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Survivors of the Resistance in Post-war Europe 1 European Networks and Communities of Transnational Memory Contents

Interest in historical research regarding the role played by the survivors of the anti-fascist resistance and the former persecutees of National Socialism in the politics of history in most European states has admittedly grown in recent years. The
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  Dr Maximilian Becker  Survivors of the Resistance in Post-war Europe 1  European Networks and Communities of Transnational Memory Contents 1. Research Objectives......................................................................................................................1 2. Methods........................................................................................................................................5 3. Current State of Scholarship.........................................................................................................6 4. Work So Far and Future Approach...............................................................................................8 5. Literature.....................................................................................................................................10 1.   Research Objectives This project seeks to make a contribution to the discussion on the question of a European memory, reveal new perspectives for research on transnational memory in respect of methods and content, and contribute to the historicisation of memory. In February 1946, former political concentration camp inmates from 18 European states met in the destroyed city of Warsaw to establish the International Federation of Former Political Prisoners ( Fédération internationale des anciens prisonniers politiques , or FIAPP) as the umbrella organisation of the national associations of persecutees. In 1951, it was renamed the International Federation of Resistance Fighters ( Fédération Internationale des Résistants , or FIR), which still exists to this day. The FIAPP/FIR, which was dominated by Communists and included members from both sides of the Iron Curtain, was an important protagonist in the transfer of cultural commemoration between East and West but also within the two blocs, and it offered the former persecutees opportunities for exchange beyond national and bloc borders. Thus, on the initiative of the FIAPP, the 11 th  April – the anniversary of the liberation of Buchenwald – was designated in almost the whole of Europe as the day of liberation for all concentration camps. State rallies took place in the East, whereas in Western Europe commemoration was limited to the Communist persecutee organisations. In the 1950s, the FIR initiated the founding of international associations of former concentration camp inmates, such as the International Auschwitz Committee. Among the aims of the FIR were the struggle ‘against the rebirth of fascism and Nazism in all its forms’, the maintenance of the memory of the resistance and concentration camps, the bringing about of prosecution of all crimes against humanity and the acquisition of material compensation for all survivors of concentration camps. 2  The organisation was furthermore active in social and medical issues. Considering its major relevance to the former persecutees and the very good source base, it is remarkable that no contemporary historical study about the organisation, its structures and protagonists, its own political understanding and its activities exists. 1  Funded by Austrian Science Fund (FWF), project nr. M 2284-G28. 2  Statutes of the International Federation of Resistance Fighters (FIR). Resolutions of the 2nd Congress of the FIR, Vienna 1954.    2 Interest in historical research regarding the role played in the politics of history, commemoration and addressing the past in most European states by the survivors of the anti-fascist resistance and the former persecutees of National Socialism, 3  has admittedly grown over the last few years. The central focus here, however, is on national aspects. 4  To this day, there are virtually no comparative studies on the societal and political status of the victims, which de facto differed less between East and West and more between individual states and victim groups such as former forced labourers, Holocaust survivors and members of the resistance. 5  Likewise, relatively little attention has been paid to the cross-border activities of the former persecutees and to their numerous international associations, although the survivors counted among the few Cold War protagonists who maintained their links both to the East and to the West. The present study aims to remedy this shortfall. In the West, the FIR was regarded as a Communist front organisation designed to infiltrate Western European communities and engage in propaganda for Moscow. The extant minutes of FIR committee meetings (whose constitution can be reconstructed on the basis of complete membership lists) enable us to critically evaluate this assessment and allow, furthermore, for insights into the inner life of an international non-governmental organisation led by Communist functionaries and anchored not only in the Eastern Bloc, but also in Western Europe. Thus, the two largest French persecutee organisations were members of the FIR, as were Italian partisan associations and the West German Association of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime ( Vereinigung der Verfolgten des Naziregimes ). As of 1960, more than four million people persecuted by National Socialism from 21 countries in Eastern and Western Europe were involved in the FIR. Furthermore, they were joined in the mid-1950s by several thousand members from Israel. An analysis of the FIR and the debates within its internationally constituted groupings allows for a departure from the national perspective dominant in the literature and an examination of the transnational intertwinement of the politics of history and the politics of addressing the past. What role did the FIR play in European discourses on memory, which were shaped by the Cold War? The thesis of transnational memory studies, according to commemorative cultures were not intertwined transnationally until the memorialisation of the Holocaust in the 1980s, 6  will be critically examined here and a contribution made to the debate on a 3  Here a distinction is made between politics of history in the sense of official commemoration, and politics of addressing the past, which relate to the legal aspects of coming to terms with the past (  Vergangenheitsbewältigung   )Politics of commemoration, with its dimension of historical experience, refers to memorialisation on the part of persecutee associations. 4  Wawrzyniak, Veterans  ; Wóycicka,  Arrested Mourning  ; Grabski, Żydowski ruch kombatancki  ; Karge, Steinerne Erinner- ung  ; Cooke, Legacy  ; Dreyfus, "Ami, si tu tombes …"  ; Lalieu, La déportation  ; Cochet, Les exclus  ; Vergnon (ed.), Les as- sociations  ; Wolikow, Les combats  ; Reuter and Hansel, Das kurze Leben.  Early studies on the French associations can be found, furthermore, in Wahl (ed.),  Mémoire  ; Damoi and Rioux (eds.), La mémoire.  In addition, there are a number of smaller works, of which only a selection can be cited here: Bailer, ‘WiderstandskämperInnen’; Doerry,   ʻ  Amicale ʼ ; Grill and Homann-Engel, "… das war ja kein Spaziergang im Sommer!"  ; Storeide, Überlebende;   Withuis, "Den Tod mit sich tragen"  ; Grzywatz, Zeitgeschichtsforschung.   5  An important exception is Lagrou, The Legacy of Nazi Occupation  . 6  For example: Levy and Sznaider,  Erinnerung; Leggewie:  Kampf; Eckel and Moisel (eds.),  Universalisierung.      3 collective European memory. Was there a transnational European memory of resistance in place – a forerunner of sorts to the global Holocaust memory? The focus will be on those persecuted by National Socialism as political protagonists in the realm of memory and addressing the past. What did the FIR advocate when it came to resistance and camp narrative and how did it react to divergent narratives? How did this narrative differ from alternative resistance narratives, such as that of the bourgeois-liberal resistance? What role was played by the Red Army, which had not only achieved liberation from National Socialism but also contributed decisively to the establishment and consolidation of the Communist dictatorships, in the narrative told by the FIR? How did the FIR evaluate this role and that of the Western Allies? How did the FIR view the role of Stalin against the backdrop of the revelations about his errors of leadership in the Second World War and his crimes? How did the narratives transform this process, and what role did the changing conditions of the Cold War play? How did the survivors deal with the contradictions arising around their experiences during the Second World War? These contradictions were considerably more complex than the dichotomy of ‘collaboration’ and ‘resistance’ put forward by many simplifying narratives. The conviction among Communist concentration camp survivors that they had been persecuted for a just and good cause shaped their political understanding of themselves and gave meaning to their suffering. Against this backdrop, how did they respond to the theories of David Rousset on the ‘Soviet concentration camps’ in the late 1940s and early 1950s or to Khrushchev’s ‘secret speech’ of 1956, which constituted attacks on this self-image? Did the FIR distance itself from Stalin after 1956 and how did it conduct itself during the debate on the role of the Red Army as liberator but also as new oppressor? The former persecutees were not only part of state politics of history, for example in the form of propagandistically enacted investitures on memorial days or by means of participation in rallies in the former concentration camps. They intervened in the dispute over German rearmament or contributed to legitimising the political systems of the post-war period, whereby they were either exploited by the respective governments or driven by their own convictions. The former persecutees and their associations, which were frequently fragmented along political, religious and ideological lines, were actively involved in the Cold War conflicts conducted at the propaganda level, which will be examined here using the examples of the disputes over German rearmament, 1949–1955, the equation of Communism and National Socialism (which was central, for instance, in the Rousset debate), the anti-Zionist campaign in Eastern Europe from 1967/68, and the stance taken by Israel. How did the FIR act in these conflicts? How did it respond to neo-Nazism and anti-Semitism? What role did memory play in these conflicts when applied as a resource for achieving ideological-political objectives? Was the FIR’s involvement in the world peace movement or in favour of détente and disarmament – issues that consistently played a central role for the FIAPP/FIR – merely a form of exploitation by Communism or did it arise from the conviction of the protagonists? And what role did memory play here? What role did memory play, furthermore, in the campaigns of the persecutee associations for compensation and the prosecution of the perpetrators - for example, during the debates surrounding the statute of limitations? How did the persecutees perceive the ongoing criminal proceedings, especially those against Eichmann in Jerusalem and the first Auschwitz trial? How did the FIAPP/FIR act during the debates on the role of Communist prisoner functionaries and the participation of locals in Nazi occupation, which were    4 conducted during the second half of the 1940s and then again from the 1960s onwards? Was the participation of women in the resistance and in the Holocaust remembered? How did the FIR react to the challenges of resistance memory arising from the commemoration of the Shoah in the West from around 1979 onwards? In view of the dominance of Communist functionaries in the FIAPP/FIR, the question must be raised as to the extent to which the association was guided by the Eastern Bloc governments, and in what way(s) the association was accepted and could exert influence in the West. The FIAPP/FIR pursued a broad alliance policy under the banner of a people’s front strategy whereby unity of action could occur, though it did not solicit the support of non-Communist victims of the Nazis, neutrals or advocates of a ‘third way’. How did it do this in concrete terms by means of the organisation of public events and the wording of its declarations and appeals? How did anti-Communists react to the activities of the FIAPP/FIR? Which consequences did Communist dominance have for its activities in Western Europe, for example in its demands for compensation? What did the organisational structures of the FIAPP/FIR look like? How was the representation of members organised at managerial level? Did the Communist parties monitor their activities and did they exert influence on the appointments made to their individual groupings? How did the FIAPP/FIR finance itself? To what extent was the FIAPP/FIR Stalinised – bearing in mind that it was an international organisation that was also interested in alliances in the West – and what impact did de-Stalinisation have on the FIR? Which conflicts took place in the FIR, for example as a result of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 or the anti-Zionist campaign? How was the relationship between the FIR, whose headquarters were in Vienna from 1951 onwards, and the Austrian government? Who were the decisive protagonists in the FIAPP/FIR? What role did women and Jewish members of the resistance play in the FIAPP/FIR? What experiences of resistance and persecution did they bring with them and which political stance did they assume in post-war Europe? What personal networks existed between different persecutee organisations, but also between politics and the FIAPP/FIR, especially as former persecutees frequently occupied senior state positions after 1945? What personal links existed to other Communist front organisations, such as the World Peace Council? Which state and internal party functions were held by FIR protagonists in their home countries? In order to answer these questions, the minutes of the committee meetings are the most important source. 7  They constitute a unique resource, especially as survivors’ organisations were constituted along the lines of societies, and thus minutes were not kept as a matter of course. No similar records have survived for any other international association. They provide information on the conflicts between survivors at the level of political and cultural commemoration, but also shed light on the self-image in the post-war period of those persecuted by National Socialism and their activities beyond the FIR. Furthermore, they offer rare insights into the interior life of an international, pro-Soviet organisation during the Cold War. The FIR will be examined in the context of other protagonists within the politics of history, among whom can be counted state institutions as well as Holocaust survivors, 8  former forced labourers, 9  combat veterans 10   7  Working languages were initially French, Russian and Polish, and later French and German, all spoken by the author. 8  Henry, Confronting  ; Zweig, German Reparations;   Jockusch, Collect and Record.      5 and prisoners of war. 11  With the inclusion of anti-Communist associations – above all the Union  Internationale de la Résistance et de la Déportation  and the Comité International des Camps , which, however, have left behind very few sources apart from their periodicals – it becomes possible to trace a complex picture of the politics of history and the politics of the past pursued by the persecutee associations in a transnational perspective and to follow the conflicts over the politics of memory. 12  In addition, press reports and state documents will be utilized. In this way, a new victim-centred perspective can be created for future research on the transnational memory of war. The results of the project are to be published in a monograph. Following a chronological structure, the period between the founding of the organisation in 1946 and the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989/90 will be examined. The experiences of the members of the FIR before 1945 will furthermore be addressed briefly. The changing context of the Cold War, its impact for the FIR and for the memory of war will be borne in mind throughout. To ensure the feasibility of the project, chronological and content focal points are to be selected based on the project results so far: in the years 1946/47 and 1951, the founding of the organisation and the establishment of its structures dominated; in 1954/55 it was the celebrations for the tenth anniversary of the liberation, which were linked to the debate regarding German remilitarisation. In 1957/58 the effects of de-Stalinisation in the FIR were palpable and were reflected especially in the debates in preparation for and during the organisation’s 3rd International Congress. In 1961 the Eichmann trial occupied centre stage in the interests of the FIR; in the years 1963 to 1965 it was the first Auschwitz trial in Frankfurt, the statute of limitations debate and the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the liberation, whereby an integration of Holocaust remembrance into the commemoration of the resistance became apparent. From 1968 a rollback took place as a result of the anti-Zionist campaign in the East. There were not many debates on cultural commemoration during the 1970s. From 1975 onwards the sources become scarcer because the two periodicals of the FIR were merged. For the 1980s, the emphasis will be placed more closely on how the FIR reacted to the emerging Holocaust commemoration in Western Europe. The collapse of the Communist system in Eastern Europe constitutes the endpoint of the study. This collapse brought about not only the end of the commemoration of the resistance but also a drying up of the surviving records of the FIR. In the final chapter, the question will be pondered as to what conclusions can be drawn for a common, European remembrance. 2.   Methods The central approach is the concept of transnationality from cultural studies, which is used to enquire about the establishment by the FIR of reciprocal connections, intertwinements and references transcending national borders between the commemorative cultures. The concept furthermore enquires about the interactions 9  Pohl and Sebta (eds.), Zwangsarbeit  ; Spina, ʻ Hüterin ʼ . 10  Edele, Soviet Veterans;  Wilke,  Hilfsgemeinschaft; Hettiger : Erinnerung; Boeckh and Stegmann (eds.),  Veterans and War Victims.   11  Lewin, Le retour.   12  Hardly any studies exist on the bourgeois-Christian and the anti-Communist persecutees after 1945. On Germany see Scholtyseck (ed.), Die Überlebenden; Beaugrad, ʻ Zeitzeuge ʼ .  
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