAN Instytut Studiów Politycznych Polskiej Akademii Nauk (Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences)—Poland ISTR Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (Ústav pro studium totalitních režimů)—Czech Republic KDU-ČSL Křesťanská a demokratická unie—Československá strana lidová (Christian Democratic Party)—Czech Republic KGB Комитéт госудáрственной безопáсности (Committee for State Security)—Russia KOR Komitet Obrony Robotników (Workers’ Defence Committee)—Poland KSČM Komunistickástrana Čech a Moravy (Communist Party of the Czech Republic and Moravia)—Czech Republic MfS Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry for State Security)—GDR MNV Městský národní výbor (Municipal National Bureau)—Czechoslovakia MSZMP Magyar Szocialista Munkáspárt (Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party)—Hungary MSZP Magyar Szocialista Párt (Hungarian Socialist Party)—Hungary NEB Nemzeti Emlékezet Bizottsága (Committee of National Remembrance) NMI Nation’s Memory Institute (Ústav pamäti národa)—Slovakia ODS Občanská demokratická strana (Civic Democratic Movement)—Czech Republic PCR Partidul Comunist Român (Romanian Communist Party)—Romania ReTörKI Rendszerváltás Történetét Kutató Intézet (Research Institute and Archives for the History of the Hungarian Transition)—Hungary RFE Radio Free Europe SDL Strana demokratickej ľavice (Party of the Democratic Left)—Slovakia SED Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany)—GDR SIE Serviciul de Informatii Externe (Foreign Information Service)— Romania SIS Slovak Information Service (Slovenská informačná služba)—Slovakia SMER Direction—Social Democracy Party (Smer–sociálna demokracia)— Slovakia SNS Slovenská národná strana (Slovak National Party)—Slovakia SPD Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party)—Germany ŠtB Štátna Bezpečnosť (State Security)—Czechoslovakia StUG Stasi-Unterlagengesetz (Stasi Records Law)—Germany SZDSZ Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége (Alliance of Free Democrats)— Hungary VB Verejná Bezpečnosť (Public Security)—Czechoslovakia
Péter Apor, Sándor Horváth and James Mark
The Memory of Collaboration
Following the fall of the communist dictatorships in East Central Europe in 1989, the question seemed obvious: Should one forget or remember? Post-1989 governments of the region responded to this question by establishing various commissions, specialized archives and institutes of memory charged with the task of clarifying the recent past, uncovering the truth, and furthering the search for justice. 1 The urgency of the issue was also palpable in questions raised over what would happen if the past were to begin to fade and no one were able to exercise any control over what was actually remembered of it. The mission statement of the largest memory institution in the region, the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland, reflected this understanding: it characterized its work as “preserving the remembrance about a great number of victims, losses and damages suffered by the Polish Nation” and “the patriotic traditions of the Polish Nation’s struggles with occupiers” as a “race against time to honor the heroes who have been consigned to oblivion for years.” 2
Dealing with collaboration became one of the central questions for those who advocated a reckoning with the recent past. In postcommunist Eastern Europe it was generally argued that societies had to follow the example of Western European ways of coming to terms with the issue of collaboration with the Nazi regime, which became a pressing issue, particularly in Germany and France after 1968. 3 In Eastern Europe, a variety of approaches emerged. For some, it was simply an impassioned call to make the files of the secret police and the lists of operatives and agents accessible to the public—an act that had the potential to reveal the truth about the exercise of communist power: truth that had been kept secret for so long. Victims’ associations, often backed by pressure groups and public intellectuals, connected postcommunist morality to questions of transparency and sincerity about the past: if the perpetrators could now be discovered, then, on moral grounds they had to be . 4 For many civil rights activists, the opening up of files and—for some—the “cleansing” of public life of the perpetrators of the previous system through so-called lustration, were emotional demands for the truth. 5 These campaigns were also conceptualized as an important test of postcommunist society’s moral strength to face up to its dictatorial past. 6 For others, making the files accessible and pursuing lustration would strengthen the growth of democratic institutions and values. They argued that freedom of speech required the freedom to access files produced by a non-democratic regime without restrictions. In other arguments, it was imperative for economic growth: without it, corrupt self-interested economic networks forged in the late socialist period would continue to have a deleterious hold over the postsocialist economy. 7
Some opposed such understandings. The use of files to “decommunize” society was an undemocratic act based on intolerance and was in itself a reproduction of the modus operandi of the communist system. 8 Others, including ex-communists and former dissidents, called for reconciliation over revenge in the spirit of the negotiated transitions of 1989. 9 Some former dissidents initially argued that avoiding lustration in fact assisted the reintegration, into the new system, of forces that supported dictatorship, thereby enabling the gradual reshaping of their values of former collaborators over the longer term—although faced with the maintenance of late socialist economic networks in postcommunism, some were later to reject that view. 10 Others reacted to the over-politicization of collaboration and victimhood by anticommunist conservatives from the 1990s, coming to view the issue more as a deleterious and divisive aspect of contemporary politics than a sincere reckoning with the past. 11
Regardless of the merits of so-called de-communization, both public discussions and scholarship about collaborators are carried out in quite narrow terms. Frequently institutionalized in the work of researchers employed to archive and research the records of the former secret police, the topic becomes limited to lists of, and sensationalist stories about, informants and agents—an approach encouraged by the need for scandal in the media, too. This limits our understanding of collaboration: it became most commonly conceptualized as an individualized act carried out by the morally deficient, who can now be blamed, rather than a phenomenon with a history and broader societal context; as evidence of totalitarian control of state over society, rather than as evidence of the complexities of the relationship between state and society; and, finally, as a phenomenon that should be limited to cooperation with the most demonized institutions of the former regime, such as the secret police. In short, it still seems difficult to go beyond the fascination with agent-hunting stories presented as evidence of a totalitarian evil past. These broader public framings of collaboration have influenced wider scholarship. Only a little research goes beyond this, discussing the complexities of state–society relations embedded in stories of collaboration, or addressing the complex issues of constructing and interpreting narratives about secret agents and the hunt for them. 12
This book aims to go beyond such secret-agent hunting stories. Rather, it asks: How and why has collaboration become a central organizing concept for understanding the past in postcommunist societies? How have contemporary values shaped understandings of what constitutes collaboration? How might we develop a more sophisticated approach to research on this topic? To these ends, Part I of the book analyzes the social functions of the institutes and public debates regarding former secret agents and explores how they shaped the memory of collaboration with the communist regimes. It then asks the following questions: How have these public debates over collaboration affected the way in which historians have approached the study of cooperation with communist authorities? Can we, through questioning these dominant conceptualizations, enable new ways of understanding political engagement with the institutions of former communist regimes? In parts II and III, through the stories of both individual collaborators and collaborating communities, we examine the various ways in which the history of cooperation might be incorporated in broader histories of regime power, legitimacy, social participation and everyday life.
Producing concepts of collaboration
Part I of the volume seeks to interrogate the ways in which postsocialist cultures produce knowledge about collaborators or “political participants.” The chapters examine the functions, social representation and history of those national institutions, secret police archives and institutes of national memory that played key roles in the production and promotion of the idea of the collaborator—such as the Stasi Records Agency (BStU) in Germany, the Institute of National Remembrance (Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, IPN) in Poland, or the secret police archives in other East Central European countries. In addition to making critical institutional histories a subject of inquiry, the first six chapters also explore how these institutions themselves contribute to the shaping of the memory of collaboration.
Although the idea of establishing official state-supported processes to address the legacies of a dictatorial past was common to many so-called third-wave democratizations, in East Central Europe this took a very particular form: institutions such as the BStU in Germany, the IPN in Poland, the Nation’s Memory Institute in Slovakia, the Historical Office (later State Security Archives, ÁBTL) in Hungary, or the National Council for Studying Security Archives (CNSAS) in Romania. These were founded only in order to safeguard the documents of the state security services or, in some cases, also to publicize the crimes of the past or pursue lustration. Such types of institutions, which made claims about their capacity to reveal the truth about the past based on their custody of huge amounts of material produced by the communist regime’s security forces, were the product of a set of specific historical circumstances. In one sense, they were part of an emerging global culture of memory, defined by a growing power of liberal human rights that emphasized the importance of remembering atrocities and state crimes against the individual. 13 Yet its particular fetishization of the file as the repository of truth—particularly striking given that, in effect, it contained the one-sided witnessing by the perpetrators of acts they often framed as subversive or criminal behavior—was the product of regional understandings of the communist experience. First, many in postcommunist populations believed in the authenticity of these security service documents because, before 1989, they had been hidden: Why were they kept secret if they did not reveal important facts that ordinary people were not supposed to see? Second, unlike other third-wave transitions in which oral testimony was part of the work of state-sponsored recoveries of memory (e.g., in history commissions), there was particular power granted to the written record of the past. Oral history—in spite of several important research initiatives—remained marginal in the construction of the public image of the pre-1989 period. 14 This was connected to the nature of regional historical cultures, which usually held up the written bureaucratic document as the ideal historical source, imbuing it with the values of precision, reliability and authenticity. This may have been a legacy of the enduring sociocultural status of state service and bureaucracy derived from the historical experience of former Austrian- and Prussian-directed bureaucracies—a reputation that survived the communist period. And why were large permanent institutions, rather than short-term history commissions or investigative bodies, attractive in many cases? This may well have been one of the communist era’s parting gifts: If the truth of the past was contained in the gargantuan collections of Communism’s bureaucracies, then a project of equal size had to be constructed in order to contain it and turn it back against itself. Moreover, the founders of these projects often believed that the mentalities of the communist past still had a strange hold over postcommunist populations: hence, only a long-term, committed, institutionalized project of re-remembering the past could save postcommunism from the grip of history. The belief that this could only be achieved through major new institutions was also a result of disappointment with the nature of the political settlement, which in many countries had never seriously challenged the maintenance of old communist-era networks in other ministries—thus sprang the belief that only an institution constructed from scratch, staffed by the politically reliable with little relationship to the former regime, could be trusted to carry out such duties.
It was striking that such institutions were careful to avoid discussions over the political movements or the context that lay behind their foundation. 15 They were committed to presenting an apolitical image of themselves as impartial arbiters of a complex and difficult past that stood above politics and that could call on the authority of the archive to overcome the legacies of the communist era. Yet they were deeply political interventions. Indeed, the very idea that citizens need to be compensated for the denial of information by dictatorships in the form of free access to secret service files (so-called informational compensation), or that their records on those who had held state office could be used to support the processes of lustration, were of course shaped by political attitudes toward both the past and present. 16 It was only after having fulfilled these functions that they served as archival resources for scholars and researchers. 17
In a manner that at first glance may seem somewhat paradoxical, the institutions that were originally created in order to safeguard the documents of the state secret services and further the process of lustration, did not always facilitate research into the files. Indeed, often everyday academic work at these institutions was more difficult than it was in ordinary public archives, where party and governmental documents and court cases of the communist period, were normally kept. This was due neither to the practices of the archivists who worked in them, nor to financial constraints. Indeed, these bodies had significantly more funding than the other archives with communist-era collections and had to struggle with financial problems. 18 Rather, these institutions, founded in acts of elaborate political ritual—spectacular symbolic acts of lawmaking broadly publicized by media and often with major political figures sitting on these institutions’ boards—were then required to grant the documents of the state secret services a particular status and protection, often out of concern for the protection of information or personal privacy. Sometimes they had only vaguely defined missions. 19
In recent decades, these institutions have undergone a change in image. Increasingly distanced from the politicized moment of their founding, and blessed with resources, they have attracted some of the best professionals away from other academic and archival posts and have attempted to present themselves less as institutions of the state and more as specialized archives and professional research institutes. Nevertheless, historians and archivists have often encountered professional conflicts—their identities as state bureaucrats in competition with their identities as scholars and historians. The political mission of the “uncovering of the criminal past” to protect the present from the legacies of Communism, on one hand, and the ideal of a nonpolitical, civic professional virtue of providing historical information or ensuring that the files are accessible to the public, on the other, can often come into conflict with each other. 20
These institutions, and the files they contained, helped create very particular postcommunist scholarly understandings of collaboration: that secret police files were treated as privileged documents—the kind that offered more promise of objectivity than the usual historical source. In the years immediately after the collapse of state socialism, those researchers who held that party elites hid the real objectives of political measures behind “decorative” ideological reasoning, hoped that secret police reports would contain this allegedly ideology-free, rational, authentic political content that would reveal the realities of the exercise of power by the party center. This sense of anticipation abated rather quickly in countries such as Germany, since it became clear that that documents of the secret services had been composed using the same language as other institutions of the socialist state and often revealed little that was new. 21 Moreover, they were used to help establish the reality of the totalitarian model of communist rule—a paradigm that exerted extensive influence over public opinion with regard to the past after 1989. Indeed, the very existence of such material was often taken as historical evidence of the totalitarian practices of the regime. Secret police files were used to prove the authority that state security services were afforded to keep the totalitarian state in power, and the capacity that state had to keep every corner of society under close observation. 22
Moreover, these institutes’ public revelations of lists of former collaborators, and their work on individual agents, have consistently fed an appetite for scandal and sensationalism. They have also, as Lavinia Stan claims, contributed to the emergence of certain powerful myths: that everyone had a secret file; that justice amounts to assigning blame; that agents had committed more wicked transgressions than party officials; and that informants were victims themselves. 23 These approaches based on secret files have in general limited the question of collaboration in the communist era to one of politicized agent hunting. It also led to files being used by one faction against another, thereby enabling leading political and intellectual figures to forget (at least in public) their active support of the communist regime.
The chapters in the first section of the book address the question of the production of the idea of collaboration in the context of memory institutes, secret police archives and other cultural institutions across the region. Where did the impulse for this specific institutionalization of reckoning with the past emerge from? The decision makers in most Eastern European countries refer to the German BStU as the model on which the institutions in their countries were based. Undoubtedly, the process of making the documents of the secret service organs of the East German socialist dictatorship accessible for research and informational compensation occurred much earlier than similar measures taken in the other postsocialist countries. The institute responsible for preserving the files of the Stasi and making them accessible to the public was opened between 1989 and 1992. As Bernd Schaefer notes in Chapter 1 , BStU occupies a position that differs from the positions of the other archives of East Central Europe in many ways. The opening of the files was hailed both by the German media and the German political elite as a success story and a significant step on the path toward an effective confrontation with the dictatorial past. At the same time, the success of the institution concealed the fact that the manner in which it was created, and the image it presented of the history of the GDR, were closely tied to the East German dissident tradition. From many perspectives, the archive monopolized the processes of construction of the image of the agent and, through this, the true nature of the socialist dictatorship. The influence of the dissident tradition and postsocialist public opinion pushed the institution to disclose primarily examples of unofficial collaboration—that is, those informers who provided information about their social networks, but were not registered as official members of the secret services—for instance representatives of the Catholic Church or people who had infiltrated dissident circles. This populist pressure worked to obscure far more general and widespread forms of collaboration with the party and other official organs of state. Schaefer observes that it was only after some ten years had passed that such initial simplifications could be set aside and the secret service files could become part of the mainstream currents of the writing of social history.
The secret histories of perpetrators could nevertheless become an important tool in postcommunist political legitimation, although this varied widely between countries. Chapter 3 by Ieva Zake and Chapter 5 by Apor and Horváth examine how the debates concerning collaboration fit into the larger projects of providing (re)interpretations of national history. In Hungary and in the Baltics (in particular in Latvia) after 2000, narratives that presented the nation as a mere observer or victim of historical processes won increasing acceptance—in close interconnection with the apparent usefulness of postcommunist anticommunism as a tool of political legitimization. In both Hungary and the Baltic states these processes found expression in museum exhibitions and, in the end, they presented a narrative of history that exonerated the given society of all historical responsibility.
In the case of Hungary, this process is interesting in part because for a long time—at least in comparison with the Polish, Czech and Slovak cases—the question of the secret service documents seemed to remain independent of any direct political considerations. The Hungarian Historical Office and its successor, the Historical Archives of the Hungarian State Security, strove first and foremost to provide open access to information and support for historical research. Until the formation of the NEB (Committee of National Remembrance) in 2013, in Hungary the secret service documents were not connected on the institutional level with the practice of dispensing justice retroactively. This was not the case in Poland, the Czech Republic or Slovakia. As Barbara Klich-Kluczewska demonstrates in Chapter 2 , the creation of the Institute of National Remembrance (or IPN) in Poland was seen as an example to be followed, first in the Czech Republic and later in Slovakia. In Poland, initially the IPN was closely tied to questions of political legitimacy and the identification of perpetrators, not to mention the idea of national martyrdom. However, the desire of the many hundreds of young historians working at the institute to establish and maintain the scholarly and professional reputation of the IPN has moved the institute in the direction of more nuanced approaches to the study of recent history—approaches that yield more measured interpretations. Chapter 4 , by Martin Kovanic, clearly shows that, like the Polish institution, the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute, which opened in 2003, and the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, in operation since 2007, were given not only the task of preserving the documents of the secret services, but they also played a kind of investigative role. At the same time, while the Czech institute is closely tied to a right-wing anticommunist subculture, 24 the Slovak institute enjoys more significant esteem among historians. The IPN in Poland also functions as a serious and respected research center.
Chapter 6 by Florin Abraham presents the extremely complex case of Romania. The violent collapse of Romanian socialism and the significant continuity between the leading elite under Ceausescu and the governing elite of the 1990s provided a context that led more readily to a demand for a confrontation with the activities of the secret service in the recent (communist) past—certainly to a greater extent than in the Visegrad countries, in which the secret services had not played quite as prominent a role. In 2000, after a decade of a politics and social strategy of forgetting, 25 the creation of the Consiliul Naţional pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securitaţii (CNSAS) constituted a radical step. Although the CNSAS had an investigative function from the outset, the slow transfer of the documents of the former state secret services encumbered the work of the institution. The establishment in 2006 of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of Communist Dictatorship constituted a genuine shift. The commission, the mission of which from the outset was to examine the crimes of the communist system, interpreted collaboration in the context of discrediting postcommunist socialists through a militant anticommunism. Thus, in Romania, as in most of the countries of the region, the question of collaboration is politicized, permeated with anticommunist views and visions. 26 Although the CNSAS has begun to function increasingly as a specialized archive, the mission of identifying and revealing criminals of the past remains a palpable element of Romanian politics of history.
Rethinking the history of collaboration
This work also examines the various ways in which the history of collaboration might be embedded in broader social and political histories of the communist period. First it should be noted that there is still little serious and sustained historical work on the experience of collaboration, although a few studies of extraordinary everyday forms of collaboration and resistance have emerged in the past years. 27 Much more work has been carried out on victims—driven by the urge to pay homage to those who once suffered, often by scholars institutionalized in offices that preserve material on victims of the former political police; or resistors—whose stories fit more readily into teleological narratives that anticipate the end of the communist regime or enable postcommunist elites to write their national story into a European narrative of overcoming dictatorship as part of a united Europe. 28
Such works have had immense power to shape public understandings of the communist experience, promoting images of failure, shortcomings, mismanagement and mistreatment: the “innocence of nations” under externally supported totalitarian rule; the vast distance between state and society; and the inevitability of the system’s fall. 29 These approaches do not, however, provide a full picture of communist Eastern Europe. In particular, by separating out the question of collaboration from broader historical themes they ignore the role that cooperation played in the maintenance of these regimes. They offer little to explain the fact that the socialist dictatorships of East, Central and Southeastern Europe demonstrated a remarkable stability—in spite of a state of permanent (if varying) oppression, recurrent economic disasters, shortages in the supply of consumer goods, environmental degradation, increasing poverty, censorship in the public sphere and an inability to represent social interests and political alternatives. The communist parties of these countries successfully reproduced political elites and their respective political classes and managed continually to reconstruct the frameworks within which communist power was exercised for 40 years. The increase in the number of people who belonged to the party (and the number of agents), even in the late socialist period, could be read as a sign of the strength of the party (and the state security forces). 30
Yet, almost entirely missing from the historical scholarship on the period has been a more nuanced appreciation of the types of support for, cooperation with and forms of legitimacy granted to the pre-1989 party state systems. 31 In order to facilitate a better understanding of the operation of socialist societies and the maintenance of Eastern European communist regimes’ power, the present work attempts to expand the concept of collaboration toward broader frameworks of cooperation and political participation. In the absence of a plural system of political institutions, cooperation with official organs and integration into the official institutional structure were often necessary preconditions of political participation. 32 Those living under socialist regimes who strived for social improvement or economic change had to work through official party-political or professional structures. Party membership or cooperation with the state security forces could provide a sense of active political participation. Naturally, with regard to the various modes of expressing acceptance of the power structure, one must draw a distinction between providing information for the secret services, collaboration, active cooperation in institutional programs or open participation in social and political activism within the state institutions.
The second and third parts of the book focus on the micro-historical and the comparative, a combination that offers in-depth understandings of the various ways in which the processes of cooperation played out in different socialist societies. Studies based on these comparative everyday approaches have been realized in the cases of Fascist and Nazi regimes, but not in a similarly systematic fashion for the communist ones. 33 Thus, the second group of chapters includes socio-historical biographies of everyday secret agents. Contributions here explore the motivations and moralities of becoming an agent, the personal decisions and social consequences these steps involved, and the everyday milieux in which agents lived and were active. Unlike many works that analyze the mechanisms of oppression on the basis of secret police files, Part II concentrates on the characters of collaborators themselves and examines the uses of such source materials in furthering a more-subtle understanding of the broader social and cultural histories of the socialist dictatorships.
One of the most important issues that Part II addresses is the collaboration of intellectuals. Intellectuals, if we understand them as a coherent social group, had ambivalent relationships with the political elites of the socialist dictatorships. On the one hand, particularly in the first decades of these regimes, many were attracted by the promise of sweeping large-scale social transformation that communist parties offered. On the other hand, driven by ideals of just and equal societies, they were often radically disappointed by the actual state of their societies—some of course were to choose dissent. In Chapter 7 , Gabriel Andreescu explores the intellectual trajectory of one of the most important Romanian philosophers, Constantin Noica. Andreescu demonstrates how the idea of a pure apolitical intellectual activity led several prominent intellectuals in Romania to take on collaboration with the communist secret services. Noica, together with a group of younger followers, developed the idea of “resistance through culture,” which for them meant the simultaneous distancing from politics and the cultivation of classical high culture among elite intellectual groups. By this they hoped to preserve universal values of “true culture” independently of what they considered ephemeral political regimes. However, if true resistance meant engagement with classical philosophy, they argued, then one could collaborate with the actual, supposedly transitory, political regime without being compromised. Cristina Petrescu explores Romanian intellectuals in Chapter 11 . Focusing on the case of Mihai Botez, she uncovers the complexities of distinguishing between dissent and collaboration. Botez himself gained credentials as a prominent dissident, while at the same also providing information to the secret police about another dissident, Dorin Tudoran. To complicate the issue further, as Petrescu explains, Botez occasionally helped Tudoran to publish his writings abroad. Chapter 8 by Matěj Spurný, Jakub Jareš and Katka Volná focuses on the strategies of Prague intellectuals following 1968 and investigates the various modalities of collaborating with or opposing party authorities. Similar questions feature in Chapter 9 by Josip Mihaljević, who asks how prominent intellectuals in socialist Yugoslavia came to support Tito and his dictatorship. By contrast, in Chapter 10 Paweł Sowiński tells the story of the collaboration of the working-class Górski brothers. By uncovering the biography of a prominent dissident and secret informer, this chapter examines the difficulties in defining the frontier that separates collaboration from opposition. In this regard, they reflect a major difficulty. There were many communist-era groups and institutions whose actions are rather difficult clearly to categorize as either collaboration or opposition—such as the reformist communist politicians during the 1950s in Poland, Hungary or Yugoslavia: those who had helped establish one-party rule but also became ardent critics of Stalinism; Marxist revisionists of the 1960s who had helped regimes refine their ideological languages but also became the most ardent advocates of democratization of socialist societies; or those members of the Church hierarchy, who decided to cooperate with the state authorities in order to protect the integrity of their institutions, while often collaborating in the disciplining of their own non-conformist religious groups.
Chapters in this section highlight the subjective experience of those people who actually decided to work with the regime. These contributions privilege the analysis of personal sources, such as letters, reports or oral testimony, which allow the historian to investigate how those who cooperated narrated their decisions to themselves—stories that have not received as much attention as secret police files did in the years since the end of Communism. These chapters also try to situate individual decisions to collaborate in the context of broader social relations and networks. Such approaches, which privilege subjective attempts to make sense of often complex and difficult personal decisions, effectively enable the historian to avoid judging actions simply as “bad collaboration” or “good resistance.” 34
Part III analyzes what we term communities of cooperation , with particular focus on local and mid-level party organizations, organs of the Church and artistic or intellectual networks. The way in which communities as a whole collaborated, and later tried to make sense of those choices, has been little investigated in the region. The section focuses on two important and particularly sensitive issues: party membership and the role of the Church. As demonstrated by Chapters 12 and 13 by Marina Zavacká and Tamás Kende, respectively, although membership in the ruling communist parties used to be the main form of everyday social collaboration, its real content was far from being unambiguous. Not only did rank-and-file party members have a variety of motives for joining the party, ranging from sheer careerism to sincere belief—as Zavacká points out—their ways of acting out duties and tasks were often very different from how the party centers themselves imagined appropriate behavior and proper ways of “speaking the language” and doing the work of the regime. Here, they argue—in a similar fashion to other works of recent scholarship on communist parties—that the content of party membership was shaped largely by the local settings of ordinary members, who had to meet the expectations of their local communities and the party center at the same time. 35 Chapter 15 by Krisztina Slachta eloquently argues how important it is to integrate the studies of the secret services into the broader context of social collaboration. In her contribution on Hungarian and East German agents, individuals are presented as having similarly variable, sometimes very mundane, reasons to join the ranks of the secret services—and that they often used this as an opportunity to pursue building their own professional careers. Agáta Drelová takes a different path and focuses on the Church in Slovakia, one of the most important communities to be persecuted by the socialist state. However, as Drelová points out, Church personnel also had to make difficult choices when adapting to the party-state. In order to protect the organization or pursue their own careers, several members of the clergy cooperated with the communist authorities, including even providing information for the secret services.
This work seeks to provide a more nuanced historical conception of collaboration, expanding the concept to encompass broader frameworks of cooperation and political participation in order to facilitate a better understanding of the maintenance of Eastern European communist regimes. The authors who have contributed to this volume contend that secret police files are too often used to provide a one-dimensional historical account of the “mechanisms of oppression”: here we demonstrate, through case studies, how secret police files can be used to produce more-subtle social and cultural histories of the socialist dictatorships. Of particular importance is our focus on the micro-historical: contributions here explore the motivations and moralities of becoming an agent, the personal decisions and social consequences such steps involved. By ranging across differing categories of collaborators and different social milieux, the present work provides a very broad-ranging comparative account of collaboration/participation across East Central Europe.

1 We would like to express our gratitude to the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS), and to the Hungarian Scientific Foundation (OTKA/NKIFH K-104408) for the support of the project at the Institute of History, Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences on which this book was partially based.
For more on the institutes for transitional justice , see: Lavinia Stan, ed., Transitional Justice in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union : Reckoning with the Communist Past (New York, 2009); Monika Nalepa, Skeletons in the Closet: Transitional Justice in Post-Communist Europe (New York, 2009); Priscilla B. Hayner, Unspeakable Truths: Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions (New York and London, 2001); and Lavinia Stan and Nadya Nedelsky, eds., Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice . Vols. 1–3 (Cambridge and New York, 2013).
2 See the mission statement at: (accessed on March 25, 2015).
3 For more on the memory of the Vichy regime, see: Éric Conan and Henry Rousso, eds., Vichy: An Ever-Present Past (Paris , 1996); Richard J. Golsan, Vichy’s Afterlife: History and Counterhistory in Postwar France (Lincoln, NE, 2000). On the German Historikerstreit (Historians’ Debate), in which the relationship to the Nazi past was a key point, see: Helmut Donat, Dieter Koch and Martin Rohkrämer, “Bibliographie zum Historikerstreit,” in “ Auschwitz erst möglich gemacht?” Überlegungen zur jüngsten konservativen Geschichtsbewältigung , ed. Helmut Donat and Lothar Wieland (Bremen, 1991), 150–214; Steffen Kailitz, ed., Die Gegenwart der Vergangenheit. Der “Historikerstreit” und die deutsche Geschichtspolitik (Wiesbaden, 2008); and Wulf Kansteiner, In Pursuit of German Memory: History, Television, and Politics After Auschwitz (Athens, OH, 2006), 31–85.
4 From the mid-1990s, right-wing parties tried to construct a political identity around this moral issue.
5 On lustration in Eastern Europe, see: Herman Schwartz, “Lustration in Eastern Europe ,” Parker School Journal of East European Law 1 (1994): 141–71; Lavinia Stan, “The Vanishing Truth? Politics and Memory in Post-Communist Europe,” East European Quarterly 40 (2006): 392–410; Maria Lo, “Lustration and Truth Claims: Unfinished Revolutions in Central Europe,” Law and Social Inquiry 20 (1995): 117–61; Alexander Mayer-Rieckh and Pablo de Greiff, eds., Justice as Prevention: Vetting Public Employees in Transitional Societies (New York, 2007).
6 Cf. Hayner, Unspeakable Truths: Transitional Justice and the Challenge of Truth Commissions , 223–24.
7 Cf. Timothy Garton Ash, “Trial, Purges, and History Lessons,” in History of the Present: Essays, Sketches, and Dispatches from Europe in the 1990s (New York, 1999), 256–77. (accessed December 15, 2015). For an attempt at an empirical study of this notion (the findings of which were not terribly persuasive), see: Natalia Letki, “Lustration and Democratisation in East-Central Europe,” Europe-Asia Studies 54 (2002): 529–52.
8 Adam Michnik , “The Velvet Restoration” in The Revolutions of 1989 , ed. Vladimir Tismaneanu (London, 1999), 239−45.
9 Cf. e.g. Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Polish Radio 1, December 13, 2001. James Mark, The Unfinished Revolution. Making Sense of the Communist Past in Central-Eastern Europe (New Haven, 2010).
10 See the case of Havel, who abandoned the rhetoric of dealing with collaborators in the early 1990s but returned to it in the 2000s: James Mark, Muriel Blaive, Adam Hudek, Anna Saunders and Stanisław Tyszka, “1989 After 1989. Remembering the End of State Socialism in East-Central Europe” in Michal Kopeček and Piotr Wcislik, eds., Thinking Through Transition: Liberal Democracy, Authoritarian Pasts, and Intellectual History in East Central Europe After 1989 (Budapest and New York, 2015).
11 For this debate, see Mark, The Unfinished Revolution , 13, 29–30.
12 Cf. Barbara Miller, Narratives of Guilt and Compliance in the Unified Germany : Stasi Informers and their Impact on Society (London and New York, 1999), 138–39; Jens Gieseke, The History of the Stasi. East Germany’s Secret Police, 1945–1990 (New York, 2014).
13 On the emergence of this global culture, see for instance, Anette Wieviorka, The Era of the Witness (Ithaca, NY, 2006); Aleida Assmann, and Sebastian Conrad, eds., Memory in a Global Age (Basingstoke, 2011).
14 This was despite a number of important initiatives in both the late and postsocialist periods, such as those organized by the KARTA Centre in Warsaw or the 1956 Institute in Budapest . These mainly emerged from former dissident circles and sought to give a voice to other experiences under socialism.
15 On the necessity of this neutral self-definition, see Mark, The Unfinished Revolution , 47.
16 Mark S. Ellis, “The Current State of Lustration Laws in the Former Communist Bloc,” Law and Contemporary Problems 59 (1996): 181–96. According to Ellis, alongside political motivations (which seem certain), other factors play roles in informational compensation, such as: the desire to hold the accused responsible; compensation; rehabilitation ; and reprisal.
17 Cf. Chapters 2 , 4 and 5 .
18 Cf. the case of Dorin Dobrincu in Romania ; Dobrincu called attention to the untenable position of the state archive at the time of the creation of CNSAS , which was established in order to ensure that the documents of the state security services would be accorded special treatment: Monica Ciobanu, “Criminalising the Past and Reconstructing Collective Memory: The Romanian Truth Commission,” Europe-Asia Studies 61 (2009): 313–36, 333.
19 For more on the consequences of vague legal phrasing in the case of the CNSAS , see Lavinia Stan, “Spies, Files and Lies: Explaining the Failure of Access to Securitate Files,” Communist and Post-Communist Studies 37 (2004): 341–59. On the legal problems that arose because of the absence of clear legal definitions in the case of the archive that holds the documents of the Hungarian state security services , and the muddled phrasing of the proper tasks of the archive, see Zoltán Ripp, “A jogi szabályozás változásai” [Changes in Legal Regulation], in A Szakértői Bizottság jelentése, 2007–2008 , 26–39. (accessed December 15, 2014).
20 For more on this, see the subjective confession of György Gyarmati, the head of the Hungarian ÁBTL: György Gyarmati, Kísértő közelmúlt avagy a rendszerátalakítás egyik deficitje [The Haunting Recent Past, or One of the Deficits of the Transition] (Budapest , 2011), 7–25.
21 Ralph Jessen, “Diktatorische Herrschaft als kommunikativ Praxis,” in Die Texte der DDR , ed . Peter Becker and Alf Lüdtke (Berlin , 1997), 57–86, 60.
22 One of the earliest formulations of the totalitarian paradigm also identifies state security forces as a determining element of a totalitarian state : Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy (Cambridge, MA, 1956). On the reasons for the renaissance of the totalitarian paradigm: Achim Siegel, ed., The Totalitarian Paradigm after the End of Communism. Towards a Theoretical Reassessment (Amsterdam and Atlanta, 1998). One of the reasons for the renewed popularity of the paradigm is the traditional centrality of political and national concerns in Eastern European historical scholarship, as well as the desire, after 1989, to use the tools of the historian to shed light on the history of the omnipotent state and the oppression of civil society. One should also consider the tradition of lamenting wounds to national pride , the practice of collective forgetfulness (which rested on the perception of socialism as a form of foreign rule and national oppression), and the right-wing ideological endeavors of postcommunist parties to discredit political parties that were successors to the communist regimes. For instance, Sigried Meuschel, Legitimation und Parteiherrschaft in der DDR (Frankfurt , 1992); David Priestland, The Red Flag: A History of Communism (New York, 2009).
23 Lavinia Stan, “The Vanishing Truth? Politics and Memory in Post-Communist Europe,” East European Quarterly 40 (2006): 392–410.
24 On Czech political history see: Michal Kopeček, “Von der Geschichtspolitik zur Erinnerung als politischer Sprache: Der tschechische Umgang mit der kommunistischen Vergangenheit nach 1989,” in Geschichtspolitik in Europa seit 1989. Deutschland, Frankreich und Polen im internationalen Vergleich , edited by Etienne François, Kornelia Kończal, Robert Traba and Stefan Troebst (Göttingen, 2013), 356–95.
25 Adrian Cioflâncă, “Politics of Oblivion in Postcommunist Romania ,” The Romanian Journal of Political Sciences 2 (2 2002): 85–93.
26 Gabriela Cristea and Simina Radu-Bucurenci, “Raising the Cross: Exorcising Romania ’s Communist Past in Museums, Memorials and Monuments,” in Past for the Eyes: East European Representations of Communism in Cinema and Museums after 1989 , ed. Oksana Sarkisova and Péter Apor (Budapest and New York, 2008), 275–305.
27 For example, the cases of Lech Wałęsa, Zygmunt Bauman, Oscar-winner Hungarian film director István Szabó, distinguished Hungarian novelist Péter Esterházy ’s father or the Archbishop of Warsaw . Roger Boyes, “Lech Wałęsa was a Communist spy, says new book,” The Times , June 25, 2008. Craig S. Smith, “New Warsaw Archbishop Quits Over Communist Collaboration ,” New York Times , January 8, 2007. Aida Edemariam, “Professor with a Past,” The Guardian , April 28, 2007. István Rév, “The Man in the White Raincoat,” in Past for the Eyes , 4–9. Péter Esterházy, Verbesserte Ausgabe (Berlin , 2003).
28 They also create narratives that most easily suit new European public histories that stress the common struggle of the continent against dictatorship. On the production of resistance histories in the Czech Republic , Mark et al., “1989 After 1989.”
29 Adam Burakowski, Aleksander Gubrynowicz and Paweł Ukielski, 1989—Jesień Narodów (Warszawa, 2009). Ignác Romsics, Volt egyszer egy rendszerváltás (Budapest , 2003).
30 The membership of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR) was more than 3 million in the 1980s and numbered 2.1 million even in March 1989. In 1989, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia had 1.7 million members. The membership of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party was almost 900,000 in 1986.
31 Pittaway deals with the question of the legitimacy of the communists by studying the policies of the Hungarian governments pertaining to the working classes: Mark Pittaway, The Workers’ State. Industrial Labor and the Making of Socialist Hungary , 1944–1958 (Pittsburgh, 2012).
32 Mary Fulbrook’s term participatory dictatorship captures the paradoxes of socialist citizenship. In the GDR , millions took part in running the systems of the state as mid-level functionaries, trade union officials or company managers. Many of them were ideologically committed, but many others engaged themselves with the cause of social and cultural betterment and community building, which they considered possible to pursue inside official infrastructure. On the GDR: Mary Fulbrook, The People’s State: East German Society from Hitler to Honecker (New Haven, 2005), 235–90. Mary Fulbrook, ed., Power and Society in the GDR: 1961–1979 (New York and Oxford, 2009). Esther von Richthofen, Bringing Culture to the Masses: Control, Compromise and Participation in the GDR (New York and Oxford, 2009). On the Hungarian case, some scholars have characterized the opportunities for cooperation in late socialism as political performances within a so-called simulated public sphere. This was a space where citizens were, on one hand, given access to more diverse political information and allowed greater leeway in political expression than had been possible before the 1960s. In this era, Communist elites placed a much greater emphasis on integrating an intellectual class by providing a semblance of latitude to intellectual expression and rejecting overly confrontational and violent methods of ideological control. According to this model, the party came to see itself as an “ideological orientating body” but would no longer try to control all institutions. Nevertheless, it is argued, this was allowed only insofar as this ultimately helped to reinforce official discourse, keep public opinion within tolerated limits and, in so doing, achieved greater social integration than would be possible under a more punitive authoritarianism. See, for example, Melinda Kalmár, Ennivaló és hozomány. A kora kádárizmus ideológiája (Budapest , 1998), 64–78; András Mink, “A késudio ügy,” Beszélő 3 (1997): 7–8. On Czechoslovakia , Zdeněk Nebřenský, “Early Voices of Dissent: Czechoslovakian Student Opposition at the Beginning of 1960s,” in Between Prague Spring and French May: Opposition and Revolt in Europe, 1960–1980 , ed. Martin Klimke, Jacco Pekelder and Joachim Scharloth (New York and Oxford, 2011), 32–48. On Yugoslavia , Boris Kanzleiter, “1968 in Yugoslavia: Student Revolt between East and West,” in Between Prague Spring and French May , 84–100.
33 Luisa Passerini, Fascism in Popular Memory: The Cultural Experience of the Turin Working Class (Cambridge, 1987). Kate Ferris, Everyday Life in Fascist Venice, 1929–40 (New York, 2012). Sheila Fitzpatrick and Alf Lüdtke, “Energising the Everyday: on the Breaking and Making of Social Bonds in Nazism and Stalinism ,” in Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared , ed. Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick (New York, 2009). Robert Gildea, Olivier Wieviorka and Anette Warring, eds., Surviving Hitler and Mussolini: Daily Life in Occupied Europe (Oxford, 2006). Maurizio Gribaudi, Itinéraires ouvriers. Espaces et groupes sociaux à Turin au début du XXe siècle (Paris , 1987).
34 See an analogous model of methodology: Robert Gildea, Olivier Wieviorka and Anette Warring, eds., Surviving Hitler and Mussolini: Daily Life in Occupied Europe (Oxford, 2006).
35 Pavel Kolař, “The Party as a New Utopia: Reshaping Communist Identity after Stalinism ,” Social History 37 (Winter 2012): 402–24. “Kommunistische Identitäten im Streit Politisierung und Herrschaftslegitimation in den kommunistischen Parteien in Ostmitteleuropa nach dem Stalinismus,” Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 60, no. 2 (2011): 232–66. Also previous research by Zavacká and Kende: Zavacká, “Die Geschlechter- und Familienthematik auf den Kreiskonferenzen der Kommunistischen Partei der Slowakei 1949–1958,” in Geschlechterbeziehungen in Ostmitteleuropa nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, ed. Claudia Kraft (Munich , 2008), 125–36. Kende, Az intézményes forradalom: Adatok a kommunista párt kulturális és társadalmi történetéhez Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén megyében (1945–1956) [The Institutional Revolution: Data on the Cultural and Social History of the Communist Party in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County (1945–1956)] (Budapest and Miskolc , 2014).
Part I
Chapter 1
Bernd Schaefer
This chapter reflects on the historically unique beginnings of the dissolution of the German Democratic Republic’s (GDR) Ministry for State Security (MfS or “Stasi,” established in 1950) and the subsequent establishment of the Stasi Records of the Former GDR (BStU) agency between December 1989 and January 1992. 1 Appropriately, the narrative driven by protagonists of the small former dissident movement of the GDR hails this period as a triumph, when “our Stasi files” were preserved, processed and prepared for individual access by “the victims.” From 1992 onward, via media, researchers and many public and private documentation centers primarily located in Berlin, Stasi records and interpretations were also disseminated into the sphere of public communication. Independent of actual outcomes of national elections and shifts in coalition governments, the opening, access and public use of Stasi files constantly enjoyed overwhelming political and partisan consensus in the German federal parliament.
In close cooperation with parts of (Western-based) German media and the BStU, the dissident legacy then sought to shape definitions of “collaboration’’ and interpretation of “the files” authoritatively. Since after German unification on October 3, 1990, the new five East German states’ civil service had to be built basically from scratch to replicate patterns transferred from West Germany. Definitions of individual Stasi collaboration based on files, and their application to a wide-ranging lustration process, had a major impact on public political discourse in Germany throughout the 1990s. The parallelism of administrative formation, urgent lustration of personnel and instant interpretation of Stasi files (often hard to contextualize) resulted during the first three years of public access in fast-paced, constant revelations in the majority of German media organs about the Stasi ties of individuals and institutions. For an extended period, public, as well as academic, debate over interpretative standards and shades of “collaboration” was institutionally monopolized and subsequently moderated by the BStU, which claimed to be the first and most authoritative interpreter of the files. 2 In the early period after the official opening of the files, external interpretations usually concurred with conclusions that had been reached internally. It took years before academic researchers outside the BStU were able to engage with publications issued by the internal research department of the Stasi records agency. This was due in large part to the BStU’s actual management of the files, and also to its administrative abilities to set timelines and scope of access for the media, researchers and victims (the groups/categories entitled to legal access from 1992). Various factors were able to set the pace, content and parameters of public discourse, at least during the first period after the opening of Stasi files between 1992 and 1994: certain members of the German media were quite skilled in obtaining exclusive BStU access, and they sometimes used former Stasi officers as sources; former dissidents publicly analyzed their surveillance files; and authoritative definitions of collaboration were promoted publicly by the highest echelons of the BStU agency. Overall, it took more than a decade before a rather self-referential cycle of interpretation was overcome. Assessments of collaboration became more individualized rather than generalized, and Stasi files were better integrated into both general historiography and overall narratives of GDR history and its facets. 3
A Special Postcommunist German Feature: Stasi Files and BStU
The question of how to come to terms with the communist past in the GDR became a major feature of public discourse in united Germany almost immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening of intra-German borders on November 9 1989. 4 The first steps in this process were initiated in East Germany by multiple civic groups and local media, which found themselves finally freed from censorship. Steps were also taken, however, by many unorganized, spontaneously acting, and courageous individuals. These activities occurred during the GDR’s last year, between November 1989 and October 1990, and thus before Germany’s official unification. The last GDR government took important decisions in the context of democratization—such as the application of criminal law to perpetrators, rehabilitation and compensation of victims and the opening of the files. This government had been formed after the March 1990 elections in the GDR, which represented the first free and democratic vote in East Germany since 1933. Broad political majorities reached a consensus about the public duty to address, and possibly redress, manifold issues of injustice and repression committed during GDR times. This issue was subsequently taken up by the federal parliament of united Germany, as well as by the elected assemblies of the five new states in its eastern part after the unification of October 3, 1990.
Comprehensive exploration and detailed information about structures and methods of a dictatorial past, as well as the commemoration of acts of civic courage, opposition and resistance, were seen as necessary preconditions for a “healthy” democracy. Since 1990, all German federal governments and parliamentary majorities have been very clear in their expression of the necessity for a reappraisal of the communist dictatorship, and they have all provided ample funding in order to ensure that this perceived need is met. Wide-ranging and intense efforts by federal, state and local governments, the media, and civic society dealt in multiple ways with the range of issues raised by the demise of the GDR. Hardly any other democracy in the course of the twentieth century was financially able and politically willing to undertake more initiatives and steps towards application of various instruments of transitional justice in order to come to terms with the lasting legacy of a fallen dictatorship. Both quantitatively and qualitatively, since 1990 united Germany has had the means of doing so in the case of formerly communist East Germany.
Securing the Stasi files
When communist regimes in East Central Europe gradually lost their political power and in the second half of 1989 were overthrown or replaced, one after the other, by peaceful revolution or negotiated evolution, a unique feature was on display in East Germany in the first days of December: democracy activists and many concerned citizens spontaneously forced their entrance into district and county headquarters of the feared and hated Ministry for State Security. The Stasi, the “shield and sword of the party,” which in 1989 had 95,000 employees and roughly 180,000 unofficial informers in its databases, had spied on every segment of the population and society of the GDR for almost forty years. All in all, nearly 600,000 registered unofficial informers and 250,000 Stasi employees were supposed to monitor the people during the four decades of the existence of the GDR. This constituted the highest national ratio between intelligence operatives and the civilian population anywhere in the world. 5
The takeover scenario of December 1989 unfolded in major East German district cities such as Erfurt, Leipzig, Dresden, Magdeburg, Halle and Rostock, but also in many other seats of district or county governments. 6 When rumors spread that Stasi officers had begun to destroy self-incriminating evidence by shredding or burning files, activists seized the buildings. They sealed and secured millions of remaining surveillance files with the help of cooperating state prosecutors assisted by the police. The massive Stasi headquarters and central archive in Berlin, however, where major resistance was expected, remained untouched until January 15, 1990, when it shared a fate identical to Stasi compounds in other East German cities.
In early December of 1989, the Stasi did not put up any fight to maintain control of its properties and possession of the files in its district and county seats seized by civic committees. It ceded under peaceful pressure without resorting to violence—mostly because the long-time political foundation on which its authority had been based had ceased to exist: the entire Politburo and Central Committee of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) in Berlin had resigned on December 4, 1989 and thus de facto terminated the existence of a communist party in East Germany (its postcommunist successor parties were to break away from Marxist-Leninist ideological and structural patterns of the past). As the founding mission of the Stasi as the “sword and shield of the party” disappeared overnight, some regional Stasi commanders initially gave instructions to destroy incriminating files. Smoke from chimneys of Stasi buildings and the rapid countrywide spread of news of file burnings, however, triggered a popular movement to seize the buildings and stop destruction of the records. To a large extent, activist East German citizens, many of them with dissident church backgrounds, succeeded in this. Spontaneously established “civic committees” thus laid the groundwork for a special and unprecedented feature of East Germany’s coming to terms with the communist past: early on, these committees provided necessary tools and sources for a comprehensive lustration process. Also, this allowed individuals to review potential Stasi surveillance and enabled researchers to study operations from forty years of intelligence work. The securing of the Stasi files established in united Germany a major pillar of the process of transitional justice that was supposed to be established and implemented during the following decade of the 1990s. In no other former communist country in East Central Europe were records of the intelligence services secured on a comparable scale and at such an early moment after the fall of a communist regime. Furthermore, whereas in other countries of East Central Europe intelligence operatives continued to maintain access to the archives, in the case of the GDR civic activists acquired control of the files.
Opening the Stasi files
In the months following the takeovers of December 1989, Stasi records remained under seal and were guarded on site by local groups of civic activists and the police. All too transparent, and thus failed, attempts by the State Security in the GDR to maintain a reformed, slimmer intelligence service provoked the storming and seizure of the Stasi headquarters and central archive in Berlin on January 15, 1990. Following various subsequent negotiations—between the weak, unelected caretaker government under former Sozialistiche Einheitspartei Deutschlands (SED) politician Hans Modrow, the Central Roundtable of the GDR (comprised of all old and new East German parties and mass organizations such as trade unions, youth associations and the National Front) and the civic committees in actual control of the Stasi buildings—the former MfS was subsequently dismantled, its employees dismissed and its archives and properties further sealed in an overall remarkably orderly, nonviolent process. On May 16, 1990, the first freely elected GDR government under Minister President Lothar de Maiziere established a government commission to proceed with the further dismantling of the Stasi and to prepare a draft for a law to regulate the storage, administration and future access to the files of the former Stasi. 7 Subsequently, until the end of the GDR on October 3, 1990, this legal framework for all issues related to the opening of the Stasi archive and future access to its files evolved into the most distinctive East German contribution during the accelerated process of German unification, a process that otherwise was dominated and guided by West German policy making.
On July 22, 1990, the GDR parliament took up its first reading of a draft on “securing and opening” the files for victims of surveillance and for researchers. On August 24, the deputies passed nearly unanimously a law providing for a comprehensive lustration of all East German parliamentarians as a first step of screening. A relocation and potential closure plan floated by the West German Ministry of Interior to move the Stasi records into the Federal Archive Koblenz, located in West Germany’s Rhineland, was met by an outcry of protest in East Germany. It was considered a West German attempt to expropriate the former GDR of its history and deprive its citizens of control over access to “their files,” which supposedly told the hidden story of their often-twisted biographies. Quite dramatic sit-ins in Berlin’s former Stasi headquarters and a subsequent hunger strike by prominent activists and dissidents eventually rendered any relocation plans moot. 8 Ultimate success in thwarting any plans of file relocation contributed significantly to the dissident-driven triumphant narrative of securing, guarding and opening “our” Stasi files.
On September 18, 1990, a clause was added to the Unification Treaty between the two German states according to which the future parliament of united Germany was commissioned to draft a law closely based on pertinent provisions from the August 1990 law passed by the East German parliament. With German Unification day on October 3, 1990, the Stasi records then came under the supervision of a special commissioner and his staff, whose offices were turned into an official Federal Commissioner’s agency in 1991: This commissioner was East German Joachim Gauck, 9 a Protestant pastor from Rostock and an activist from fall 1989 who had also chaired the last GDR parliament’s committee in charge of dealing with the Stasi legacy. The first draft of the law stipulated access to personal files for “the affected” (commonly referred to as “the victims”), i.e., people on whom the Stasi had maintained surveillance files. It also contained a provision regarding access for researchers. Everybody with Stasi files still in his or her possession was required to surrender them to the new Stasi records agency by a certain deadline. Deliberately, the draft 10 did not mention the question of media access, an omission that was reasonable but turned out to be rather impractical. During the turbulent years of 1990–1991 in Germany, through professional research and monetary offers, some journalists surreptitiously managed to obtain copies of Stasi files and leaked information from various sources. Potential leakers included individual members of civic committees in charge of Stasi buildings until October 1990, but also probably some staff from the Federal Commissioner’s agency as well as the anti-Stasi activists’ antipodes, namely dismissed and forcibly retired Stasi officers in need of money. Subsequently, journalistic outlets communicated to the German parliament that they would not abide by the Stasi draft law’s clause on the surrender of all Stasi files to the BStU unless the final version of the law 11 granted the media legal and comprehensive access to the Stasi archive. Ultimately, the media had their way, and the draft law was amended along those lines.
After considerable legal wrangling, accompanied by constant and targeted revelations in the press based on Stasi files still in circulation, in December 1991 the German parliament ultimately passed the final draft of the Stasi Records Law (or StUG, as the German acronym goes). It established a federal agency headed by the Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records of the Former GDR (“BStU” is the German acronym) and regulated in detail the access and use of altogether 180 kilometers (120 miles) of saved and preserved files amassed by the former GDR Ministry for State Security over the course of its almost forty years of existence. Joachim Gauck was formally elected by the German parliament to head the BStU. He served in this capacity until 2000 when, due to the term limits of the StUG, Marianne Birthler 12 succeeded him in the office of Federal Commissioner. When Birthler’s two terms ended in March 2011, Roland Jahn followed her as the next (and current) Federal Commissioner for the Stasi Records. The election of those three successive commissioners, each of whom had a different and distinctive GDR dissident and activist background, is proof of the character of the BStU agency as a “dissident legacy.” Past dissident activities were seen by the majority of the German parliament and public as a major prerequisite for the position of the Federal Commissioner.
The December 1991 StUG came into effect on January 1, 1992, and formally established the BStU as a taxpayer-funded federal agency. Its main tasks stipulated by this law were the following:

• Individuals were granted the right of access to, and complimentary copies of, any personalized records that the Stasi might have created and filed on them. Also, they obtained the right to make public any content of their personal files and to receive, upon request, names of informers who had spied on them.
• The agency provided documentation and interpretation assistance for the vetting of present and prospective employees of Germany’s federal and state civil service.
• In order to fulfill the need for research on the activities and operations of the Stasi and make the latter public, the StUG also allowed overall generous access rights for journalists, as well as for academic and individual researchers. File copies made available in this context had to delete names and private information concerning individual targets of surveillance. However, names of Stasi informers, state and party officials, and “individuals relevant to contemporary history” were made available without restriction and mostly in generous fashion (at least until the late 1990s when, after lawsuits brought forward by former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, restrictions were applied with regard to the category of alleged “individuals relevant to contemporary history” 13 ; subsequently, data-protection standards for publications became stricter, but outside researchers ultimately also gained wider access to original files instead of edited copies).
• The BStU was tasked to contribute to public education about Stasi methods, structures and activities and accordingly funded; it was expected to do so through outreach, public events, documentation, publications and exhibits.
Taken together, these provisions produced a very lively debate, especially during the first years of open Stasi files between 1992 and 1994. That debate was fueled and accompanied by constant revelations and discussions in the media and among the interested public and academics. The BStU agency itself was highly engaged in public outreach and contributed to the Stasi frenzy in certain media in close collaboration with journalists engaged in these matters. All in all, since 1991 more than 6.9 million requests for access to Stasi records have been filed (including requests by media and researchers). 14 Among them, more than 2 million were made by individuals asking to see their personal Stasi surveillance files. These personal files ranged from extensive monitoring, harassment and manipulation of targeted individual dissidents, citizens and groups to rather perfunctory material on some individuals. They also featured many cases in which no files at all had been kept on people who had actually expected to gather insights into twists of their individual biographies by reading “my Stasi files.”
Lustrations and Collaboration
Following the path-breaking and essentially unrestricted opening of files compiled by the GDR security apparatus between 1950 and 1989, the vast records from all central, regional and local branches of the GDR party and state apparatuses were subsequently opened as well and made accessible to the public, researchers and the media. With the single and notable exception of the East German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where files came under the authority of united Germany’s foreign office, the otherwise common thirty-years rule for German archival records was waived for all GDR-related files. In essence, they became available for the entire historical period between 1945 and 1990. This represented nothing less than an archival revolution for contemporary history research in Eastern Germany. However, for German post-1945 historiography it remained a rather lopsided affair, since all West German records continued to be subject to the thirty-years rule. West German military and intelligence files stayed as closed as ever to everyone except for a few official in-house historians with clearance.
The 42 kilometers (26 miles) of files—this is about a quarter of the Stasi records—from the large former multi-branch East German state apparatus were transferred to the authority of the German Federal Archive, where they were first opened in Potsdam and later moved to their current location in Berlin-Lichterfelde. The same archival compound now also hosts the likewise accessible archives of the ruling communist party SED apparatuses and its affiliated mass organizations. Since 1991, these files have been organized in a separate foundation embedded in the Federal Archive. Archives of the so-called bloc parties aligned with the SED during GDR times were moved to their West German mother parties in 1990. There they became accessible somewhat later at the archives of the German parties, Christian-Democratic Union (CDU) in St. Augustin near Bonn and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) in Gummersbach, east of Cologne.
This vast documentation, and predominantly the comparatively well-organized Stasi archives with their files on individuals, was used after German unification on October 3, 1990, as a basis for a comprehensive lustration of members and applicants for civil service, as well as for the various affiliated sectors of public service in united Germany on the federal, state and local levels. In particular, the lustration of, and potential or alleged Stasi collaboration by elected officials in executive or legislative branches became subjects of heightened public attention fueled by reports in the media. Any cases of real or potential Stasi informers from the ranks of the opposition, the churches or the artistic scene were considered highly newsworthy and spectacular. Consequently, they received disproportionate and prominent public attention (though in statistical terms these cases were the exception and not the rule, with a vast bulk of Stasi informers being actually reliable loyalists to SED and GDR). 15
The scope of screenings and individual rules for continuous employment or dismissal in civil service positions varied in united Germany with regard to states, professional sectors and respective lustration commissions. Screenings were far more intense in the East German states and on East German individuals, and some of the five new East German states were more rigorous than others (with Saxony being the strictest and Brandenburg more lenient). Overall, more or less comparable rules—but hardly uniform or consistent—were applied in order to validate or dismiss inquiries on whether individual employees were eligible to remain in or join into Germany’s large civil service sector. In quite a number of cases, continuous employment of former Stasi “collaborators” was implicitly made contingent on whether certain professional sectors suffered from a shortage of employees and were in need of both retaining forces and making new hires (like the police), or whether they had over-employment and wanted to shrink a now-bloated workforce (like secondary schools). Background checks for the civil service remained in effect and mandatory in Germany until December 31, 2006. After that date, they became applicable in limited cases only, and only pertaining to higher-ranking positions.
Decisions on whether to terminate or continue employment of individuals registered in the Stasi files as informers (“unofficial collaborators,” or “IM” as the German acronym goes) were mostly based on reports and assessments compiled by newly hired BStU employees, who were hardly schooled in historical or literary analysis. 16 Their assessments literally quoted phrases and passages from the individual Stasi informer file and added selected pertinent copies. They basically forwarded in condensed form the Stasi wording and evaluation of a contact with an individual without much differentiation. Usually, Stasi case officers did not refrain from closing a file when a recruitment attempt clearly failed. Also, many cases were indeed clear-cut instances of secret collaboration to inform willingly on others on behalf of the Stasi. However, there were also murky cases in which only a few contacts had occurred without actual substance and the contents of the meetings were difficult to determine. In almost every case, the Stasi officer, as the handler of the informer, framed the file with himself as the master pulling the strings of the agent puppet and extracting valuable information from the latter. If the Stasi officer, for instance, had a lengthy conversation, polite exchange and maybe even discussion with an informer involving a dialogue, the “IM report” usually simply summarized the obtained nuggets of information the Stasi handler considered important for his intelligence work; i.e. just a one-sided fraction of an extensive meeting. Most of those files made the informer look like a spigot of information turned on and off by the Stasi officer at will. In the majority of cases, the IM might indeed have been such spigots, but in some significant other instances they were not. The main criteria to look for in order to determine the level of Stasi collaboration would actually have been content, scope and quality of information given based on the complete file documentation and the real or potential damaging impact of this information on others (plus all kinds of material and monetary favors and compensation, or lack thereof, received by an IM for his or her work with the Stasi). Yet those questions hardly played a role in employer decisions based on instant BStU assessments of internal Stasi file reporting.
BStU employees, the public and the lustration commissions in civil administration, schools, universities, churches and hospitals all had to learn on the fly how to understand and interpret Stasi files, their structure, their language and their occasional quirks. Just referencing official internal Stasi guidelines on individual collaborators was helpful only to a limited extent, since they were of a highly general nature. 17 The appeal to the general validity and reliability of Stasi files 18 was overall plausible, but nonetheless insufficient for a detailed assessment of determining and validating the scope, content and relevance of an individual Stasi contact and the potentially ensuing collaboration. It required an extensive process, based on experience with a substantial quantity of informer files from various levels, professions and regions of the former GDR, to analyze, differentiate, categorize and, ideally, determine shades and weight of an individual collaboration. 19 This would have required time and patience, which was hardly available when lustration, employment decisions, public revelations and nascent academic discourse all had to occur simultaneously once the Stasi files became public in 1992.
A detrimental side effect of these processes was the BStU interest during its early years to claim and maintain a monopoly over the interpretation of Stasi files and the actual assessments of informer contacts. It was expected by the BStU that its own assessments, if they defined a Stasi contact as proven and a damaging collaboration, would result in dismissals of respective employees and subsequent resignations of elected officials. When members of certain civil service institutions, or most prominently Brandenburg’s then State Minister President Manfred Stolpe from the Social Democratic Party (SPD), did not suffer the personal consequences the BStU expected, this only reinforced claims of the Stasi records’ absolute accuracy by certain media. The simplistic “argumentation” was essentially the following: anyone who had been registered by the Stasi as an IM also must be an actual spy and agent, since the conscientious Stasi had known exactly what it was doing, and it had not the slightest interest in deceiving itself. It was a strange experience at the time to watch parts of the media, and certain BStU officials, defend the absolute “accuracy” and reliability of the Stasi files with a vengeance, thus also replicating the self-aggrandizement, bravado, and bragging some Stasi officers conveyed in their files to various extents.
The “Stolpe case” was a massive example and case in point, an almost grotesque showdown and test of wills in which certain TV stations and newspapers called for his resignation based on material willingly provided by the BStU. Stolpe, on the other hand, used all the tricks in the book to downplay his indeed questionable Stasi contacts and secretly worked the former GDR officials, with whom he dealt with as a former GDR church official before 1990, behind the scenes. The BStU sometimes seriously feared that the entire lustration process in Germany would fail and lose credibility if Stolpe were not to resign despite his Stasi contacts, which the BStU considered as very grave. On his part, Stolpe turned the tables by highlighting some errors in his Stasi files to accuse the BStU and (West) German media of misinterpreting life in the GDR and attacking him as a representative of the old and new East. The situation was further aggravated through partisan politics between the antagonistic parties of the anti-Stolpe Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Stolpe’s SPD prior to the Brandenburg state elections. 20 Ultimately, in the fall of 1994 Manfred Stolpe was triumphantly re-elected as State Minister President. Although the BStU had lost a battle in this case, the overall lustration continued, but in significantly less dramatic and public fashion.
The occupation of Stasi buildings, the preservation of the seized Stasi files, the legal work of East Germans prior to German unification to open these files, and ultimately the establishment of the BStU agency—all these were notable and significant East German contributions to united Germany. It was an achievement like none before in German history. Individuals had successfully fought for securing the right to see who had been spying on them in the GDR. Despite the turbulence of the early years and a subsequent decline of interest in Stasi files and stories due to communicative overkill by the media and BStU, lustration in Germany was an overall healthy process for democracy. 21 Political forces pro and contra BStU and lustration debated the issues and competed at the ballot boxes of federal, state and local elections, where all parties received their representative shares of the vote.
This said, differentiations and nuances in the discussion about contents of Stasi files and shades of collaboration took a long time to become part of the public discourse. In particular, between the crucial years of 1992 and 1994, the credibility of Stasi files could have been enhanced with less fundamentalist claims about their almost complete truth and consistency. For instance, the monopolization of access to the finding aids of the Stasi archives for almost eight years after 1992, and the unwillingness to share them with external researchers, was a matter the BStU could and should have handled differently. German media outlets like the news magazine Der Spiegel , which had successfully lobbied for the 1991 amendment of the StUG and for unfettered media access to the Stasi files before the BStU was opened in January of 1992, also played a role that was hardly constructive. Their journalistic black and white approach to enforcing resignations of individual politicians through constant revelations was initially supported and nourished by a BStU eager to maintain its control over interpretations of Stasi files. This ultimately backfired, particularly among those in East Germany, who were familiar with GDR phraseology in the files and aware of the existence of multiple “shades of gray” in lives in East Germany. Also, the media focus on newsworthiness contributed to the BStU’s initial tendencies to focus disproportionately on unofficial Stasi collaboration from special interests (such as churches, dissident groups, artists, writers, athletes and West Germans). The large majority of Stasi collaborators who hailed from the communist party SED proper, however, remained to some extent in the shadows for at least the first decade after the opening of the BStU. They were spread all over the vast government, economic, cultural and educational apparatus as well as the bloc parties and mass organizations associated with the SED, not to mention the numerous party and state officials who took part in repressive measures without actually having been Stasi collaborators or who acted without Stasi involvement.
Meanwhile today, some twenty-two years later, the BStU as a federal agency has fulfilled its mission. It never became a combination of archive and memory institute, as did comparable later institutions in Central European countries. After the mostly historical Inquiry Commissions established by the German Bundestag between 1992 and 1998 came to a close, a parliament-funded Bundesstiftung Aufarbeitung took over certain functions of a public memory institute, in cooperation with a variety of other institutions. 22
As has been discussed in Germany over the last decade, without a change in actual access the Stasi files now deserve to be incorporated within the larger framework of the German Federal Archive system with professional finding aids and other, more user-friendly features for everybody. The fact that the vast majority of Stasi files were preserved and will remain open indefinitely, shall forever serve as testimony to the most tangible success of the East German dissident legacy in united Germany. This “success” did not, however, extend to a lasting acceptance of lustration for Stasi collaboration, a question on which 70 percent of East Germans in 1998 and 78 percent in 2006 opted for an end to respective inquiries. 23 While the opening of files did not remain unchallenged by segments of German society with different, sometimes even rosy views of the GDR past, the main challenge of the dissident legacy will become the future attitude towards the GDR by generations of Germans too young to have experienced Germany’s Cold War division.

1 For informative English summaries of this process, see: Jens Gieseke, The History of the Stasi : East Germany ’s Secret Police, 1945–1990 (New York and Oxford, 2014), 201–15; Mike Dennis, The Stasi: Myth and Reality (London, 2003), 236–42; A. James McAdams, Judging the Past in Unified Germany (New York, 2001), 65–72.
2 I served in Berlin between 1993 and 1997 as a research fellow with the Working Group on Coming to Terms of Activities by GDR State and Political Organs against the Catholic Church , established in 1993 by the Catholic bishops in the new East German states and Berlin. In this capacity, I was in touch with the BStU on an almost daily basis. Between 1992 and 1998, I reviewed tens of thousands of pages of files in the Stasi archive’s reading rooms, in particular those of individuals registered by the Stasi as unofficial collaborators. In 1993, the BStU excluded me temporarily from access for alleged violation of the Stasi Records Law (StUG ), although the reason for this restriction actually concerned different public definitions of collaboration by Catholic Church officials based on ambiguous Stasi files. Soon after regaining access in 1994, my initial interpretations of files on Stasi collaboration of church officials basically converged with those of historians working for the BStU’s research department.
3 The best examples are two comprehensive German books written by historians who work(ed) in the BStU ’s research department. The first was published nine years after the opening of Stasi files and the second some eleven years later: Jens Gieseke, Mielke-Konzern: Die Geschichte der Stasi 1945–1990 (Munich , 2001) (for the 2014 English version see footnote 1 in this chapter); Ilko-Sascha Kowalczuk, Stasi Konkret: Überwachung und Repression in der DDR (Munich, 2013).
4 For a general overview: Bernd Schaefer, “Coming to Terms: Dealing with the Communist Past in United Germany ,” ed., Bundesstiftung zur Aufarbeitung der SED -Diktatur [Federal Foundation for Reappraisal of the SED-Dictatorship] (Berlin , 2011). See for the online version: (accessed December 19, 2016).
5 For more data on the informer networks and comparisons to Gestapo/Sicherheitsdienst numbers during the Nazi era, see: Gieseke, Mielke-Konzern, 112–18.
6 The standard German work about the last months of the Stasi in the GDR and the takeover of their files by dissident activists: Walter Süss, Staatssicherheit am Ende: Warum es den Mächtigen nicht gelang,1989 eine Revolution zu verhindern [Stasi Endgame: Why the Powerful Did Not Succeed in Preventing a Revolution in 1989] (Berlin , 1999).
7 David Gill and Ulrich Schröter, Das Ministerium für Staatssicherheit: Anatomie des Mielke-Imperiums (Berlin , 1991), 177–292. The authors of this rich publication about the dissolution of the Stasi during the crucial months between December 1989 and July 1990 were the secretary of the new GDR ’s parliament committee for Stasi dissolution (Gill) and the envoy of the government commission for dissolution of the State Security Service , nominated by the Protestant Church (Schröter).
8 For a dramatic text from September 20, 1990 by the occupiers of the Stasi archives in Berlin , see: (accessed December 19, 2016).
9 On his background and motivation see his autobiography: Joachim Gauck , Winter im Sommer—Frühling im Herbst: Erinnerungen [Winter in Summer, Spring in Fall: Memoirs] (Munich , 2011). On March 23, 2012, Joachim Gauck became president of the Federal Republic of Germany , the country’s nominal head of state and a largely ceremonial position.
10 For initial and amended versions, see drafts of the German parliament (Bundestag), especially concerning paragraph 27: (accessed December 19, 2016).
11 See an English text version of the December 20, 1991 Stasi Records Law in: Neil Kritz, ed., Transitional Justice: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes, Vol. III: Laws, Rulings, and Reports (Washington, DC, 1995), 261–85.
12 See her recent autobiography, in which she also reflects on her tenure as commissioner, which at times was stormy due to the lawsuits of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl , supported by Kohl’s successor federal government of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder: Marianne Birther, Halbes Land—Ganzes Land—Ganzes Leben [Half a Country—A Whole Country—A Whole Life] (München, 2014).
13 Anthony Glees, “Challenges to Rechtsstaatlichkeit in the Berlin Republic: The Kohl Affair and the Stasi Legacy,” in: Mike Dennis and Eva Kolinsky, eds., United and Divided Germany since 1990 (New York and Oxford, 2003), 68–92.
14 For numbers as of June 30, 2014, see: (accessed December 19, 2016).
15 For an excellent breakdown of Stasi numbers and categories of registered informers, see: Gieseke, History of the Stasi , 81–82, 89.
16 The following remarks are based on the author’s own experiences between 1993 and 1997 during his work with the BStU and its Stasi files as a member of the Catholic Church ’s lustration commission . Cf. footnote 2 above.
17 Helmut Müller-Enbergs, “Zum Verhältnis von Norm und Praxis in der Arbeit mit Inoffiziellen Mitarbeitern des Ministerium für Staatssicherheit” [On the Relationship between Standards and Practice in Working with Unofficial Collaborators of the MfS ], in Klaus-Dietmar Henke and Roger Engelmann, eds., Aktenlage: Die Bedeutung der Unterlagen des Staatssicherheitsdienstes für die Zeitgeschichtsforschung, Wissenschaftliche Reihe des BStU , Vol. 1 [State of the Records: The Relevance of Stasi Files for Contemporary History Research, Academic Publication Series of the BStU, Vol. 1] (Berlin , 1995), 56–76.
18 Roger Engelmann, “Zum Quellenwert der Unterlagen des Ministeriums für Staatssicherheit” [On the Validity of Stasi Records], in Ibid., 23–39.
19 On the author’s take on differentiation between 1993 and 1998 based on Stasi files of informers from the Catholic Church , see: Bernd Schäfer, “‘Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter’ und ‘Zusammenarbeit’: Zur Differenzierung von MfS -Unterlagen im Bereich der katholischen Kirche” [“Unofficial Collaborators” and “Collaboration ”: On Differentiation of Stasi Records about the Catholic Church], in Ibid., 47–55; Dieter Grande and Bernd Schäfer, Kirche im Visier: SED , Staatssicherheit und Katholische Kirche in der DDR [Church in the Crosshairs: SED, Stasi, and Catholic Church in the GDR ] (Leipzig , 1998), 389, 109–20.
20 A. James McAdams, Judging the Past in Unified Germany (New York, 2001), 92–101.
21 For insightful comparisons and assessments of lustration processes in East Central Europe : Lavinia Stan, “Conclusion: Explaining Country Differences,” in Transitional Justice in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union : Reckoning with the Communist Past , ed. Lavinia Stan (London and New York, 2009), 240–70.
22 For further information on inquiry commissions, the foundation, and other institutions of “coming to terms with the GDR past,” see the publication listed in footnote 4.
23 Gieseke, History of the Stasi , 216.
Chapter 2
Barbara Klich-Kluczewska
“What kind of Institute of National Remembrance does Polish historiography need in the coming years? First of all, Polish historiography needs a pluralistic Institute of National Remembrance.” 1 Antoni Dudek, a Polish political scientist and historian closely associated with this institution (one of the most important and influential historical research establishments of contemporary Poland), said this in 2010. 2
The Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), founded in 1998 as an institution that combined fields of inquiry and service, including scholarship, jurisprudence, authority and archives, is sometimes referred to—and not without reason—as the “Ministry of Memory.” 3 This concept is reminiscent of the aspirations to exercise omnipotent power over memory among Poles of the twentieth century, with particular emphasis on the key experiences for the Polish collective memory of World War II 4 and the communist era. Is this omnipotence, which is based on three pillars (possession of the documents of the communist secret service, political legitimacy and stable funding), incompatible with the pluralism of historical research? Although he does not say so explicitly, Dudek, who is in favor of pluralism in research, is very skeptical about the possibility of introducing pluralism into the research practices of the Institute. He writes:

One should remember […] that the concept of pluralism is understood very differently […] Many […] participants in the discussions viewed pluralism as a free market in which different views, assessments and analyses collide. Yes, but while keeping in mind the fundamental purpose for which the IPN was founded. It was in fact established—in a broad sense—to commemorate and remind Poles of World War II, two occupations and, later, the communist dictatorship in all its aspects. 5
This chapter aims to answer the question about the consequences of opening up the Institute to a diversity of approaches and research methods from the perspective of the image of Polish society from 1945 to 1989, an image that emerges from research conducted by the IPN up until the political turnaround of 2015. This question is all the more important given that the transformation to which the Institute was subject between 2000 and 2015 may be, to some extent, a measure of the changes taking place in Polish historical scholarship. Over the course of its 15 years of existence, in addition to research on Nazis and the Soviet occupation of Poland, it promoted primarily analysis of the communist security apparatus and different forms of resistance against the communist authorities. The Institute’s publishing house has produced hundreds of monographs, collections of sources and collections of studies. For example, in the space of a single year, 2013, the employees of the Central Unit and departments of the IPN published over 460 scholarly works (including ca. 70 monographs and source collections) and over 600 popular science papers. 6 In addition, in the same year, the IPN issued over a hundred books as part of separate central publishing series. 7 The IPN departments have prepared over twenty exhibitions 8 and have organized or co-organized over 70 conferences and scientific and popular science sessions. 9
Are these works appreciated? Very often they are, even if their value is not directly reflected by the mass nature of publication. In KLIO 2014, a contest for the best historical books, the 13 award-winning works included 3 that were published by the IPN, 10 and there were 3 works endorsed by the IPN among those nominated for Kazimierz Moczarski Historical Awards. 11 The books by the IPN employees were also recognized as part of the historical awards competition of the liberal-leftist weekly Polityka . The source editions and memories publications, for which the IPN is especially valued, won distinction in this contest. 12 To some extent the strong position of the Institute’s products in most historical contests results from the fact that these contests focus on the history of the twentieth century and in particular the historiography related to the period between 1939 and 1989, reflecting the interest of society as a whole in the period of history that is closest to contemporary Poles.
By no means could one claim that the IPN has become a monopolist on the contemporary history market in Poland. However, because of its substantial financial resources, it has outrun the competition in terms of source publications and organization of conferences. Certainly, one of the weaknesses of the IPN lies in the fact that, alongside the very fine publications, there are also many reference works of less immediate interest, not to mention fragmentary publications. The management also does not pay due attention to the results of research abroad, for example, by means of translation of the best books, which nowadays is one of the focal points of almost all the leading history institutes in the country.
One must also remember that, in general, the historians—who are researchers usually employed by the Office of Public Education (Biuro Edukacji Publicznej IPN)—although having the greatest impact (obviously apart from that of the president) on the image of the Institute, account for only a small percentage of the staff. Although the IPN has almost 2,200 fulltime employees in the entire country (including 94 prosecutors), many of these people work in the archives. 13
An analysis of the achievements of the Institute is not easy because it cooperates with many external partners: many conferences have been held under the auspices of the IPN, post-conference collections of studies are marked with its logo, 14 and its journals include articles written by historians who are not employees of the IPN. 15
The Institute
Like similar institutions in other countries of the region, the IPN was established to deal with the legacy of Poland’s communist past , first of all with the dilemmas connected with the mechanisms and operations of the secret police and the possible careers of its secret collaborators. The Institute is unique: as a part of public administration, it is equal to a ministry but independent from the government and any other political organ . 16 The Institute was set up as an archive and an educational and research institution and at the same time was made responsible for investigations of crimes and persecutions committed by the Nazi occupying power and the communist regime. In connection with its responsibilities as an investigator, the Institute is mentioned among law enforcement agencies in Poland, such as the police, prosecutors and the Internal Security Agency. 17 Dariusz Stola stresses the fact that the president, elected by the Sejm for a five-year term, enjoys special protection and in fact cannot be removed from the position. 18 Originally, the board of the Institute (11 members elected by the Sejm, the senate, and the president of the republic) was obliged only to listen to advice, not necessarily to accept it. In 2011, the relationship between the president and the board was transformed and made more balanced. However, the authorities of the IPN are still dependent on the prevailing political powers in Parliament.
The unique position of the Institute, its duties and the special status enjoyed by its president have no doubt influenced its position on the map of Polish historiography of the last 13 years.
Establishment of the IPN
The Institute was established under the Act of Parliament of December 18, 1998, with the name the Institute of National Remembrance—Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation. In practice, the Institute was created only in the course of the subsequent 18 months when, after extensive political disputes, the Sejm appointed the first president, Zenon Kieres. The IPN actually began to function then, in June 2000.
The preamble of the act emphasized the ethical nature of the tasks 19 with which the new body was charged. The basic objective of its operation is to safeguard the memory of the enormity of the tragedies (including the numbers of victims) and the losses and damages inflicted on the Polish nation in World War II and in its wake, as well as to commemorate the patriotic traditions of resistance by the Polish nation against the occupiers, whether Nazis or communists. Furthermore, it has also been charged with the task of investigating crimes against peace or humanity and the commission of war crimes, as well as responsibility for considering compensation by the state for all people injured by the violations of human rights committed by the state.
The IPN, as a public administrative body, is obliged under Art. 1 of the Act, which regulates:

(1) the recording, collecting, storing, processing, securing, making available and publishing of the documents of the state security authorities, produced and accumulated from 22 July 1944 to 31 July 1990, as well as the documents of the security authorities of the Third Reich and the Soviet Union […]
(2) the procedure for the prosecution of crimes […]
(3) the protection of the personal data of the people
(4) performing activities in the field of public education. 20
The IPN is considered to have been founded by the interior minister, who wrote the relevant act with the help of two lawyers. Jerzy Buzek, prime minister at the time, and the head of the Solidarity Electoral Action and Solidarity chief, Marian Krzaklewski, provided political support for the project. One can see that although today the Institute is associated primarily with historians (the president has always been a historian, historians sit on the board of IPN, and most of the employees are historians), they played a minor role in the process of its creation. As Sławomir M. Nowiński astutely points out, IPN is primarily the work of political and legal circles. During the transition (the change of regimes in 1989–90), historians did not propose the creation of a separate institution dealing with the most recent period of Polish history. They were probably convinced that the Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences (ISP PAN) would cope with this. Perhaps as a result of this, the work that was done at the IPN initially consisted primarily of archival, prosecutorial and educational activities. Employees of the Office of Public Education limited their research activities to the reconstruction of the structure and functioning of the apparatus of repression, and the provision on the conduct of research on recent Polish history by the Institute was introduced to the law as late as February 2007 at the initiative of Andrzej Dudek, who at the time was advisor to IPN president Janusz Kurtyka. 21 Paradoxically, Andrzej Friszke and Andrzej Paczkowski, members of the IPN Board and employees of ISP PAN, were the most esteemed and trusted authorities with regard to knowledge of the once-secret files and interpretations of the sensitive data they contain.
Super-archives and dangerous folders
The provisions of the act therefore explain why the IPN focuses mainly on archival work and employs almost a thousand specialists in this field. As indicated by the lawyers—but mostly by the practice of the past 15 years—the collection, study and sharing of files were and are the main tasks of the IPN. 22 On the other hand, the archivists of the younger and middle generations who joined the staff, although very important and undoubtedly the most numerous elements of this institutional puzzle, have not become the face of the Institute.
The greatest controversies connected with the operation of the IPN as an archival institution in the first decade, that is, between 2000 and 2007, concerned the question of access to the resources collected there. Since 2007, the IPN archive, which bears the title Office for the Preservation and Dissemination of Archival Records (Biuro Udostępniania i Archiwizacji Dokumentów IPN) and houses almost 86.5 kilometers of files, has been termed the separated archive , a reference to the fact that it is not subordinated to the director of the National Archive, but directly to the president of IPN. The Institute received first and foremost the materials created by the civil and military state security bodies between 1944 and 1990—for instance, the Security Services of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Military Information, but also the materials regarding Nazi and communist crimes, collected by the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation and by regional commissions and, finally, court, prosecutorial, military and punitive institution files regarding people who suffered repression. Some of these files were lent to the IPN by state archives. Until 2007, access to the materials collected in the IPN was significantly hindered, and this was met with criticism from both scholars and representatives of public opinion. 23 The historians who dealt with the recent past accused the IPN historians of monopolizing the resources of the Institute. 24 This led, on the one hand, to an official declaration by some of the researchers in which they made clear that they would not submit any further applications for free access to the resources (e.g., the possibility to use all inventories) and, on the other, to overproduction of papers created by the IPN historians on the basis of source knowledge limited only to the Institute archives.
The lack of access to the archives resulted in their politicization. The so-called Wildstein’s List is one of the examples of a leak from the archive that aroused strong emotions. In January 2005, Bronisław Wildstein, a right-wing journalist of the Rzeczpospolita daily and a prominent dissident, released an index (available in the IPN’s reading room in Warsaw) of 162,000 names found in the archival documents, without drawing a distinction between officers, employees or secret collaborators. The list contained only names, which on the one hand made it difficult to identify specific individuals unambiguously, while on the other hand it was the beginning of much more or less informed speculation about friends, neighbors, family members and superiors. Wildstein justified his actions by insisting on the need to begin the vetting process. Disclosure of the list (which, by the way, he did not call a “list of agents,” although the document came to be known by this name) was intended to accelerate this process. Indeed, as a result of the 2006 Lustration Act, which had the support in Parliament of the two main political powers (the Law and Justice party as well as the Civic Platform party), the Institute has become comprehensively responsible for the vetting process , which one could call confessional rather than punitive. While previously archivists passed the necessary documents to the Public Interest Advocate, the IPN is now responsible for the entire extremely laborious verification process of persons in public offices for compliance of their declarations of (lack of) collaboration with the communist secret services. To cope with these tasks, a separate body, the Vetting Office, has been established within the IPN. 25
Finally, in 2007, as a result of the amendment to the act on the IPN and the adoption of the act on the disclosure of information concerning the state security bodies from the period between 1944 and 1990, access to the archival materials became a public right. Today, only the former employees, officers and secret collaborators of the state security bodies are deprived of this right. 26 Every citizen has the right of access to the files of the officers and documents of public persons specified in the act, as well as the right to apply for access to the files of the officers of Polish People’s Republic (PPR) parties and administrators. Today, according to the law, historians and journalists have full access to the IPN resources, and limitations can only involve the number of orders and inventories of the materials. 27 Since 2010, the original documents have been made available without the concealment of names. Unfortunately, historians cannot always count on genuine archival aids, which to only some extent is justified by the ongoing duties of archivists related to the implementation of the so-called lustration act.
Prosecution and punishment
The most important legal objective of the IPN is the task of prosecuting and punishing crimes against the Polish nation. This made the IPN heir to an institution that had been in operation in Poland since 1945, namely the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Nazi Crimes in Poland. 28 The direct takeover of its achievements and duties is symbolically emphasized by the preservation of its name for the prosecution section of the Institute. 29 In fact, as soon as the idea of creating a special institution of remembrance was raised, there was no doubt that the collected materials were to provide a foundation for the implementation of social justice—that is, they would be used to punish perpetrators and, in equal measure, redress grievances.
The history of rehabilitation measures for the victims of communist Poland began long before the creation of the IPN. As early as February 1991, the rulings that had been reached against the persecuted were annulled and, simultaneously, the accused were granted compensation. 30 Then the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Nazi Crimes in Poland was transformed into the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes Against the Polish Nation (Główna Komisja Badania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu). In the same year, prosecution of the crimes of Stalinism (up to December 31, 1956) began, which to this day is a very important part of the Institute’s activities. 31 At the end of the 1990s, the IPN took over investigations and gave new impetus to the prosecution of communist crimes ; a concept that covers crimes committed between 1944 and 1989. 32 Cases included in this new legal category represent the vast majority among the investigations conducted between 2000 and 2009. 33
While, at the beginning, the issue of punishing crimes against the Polish nation was actually at the forefront for the management of the IPN, the president of the Institute between 2010 and July 2016, Łukasz Kamiński, already at the beginning of his term, admitted that this area of activity will, over time, inevitably be marginalized, due, inter alia, to the expiration of individual charges:

In recent years, we have been dealing with, on the one hand, the Supreme Court limiting the prosecution of certain crimes, on the other hand, with approaching statutory expiration dates that will finish the prosecution of many categories of crimes. The majority of communist crimes will no longer be prosecuted in 2020. We have nine years to prepare for a situation in which there will probably be very, very few ongoing investigations. 34
This is an important observation, one that also explains why the prospective thinking about the place of the Institute in the future leans more and more toward its potential role in research.
Memory, Historical Politics and the Totalitarian Paradigm
Rafał Stobiecki, a critical observer of Polish historical scholarship on recent history, noted a particular tendency among historians of the twentieth century to combine contradictory attitudes, that is, a deep and—in my opinion—sincere belief in the possibility of practicing fully critical history in a post-positivist spirit, and an equally deep sense of mission to free history from lies . The attitude of the critical historian , understood as someone who seeks (and purports) to conduct objective research, is often associated with an aversion to methodological reflection (much as it is associated with Marxism and, thus, redundancy and falsehood). The missionary attitude, in turn, results from an equally sincere and deep conviction in the necessity of the struggle for historical awareness (especially of the young generation of Poles). 35 Interestingly, given the very specific nature of the dominant narrative of the historians of recent history—who focus on “factual” reconstruction of events to guarantee (according to the authors) the maximum degree of objectivity—this narrative has become an arena of a struggle between different axiomatic systems that use different historical facts.
Given this image of a mainstream historian of recent history, historians currently associated with the Institute do not constitute a particular variety of scholar, but their position as representatives of the state—representatives who are in almost daily contact with very specific historical sources—has resulted in the development of a very specific type of historian: the historian as a guardian of national values , one who does not hesitate to express very strong opinions in public forums. 36 Furthermore, they feel obligated to do so in the name of restoring control over collective memory. As Włodzimierz Suleja, director of the Wroclaw Branch of the Institute until 2013, said in 2010: “There is no doubt that, in the field of scholarly research, the IPN successfully initiated and continued the process of restoring the memory of the People’s Republic of Poland as a time of terror, repression and harassment.” 37
The IPN, at least to some extent, created a radical current of the post-1989 Polish narrative about the past which, as a whole, developed in opposition to both Marxist historiography and the historiography created in the Polish diaspora in the United States and Western Europe. Contrary to these postwar historiographies, Polish historians of the past 25 years never found a clear narrative consensus about the past. 38 The only attempt to create a dominant narrative (an attempt that was unsuccessful) was made in the period between 2004 and 2007 under the banner of the “new historical politics” (or “ Polish historical politics”) which, in fact, defined historical scholarship as a derivative of politics. 39 The program of Polish historical politics was founded by the circle of conservative philosophers and historians as a way to prevent (as was stated) collective amnesia , which it was feared might be one of the results of the peaceful transformation of 1989. The main aim of the program was to restore an axiological memory of the nation, which in practice meant to promote specific values and ideas by reference to specific historical concepts (freedom, solidarity, national pride, anti-communism, Christian tradition). 40
The Institute played a major role in these efforts, which directly promoted ethnocentrism and missionary attitudes in the history writing and a strategy of exclusion versus elevation (instead of acceptance of a diversity of opinions) in the public debate about the past. 41 Moreover, according to Robert Traba, during the presidency of Janusz Kurtyka, who was a supporter of deep vetting and de-communization, an informal agreement between the Institute and political authorities was established. 42
Marta Kurkowska Budzan points out that, in 2005—in other words already at the beginning of his term—Kurtyka made a decision regarding the implementation of the Polish historical politics program as one of the crucial objectives of IPN. “The research develops spontaneously and freely” he wrote, “while the Polish state can pick some issues to support and can promote them. It would be good, it would be very desirable if the Institute were to participate in the debate on the historical politics of the state.” 43 The debate organized by IPN in March 2006 was a first sign of its direct involvement in the project of transformation of common memory. The conservative politicians, museum curators and historians gathered in the Warsaw headquarters of the Institute and formulated the main goals of the program. The fact that Jan Żaryn, the head of the Office of Public Education, played an important role during the discussion is not without significance, given his responsibility for the direction of research conducted by the Institute’s employees.
As a result of Polish historical politics, the gap between historians attentive to ideas of multiculturalism, tolerance and empathy and those for whom the most important issue was national pride, had deepened. Ten years later, even if these historical politics have been almost forgotten, the gap lives on, and the totalitarian paradigm plays an important role in this.
Totalitarian paradigm
When the IPN was founded, the history of Stalinism was the first priority for historians. As Dariusz Jarosz, one of the leading researchers of postwar Polish society, 44 stated, Stalinism was also generally considered to have been the time of the greatest repression and terror in the postwar history of the country. In this context, the thesis of a constant conflict between a “non-sovereign government” and society and, hence, the dominance of the totalitarian paradigm , should be regarded as fundamental. 45 According to other critics, this approach was closely associated with the focus on the moments of sociopolitical conflict and very often an openly stated ideological anticommunist perspective. 46 Pavel Kolář stressed the fact that the traditional self-image of Polish society as a victim of external forces influenced the strict division between the regime and society. In his opinion, this kind of attitude, combined with the terminology of totalitarianism, dominated the discourse on communist Poland. “Historians arguing in favor of softer, varied perspectives or those who tried to limit the use of the totalitarian model to the Stalinist era,” he stated “were clearly in a minority.” 47
The totalitarian paradigm was adopted and widely developed by IPN as a perfect model for research, taking into account the general goal of the Institute, which was characterized as the preservation of “memory of the losses which were suffered by the Polish nation as a result of World War II and the postwar period, patriotic traditions of fighting against occupying powers and citizens’ efforts to fight.” 48 From this point of view, the recognition of victims, the construction of pathetic narratives, and the incorporation of the conclusions into the social memory of communist times were all the duties of historians. The narrative focused on resistance: so-called doomed soldiers 49 and the Solidarity movement of the 1980s 50 dominated. On the other side, the collaborators seemed to belong to the history of state institutions—in other words to the history of the communist regime, a construct that further buttressed the bipolar framework of this history and in which the two (and only two) actors were the rebellious nation and the socialist state of the People’s Republic of Poland.
Today, the atrocities of Stalinism seem to be overshadowed by the crimes of the postwar period (1945–47), 51 as Jarosz to some extent predicted, and many historians focus on the post-1956 history of Poland, particularly on the decade of the 1980s (the process undoubtedly facilitated by wider access to archives). Finally, although most historians of the so-called younger generation are still primarily interested in political history: many researchers among them focus on the social and cultural history of the time, following the path of Dariusz Jarosz, Jerzy Kochanowski, Andrzej Chwalba and Włodzimierz Borodziej, who all tried successfully to overcome the dominant paradigm. 52 Origins of this transformation should be traced back to the first decade of the new millennium, which was also when the turbulent history of the IPN began. Although in the middle of the decade the social and cultural history of the People’s Republic of Poland and perceptions of its consequences were evaluated as less developed, these works had indisputable potential to exceed the limits set by the classical paradigms. 53 As it so happened, in both public and scholarly debates on the People’s Republic of Poland, the identity issues with history in the background 54 almost completely eclipsed the abovementioned, to some extent generational, transformation.
2010, a Landmark Year: Toward Pluralism
The tenth anniversary of the Institute in 2010 was a landmark. For a long time, employees of the Institute had been preparing the ten-year summary of their archival, prosecutorial, educational and scholarly activity. They had also planned a conference the aim of which was an audit by external experts: historians of contemporary history and methodologists. In the spring of 2010, it turned out that the Institute had to face the tragic death of Janusz Kurtyka and many other coworkers of the Institute as a consequences of the airplane crash near Smolensk in western Russia. This hastened change in the position of the president. In 2011, Łukasz Kamiński, a former colleague of Kurtyka, accepted the position.
During the conference in Łódź, which was intended to close the anniversary celebrations, leading Polish historians made a critical summary of the Institute’s achievements by stressing the problems of political commitment and the lack of any wider research plans, which led to the fragmentation of the scholarship, fetishization of the security service files and omissions in the field of methodology.
The absence of methodological reflection in the research as well as in questions concerning the approaches adopted in analyses of historical evidence and the construction of narrative, is undoubtedly related to the approach to history writing practiced by historians in IPN, but not exclusively by them. The vast majority of historians specializing in recent history committed a sin against methodological consciousness. 55 According to Tomasz Wiślicz, this is the result of the professional training of historians in academia, which “focuses on improvement of Ranke’s source criticism (often to the level of real mastery), but in the case of the interpretation and presentation of the results, the expectations are generally limited to something that can be called an extended report issuing from a query in a chronological and factual order.” 56 In Wiślicz’s opinion, the Institute channeled a wider movement of affirmation of historical evidence as a source of historical knowledge. Idiographic method triumphs in IPN as a result of a particular belief in historical evidence as a repository of the truth , which should only be discovered and revealed . Not without reason, the method of research that concentrated on the search for facts instead of exploring the meanings of facts was and is, in Poland, sometimes called the IPN syndrome (despite the fact that a group of historians, representatives of the Institute, successfully apply alternative research methods). 57
At the same time, during the debate initiated by one of the leading Polish historical journals, Kwartalnik Historyczny , Jarosz directly accused many IPN historians of being opportunistic:

Much easier [to] “make a name for himself” by exploring the themes of martyrdom, bringing to the fore the “blood on the first page,” instead of laboriously collecting materials about the strategies of adaptation and social norms. As a result, […] the People’s Republic of Poland appeared to be far more terrible than it was in reality. And discussion about the real and most important weaknesses of the system […] and how it affected the lives of millions of its citizens remains on the margin of the “bloody” picture. 58
Accepting the leadership of an enormously influential institution, Łukasz Kamiński also had to deal with its controversial public image as a political representation of right-wing political parties. He stressed that he did not intend to continue the policy pursued by his predecessor. He primarily promised to conduct a process of decentralization, as he announced in an interview with the Bulletin of the IPN:

I want to adopt a different model of management than that preferred by the previous presidents, especially the president Janusz Kurtyka, who himself tended closely to a number of scientific and educational projects. 59
Moreover, Kamiński declared his desire to change the rules concerning the engagement of new employees and to introduce a clear peer-review system in the journal as well as at the IPN publishing house in order to avoid complaints about reckless stewardship of public money. In my opinion, these actions should be read in the broader context of the transformation that was experienced by the Polish academic world as a whole at the time. It involved, among other things, a reform of the system of financing and the system of remuneration and promotion of researchers through the introduction of a grant system and the creation of a market of competing scholars. In this situation, the IPN has become a peaceful, prosperous enclave among institutions and historians fighting for limited public funds. This undoubtedly strengthens the position of the Institute as the organizer and leading institution of public debate on recent history. Kamiński maintained that the mission of the Institute has not changed , but at the same time he attempted to improve the general atmosphere around the IPN. The shift toward a vision of the Institute as a research unit, a shift palpable in his words and actions, would be read as a clear sign of the new approach:

I would like to realize a vision that existed from the very beginning, but the previous presidents did not decide to implement it. I would like to create strictly scientific research positions at the Institute. A researcher employed in this position would have the same status as a researcher at a university or the academy of sciences […]. If we can create a group that will be able to focus on research, we may achieve what we have been dreaming about for ten years: a larger number of monographs, syntheses and studies. 60
Kamiński also stipulated that the results of their studies would not be considered the official statements of civil servants (hence, of the Institute). Probably, a project, which should be referred to as the idea of the independent scholar , is an attempt to find a solution to the fundamental problem faced by historians at the Institute: how to conduct critical research and simultaneously focus on commemoration , thereby participating meaningfully in the formation of Polish common memory.
We observed an interesting transformation of the general historiographical approach. The Institute decided to open itself to a wider range of historians with different specializations. However, the implementation of the sought-after theoretical and thematic plurality (e.g., social practices, memory studies, oral history , gender) by the Institute’s historians seems to be, first, much more difficult than the initiators of the development expected and, second, it may have significant consequences for the Institute as an investigator and prosecutor. The winds of change were noticeable first in the publications, especially in the main journals of the Institute in the period between 2010 and 2013, and second in the different new initiatives (conferences on the social history of the 1980s, 61 women and resistance, 62 the anthropology of the security forces, 63 and oral history projects 64 ). To illustrate the phenomenon, I have chosen articles published in the historical journal Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość [Memory and Justice].
The breakup of the narrative
Memory and Justice is the flagship journal of the IPN. It publishes scholarly studies, discussions and reviews concerning contemporary, primarily Polish, history. It has been published twice a year since 2002, both in printed and e-book form. Since 2010, Sławomir Poleszak has served as editor-in-chief. Both Poleszak and his predecessor, Rafał Wnuk, have been members of the editorial board from the outset. They are both also known as researchers who avoid oversimplification and explicit moral judgments regarding the postwar Polish underground movement.
During the aforementioned 2010 conference, Marcin Zaremba, in addition to suggesting that the title be changed immediately (since the present title was associated, at best, with a journal from the field of jurisprudence, at worst with the political party Law and Justice), asserted that most of the articles that had been published, and especially those in the first volumes (2002–06), were fragmentary and based on a narrow range of historical evidence. The articles’ titles, in which the word versus figured with remarkable frequency, were symptoms of the problem (e.g., “Security Service versus ‘Solidarity’” in Słupsk (1980–81). 65 In his opinion, in spite of having opened to foreign historians, Memory and Justice generally did not go beyond the heroic model of historiography, relying on and implying the adequacy of simple descriptions and explanations of the past and also excluding significant research interests as social history, diplomatic history, cultural history, and the history of mentalities.
Taking into account its pre-2011 editorial policy, the board of Memory and Justice radically revised its ideological assumptions and general goals in the course of just three years. Interestingly, the transformation was not preceded by any upheaval in the editorial board. One could get the impression that editors were given the green light to open up to new possibilities and decided straight away to take advantage of this and broaden research horizons. The volume, published as the second issue in 2012, was devoted to the methodologies adopted in studies of the most recent episodes of Polish history and was a telltale sign of this transformation. It began with a broad discussion of history and memory, borders of historical knowledge and new forms of historical narrative. 66 In this volume, probably for the first time in the ten years of the journal’s history, a notion of history of mentalities became a subject of reflection, even if only on the margin of analyses of oral history. 67 In the first volume of 2013, editors paid some attention to the category of everyday life, 68 and the second issue was almost completely dominated by broadly defined themes of memory and historical representations—analyzed primarily by specialists from outside the Institute: historians, curators, methodologists and, last but not least, a comic book author.
The transformation described above—while it reflects a turn to pluralism that is popular in some circles of influential IPN scholars—gave rise to some problems. The first issue was the degree to which these changes could win acceptance in the wider circles of workers and researchers of the Institute: perhaps even leading to an identification (which was previously not a subject of dispute) of the group as a whole with its most important journal.
A further problem involves the application of theoretical knowledge to everyday research practices. Transformation of the habits of scholars, not to mention even slight shifts in their deep convictions, last much longer than the drafting of declarations and demands. The production by historians (employees of the IPN) is still dominated by articles in which extensive citations from primary sources are intertwined with the statements of authors to form sentences and paragraphs. In other words, patchwork narratives in which the use of differing modes of text produced under radically different conditions to form a purportedly objective critical viewpoint are not interrogated. In some of these articles, one can sense the influence of the assumption, on the part of the author, of the omnipotence of regime institutions and the relative weakness of the citizen, who is regarded or portrayed as devoid of agency. 69 In the other dominant narrative mode, instead of the in-depth analysis of sociopolitical mechanisms that one would expect to find in a scholarly inquiry, the author instead seems to follow a kind of poetics of unmasking and disclosure. 70 At the same time, we are dealing with very interesting examples of narrative that reveal the complexity of the current situation. One article, which offers an illustrative example, is devoted to protests against inflation in Poland in the early 1960s. 71 Although the author is bold in his choice of topic (prevailing social sentiments), his totalitarian (traditional) bipolar approach ultimately makes the narrative seem simplistically formulaic in the face of new research and new research questions. The author places citizens of the Polish state on one side of the barricade and government and communist propaganda ( a tyrant who is afraid of being ridiculed ) 72 on the other . The social reality, however, is often more colorful than the simple models. For instance, some of the citizens of the communist regime who were particularly critical of the price increases appear to have been members of the party and, among the placards designed to express protest, one could find signs that embodied a kind of nostalgia for Stalinism ( Stalin must rise or else the nation dies ). These manifestations of dissatisfaction also merit consideration in any analysis of the mechanisms of expressing discontent and the points of reference for a particular generation.
The Radical (Re)turn to Commemoration
If one were to take seriously the 2010–15 expansion of research perspectives within the IPN, the process of pluralization would force historians to study the historical mechanisms of knowledge production as a whole and examine strategies of adaptation alongside strategies of resistance. But was the IPN actually ready to give voice to those whose stories were ambiguous and, as a result, politically not anticipated and didactically useless? The events that took place in 2016 showed that the IPN was not.
Since 2016, a combination of legal and personal shifts has been convulsing the Institute as a result of changes in the political scene (the parliamentary election was won by the largest opposition party—Law and Justice). The entire editorial board of the journal Memory and Justice was dismissed, and the other bulletin, Pamięć.pl , was closed in the summer and autumn of 2016. The journals had played an important role in the process of IPN’s “opening to the world.” Both journals stand accused, among other things, of having promoted gender methodology (referred to as “gender ideology”). International critical commentaries on the actions of the new president of the IPN interpreted these attacks against the journals as the symbolic climax of the process of change. However, the limitations placed on the autonomy of the Institute, the removal of experts from the IPN board, and the nomination for president of the Institute of a fairly unknown historian, Jaroslaw Szarkowi, are much more important from an institutional perspective. The nomination of Jarosław Szarek led to a flurry of personnel changes at the Institute, including shifts and layoffs of historians, for example the widely reported dismissal of Krzysztof Persak, the coeditor (with Paweł Machcewicz) of the volume devoted to the murder of Jews in Jedwabne. 73
The new president announced the return of the politics of “commemoration.”

The Institute of National Remembrance is an exceptional place. Our task is to transfer the memory of Polish heritage. […] Only people who identify with the Institute and treat this work as a noble duty are able to tackle these challenges.
The transformation of the IPN is also part of the broader internal disintegration of the academic milieu and environment in which Polish historians have worked. The suspension of work on the Museum of the Second World War in Gdansk, and the announcement of the law criminalizing the “association of the Polish nation or the Polish state with a responsibility for Nazi crimes […] or other crimes against humanity” 74 are other good examples of the attempt to blur the boundaries between politics and historiography. As a consequence, the community of Polish historians is divided by a constant open conflict between those who are willing to follow the advocates of national glory and those who above all value autonomy and high scholarly standards.
In 2015, the IPN was a strong, unique hybrid institution situated on the borderland of science, education, law and politics. It was likely that over the course of the next two decades, as a consequence of the decrease in its lustration and prosecutorial duties, the Institute would strengthen its position in the field of Polish humanities as a research center (while maintaining control of the archive). Given the contemporary situation, it is doubtful that the IPN will in the near future become an outstanding research center on contemporary history, which is in all likelihood the role Łukasz Kaminski envisioned for it. However, this is not simply a consequence of recent political pressure. The profile of the IPN is shaped in part by the fact that many of its scholars are members of the younger generation (born in the 1970s and 1980s). For many observers, the IPN has become a symbol of generational change in Polish historiography. Many of these young historians deeply identify themselves with the mission and educational function of the IPN, and they base their professional ethos and sense of difference on this. According to sociologists, this is also one of the most important factors distinguishing the IPN from conventional academia. 75 If the IPN leadership decides to pursue pure academic study, this would require phasing out the political and symbolic capital, which has been a key component of the Institute’s position in the public sphere and in the professional ethos of its employees.

1 Antoni Dudek, “IPN a współczesna polska historiografia,” in Bez taryfy ulgowej. Dorobek naukowy i edukacyjny Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej 2000–2010 , A. Czyżewski, Sławomir M. Nowinowski, Rafal Stobiecki and J. Żelazko, eds. (Łódź , 2012), 371.
2 Professor Antoni Dudek, a political scientist, a member of the IPN Council, head of the Department of Research, Documentation and Library Collections at the Public Education Office (2000–10), Adviser to the president of the IPN—Janusz Kurtyka (2006–10).
3 Dariusz Stola , “Poland ’s Institute of National Remembrance : A Ministry of Memory?,” in Alexei Miller and Maria Lipman, The Convolutions of Historical Politics , 45–58.
4 Recent publications in the field include: Anna Wolff-Powska, and Piotr Forecki, eds, World War II and Two Occupations ; Druga wojna światowa w pamięci kulturowej w Polsce i w Niemczech. 70 lat później (1945–2015) , Jerzy Kałązny, Amelia Korzeniewska and Bartosz Korzeniewski, eds. (Gdańsk 2016); Anna Wylegała, Przesiedlenia a pamięć .
5 Dudek, “IPN a współczesna polska historiografia,” 371.
6 The IPN employees publish popular science papers primarily in the popular newspaper supplements.
7 The specification covers monographs and source editions published in, inter alia, the recognized series “Relacje i wspomnienia” [Accounts and Memories] and “Dokumenty” [Documents].
8 Furthermore, in various places in Poland more than 193 exhibitions were presented, prepared before 2013; see: Information on the IPN operation 1.1.2013–31.12.2013.
9 Concurrently, the IPN has produced only 37 presentations at international conferences, out of which ten were essays by Patryk Pleskot and Krzysztof Persak from the Central Unit of the IPN in Warsaw ; see: Information on the IPN operation 1.1.2013–31.12.2013,
10 Two of them were authored by employees of the Institute: Mirosław Szumiło, Roman Zambrowski 1909–1977. Studium z dziejów elity komunistycznej w Polsce (Warsaw , 2014); Michał Paziewski, Grudzień 1970 w Szczecinie (Szczecin, 2013).
11 Patryk Pleskot, Kłopotliwa panna “S.” Postawy polityczne Zachodu wobec “Solidarności” na tle stosunków z PRL 1980–1989 (Warsaw , 2013); Wojciech Frazik, Emisariusz Wolnej Polski. Biografia polityczna Wacława Felczaka 1916–1993 (Krakow, 2013); Marek Gałęzowski, Przeciw dwóm zaborcom. Polityczna konspiracja piłsudczykowska w kraju w latach 1939–1947 (Warsaw, 2013).
12 The nominated works included three publications, two of which were source editions.
13 The archive workers account for about 40 percent of all employed persons, i.e., approximately 900 people.
14 See, e.g.: Sebastian Rosenbaum, ed., Górny Śląsk i Górnoślązacy. Wokół problemów regionu i jego mieszkańców w XIX i XX wieku (Katowice and Gliwice, 2014); Piotr Barański, Aleksandra Czajkowska, Agata Fiedotow and Agnieszka Wochna-Tymińska, Kłopoty z seksem w PRL. Rodzenie nie całkiem po ludzku, aborcja, choroby, odmienności (Warsaw , 2012); Maɫgorzata Dąbrowska, ed., Oskar Halecki i jego wizja Europy , vol. 2 (Łódź , 2014).
15 Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość [Remembrance and Justice]; Aparat represji w Polsce Ludowej 1944–1989 [Repressive Apparatus in the People’s Republic of Poland 1944–1989]; Przegląd Archiwalny Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej [Institute of National Remembrance Archival Review].
16 Stola, “Poland ’s Institute of National Remembrance ,” 45.
17 Marta Kurowska-Budzan, Antykomunistyczne podziemie zbrojne na Białostocczyźnie. Analiza współczesnej symbolizacji przeszłości (Krakow, 2009), 168.
18 Stola, “Poland ’s Institute of National Remembrance ,” 47.
19 Kurowska-Budzan, Antykomunistyczne podziemie zbrojne na Białostocczyźnie, 167.
20 Ustawa o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej—Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu, “Dziennik Ustaw” z 2007, nr 63, poz.424, poz.432, nr 83, poz. 561, nr 85, poz. 571, nr 140, poz. 983.
21 Sławomir M. Nowinowski, “Historycy czy architekci politycznej wyobraźni?,” in Bez taryfy ulgowej , 37–38.
22 P. Szustakiewicz, “Zagadnienia proceduralne stosowania art. 33 i 34 ustawy o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej—Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni Przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu,” Zeszyty Naukowe Sądownictwa Administracyjnego , no. 1 (2010): 50.
23 It was stressed that IPN significantly narrowed access to the files in comparison with similar institutions in Germany and the Czech Republic . According to archivists, this was the result of a lack of implementing regulations on the part of the government, which should have defined the mode of access to the files more precisely; see: Pawel Perzyna and Marta Polańska-Bergman, “Archiwum Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej—aspekty prawne funkcjonowania i udostępniania materiałów archiwalnych w latach 2002–2007.” Przegląd Archiwalny Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej , no. 1 (2008): 18.
24 The staff of the Office for the Preservation and Dissemination of Archival Records used to decide arbitrarily about the time and range of records that could be used by historians in their research; see: Sławomir M. Nowinowski, “Historycy czy architekci politycznej wyobraźni?” 39; Dariusz Jarosz, “Wypowiedź w ankiecie dotyczącej archiwaliów IPN —‘Dyskusja wokół tekstu Z. Zblewskiego,’” Kwartalnik Historyczny , no. 2 (2010): 85.
25 A huge shadow over the IPN and its president in the period between 2005 and 2010 was cast by an infamous leak from the Krakow branch of the IPN (President Kurtyka’s mother branch) about alleged collaboration with the secret services of Andrzej Przewoźnik, one of Kurtyka’s rivals for the position of president. These allegations eventually proved unfounded, but Przewoźnik was deprived of the opportunity to apply for the position.
26 They are entitled to access only the materials that concern them, excluding all documents created in connection with the work performed.
27 Perzyna, Polańska-Bergman, “Archiwum Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej,” 27.
28 Known in the period between 1945 and 1949 as the Chief Commission for the Prosecution of German Crimes in Poland .
29 The Chief Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation “is an investigating department of the IPN and simultaneously a specialized part of the public prosecutor’s office of the Republic of Poland . It conducts penal proceedings concerning the Nazi and Communist crimes;” see: , (accessed December 15, 2014).
30 Andrzej Grajewski, “Balast po komunizmie. Instytucjonalne rozliczenie komunizmu w krajach Europy Środkowej—opis struktur oraz okoliczności ich powstania,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość no. 2 (2013): 174.
31 Andrzej Grajewski reports that in the 1990s 1,145 investigations were initiated and 794 were completed; see. Grajewski, “Balast po komunizmie,” 174.
32 , (accessed 15 December 2014).
33 Of the 9,218 completed proceedings, cases against alleged communist criminals amounted to 6,457. Indictments were eventually filed against 391 persons and 128 persons were sentenced; see. Grajewski, 178.
34 “The mission of the Institute has not changed. An interview with dr Łukasz Kamińskim,” Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej , no. 7 (2011): 9.
35 Rafał Stobiecki, Historiografia PRL. Ani dobra, ani mądra, ani piękna … ale skomplikowana. Studia i szkice (Warsaw , 2007), 302.
36 Stobiecki, “Na bakier z metodologią?,” in Bez taryfy ulgowej , 62.
37 Włodzimierz Suleja, “Miejsce Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej w badaniach nad dziejami PRL,” Dzieje Najnowsze , no. 3 (2010): 111.
38 On the dominant currents in Polish historiography in the postwar period, see: Rafaɫ Stobiecki, “Główne narracje o przeszłości Polski po 1945 roku. Próba charakterystyki,” in Historia — dziś. Teoretyczne problemy wiedzy o przeszłości , ed. Ewa Domańska, Tomasz Wiślicz and Rafaɫ Stobiecki, (Krakow, 2014), 67–87.
39 Stobiecki “Główne narracje o przeszłości Polski,” 79.
40 Kurkowska, Antykomunistyczne podziemie zbrojne na Białostocczyźnie, 169.
41 Robert Traba, Przeszłość w teraźniejszości. Polskie spory o historię na początku XXI wieku (Poznań, 2009), 13.
42 Traba, Przeszłość w teraźniejszości , 19–20.
43 Kurkowska, Antykomunistyczne podziemie zbrojne na Białostocczyźnie , 169,
44 Dariusz Jarosz situates his research in opposition to both the totalitarian paradigm and the moral obligation of the historiographer. He wrote: “I do not undertake a social mission and I am far from treating history as a tool of social and historical justice , as some of my colleagues do (taking some of their journalistic writing seriously). History is my profession.” See: Dariusz Jarosz, “Historiografia dziejów społecznych Polski w XX wieku po 1989 r.: perspektywy i możliwości badawcze, metodologia,” in Spojrzenie w przeszłość. Materiały pokonferencyjne — konferencja Muzeum Historii Polski , Jadwisin, 25–26 października 2007 , vol. 2 (Warsaw , 2009), 219.
45 Dariusz Jarosz, Polacy a stalinizm 1948–1956 (Warsaw , 2000), 227.
46 Błażej Brzostek, and Marcin Zaremba, “Polska 1956–1976: w poszukiwaniu paradygmatu,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość , no. 2 (2006): 25–26.
47 Pavel Kolar, “From Totalitarian History to the History of Society. The Politics of Everyday Life History in the Post-Socialist Context” (manuscript).
48 Ustawa o Instytucie Pamięci Narodowej—Komisji Ścigania Zbrodni przeciwko Narodowi Polskiemu.
49 See, e.g., the example of successful synthesis: Rafał Wnuk, Sławomir Poleszak, Agnieszka Jaczyńska and Magdalena Śladecka, eds, Atlas polskiego podziemia niepodległościowego, 1944–1956 , (Warsaw and Lublin, 2007); the most typical products are biographical dictionaries, e.g.: Konspiracja i opór społeczny. Słownik biograficzny , vol. I–IV (Warsaw, 2002–2010); the lists of people who were executed, e.g., Skazani na karę śmierci przez Wojskowe Sądy Rejonowe w Bydgoszczy, Gdańsku i Koszalinie,1946–1956 (Gdańsk, 2009); the history of particular troops, e.g., Tomasz Balbus, O Polskę Wolną i Niezawisłą, 1945–1948.WiN w południowo- zachodniej Polsce. Geneza, struktury, działalność, likwidacja, represje (Krakow and Wrocław, 2004); Ksawery Jasiak, Działalność partyzancka Konspiracyjnego Wojska Polskiego. Z dziejów II Konspiracji w środkowej Polsce w latach 1945–1955 (Wieluń–Opole, 2008).
50 E.g., biographical dictionary: Aparat bezpieczeństwa w Polsce. Kadra kierownicza, vols. I–III (Warsaw , 2005–2008); local sources, e.g. Twarze białostockiej bezpieki. Obsada stanowisk kierowniczych Urzędu Bezpieczeństwa i Służby Bezpieczeństwa w Białymstoku. Informator personalny , ed. Piotr Łapiński (Bialystok, 2007); Krzysztof Szwagrzyk, Prawnicy czasów bezprawia. Sędziowie i prokuratorzy wojskowi w Polsce 1944–1956 (Krakow and Wrocław, 2005).
51 See, e.g. Marcin Zaremba, Wielka trwoga. Polska lat 1944–1947. Ludowa reakcja na kryzys (Krakow, 2012).
52 Dobrochna Kałwa, “Na peryferiach peryferii? Codzienność PRL w polskiej historiografii—przegląd badań,” Rocznik Antropologii Historii , no. 2 (2012), z.1: 179.
53 Kałwa, “Na peryferiach peryferii?, 176, 193.
54 Traba, Przeszłość w teraźniejszości , 12.
55 Stobiecki, “Na bakier z metodologią?”
56 Tomasz Wiślicz, “Historiografia polska 1989–2009. Bardzo subiektywne podsumowanie,” Przegląd Humanistyczny , no. 5/6 (2010): 41.
57 Wiślicz, Historiografia polska 1989–2009 , 42.
58 Dariusz Jarosz, “Głos w dyskusji wokół tekstu Zdzisława Zblewskiego Kilka uwag o wykorzystaniu zbiorów archiwalnych IPN w badaniach nad najnowszymi dziejami Polski,” Kwartalnik Historyczny , no. 2 (2010): 84.
59 “The mission of the Institute has not changed,” 7–9.
60 “The mission of the Institute has not changed,” 9.
61 Od kontrkultury do New Age. Wybrane zjawiska społeczno-kulturowe schyłku PRL i ich korzenie , ed. Ewa Chabros (Wrocław, 2014).
62 Kobiety “na zakręcie” 1933–1989 , ed. Ewa Chabros, and Agnieszka Klarman, (Wrocław, 2014); Płeć buntu. Kobiety w oporze społecznym w Polsce w latach 1944–1989 na tle porównawczym , ed. Natalia Jarska, and Jan Olaszek, (Warsaw , 2014).
63 W stronę antropologii “bezpieki.” Nieklasyczna refleksja nad aparatem bezpieczeństwa w Polsce Ludowej , ed. Jarosław Syrnyk, Agnieszka Klarman, Mariusz Mazur and Eugeniusz Kłosek (Wrocław, 2014).
64 Relacje wojenne ziemian — perspektywa dwóch pokoleń , ed. Marcin Chorązki (Krakow, 2013).
65 Marcin Zaremba, Marzenia i rzeczywistość czyli o “Pamięci i Sprawiedliwości,” in Bez taryfy ulgowej , 274, 281.
66 “Wybrane problemy metodologii i metodyki badań nad najnowszą historią Polski. Dyskusja prowadzona przez Z. Zblewskiego, z udziałem dr. hab. M. Mazura, F. Musiała, A. Nowaka i K. Zamorskiego,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość , no. 2 (2012): 11–27.
67 Piotr Witek, “Historyk wobec metodologii,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość , no. 2 (2012): 79–102.
68 Sebastian Piątkowski, “Codzienność początków okupacji niemieckiej w Generalnym Gubernatorskie w świetle ogłoszeń drobnych Gońca Krakowskiego (10.1939–06.1940)”; Konrad Słowiński, “Wybrane problemy życia codziennego Polaków na podstawie listów opublikowanych na łamach Przyjaciółki ,” Konrad Rokicki, “Listy i skargi na działalność MSW w latach 60, 70 i 80 XX wieku w analizach Biura Skarg i Listów MSW,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość , no. 1 (2013).
69 See: Michał Rosenberg, “Dziwne przypadki, “Dziadów” Dejmka,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość , no. 1 (2013).
70 See: Dariusz Burczyk, “Bojownicy ludu z Nowego Portu,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość , no. 1 (2013).
71 Arkadiusz Małyszka, “Reakcje społeczne mieszkańców województwa poznańskiego na podwyżki cen w 1963 roku,” Pamięć i Sprawiedliwość , no. 1 (2012).
72 Ibid ., 74.
73 “Wokół Jedwabnego”, t. 1 i 2, red. Kristina Persak, Pawel Machcewicz, Warszawa Instytut Pamięci Narodowej 2002. The massacre in Jedwabne took place on July 10, 1941, and resulted in the deaths of 340 Polish Jews . The IPN confirmed in 2003 that the pogrom was committed by the Polish neighbours of the victims .
75 Agnieszka Kolasa-Nowak, Instytut Pamięci Narodowej jako czynnik zmiany w uprawianiu historii najnowszej Wystąpienie podczas konferencji: Historiografia dziejów najnowszych w Poslce po 1989 roku. Problemy. Wyzwania. Dylematy,” 20–22 listopada 2013, Lublin (video) , (accessed November 20, 2014).
Chapter 3
Ieva Zake
While East Central European societies tend to focus on celebrating their liberation from communist regimes, they also continue to grapple with the memory and history of their own contributions to them. This process of remembrance is shaped by many factors, such as state-sponsored interpretations of history, competing collective memories of different groups, the influences of political and intellectual elites, the unique paths that each society took from totalitarianism to democracy and the lustration systems that each society designed in the postcommunist period. Brought together in various combinations, these elements contribute to create each society’s memory of collaborationism, that is, a particular type of discursive and mnemonic phenomenon in which a society remembers (or refuses to remember) its own role in the past regime. In this chapter, I analyze the memory of collaborationism in Latvia. I suggest that this type of memory should not necessarily be understood as a constitutive part of history or collective memory. While history is a dominant historical narrative that is normally promoted by the state, collective memory is a product of social interactions, as it provides a group with a shared set of meanings about the past. Both history and collective memory are selective in how they do or do not retell the facts, but history’s purpose largely is to legitimize existing institutions and practices, while collective memory is a source of identity. 1 The memory of collaborationism evolves at the intersection of history and collective memory and combines elements of each. It is a specific type of remembrance that represents a certain society’s view on complicity in maintaining and perpetuating a past totalitarian regime. In this type of memory, collaboration is understood broadly and not always consistently, ranging from one’s explicit participation in oppressive political structures to everyday contributions to the preservation and reproduction of the system.
Institutionally, remembrance of totalitarian regimes in Latvia is organized around two state structures: the Center for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism and the Commission of the Historians of Latvia. The Center for the Documentation of the Consequences of Totalitarianism played, and continues to play, a key role in the implementation of lustration laws in Latvia by serving as a depository of the available, although highly limited, information left over by the retreating Soviet KGB. Since Latvia did not adopt a centralized lustration law, norms and procedures of transitional justice were incorporated into at least 14 different kinds of legal acts. They essentially regulate the access of former Soviet and Nazi collaborators to certain restricted positions and elected posts. When an individual either applies for a restricted job or enters an election to a public office as a candidate, his or her name is checked against secret documentation stored at the Center, which then determines whether this individual could be considered to have been a collaborator. 2 The task of historical remembrance in Latvia fell to the Commission of the Historians of Latvia, which was created by a decree of the Cabinet of Ministers in 1999. The Commission’s main duty is to coordinate, support, and deepen historical research on the crimes against humanity of the totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century in Latvia. The Commission divided its work between the Stalinist period and the Nazi period, with particular emphasis on research of the Holocaust. The Commission produced series of volumes of varied and diverse research that did not provide any joint conclusions or clearly structured sets of reports. After substantial funding cuts in 2008, the Commission has maintained its control over research on totalitarian regimes in Latvia. However, it has failed to offer varied perspectives on twentieth-century history or to generate genuine conversation among them. 3
Keeping in mind this institutional context, the present chapter looks at how postcommunist Latvia’s society—concretely, its political and cultural elite—continues to deal with the conflict between liberation from totalitarianism and awareness of various forms of collaborationism. Analyzing the parameters of their memory of collaboration, I propose that culturally and politically influential groups have been developing a conception of Latvians as “the exempt nation,” in other words, a nation that was not complicit in totalitarianism. It enables these groups to find excuses for collaborationism or to throw into doubt the notion that there was any collaboration at all, and thereby define themselves as victims, never perpetrators, of oppression. I discuss the elements of this memory of exemption and analyze its manifestations. My analysis does not rely on extensive survey data; rather, I am presenting here an exploratory study that seeks to identify general tendencies or social and cultural “moods” that make themselves apparent in governmental decisions, intellectual conversations and opinions expressed in the public discourse.
Elements of Collective Memory of Collaborationism
In each posttotalitarian society, the specific cultural, political and social elements of the prevailing conception of collaborationism are different and contextual. The factors described below have been the most influential contributors to the postcommunist memory of collaborationism in East Central European nations.
(1) Attitudes toward the past regime. It is hardly surprising that a society’s ability to engage with collaborationism is affected by its overall attitude toward the past regime. Memory of collaboration depends on whether the regime is perceived as an oppressive imposition from outside, as having grown out of the historical context of a country itself, or as something that can be integrated into the state-building efforts of the current regime. This can also have ethnic overtones by which one nation’s collaboration will be minimized or denied if totalitarianism can be explained as the product of a different nation or ethnicity. For example, Russia and Belorussia have chosen a path whereby the Soviet past is integrated into contemporary nation-building efforts: that is, the past is reinterpreted in a positive light to bolster the national identity of current statehood. In Belorussia, the victory of the USSR over Nazi Germany is presented as a heroic accomplishment of the Belorussian nation, while other aspects of the Soviet regime have been essentially eliminated from public discussion. 4 This has allowed Belorussian society and its leadership to develop a selective attitude towards its complicity with the totalitarian regime—some of it is recognized, while the rest forgotten. In Russia, the Soviet past has been consistently reinterpreted over the last decade as a period of national glory, and so, “Soviet is completely identified with Russian, which contributes to establishing of identity more in great-power, rather than national sense.”

  • Accueil Accueil
  • Univers Univers
  • Ebooks Ebooks
  • Livres audio Livres audio
  • Presse Presse
  • BD BD
  • Documents Documents