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Analysis of theoretical and legal presuppositions of decommunisation in post-communist societies, particularly in the former DDR


The experience of the last decade clearly shows that building a structure of a new state considerably depends on the way of dealing with the totalitarian past. The negligence we have witnessed in Poland, is not only the reason for the serious crisis of our state (for example, "the night of the files" (communist secret police files) and the subsequent overthrow of Jan Olszewski's government, "the Olin affair" - accusation of post-communist Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy of collaboration with Russian secret service) and many pathologies in economy, but they also cause ideological confusion and discourage citizens from getting involved in public affairs.

Decommunisation is a term, commonly used to define all activity that tends towards breaking with the communist past, which stirs up emotions. The opponents of decommunisation accuse its supporters of being driven by hatred and the wish to take revenge, and argue that by "digging in the past" they try to compensate for their political inefficiency. They present decommunisation as a manipulation that leads to collective responsibility and violation of human rights; in other words, decommunisation is clearly in conflict with the spirit of European civilisation. Meanwhile, it seems that in fact it is exactly the opposite: not dealing with the past is a silent acceptance of the fact that justice and truth - foundations of this civilisation - become empty slogans. That is why the example of denazification of Nazi Germany can be a model of European way of solving problems while abolishing the totalitarian system.

At the same time, we need to realise that decommunisation is in fact a difficult problem to solve as there is a permanent contradiction in it. On the one hand, decommunisation cannot be carried out against the law, which in its nature should be stabile and maximally unchangeable. On the other hand, decommunisation procedure is something extraordinary, demanding extra solutions and extraordinary means. A consent to the procedure can cause a temptation to manipulate the law and there is a danger that under the pretext of decommunisation short term interests will be realised.

These two aspects: the confidence that decommunisation is necessary and, at the same time, the awareness of how hard it is to carry it out properly, are a reason to raise the problem that is still unsolved after nearly 10 years since the process of transformation has begun.

The goals of the project

  • the discussion about decommunisation experience of the post-communistic countries
  • making a diagnosis of the present situation in Poland, systematising achievements and neglects in decommunisation
  • defining the specific aspects of decomunisation problems in various areas of public life (politics, administration, army, police, economy, administration of justice, higher education system)
  • working out legal and institutional mechanism that will protect the idea of decommunisation from being twisted
  • the estimation of chances to carry out a real decommunization in the Third Polish Republic
  • discussion about the ethical aspects of decommunisation
  • the analysis of possibilities of compensation to the victims of the communist system

Target groups of the program

  • political elite of the Polish Republic
  • opinion-giving circles (municipal workers, research workers, non-governmental workers, journalists)
  • students


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