Ludmila Cojocaru: Keeping memory of Stalinist crimes necessitates effort from state and society


In Moldova, the crimes of totalitarianism should be taught at school and an Institute for studying totalitarianism should be founded. There should also be opened a modern museum of victims of deportations and Stalinist horrors, doctor of history Ludmila Cojocaru stated in a public debate hosted by IPN. According to her, it is very important for the young generation to keep alive the memory of the victims of the Stalinist repression and deportations so as not to allow such atrocities to repeat again.

The largest wave of Stalinist deportations in Bessarabia was staged during July 6-9, 1949. Ludmila Cojocaru said the victims of Stalinism were subject to inhuman treatment until 1953, when Joseph Stalin died. Together with the dictator’s death, the deported persons started to hope to return home.

“The de-Stalinization process began shortly after the tyrant’s death. I here refer to the communities of deportees and to those who were in forced labor camps, who reacted with hope to the tyrant’s death. The de-Stalinization process was slow. The 20th Congress, through Khrushchev’s historic speech, was the turning point. Eyewitnesses and the documents of that time say that when that public speech was being read, fear could be seen even in Khrushchev’s eyes. In 1956, in three years of the tyrant’s death, such things were unbelievable and it was hard to utter them officially. After the condemnation of the cult of personality, a part of the deportees managed to return home. Not everyone was allowed to return. Those who promised they will not claim their property and farm back were allowed to return and were suggested to stop not at the place of birth. The presence of people labeled “enemies of the people” was dangerous for the power as these could destabilize the local atmosphere,” stated the university lecturer.

She noted that the realities here were more than painful. The returned deportees use the expression “Siberia from home” as they had to experience the second stage. Even if they managed to stay close to the village, they were taken to the outskirts where there were waste dumps and where there were no wells. The state policies and ideology further kept those people on the outskirts of society, without ensuring their rehabilitation, which meant recognition as victims. The homes of former deportees were often turned into schools and hospitals and if the persons claimed them from the state, they risked being treated once again as “enemies of the people”.

As the head of the Museum of Victims of Deportations and Political Representation, which is a branch of the National Museum of History, Ludmila Cojocaru said that Moldova needs a modern museum of the victims of totalitarianism, while the horrors of Stalinism should be taught at school.

“In the Republic of Moldova, we need an Institute for studying totalitarianism. We need transparent archives and achieves’ openness to researchers. Society in the Republic of Moldova needs a modern museum of victims of deportations, which would have its own building and would ensure connection between generations. Now the museum is housed by the National Museum of History of Moldova and is waiting for funds from the administrative bodies to move to a new building. There is an initiative to introduce the course “Crimes of Communism” in the school curriculum. This course is extremely important for disseminating historical knowledge and maintaining a culture of memory so that the connection between generations is kept,” stated Ludmila Cojocaru.

The public debate titled “Stalinization and de-Stalinization of Moldovan society” was the 15th installment of IPN’s project “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.