Neighboring Ukraine fights against the aggressor, the Russian Federation, for its independence, freedom, democracy, for its history, language and culture, for better living standards than in the aggressor state, for human rights and the right to choose the friends and keep the non-friends far away. All these major goals or values can be expressed in a much more concise form: Ukraine fights for the right to choose itself the civilizational development model. Moreover, the Ukrainians now fight for the rights of the Moldovans to choose their civilizational development model. It is not hard to imagine what can happen if Ukraine gives up. The citizens of the Republic of Moldova already went through several civilizational dramas or even shocks of such a kind, when the aggressors attacked them without asking them if they want or not to change not only the residence status and the IDs, but also the existence civilizational model. The Moldovans experienced a double civilizational shock in 1940-1941. The experts invited to IPN’s public debate “The Bessarabians’ civilizational drama of 1940-1941” discussed to what extent the lessons of the past offer indications and reference points for choosing the civilizational development model now and in the future: the Western one or the Eastern one.
Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of IPN’s project, said that a civilizational model means a model that reveals the general ties within a historical process, the essence and methods of interaction of different social, national entities. “Civilization represents the unity of the historical process and all the material, technical and spiritual relations of mankind in this process. The stage of historical process is usually localized in space and time, being associated with the reaching of a particular development model, the stage of social self-regulation and self-reproduction, with relative independence from nature. So, it goes to development,” stated the expert.
As to the fact that the states annex territories and start wars, Igor Boțan said biological and sociological studies show the living beings, including the humans, are predisposed to aggression. “In fact, aggression is a reaction to fear, to a threat or an expression of fury. There is evidence that this forms part of the human nature, but the war as a continuation of the policy by other means is something different. It is not an automated reaction caused by fear, fury, etc. The war necessitates organization, a particular level of cohesion and primarily a division between “ours” and “theirs”,” he explained.
According to the expert, the war is a social phenomenon that, unlike violence, can be considered a part of the humans’ biological program. The war is possible only with very high social cohesion. Without high social cohesion, the war is impossible.
“According to international humanitarian right, when a territory is occupied and is controlled by an occupying power, the occupant is obliged to restore and maintain public order and security in the occupied territory to the widest extent possible. According to the fourth Geneva Convention, the occupying power also needs to respect the basic rights of the persons from the occupied territory, including of the refugees and non-citizens,” stated Igor Boțan.
Doctor habilitate of history Nicolae Enciu, senior scientific researcher of the Institute of History of the Moldova State University, said that back in 1943, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin noted that in the case of World War II, the situation was different from the other wars namely because the army of the state that entered a territory had the right to impose the organization model, social structure and economic, politic, cultural, civilizational models.
“The right of the winner, the right of the most powerful one. This is a principle that everyone heard for the first time in the 20th century. And we saw its application recently. When World War II ended, the Red Army indeed imposed its model, the Soviet one, in all the territories it entered to allegedly liberate countries from Eastern Europe, Central Europe during a relatively short period of time, of 3-5 years. We saw the proclaiming of so-called popular democracies in which one party, collectivization of agriculture, nationalization of production units, one ideology, etc. were imposed,” said the doctor habilitate of history.
The researcher noted that when a confrontation between the two superpowers and the existing models was in sight, in 1947, the President of the U.S. Harry Truman made public a doctrine. Under this, each nation should choose between two ways of life. “One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression. The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority. It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio; fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms.”
Nicolae Enciu said that two views persisted – one view to freely choose the development way for a state and the second view, which was formulated by Stalin, to impose the Soviet model on all the countries in which there was the Red Army. This dichotomy is valid for practically the whole 20th century, when that conflict between liberal and authoritarian, dictatorial and totalitarian ideas was evident. The year 1917 is a benchmark as two revolutions occurred in Russia in that year. The first revolution was the one that brought Russia to a liberal development path, which was followed by the absolute majority of countries on the European continent. But the reforms, even if tsarism fell, were unable to remedy the situation. The absolute majority of the population in Russia opposed the Bolshevik terror, but the Bolshevik party didn’t give up and caused a real civil war that ended with millions of human victims.
In the debate, there was presented the case study of priest Mina Tăruș, who was born in 1884 in Breanova village of Orhei district. He was named bishop of the Church “Great Saint Martyr Gheorghe” in Camencea village of Orhei district and was concomitantly the head of the local parochial cultural center, director of the local school and a teacher of religion. He was also one of the unionist heavyweights in Bessarabia and took an active part in the emancipation of Bessarabian civil society. But he was arrested by the NKVD bodies in June 1941. On April 22, 1942, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail in the Siberian gulag as an enemy of the Soviet state and in several months was executed by the roadside by Soviet persons who accompanied the convoy taking him to Gulag.
Doctor of history Ludmila Cojocaru, university lecturer, the head of the Museum of Victims of Deportations and Political Repression, which is a branch of the National Museum of History, said this case study is relevant to the civilizational choice of society as this is a very responsible step with particular dilemmas on which society pronounced by its actions and reactions to important events of the examined period.
“The Odessa congress of April 18, 1917 that brought together over 10,000 Bessarabians was a leading event. There was also the congress of priests and teachers of Chisinau of April 1917. As a result, there was founded the Moldovan National Party led by Pan Halippa. In several months, in August 1917, a National Peasant’s Party was constituted in Bessarabia. Deputies were delegated to the People’s Council. All these steps led to a series of reactions on the part of the community and the population,” explained the doctor of history.
According to her, the civilizational model in interwar Romania was beneficial to the population of Bessarabia as those who pleaded for union were witness to those things in that period. “We have the Constitution of 1923. We have a series of reforms that marked the civilizational path of society, including in Bessarabia as part of Greater Romania. We have the agrarian reform, administrative reform, education reform. All these actions at official level encouraged and generated hope, élan and power to the local population to assume these values. In fact, these values were natural and weren’t foreign,” stated Ludmila Cojocaru.
She noted that the interwar period in Romania is intensely discussed and the greatness of that period is challenged sometimes. “I think we must take those differing opinions into account, but judging by the experiences and memories of those who lived in that period, we see a series of unchallengeable accomplishments. I often recollect the experiences shared by the already late Liubov Clatco whose family was deported to Kazakhstan in 1941. I asked her why they didn’t seek refuge from the oppression of 1940. She said that her father refused to abandon his vineyard with vines brought from France by order, his equipment and the whole property. That was a dilemma faced then by hundreds of families in Bessarabia as they already saw the results achieved in the interwar period,” noted Ludmila Cojocaru.
The debate titled “The Bessarabians’ civilizational drama of 1940-1941” was the fifth installment of the series “Impact of the Past on Confidence and Peace Building Processes”. The project is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.