5 May 2013

Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe


Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe
Edited and with an introduction by John-Paul Himka and Joanna Beata Michlic
July 2013
736 pp. 6 x 9 6 photographs
Hardcover 978-0-8032-2544-2
$57.50 Canadian/£34.00 UK

John-Paul Himka is a professor of history and classics at the University of Alberta. He is the author of Last Judgment Iconography in the Carpathians.

Joanna Beata Michlic is the director and founder of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Project on Families, Children, and the Holocaust at Brandeis University and is the author of Poland’s Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present (Nebraska, 2006).



Despite the Holocaust’s profound impact on the history of Eastern Europe, the communist regimes successfully repressed public discourse about and memory of this tragedy. Since the collapse of communism in 1989, however, this has changed. Not only has a wealth of archival sources become available, but there have also been oral history projects and interviews recording the testimonies of eyewitnesses who experienced the Holocaust as children and young adults. Recent political, social, and cultural developments have facilitated a more nuanced and complex understanding of the continuities and discontinuities in representations of the Holocaust.

This volume of original essays explores the memory of the Holocaust and the Jewish past in postcommunist Eastern Europe. Devoting space to every postcommunist country, the essays in Bringing the Dark Past to Light explore how the memory of the “dark pasts” of Eastern European nations is being recollected and reworked. In addition, it examines how this memory shapes the collective identities and the social identity of ethnic and national minorities. As the essays make clear, memory of the Holocaust has practical implications regarding the current development of national cultures and international relations.

“An excellent collection that addresses a very timely topic and fills a real gap in our knowledge. It will be of interest not only to specialists on the Holocaust but also to anyone — specialist and nonspecialist alike — interested in the issues and problems of postcommunist Europe.” — Samuel Kassow, professor of history at Trinity College and author of Who Will Write Our History? Rediscovering a Hidden Archive from the Warsaw Ghetto

“An extraordinary volume and a feat of editorial ingenuity.... No matter what you know or think about contemporary Europe and the politics of Holocaust memory, you will be enlightened and surprised by this remarkable book.” — Doris L. Bergen, Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies, University of Toronto, and author of War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust

“Since the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, debates have taken place in all the countries of the area on the involvement of the local populations and wartime governments of the area in the mass murder of the Jews. This well-researched and comprehensive volume provides a definitive account of the present state of these discussions. It is essential reading for all those interested in the Holocaust.” — Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Brandeis University

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