On 23 August, during the pan-European Day of Remembrance for victims of all totalitarian and authoritarian regimes, an international conference titled 'Utopia unachieved despite millions victimized? Communist crimes and European memory' will take place in Tallinn, Estonia. The objective of the conference is to dissert communistic crimes, which were shadowed by other events, discuss its consequences and the possibility for a common European remembrance culture, in an international arena. A memorial for the victims of communism will be opened in Tallinn prior to the conference.
“The crimes of Nazism are largely investigated and acknowledged indubitably, which can’t be said about the crimes of communistic regimes which extend to almost every continent. This is caused by a shortage of international history education and discussion. Estonia is well informed about the crimes of communism, for it has touched most families, but it is important to acknowledge it internationally as well. Due to our past, Estonia carries a critical role in educating the general public about communism crimes,” said Sandra Vokk, board member of the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.
She says that European societies have different experiences with the 20th century totalitaritan ideologies. “Common European remembrance culture is the key to mutual understanding, it stands for the remembrance of all victims and the protection of freedom and humanity against similar manifestations today and tomorrow without double standards. The conference in Tallinn is therefore an important part of a pan-European historical debate,” said Vokk.
Besides debates, another important practice to conserve historical memory is visualizing historical facts. To see the names of more than 22 000 victims before you is another way of remembering. That is how many names the name plaques of the memorial bear, including the names of the executed officers and a dedicated monument to them. “The memorial for the victims of communism, that will be opened on the 23rd of August in Maarjamägi, Tallinn, is a final resting place for those whose burial places remain largely unknown. It is a place where the relatives of the deceased can remember their lost loved ones. While walking at the memorial, the visitors can experience the same journey the victims had to take – from a green home garden to a dark and grim place,” said Vokk.
The opening of the memorial is arranged by the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory, Ministry of Justice, the Estonian Republic 100 team and supported by the Embassy of Germany in Estonia.
The international conference of the victims of the totalitarian regime on August 23rd will focus on the nature of the communist ideology, its goals and its consequences in history. The conference will also discuss the change of communism and its entry into the 21st century and the problem of ignoring the tragical historical experience.
Among the speakers are international names, such as writer and dramatist Sofi Oksanen, historian and Professor of History at the University of Toronto Andres Kasekamp, historian and Professor of History at the University of Exeter Richard Overy, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience Göran Lindbad, historian and vice-chairman of the Board of Memorial`s Scientific Research Centre Nikita Petrov.