How should we view the staging of historical memory?

Anniversaries come and go, but now and then some are elevated to a specific interest, and play the role of a crucial date. This year, 2015, makes the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. In May the Russian authorities organized a huge parade on Red Square in Moscow. Then, for the 3rd of September, the Chinese ruling party have planned something similar on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. In both cases, some foreign governments faced the quandary of whether or not they should attend and participate.

The reason for this is not some small historical squabble over this or that detail, but rather the value of these commemorations within the current paradigm. In practice, history is not what has been, but rather what we need it to be today.

So what attitude should governments hold towards the staging of historical memory?

  1. Justas Paleckis 1 day ago

    The governments should interfere as little as possible in the historical memory and refrain from organizing large scale parades. But I think it will be contrariwise. Historical memory, history policy are a growing part of the modern expansion of so-called ‘hybrid war’.

    In the European Parliament, especially during the period between 2004 – 2009, after the “big enlargement”, history policy intensified. A lot of controversy was caused through the evaluation of the recent history of Eastern Europe. The European People’s Party, combined with liberals in the EP and led by the politicians from the new EU countries, tried to entrench the idea that Nazism (fascism) is equivalent to communism. The majority of socialists opposed it: there were many similarities between Nazism and Stalinism, although there were also differences. As well, the Stalinist USSR was quite different from the times of Gorbachev’s USSR, even though both were communist.

    Historical memory should be left to historians. Nonetheless, the question remains: are there a lot of honest historians searching for that elusive truth? Let us hope there are. But, on the other hand, perhaps there are more historians ready to serve those who are in power, and to execute their government’s orders.

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  2. Alexei Voskressenski 1 day ago

    I think that this wave of historical commemorations cannot go on forever, I believe personally that it has been exploited already a little too much. It is clear that we all have much more acute problems that need to be resolved. Anniversaries can play a crucial role in stabilizing contemporary life by anchoring it to the important past or to important past connotations. However, there is a feeling that the reconstructed and socially engineered past has started to substitute current problems.

    The past and its remembrance can heal, but can also divide. We need to remember the past in order to have lessons for today and the future, so as to make today’s life as well as the future better. If this does not happen, then the past has exhausted its role to play.

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