In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2010. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 279-295
This article shows how difficult it is for present day Russia to deal with its own past. The main focus is on the communist period which, with a view towards public opinion, can not only be reduced to the Great Terror. Various political tendencies try to win the country’s contemporary history as their ‘ally’, which indicated the peculiarity of the Russian situation: The Russian’s do not have one past, but many – even too many – pasts, which are easily recast and allow themselves to be made use of. This represents a great danger to the establishment of a culture of democratic dialogue in the country.
In order to elucidate this situation, the author addresses the following main areas which polarise current public opinion: Russia in 1917: one or two revolutions?; Stalin: was he a hero or a villain?; the USSR: the last Empire or a failed vision of the future?
Finally, the author tackles the question of whether the usual practices of coming to terms with the past in the West are suitable for present-day Russia. Which position does the political power in the Kremlin adopt towards these issues? Which contribution can Russian historians make when the issue at stake is returning to the peoples of the Russian Federation their historical identity?