Past for the Eyes: East European Representations of Communism in Cinema and Museums after 1989

By Oksana Sarkisova; Péter Apor | Go to book overview

The Experiences of a Filmmaker

Reconstructing Reality from Documents in Communist Archives

ALEXANDRU SOLOMON


THE PUBLIC INTEREST. DO WE HAVE A DUTY?

The results of a poll recently published in Romania indicated that 50% of the population is not interested in understanding the activities of the political police under the communist regime.1 The poll also showed that 67% do not want to find out if somebody in their family worked for the Securitate.2 These figures only confirm what we already knew: there is an obvious refusal to take responsibility for the criminal activities of the regime. More than half of Romanian society wishes to forget the socialist past. One must admit that this is not very encouraging for a documentary filmmaker, working mainly on recent history.

I have long accused the media—especially the TV stations—of causing this kind of attitude. But I am probably not alone in thinking that the political establishment is just as responsible for burying our recent past. It stands to reason that most politicians in my country were, to some extent, involved in the political structures of the communist regime. It is obviously not in their interest to encourage people to reevaluate the past and establish responsibilities. On the contrary, amnesia is their best ally. As a result, archives have remained closed too long since 1989.

Knowing all this, I have never been able to accept the extent of public indifference to something that, in my naive belief, is of capital importance

1 The poll was made by the Social Studies Office (Biroul de Cercetări Sociale) between
April 26 and May 4, 2006.

2 The Securitate (Romanian for “Security”; official full name: Departamentul Securitatii
Statului
[State Security Department]), was the secret police force of communist Roma-
nia. Previously the Romanian secret police was called Siguranta statului [Safety of the
State]. The Securitate was, in proportion to Romania's population, the largest secret po-
lice force in the Eastern bloc. For more on Securitate, see Dennis Deletant, Ceaugescu
and the Securitate: Coercion and Dissent in Romania, 1965 1989
(London: C. Hurst,
1995).

-103-

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