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Criminalizing History

Legal Restrictions on Statements and Interpretations of the Past in Germany, Poland, Rwanda, Turkey and Ukraine


Edited By Klaus Bachmann and Christian Garuka

Why do states ban certain statements and interpretations of the past, how do they ban them and what are the practical consequences? This book offers an answer to these questions and at the same time examines, whether the respective legislation was supply-or demand-driven and how prosecutors and courts applied it. The comparison between Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Rwanda and Turkey offers several surprising insights: in most countries, memory law legislation is supply driven and imposed on a reluctant society, in some countries they target apolitical hooligans more than intellectuals or the government’s political opponents. The book also discusses, why and how liberal democracies differ from hybrid regimes in their approach to punitive memory laws and how such laws can be tailored to avoid constraints on free speech, the freedom of the press and academic freedoms.

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The Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education sponsored this publication in the framework of the program no. 012/RID/2018/19 “A regional excellence initiative” (2019–2022), whose entire amount was 11 985 347 PLN.

Klaus Bachmann and Christian Garuka are grateful to Vjeran Pavlaković, Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies of University of Rijeka, Croatia, who agreed to thoroughly review this book before it was submitted for print.

This publication was co-financed by the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education core founding for statutory SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, 221548/E-560/S/2018.

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