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Reconciliation in Bloodlands

Assessing Actions and Outcomes in Contemporary Central-Eastern Europe


Jacek Kurczewski

Central-Eastern Europe, in the mid-20th century, was a scene of Holocaust, mass killings, war, deportations and forced resettlements under the competing totalitarian invasions and afterwards. It was also the area where churches, politicians and citizens were engaged in reconciliation between antagonized religions and nations. This book presents several attempts to heal relations between Poles, Jews, Germans, Czechs, Ukrainians, Russians and Latvians as well as between Catholics, Protestants and Mariavites. Re-conciliatory practices of John Paul II and other Catholic leaders as well as Protestant churches are analysed in the first part of the book. Most of the remaining studies are focused on particular localities in Upper Silesia, Cieszyn Silesia, former Polish Livland and on the Polish-Ukrainian borderland. These detailed contributions combine sociological methods with anthropological insight and historical context. The authors are sociologists, psychologists and theologians and this leads to a fully interdisciplinary approach in the assessment of the recent state of inter-group relations in the region as well as in the proposed theory of peacebuilding and reconciliation.
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Hate Narrations

← 42 | 43 →Hate Narrations


“Guilty were not those who killed, but the ones who were their tool”1

he subject of the deliberations presented in this paper is an analysis of the language as a tool used for reconciliation or arousing hatred and conflicts. An assumption that the language may have such extensive causal functions may seem controversial. So what is the language? Language is words. We all say words, we use them in more or less reflective manner in different moments, depending on situation and emotions. By means of words we express our thoughts and feelings, and we are telling the reality. When we look at a dictionary containing words in a foreign language, foreign speech, we treat words as terms used for labelling, naming our thoughts and things in the surrounding reality. From the theoretical point of view, the problem is much more complicated.

Psychologists, social psychologists, sociologists and other scientists dealing with the theory of language and propaganda often quote Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as an exemplification of the power of language and its impact on the shape of the social life. The address was made in the fall of 1863 at the Gettysburg cemetery, but it is still taught in American schools, although 150 years have passed since then.2 In the fall of 1863, Abraham Lincoln was perhaps one of the most despised Presidents in of the United States. Elected to the office three years earlier, with less than 40% of support, Lincoln presided over a...

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