Weapons of Mass Instruction

Schoolbooks and Democratization in Multiethnic Central Europe

in Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society

History schoolbooks are part of a much broader legitimation process through which every society's ruling elite secures the uncritical acceptance of the existing political, social and economic system, together with the cultural attributes that re ect its hegemony. In central Europe, the need to justify the creation of nation-states at the beginning and end of the twentieth century has generated proprietary accounts that have pitted the region's national groups against one another. Post-communist democratization has intensi ed these divisions as political leaders feel obliged to employ hoary myths—and avoid inconvenient facts— about their country's history in order to survive the electoral process. In this way they succumb to the "Frankenstein Syndrome" by which the history taught in the schools destroys those who dare to challenge the arti cial constructs of the past. The article surveys history teaching throughout central Europe, with special emphasis on the Yugoslav successor states.