Memory wars

Following the recent kerfuffle in Russia over a statue of Ivan the Terrible, the issue of monuments continues to make headlines. Two differing approaches to historical memory are on display. Both create their own historical distortions. By eradicating monuments of an entire era, one paints that era as bad in every single way. By sanctifying an autocratic ruler, the other whitewashes the imperfections of the past.

According to the Ukrainian television station Espreso TV, the last remaining statue of Lenin in Ukraine, located in the town of Novgorod-Severskii, has been taken down. There were once more than 2,000 Lenin statues in the country. As a result of a 2015 law prohibiting communist memorials and symbols, Ukraine is now Lenin-free.

Meanwhile, a bell-tower dedicated to Russia’s last Tsar, Nicholas II, was formally opened in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, on Tuesday. Attending the opening was Duma deputy and former chief prosecutor of Crimea Natalia Poklonskaia, who has acquired something of a reputation as a monarchist, and whose idea the bell tower was. Poklonskaia told reporters that, ‘For me, my colleagues and friends, this isn’t simply a bell tower, but an entire church. And this church is not simply a building but a holy one, in which will be carried out, with full rights, all the services and liturgies as laid down in the church canons.’

poklonskaia-nikolai-ii
Natalia Poklonskaia pays homage to Nicholas II

The first story illustrates an approach to historical memory which is destructive and coercive; the second an approach which is constructive and voluntary. If there is one thing the participants can agree on, it is that they aren’t fans of communism. But as these examples show, the victors of today’s memory wars aren’t always the victors of tomorrow’s.

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11 thoughts on “Memory wars”

  1. “According to the Ukrainian television station Espreso TV, the last remaining statue of Lenin in Ukraine, located in the town of Novgorod-Severskii, has been taken down. “

    An epic peremoga! Surely, now prosperity will reign in in the entire of the Ukraine, salaries will become the same as in Europe, corruption will be earadicated, it won’t be cold during gas-free winter and the whole international community will start investing in the Ukraine day and night! Clearly, only statues to Ukraine in it’s present borders – granpa Lenin-Ulyanov – prevented the proverbial heaven in earth to materialize in Nizalezhnaya

    On the second thought… the article claims that it was the last statue to Lenin in the Ukraine. But there are still monuments to him in DNR, LNR and Crimea! Are the author of this article and his editors from the ExpressoTV/Korrespondent.ua implying that “temporarily occupied territories” (c) are no longer Ukrainian?! Well, in that case they are just separatist-enablers, Kremlin-stooges and potential future targets of A. Gersachenko’s Mirotvorets net-site, who’ll soon face the most democratic lustrations.

    Так переможемо!

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  2. Ghoulish cult Nicholas is not constructive. A very large part of the population (not only fans of the Bolsheviks) strongly opposed this cult. It is foolish to worship the man on whose fault there was a revolution with its disastrous consequences

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  3. I remember my grandmother (she was born just before the turn of the century) telling me how well-natured and kind Nicholas II was… Oh well, things go ’round in circles, I guess…

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    1. “…how well-natured and kind Nicholas II was…”

      I guess these days we are supposed to be asking forgiviness before the Czar… for this?

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      1. The demonstrators demanded “to stop the war on the will of the people.” At the same time revolutionaries (who organized the demonstration) received money from Japan (during the war). I am absolutely not a fan of Nicholas, but the demonstration was shot completely true.

        I’m also not a fan of Stalin, but when you look at these shameful events begin to sympathize with his rule. Under his rule, “freedom fighters” shot preventively, and similar demonstrations were impossible

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  4. Ah well, it worked! Nevermind then 🙂

    But yeah, one can certainly troll Svidomy Ukrainians with them banning the coat of arms of a EU member nation.
    Even more so if they are the subset of Ukrainians who regard the Habsburgs as totally good guys due to them not liking Russia that much.

    In defense of the Habsburgs, they werent that bad as far as Colonial overlords go. It is an interesting question who, if you were a random colonial subject, would be the “least bad colonial overlord” for you.

    Habsburgs would definitly be in the running.
    With Russia, both the Russian and Soviet Empires did offer pathways to considerably power for the elites of their “colonies”. The Tatar roots of many Russian noble houses prove this during the Imperial times, and Ukrainians especially were quite overrepresented in Soviet leadership as well.

    There was also the possiblity of getting a coveted “we pretend to be Russian subjects, and the Czar pretends to be our overlord” deals.

    The worst colonial overlords are clearly Belgians, followed by settler type overlords like the USA on their continent.

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  5. The idiocy Decommunisation has the beginning – but it has no end!

    Kiev authorities demolish the monument ‘Boulder – a weapon of the prolitariat’.

    The fact that the monuments was in honor of the Revolution of 1905-07 is irrelevant! The fact that this act of the state sanctioned vandalism won’t improve the general state of affairs in the Ukraine is also irrelevant.

    Because this is not about “decommunisation” – it’s about the de-Russification of the Ukraine. Which, from the Western so-called liberal and democratic pov is absolutely faaaabilous!

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