DEN FÖRSVUNNA HISTORIEN. Förintelsen i tjeckisk och slovakisk historiekultur

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The main focus of this study is the place of the Holocaust in the Czech and Slovak historical cultures during ”the long 1990s”, i.e. between the fall of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia at the end of 1989 and the entry of both the Czech and Slovak Republics into the European Union in 2004. When morality and conscience have been placed in the centre of new European politics instead of ideology in the 1990s, the Holocaust has obtained a great political-symbolic importance. In Czechoslovakia,
the Holocaust was more or less completely ignored before 1989. As this study shows, its ”return” into the post-Communist historical cultures of Czechoslovakia’s descendent states was far from self-evident. The central theoretical concepts of this analysis are historical consciousness, historical culture and use of history. The Czech and Slovak historical cultures and the place that they give to the Holocaust are analysed through four dominant Czechoslovak/Czech and Slovak historical narratives that have been developed by leading history-users during the post-war period, all of which first appeared in open competition in Czechoslovakia and in the Czech and Slovak Republics during the 1990s. Th ese narratives are:
the Czechoslovak Communist historical narrative, the Czech national-liberal historical narrative, the Slovak national-Catholic
historical narrative and the Slovak national-European historical narrative.
The empirical part of this study focuses on four case studies that show great difficulties with the eff orts to incorporate the Holocaust into the Czech and Slovak historical cultures. The first empirical chapter analyses the role of the Holocaust in Czech-Slovak debates during the process of the Czechoslovak dissolution. The second empirical chapter presents Czech discussions about the film Schindler’s List, which became one of the main focal points in the global discussion of the Holocaust during the 1990s and one of the main symbols of ”the Americanisation” of the Holocaust (Oskar Schindler was a so called Sudeten German and at the same time a citizen of the interwar Czechoslovakia. He worked as a German agent against Czechoslovakia during the late 1930s). Th e third empirical chapter deals with the Holocaust of the Czech Romanies, the Porrajmos. The last empirical
chapter analyses the representation of the Holocaust of the Slovak Jews in the most prominent Slovak museum of the Second World War – the Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica.
The main conclusion of this work is that neither in the Czech nor the Slovak historical cultures has the Holocaust became what German historian Jörn Rüsen calls a borderline event, a trauma considered necessary for the construction of historical narratives that make sense of national history. In the Czech case of the ”long 1990s”, the Holocaust continued to be presented as an external phenomenon that had nothing do to with the Czechs. Th e memory of the Holocaust was overshadowed by the memory of the Czech suff ering under the German occupation. Slovak historical consciousness during the ”long 1990s” was instead dominated
by eff orts to stress Slovak heroism during the Second World War.
None of the great debates about the Holocaust during the 1990s started within the Czech and Slovak historical cultures. While the effects of the ”Americanisation” of the Holocaust were ambiguous, the political eff ects of the ”Europeanisation” of the Holocaust were obvious. However, the general impact of the EU´s eff ort on Czech and Slovak historical consciousness was much more doubtful.
Both historical cultures showed rigid continuity with previous periods. The mental eff ects of the Communist ideology, which influenced both the Czech and Slovak historical cultures during most of the post-war period, could not be removed as quickly as the Communist structure of political power.
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
  • History
  • Karlsson, Klas-Göran, Supervisor
Award date2008 Jun 13
ISBN (Print)978-91-628-7530-5
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2008-06-13
Time: 10:15
Place: Dept. of History, University of Lund, sal 3

External reviewer(s)

Name: Resic, Sanimir
Title: Associated Professor
Affiliation: SOL, University of Lund


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History


  • Czech
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Holocaust
  • historical consciousness
  • historical culture
  • historical narrative
  • use of history
  • national identity
  • Diaspora
  • Porrajmos
  • Slovak
  • Sudeten German
  • Schindler

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