Communism: Utopia and Reality

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution. As a result of the Bolsheviks’ violent seizure of power, Communist ideology became the foundation of a country’s government, legislative and legal system for the first time. Over the following decades, Communists influenced world history in many different ways – not least in the form of dictatorships in Europe and Asia, but also in Africa as well as South and Central America. The lasting impact of the Communist legacy continues to affect German and European societies into the present. Meanwhile, impressions of ‘Communism’ in our society remain mixed. Existing interpretations range from the verdict that Communism was a criminal ideology responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million victims worldwide, to the absolution of Communism from the crimes committed in its name so as to preserve its original intention of paving the way to a more just society. In general, however, ignorance and indifference are rather prevalent. The 100th anniversary of the October Revolution therefore ought to mark an occasion to engage with the history of Communism more thoroughly.

Against this backdrop, the Federal Foundation for the Study of Communist Dictatorship in East Germany has dedicated itself to an intensified engagement with the history of Communism. The aim is to produce and disseminate new insights and expertise and embed the history of Communism in German remembrance culture. This equally applies to the development of German and international Communism as social and political oppositional movement and as system of government – in the Soviet occupation zone / GDR post-1945 as well as in Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Foundation thereby seeks to promote the urgently needed contextualisation of the East German dictatorship within the history of 20th century Communism and contribute to keeping the memory of its victims alive.


The online platform represents a comprehensive source for anyone interested in the history of Communism. Grouped into eight individual categories, it provides direct access to literature, biographies, films, museums, memorial sites, educational materials and current events and conferences on the subject. A central search box allows users to freely search the entire platform, with search results neatly displayed according to categories and relevance. For the first time, the Yearbook of Historical Communism Research (Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung – JHK) will be accessible and searchable online. This includes more than 5,500 biographies of German Communists and European dissidents. A timeline of the history of Communism featuring historical spotlights and a map complete the feature. The website is updated regularly and can be accessed via


Information concerning additional projects in this field of work can be found here (German only).