Thursday, 17 April 2014

Communism appeals to public in crisis, historians say

7 November 2011

Prague, Nov 5 (CTK) - Communism is still a significant phenomenon and people may tend to see hope in it mainly in the times of a crisis, Jiri Kocian, deputy head of the Czech Science Academy's Institute of Contemporary History, told CTK at the end of a three-day conference on communism Saturday.

The conference held in Prague focused on the 90-year history of Czech and Slovak communism.

Many people are remembering the totalitarian regime as the period of social certainties, Kocian said.

He stressed that new knowledge on communism must become a part of school textbooks and the threat of communism as the period of repressions and persecution must be constantly reminded.

"The Communist Party is naturally more in focus of inhabitants at the moment when the state is coping with a certain crisis phenomenon," said historian Jan Kalous, from the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) that organised the conference along with the Institute of Contemporary History and the Czech Radio.

Kalous cited the example of the 1930s affected by the Great Depression starting in 1929.

Historian Jiri Pernes also said at the beginning of the conference that communism is a constant threat, among others because this ideology is comprehensible even for not very educated people.

Moreover, the poor will always blame the rich for their poverty and they will be striving for a change to their situation, Pernes added.

The conference has been one of the first large meetings of experts in these issues since the Fall of the Iron Curtain.

According to historians, the Communist Party was gradually studied in the 1990s when archives opened and Czech and Slovak researchers had access to previously confidential documents and to works by their foreign colleagues and Czech "dissident" historians.

The young generation of researchers, who experienced the communist regime only as children, also started to influence the historians' view of communism.

Delegates to the three-day conference dealt with the establishment and early years of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC), its development until 1945 and its "bolshevisation" after the 5th congress in 1929, its path to power, the 40-year rule of the country as well as conflicts between Czechoslovak communists.

They also discussed the phenomenon of communism in the 20th century and after the fall of communist regimes in 1989.

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