As Russia revives the tradition of wars of aggression on European territory, Vladimir Putin has chosen to rehabilitate the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as good foreign policy. But why violate now what was for so long a Soviet taboo? Timothy Snyder explains.
The history of Ukraine has revealed the turning points in the history of Europe. On 25 May both Ukrainians and EU citizens can decide which way things will turn this time. Ukraine has no future without Europe, but Europe also has no future without Ukraine.
If we concentrate on Auschwitz and the Gulag – generally taken to be adequate or even final symbols of the evil of mass slaughter – we fail to notice that over a period of twelve years, between 1933 and 1944, some 12 million victims of Nazi and Soviet mass killing policies perished in a particular region of Europe, one defined more or less by today’s Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Diaries and memoirs of the Maidan
In these impressions of the Maidan protests collected by Timothy Snyder and Tatiana Zhurzhenko, one hears the voices of those who witnessed history in the making. The role of civil society and the Russian-speaking middle class, as well as individual existential decisions, also come to the fore.
Commemorative causality, the confusion between present resonance and past power, denies history its proper subject, writes Timothy Snyder. What is easiest to represent becomes what it is easiest to argue and, in lieu of serious explanations, only emotional reflexes remain.