Florin Abraham: Historical memory cannot be built without state support

A democratic historical memory cannot be built without the support of the authorities of the state. The historical memory plays an essential role in the process of building or rebuilding the nation, university lecturer Florin Abraham, doctor habilitate of history, director of the National Institute for the Study of Totalitarian of the Romanian Academy, stated in a public debate entitled “Stalinization and de-Stalinization of Moldovan society”, which was hosted by IPN.

“The historical memory is evidently selective and is different from the historical truth, as it is built by historians, and it evidently operates through simplification and essentialization. We can identify the historical memory by different myths and mythologies,” explained Florin Abraham.

The historian noted that democracy cannot be functional through amnesia as a society, a stable democratic path cannot exist if people’s minds are dominated by phantasms of the past, while their way of interaction with the others is typical not of a liberal democracy, but of an authoritarian society in which society often functions according to the principle of blind obedience, not of participation. The democratization of society should be currently an important objective for the Republic of Moldova, even more important than the fight against corruption.

“The community of historians in Chisinau is admirable. Over the last decades, it has made extraordinary efforts to reveal the past of Bessarabia. Given the real situation of the professional community, I would say that it is the government’s turn to become involved much more seriously in the financing of historical research, to re-strengthen the role of the Institute of History. The role of the government can be to only provide public support for the own historical memory of the Bessarabian community or there will surely be found other priorities, but the historians must be supported,” stated Florin Abraham.

As to the tie between the historical memory and nostalgia for Stalinism, the director of the National Institute for the Study of Totalitarian of the Romanian Academy said things must be regarded in a nuanced way. “A form of nostalgia for the Communist regimes appeared almost immediately after the cold war ended and was essentially determined by the problems, the difficulties of transition and then the population looked for the “glorious” period in Communism. The evidence of humiliation was ignored and the stability of jobs and the apparently low crime rate were taken as the most important elements. Aspects regarding the victims had been long avoided, denied or even minimized,” he noted.

The historian also said that this is a global phenomenon, but in Russia things are much more difficult as profound de-Stalinization actually didn’t take place in society. In many states, primarily those that are now part of NATO and the EU, things were made clear, including at state level, by very clear positions of denial or conviction of crimes. This thing didn’t happen in the Russian space, despite particular intentions. The absence of such measures explain what happened, namely the appearance of forms of promoting the personality cult of Stalin, which becomes a kind of personage, which is “it is cool having Stalin on T-shirt or other pieces of clothing”.

The public debate titled “Stalinization and de-Stalinization of Moldovan society” was staged by IPN News Agency as part of the project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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