Memory of dictatorships and historical consciousness in Eastern
and Southern Europe: A comparison of comparative approaches
Stefan Troebst (University of Leipzig, ‘Memory of dictatorships and historical consciousness in Eastern and Southern Europe: A comparison of comparative approaches’) analyses relations between system transformations and memory of authoritarian regimes in countries where recollections of nondemocratic systems constitutes personal experiences of the majority of the population: Central and Eastern European countries and the states of the southern part of the continent (i.e. Greece, Portugal and Spain), where the transition from dictatorships to democracy took place in the nineteen–seventies. Troebst describes in length research on these themes, encompassing works of such authors as: Juan J. Linz and Alfred Stepan, Wolfgang Merkel, Carsten Goehrke, Joakim Ekman, Jonas Linde, and his own endeavours. In conclusion Troebst observes that there are various forms of remembering authoritarian regimes and strategies of levelling out the bygones, which depend on the specificity of individual cultures. Nevertheless, in all of these countries the influence of the authoritarian experience and its overcoming to a large extent formed the historical memory of the people. Moreover, in the public discourse there one can discern extreme attitudes, which can be described as “obsession with history” and “lack of memory”; sometimes these attitudes pass directly to the other, like in Spain after the discovery of mass graves of the victims of the Franco regime.