Susanne Schattenberg (Sektionsleitung)

History Work in the Grip of Putin’s Dictatorship. Memorial’s Fight for Historical Enlightenment in Russia

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In December 2021, a court ordered the closure of Memorial International and Memorial Perm, stating that their investigation into Stalinism constituted "defamation of the Soviet Union." Following Putin's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, many Memorial members fled abroad due to the increasing censorship and the risk of being arrested for their human rights and historical investigations. However, it should be noted that they have not yet been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

This panel will feature leading Memorial representatives from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Perm who will discuss various topics in three blocks.

The panel will explore the historical investigation and remembrance work carried out by Memorial in Russia since its founding in 1988, including the organization's objectives and how the then-Soviet state responded. The panel will also examine the differences in Memorial's work compared to official history policies under Gorbachev, Yeltsin, and Putin. Furthermore, the panel will discuss the changes in the state's attitude over the years, how the population has responded to Memorial's efforts, and what the organization has achieved. The panel will investigate why Putin considered Memorial so dangerous that it was banned and its connection to the war. The panel will also explore why Putin and his regime place significant importance on historical narrative, the lack of collective investigation, and distortion of facts. In addition, the panel will look into the current discourses, propaganda slogans, and justifications for war that are built on historical distortion. Finally, the panel will discuss Memorial's chances of continuing its work in the diaspora and becoming a voice that reaches Russia. The panel will explore the strategies that Memorial is pursuing to establish itself abroad or continue its work in Russia. Furthermore, the panel will discuss the historical fabrications that may be expected from Putin in the future to justify further aggression and the likelihood of politically unbiased and fear-free work on history in Russia.
Susanne Schattenberg (Bremen)
Irina Scherbakowa (Moskau/Jena)
Aleksej Kamenskich (Perm/Bremen)
Nikita Lomakin (Moskau/Jena)
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