Stalinism Revisited: The Establishment of Communist Regimes in East-Central Europe

By Vladimir Tismaneanu | Go to book overview

VLADIMIR TISMANEANU


Introduction

Understanding the nature, dynamics, and consequences of Stalinism in Eastern and Central Europe remains an urgent scholarly and moral task. The present volume compiles the proceedings of the conference “Stalinism Revisited: The Establishment of Communist Regimes in the former Soviet Bloc” (29-30 November 2007, Washington, D.C., USA). The event was envisaged as an opportunity for synthesis and comparison under the favorable circumstances of temporal distance and new available sources. The two decades that have passed since the 1989 watershed brought about an archival upheaval1 and, consequently, a scholarly explosion within the field of communist studies. The result was an opportunity for reinforcing and/or retesting many of the assertions produced in academia throughout the years of both the Cold War and the immediate post-communist euphoria. Equally significant, a certain sense of closure and atonement at the local level, created new motivations for coming to terms with the first decade of communism's existence in the area, one fundamentally defined by trauma and repression. The year 2007 symbolized a historical threshold that marked six decades since the establishment of communist regimes in Eastern Europe (though it can be argued that this process took place earlier in some countries, such as Bulgaria, and later in other, e.g., Czechoslovakia). The experience of recent years shows that the 21st century is still following upon the footsteps of the previous one. In many respects, it is only a formal convention to speak of a new century. Once Daniel Chirot stated that in the 21st century “the fundamental causes of revo-

1 What Sheila Fitzpatrick defined as “an abrupt and radical transformation of
the universe of sources and the conditions of access to information” in her
“Introduction” to Stalinism: New Directions (London: Routledge, 2000), p. 3.

-1-

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