Latest Articles

George Blecher

Alone and tired

In the latest of his Battle Dispatches from the electoral front, George Blecher visits the heartlands of the Trump vote in the swing states of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and in an at times oddly moving piece, begins to get to the heart of The Donald's appeal. [ more ]

Eurozine Review

The Lilliput syndrome

Katja Garmasch

A new start that's full of contradictions

Andrei Sannikov

Existence without life

Klas Grinell

Carpets and ceramics

Eurozine Review

Eurozine Review

The Lilliput syndrome

'Transit' responds to Russia's politics of fear; 'New Eastern Europe' condemns human rights pragmatism; 'Index on Censorship' defends the right to anonymity; 'Vikerkaar' talks trees; 'Czas Kultury' considers conspiracy theories; 'Ord&Bild' reports on heritage wars; 'dérive' confronts the new housing question; 'Letras Libres' declines populisms; and 'Vagant' has no fun with industrial.

Eurozine Review

The violent closet?

Eurozine Review

Peak democracy?

Eurozine Review

Critical junctures

Eurozine Review

The narrowest of margins

My Eurozine

If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Share |

Public debate: "Dilemma '89. My father was a communist"

The first in the Eurozine debate series "Europe talks to Europe" took place at the Collegium Budapest on 29 September in collaboration with Eurozine partner Magyar Lettre Internationale. Slovak author and journalist Martin M. Simecka met Hungarian architect, former politician and political dissident László Rajk to discuss the legacy of communism both as family history and as public issue. The result: a riveting discussion about "Dilemma '89".

Both Rajk's and Simecka's fathers were members of the Communist Party from the first hour. László Rajk sr. joined the Party in the 1930s, fought in the Spanish Civil War and during WWII was one of the few Hungarian communists to have stayed to resist fascism on home soil. Milan Simecka, who belonged to a slightly younger generation, joined the Communist Party under circumstances that were "entirely typical" in the leftist, pro-Soviet climate of post-war Czechoslovakia.

Both men were later persecuted by the communists: László Rajk sr. was executed in the Rákosi show trials in 1948 and Milan Simecka was expelled from the Party in 1968 and imprisoned in the 1980s. Martin Simecka suffered directly for his father's "crime" and was excluded from higher education, while László Rajk jr. spent the first five years of his life in an orphanage. Later, János Kádár joked that the only thing that prevented him arresting Rajk jr. was his hesitance at "killing a man with the same name twice".

Nevertheless, questions remain about both fathers' part in communist repressions. As Martin Simecka said: "It was hard to ask someone who had been imprisoned what it was like being a communist. It took me twenty years to understand that I didn't understand what had happened in the 1950s." This observation might apply to society as a whole: while there is large body of literature on and by the dissident generation, an equivalent literature about the communist past does not exist.

László Rajk noted that the failure to deal with the communist past is not an exclusively eastern European phenomenon: what about the western '68ers who waved their little red books? Simecka stressed that it isn't a matter of apologizing, rather of what really happened. "But is it the truth you want or more than that?", Simecka was asked. His reply: "It's about giving the younger generation a chance not to repeat the mistakes of the past."

A full text based on the discussion will appear in Eurozine soon.

More on the series Europe talks to Europe, a collaboration with the ERSTE Foundation


Published 2009-10-01

Original in English
© Eurozine

Focal points     click for more

Ukraine: Beyond conflict stories
Follow the critical, informed and nuanced voices that counter the dominant discourse of crisis concerning Ukraine. A media exchange project linking Ukrainian independent media with "alternative" media in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Greece. [more]

Ukraine in European dialogue
Post-revolutionary Ukrainian society displays a unique mix of hope, enthusiasm, social creativity, collective trauma of war, radicalism and disillusionment. Two years after the country's uprising, the focal point "Ukraine in European dialogue" takes stock. [more]

Culture and the commons
Across Europe, citizens are engaging in new forms of cultural cooperation while developing alternative and participatory democratic practices. The commons is where cultural and social activists meet a broader public to create new ways of living together. [more]

2016 Jean Améry Prize collection
To coincide with the awarding of the 2016 Jean Améry Prize for European essay writing, Eurozine publishes essays by authors nominated for the prize, including by a representative selection of Eurozine partner journals. [more]

The politics of privacy
The Snowden leaks and the ensuing NSA scandal made the whole world debate privacy and data protection. Now the discussion has entered a new phase - and it's all about policy. A focal point on the politics of privacy: claiming a European value. [more]

Beyond Fortress Europe
The fate of migrants attempting to enter Fortress Europe has triggered a new European debate on laws, borders and human rights. A focal point featuring reportage alongside articles on policy and memory. With contributions by Fabrizio Gatti, Seyla Benhabib and Alessandro Leogrande. [more]

Russia in global dialogue
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Eurozine BLOG

On the Eurozine BLOG, editors and Eurozine contributors comment on current affairs and events. What's behind the headlines in the world of European intellectual journals?
In memoriam: Ales Debeljak (1961-2016)
On 28 January 2016, Ales Debeljak died in a car crash in Slovenia. He will be much missed as an agile and compelling essayist, a formidable public speaker and a charming personality. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Mobilizing for the Commons
The 27th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Gdańsk, 4-6 November 2016
The Eurozine conference 2016 in Gdańsk will frame the general topic of solidarity with a focus on mobilizing for the commons. The conference will take place in the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk thus linking contemporary debates to the history of a broad, non-violent, anti-communist social movement which has started in the city's shipyard in 1980. [more]

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

There are currently no positions available.

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch an online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Neda Deneva, Constantina Kouneva, Irina Nedeva and Yavor Siderov
Does migration intensify distrust in institutions?
How do migration and institutional mistrust relate to one another? As a new wave of populism feeds on and promotes fears of migration, aggrandising itself through the distrust it sows, The Red House hosts a timely debate with a view to untangling the key issues. [more]

Editor's choice     click for more

Jürgen Habermas, Michaël Foessel
Critique and communication: Philosophy's missions
Decades after first encountering Anglo-Saxon perspectives on democracy in occupied postwar Germany, Jürgen Habermas still stands by his commitment to a critical social theory that advances the cause of human emancipation. This follows a lifetime of philosophical dialogue. [more]

Literature     click for more

Karl Ove Knausgĺrd
Out to where storytelling does not reach
To write is to write one's way through the preconceived and into the world on the other side, to see the world as children can, as fantastic or terrifying, but always rich and wide-open. Karl Ove Knausgĺrd on creating literature. [more]

Jonathan Bousfield
Growing up in Kundera's Central Europe
Jonathan Bousfield talks to three award-winning novelists who spent their formative years in a Central Europe that Milan Kundera once described as the kidnapped West. It transpires that small nations may still be the bearers of important truths. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Multimedia     click for more
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]

powered by