21 and 22 February 2014
De-Stalinization was a pacification mission ending terror and violence and giving traumatized individuals the prospect of order and security. When evaluating the impact of de-Stalinization, we should not apply the standards of Western democracy but measure it against the possibilities that existed in the Soviet Union and its neighboring states. For most citizens of the Soviet Union the success of de-Stalinization was not to be measured by the ideal of Western constitutionality and the rule of law but how far removed things were from Stalin’s tyranny. In that sense de-Stalinization constituted a crucial turning point in the lives of millions. But were there similar life-changing turning points in Poland, Hungary and the GDR? How were the perpetrators in the respective regimes able to rebuild trust and establish peace? Why did unrest follow de-Stalinization in Poland and Hungary but not in the Soviet Union? How did the rulers generate a loyalty and social bonds that were nonexistent under Stalin? And how did the Western nations perceive those changes? What did they signify for French communists and American cold warriors? These were the central issues of the colloquium.
Conference language was German.