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Reconciliation in Bloodlands

Assessing Actions and Outcomes in Contemporary Central-Eastern Europe


Edited By Jacek Kurczewski

Central-Eastern Europe, in the mid-20 th 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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Memory Sites versus Antagonism and Reconciliation: The Case of Polish-Czech Relations


What constitutes an intrinsic element of each concept of reconciliation sociology is the issue of memory. The reconciliation of feuding groups, despite receiving the impulse from contemporary tendencies, is immersed in the past which raised the conflict between these groups. Although reconciliation refers to the present moment and, first of all, to the future, it cannot take place without an attempt to face the painful past. At the same time, it is worth remembering that the process of reconciliation provides the social group’s memory with new senses and symbols. Examining the reconciliation process also means examining both the memory and work that the collective memory of a particular group performs, the work performed in a similar way as in the case of individual memory. This is obviously an imperfect analogy. The work consists in the reinterpretation of the own past as the reconciliation process becomes possible with the moment when an attempt is undertaken to set an agreeable interpretation of the common past. This work becomes feasible in the field of collective memory on the one hand and in the field of history on the other. In short, the sociological perspective focuses mostly on examining collective memory1, whereas the historical perspective focuses on investigating history. Pierre Nora clearly differentiates between these two perspectives by juxtaposing the notions of history and memory. The latter, however, undoubtedly refers to collective memory. Nora states that the notions of history and memory are not synonyms and that in modern society they have become two...

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