Respect for Historical Memory in Europe

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The European Parliament joint motion for a resolution – approved by a large majority on 19 September – on ‘the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe’, is a wrongheaded political and cultural act and should be vigorously rejected.

In the first place, it has to be said that it is not the province of an institutional or political organism to assert a specific reconstruction of history by majority decision. A use of history that wishes to impose a revisionist vision of the principal events of the last century to turn them into weapons in the current political battles should have no place in a true democracy.

In the second place, the statements about the history of the twentieth century in the resolution contain unacceptable errors and unilateral distortions and visions. It asserts that the pact between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the 23 August 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, ‘paved the way to the outbreak of the Second World War’. This omits any reference to the enabling behaviour of the liberal democracies in the face of Nazi expansionism, which dates at least from the invasion of Ethiopia (1935) and the Spanish Civil War triggered in support of General Franco’s extreme right coup (1936) and continued with the Anschluss of Austria to Germany on 12 March 1938, the appeasement at Munich (1938) and the consequent dismembering of Czechoslovakia not only by Germany but also by Poland and Hungary.

Moreover, the resolution does not mention the enormous contribution to the victory over Nazism, decisive for the very fate of Europe and of humanity, made both by the Soviet Union (with more than 20 million dead) and by those who, everywhere in Europe and the world, often guided by the ideals and symbols of the various currents of the international communist movement, fought Hitler’s troops and those allied to him. It ‘forgets’ Altiero Spinelli, Italian Communist and political prisoner between 1927 and 1943 and co-author of the Manifesto of Ventotene who is widely known as one of the founding fathers of the European integration and therefore rightly became name giver to one of the buildings of the European Parliament.

It manages to mention Auschwitz without saying that it was the Soviet army that liberated it and the prisoners destined for extermination. Or it deliberately forgets that in many countries (among them France and Italy but not only) the communists were the principal component of the Resistance to Nazism/fascism, making a major contribution to its defeat and the rebirth in those countries of a constitutional democracy that reaffirmed political, trade-union, cultural, and religious freedoms. Not to mention the decisive support that communist states and communist ideals gave to the liberation of entire peoples from colonial oppression and sometimes slavery.

Remembering these facts, which the resolution culpably omits, does not mean ignoring and being silent about the disgraceful aspects of what is generally called ‘Stalinism’, about the errors and horrors that also occurred in that camp. But these cannot erase a fundamental distinction: While Nazism/fascism, in giving birth to a ruthless dictatorship and in cancelling every space of democracy, liberty, and even humanity, in persecuting, including through proclaimed and planned extermination, religious, ethnic, cultural, and sexual minorities, was merely attempting to put into practice its openly proclaimed programmes, the communist regimes before and after the war, when they defiled themselves through grave and unacceptable violations of democracy and liberty, were by contrast betraying their own ideals and values and promises they had made. All of which needs to generate questions, reflections, and investigations but – taken together with the contribution made by activists and by the USSR to the defeat of Nazism – in no way permits the equating of Nazism and communism at the heart of this resolution of the European Parliament nor the identification, as occurs several times in the motion, of communism and Stalinism in view of the great variety of currents of thought and political experience to which the former gave birth.

These falsifications and omissions cannot be made the basis of a ‘shared memory’, still less become the basis of a common history syllabus in schools, as the motion recommends. It cannot become the platform for a ‘European day of remembrance for the victims of totalitarian regimes’ asked for by the motion. Nor can it provide the motivation for removing ‘commemorative monuments and places (parks, squares, streets, etc.), which, with the excuse of a struggle against an indistinct totalitarianism, is in reality an invitation to erase the clear and transparent pages of the history of those who contributed, through their own sacrifice, to defeating Nazism and fascism.

We note that the European Parliament’s motion necessarily contains unavoidable gestures at balancing its main thrust by affirming the wish to struggle against the ‘reversion to fascism, racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance’. But these justified calls to struggle against racism and fascism cannot be based on a distorted and even false use of history or on the declared intention to sever the roots of a fundamental component of anti-fascism, that is, the communist component. The peoples of Europe must not permit this.

Last nameNameInstitutionCountry
BaierWalterpolitical coordinator transform! europeAT
EdlingerFritz AT
GarschaWinfriedDocumentation Centre of Austrian Resistance (DÖW) 
MugrauerManfredAlfred Klahr SocietyAT
ArtinianArto member of the Institute for Critical Theories of Supermodernity; Borough of Manhattan Community College – City University of New YorkBG / USA
DeyanovDeyanInstitute for Critical Theories of Supermodernity, SofiaBG
DeyanovaLilianaSofia University St. Kliment OhridskiBG
TsonevaJanaCentre for Collective Intervention, SofiaBG
ArsenijevićDamirUniversity of TuzlaBiH
GrigorovEmilLaval Universtiy QuebecCA
BiračDimitrije   CRO
Čakardić Ankica University of ZagrebCRO
ĐuraškovićStevoUniversity of ZagrebCRO
HorvatinčićSanjaUniversity of ZagrebCRO
HromadžićHajrudin University of RijekaCRO
JovićDejanUniversity of Zagreb, former Croatian president advisorCRO
KapovićMateUniversity of ZagrebCRO
KlasićHrvoje University of ZagrebCRO
MikulićBorislav University of ZagrebCRO
PeovićKatarinaUniversity of RijekaCRO
HudečekJiříCharles University of PragueCZ
KellerJanformer MEP SD; University of OstravaCZ
Švihlíková Ilona  CZ
BidetJacqueshistorian; University of Paris-NanterreFR
De CockLaurencehistorianFR
LarrèreMathildehistorian; University of Parix XIIIFR
LaurentPierresenior secretary-general of the French Communist Party (PCF)FR
Le HyaricPatrickchairman of the board and director of L’HumanitéFR
MartelliRogerhistorian and director of RegardsFR
WurtzFrancissenior chairman of the group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)FR
BudenBoris Bauhaus University, WeimarGER
DahnDaniela Ger
DemirovićAlexUniversity of FrankfurtGER
DeppeFrankUniversity of MarburgGER
DörreKlausUniversity of JenaGER
ErnstCorneliaMEP, Party of the European LeftGER
GysiGregorPresident of the Party of the European LeftGER
KesslerMarioUniversity of PotsdamGER
RillingRainerUniversity of MarburgGER
WolfFrieder OttoFree University of BerlinGER
AthanasiouAthinaPanteion University of AthensGR
BenvenisteRikaUniversity of ThessalyGR
DouzinasCostasBirkbeck UniversityGR / UK
GolemisHaris GR
KarpozilosKostisdirector Contemporary Social History Archives (ASKI)GR
SpourdalakisMichalisdean School of Economics & Politics, National and Kapodistrian University of AthensGR
VaiouDinaNational Technical University of Athens GR
Krausz TamásEötvös Loránd University BudapestHU
ArtnerAnnamariaAcademy of SciencesHU
TamásGáspár MiklósCentral European University Budapest/ViennaHU / AT
AcerboMauriziosecretary Partito della Rifondazione ComunistaIT
AbramoCinziaUniversity of PerugiaIT
AttardiGiuseppeUniversity of PisaIT
AttardoEldaUniversity of MilanoIT
Bertinotti Fausto former president of the Italian parliamentIT
Boscaino Marina  IT
CarellaDonata MariaUniversity of RomeIT
Castellina Luciana journalist and former MPIT
Ciofi Paolo honoary president of Futura Umanitá. Associazione per la Storia e la Memoria of the Italian Communist Party (PCI)IT
CollottiEnzo historianIT
Conti Davide historianIT
CutrufelliRosa MariaauthorIT
Di LuzioFlaviaUniversity of BolognaIT
Di QuartoFrancescoUniversity of PalermoIT
FalàLeilaUniversity of BolognaIT
Favilli Paolo  IT
Ferrara Gianni former MPIT
Ferrero Paolo vice president of Sinistra EuropeaIT
Forenza Eleonora former MEPIT
Fratoianni Nicola Sinistra ItalianaIT
GagliassoElenaUniversity of RomeIT
Gianni Alfonso former MPIT
LaveniaVincenzoUniversity of BolognaIT
LeviGiovanniUniversity of VeneziaIT
LicausiLucianoUniversity of SienaIT
LiguoriGuido University of Calabria, president of the International Gramsci SocietyIT
MarianiGiorgioUniversity of RomeIT
Maselli Citto film directorIT
Melandri Lea  IT
Menapace Lidia former Senator and member of the Italian resistanceIT
MencarelliFabioUniversity of PisaIT
MicheliMaria RitaUniversity of PerugiaIT
MincerAleksander (Olek)University of GenovaIT
Modonesi Massimo Universidad Nacional Autónoma de MexicoIT
MordentiRaulUniversity of RomeIT
MoreaRobertoboard member of transform! europeIT
Musacchio Roberto former GUE/NGL MEPIT
Napoletano Pasqualina former GUE/NGL MEPIT
NatoliClaudioUniversity of CagliariIT
OkićTijana University of PisaIT
Petrella Riccardo economist and political scientistIT
Pomeranzi Bianca  IT
PrevitaliFrancoUniversity of MilanoIT
PunzoLuigiUniversity of CassinoIT
Quercioli MincerLauraUniversity of GenovaIT
Rinaldi Rosa national secretary Partito della Rifondazione ComunistaIT
RioloClaudioUniversity of PalermoIT
Rodano Giulia former regional councilor IT
RomitelliValerioUniversity of BolognaIT
RuggieriFrancaUniversity of Rome IIIIT
RuiMarinaUniversity of GeneveIT
SampaoloGiovanniUniversity of RomeIT
SolianiRiccardoUniversity of GeneveIT
SpagnoloLuigiUniversity of SienaIT
SpinnlerHansUniversity of MilanoIT
SuvinDarko McGill University IT
Tortorella Aldo honorary president Associazione per il Rinnovamento della SinistraIT
ViolanteFrancescoUniversity of FoggiaIT
VitielloOndinaUniversity of PadovaIT
Voza PasqualeUniversity Aldo Moro, BariIT
ZuninoFrancoAssociazione Ricreativa Culturale Italiana (Arci), Associazione Nazionale di Amicizia Italia-CubaIT
KolozovaKaterinaInstitute for Social Sciences and Humanities, SkopjeNMK
CardinaMiguel PT
de Sousa SantosBoaventuraUniversity of CoimbraPT
Flunser PimentelIrene PT
LoffManuelInstitute of Contemporary History, University NOVA LisbonPT
BreznikMajaUniversity of Ljubljana and Peace InstituteSLO
KirnGalUniversity of DresdenSLO/GER
KržanMarkoInstitute for Workers’ StudiesSLO
MesecLukaparty coordinator LevicaSLO
MočnikRastkoUniversity of LjubljanaSLO
PiškurBojanaModern Galery, LjubljanaSLO
Tomić Violetaparty coordinator LevicaSLO
VrečkoAstaUniversity of LjubljanaSLO
Alonso MonteroXesúsformer president of the Royal Galician Academy, University of SantiagoESP
Andrade BlancoJuanUniversidad de Extremadura (Extremadura University)ESP
AragónMarianoAssociació Catalana D’Investigacions Marxistes ESP
Barrio Alonso ÁngelesProfessor of Contemporary History, University of CantabriaESP
Bueno LluchManuelTrabajador Del Archivo Histórico De Ccoo De Andalucía, Excoordinador Sección De Historia FimESP
Duarte MontserratÁngelProfessor of Contemporary History, University of CórdobaESP
Erice SebaresFranciscoProfessor of Contemporary History, University of OviedoESP
Ferrer GonzálezCristianProfesor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of BarcelonaESP
Gallego MargaleffFerranProfessor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of BarcelonaESP
Gálvez BiescaSergioArchivero, Doctor En Historia, Madrid ESP
Ginard I FeronDavidProfesor Titular De Historia Contemporánea, Universitat de les Illes BalearesESP
Gómez AlénJoséCatedrático Jubilado De Historia De Enseñanza MediaESP
Hernández SánchezFernandoProfesor De Historia Contemporánea, Universidad Autónoma de MadridESP
Hernández SandoicaElenaProfessor of Contemporary History, Complutense University of MadridESP
Hinojosa DuránJoséProfesor De Historia De Enseñanza Media, Doctor En Historia, ExtremaduraESP
López LópezPedroProfesor De Historia Contemporánea, Complutense University of MadridESP
Mainer BaquéJuanCatedrático Jubilado, Coordinador De La Federación IcariaESP
MolineroCarmeProfessor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of BarcelonaESP
Núñez Díaz-BalartMirtaProfessor of History of Social Communication, Complutense University of MadridESP
Puig ValverdúGuillemProfesor De Historia Contemporánea, Universitat Rovira i VirgiliESP
Martín RamosJosep Lluís Professor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of BarcelonaESP
Robledo Hernández RicardoProfessor of Contemporary History, University of Salamanca/ Pompeu Fabra UniversityESP
Santidrián AriasVíctorProfesor De Historia De Enseñanza Media, Doctor En Historia, GaliciaESP
Sanz HoyaJuliánProfessor of Contemporary History, University of ValenciaESP
SazIsmaelProfessor of Contemporary History, University of ValenciaESP
Suárez CortinaManuelProfessor of Contemporary History, University of CantabriaESP
Vadillo MuñozJuliánProfesor De Historia Contemporánea, Universidad Carlos IIIESP
Vega SombríaSantiagoProfesor De Historia Contemporánea, Complutense Universidad of MadridESP
Viñas MartínÁngel Catedrático Jubilado De Economía Aplicada Y De Historia Contemporánea, Complutense Universidad de MadridESP
Ysàs Solanes PereProfessor of Contemporary History, Autonomous University of BarcelonaESP
BakićJovo University of BelgradeSRB
BalunovićFilipfaculty for Media and Communication, University of BelgradeSRB
KuljićTodor SRB
Manojlović PintarOlgahistorian at the Institute for Recent History of Serbia, president of the Reconstruction Women’s Fund Managing BoardSRB
MatkovićAleksandarRegional Science Center, Novi Sad and University of BelgradeSRB
PantićRadefaculty of Media and Communication, Singidunum University, BelgradeSRB
SamardžićMiroslavZrenjanin Social ForumSRB
ŠtiksIgorfaculty for Media and Communication, BelgradSRB
FraserNancyNew School NYCUSA
Miguel Ángeldel Arco BlancoProfesor Titular de Historia Contemporánea, Universidad de GranadaESP
Matilde EiroaSan FranciscoProfesor Titular de Historia Contemporánea, Universidad Carlos III de MadridESP
FranciscoSánchez PérezProfesor Titular de Historia Contemporánea, Universidad Carlos III de MadridESP
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