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They know that the Holocaust does not nearly exhaust the record of German mass murder of civilians.

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This happens routinely in western Europe. That the French do not know about the Warsaw Uprising suggests a certain limit to their interest in opposition to Nazi occupation. That Germans have not heard about the Warsaw Uprising means that they are unaware that German forces killed tens of thousands of civilians, and then burned a neighbouring European capital to the ground.

German historians and German elites know these things, of course. The problem is one of general public education. As long as the western European narrative of history remains unamended, western European publics will have difficulty understanding the actions of eastern Europeans. For example, the Polish choice to join in the occupation of Iraq which most of us can probably agree was a mistake, including the vast majority of the Polish population cannot be understood without some sense of postwar Polish history.

The communist experience left Poles sympathetic to US arguments about liberation.

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Likewise, Polish resistance to a museum for German expellees is grounded in historical experience. In both cases, the absence of a common European historical narrative, embracing both east and west, leads to failures of understanding and solidarity. One sometimes hears from Germans, including German academics, that Poles are unable to discuss the expulsion of Germans because of a kind of national taboo. Polish objections to an expellee museum in Germany are even characterised as Polish nationalism.

In fact, Poles are afraid that Germans do not understand just how widespread expulsions were during the Nazi occupation and the two Soviet occupations. Poles also believe that Germans have not yet come to terms with the totality of events before that preceded the expulsions. The future of European solidarity, in other words, depends on a rethinking of the immediate European past. Without historical knowledge of the East, European mass publics will be swayed by simple arguments flowing from national prejudice.

European leaders, whether they know the facts or not, will be tempted to resort to such arguments in the whirl of domestic political competition.


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Moreover, it will be very hard for east Europeans to believe that they are full partners in Europe so long as their experiences in the second half of the twentieth century are not part of a larger European story. These experiences are sufficiently similar within eastern Europe and sufficiently different from western Europe that the May enlargement poses a new kind of challenge.

Europeans must find a way to rewrite the larger narrative so as to include both East and West. This requires a confrontation with two basic matters of the recent European past: that the centre of the suffering in World War II was in the East rather than the West; and that for four decades eastern Europeans had to experience communist subjugation rather than European integration.

It should be simple, one might think, to accept the full historical force of Nazi and Soviet terror.

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The European Union is, after all, built upon the premise that totalitarianism must never return. Yet in practice this requires some humility. One often hears the argument nowadays that the US can learn about total war and political terror from Europeans because they experienced the horrors of the twentieth century. This is true. By the same token, western Europeans have much to learn from eastern Europeans. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia closed at the end of after 24 years in operation.

Balancing the books

But did the tribunal do anything to promote reconciliation in former Yugoslavia? Balancing the books Timothy Snyder 3 May Europe history Eastern Europe. The mythology of the East-West divide. Parents Guide. External Sites. User Reviews.

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Balancing the Books

Director: Zam Nazreen. Writer: Zam Nazreen. Photos Add Image Add an image Do you have any images for this title? Edit Cast Credited cast: Shekhar Bassi Omar Shariff Rez Kempton Jamal Imran Ali Khan Hameed Khan Andrew Raseed Shahrukh Ashok Srivastava Edit Storyline Jamal leaves his home country dreaming of a new life full of opportunity.

Balancing the Books - February 2019

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