European Re-Writes and Emotions
Institute of Sociology University of Leipzig Leipzig, Germany
Since about 1990 several European nations have had their recent histories re-written. A generational shift which silenced some stakeholders in particular versions of the past while bringing the baby boom generation, uncompromised through WWII and its atrocities, into positions of authority, granted it an opportunity to 'voice' their view of history, re-casting it in the process. Among further structural factors behind the re-writing phenomenon we find the downfall of the Soviet bloc and/or the re-configuring of the political party systems. As actors mostly journalists, scientists and politicians, seem to have played a major role in re-interpreting the past. Based on a selection of scientific publications and interviews, I would like to discuss how Poles and Italians had their national self-image changed from (i) a victim to a perpetrator; (ii) a coward to a hero or vice versa. I will also indicate how these changes in the self-image have been pushed by some groups, while resisted by others to argue that new self-images were resisted when their adoption implied bad and supported when they acceptance implied good self-feelings. This is to say that the new self-images called not only for the change of mind about but also for the change of heart towards one's own nation and particular groups within it - While the old self-images fed the national pride or shame/guilt, hid or froze its cleavages and so consolidated each nation in a specific way, the new self-images called for a reversal of these emotions and divided each nation anew.