Analyzing representations of the Second World War in Russian—and in one case, Lithuanian—educational media, the contributions to this special issue respond to three important anniversaries: the eightieth anniversary of the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact in 2019, the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Second World War victory in 2020, and the eightieth anniversary of the German invasion of the USSR in 2021. Moreover, they investigate the commemoration of historical events which clearly gained in significance after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was only in the mid-1990s that post-Soviet Russia first introduced annual parades on Victory Day, 9 May, which used to take place only every five years during Soviet times. And it was again the government of Boris Yeltsin that expanded the Russian mnemonic calendar and introduced the Day of Mourning on 22 June, the day Germany invaded the USSR in 1941. Finally, the articles in this special issue also intervene in a lively academic debate on the political and cultural significance of the single most important affair in post-Soviet memory cultures—a term used here explicitly in order to avoid invoking the idea of a culturally coherent social space, but rather to denote all the different forms and modes of recalling the past enacted by a broad range of different actors, at times openly competing with each other. In an attempt to carve out the specific shape of these interventions, I will begin with an outline of the main achievements and lines of argument in the impressive number of recent studies that have explored the dynamics of remembering the Second World War, usually referred to as the Great Patriotic War in post-Soviet Russia. I will then present an overview of the contributions to this volume.
Remembering the Second World War in Post-Soviet Educational Media
The First Soviet Occupation in Lithuanian History Textbooks
Comparing narratives of the Soviet occupation in 1940 in current textbooks by two leading Lithuanian publishing houses, I claim that Lithuanian textbooks offer diverging accounts, which mirror to a large extent the opposing mnemonic frames supported by two rival political camps. I also show that the same textbooks tame those differences by transcending the politically charged frames they have chosen in the first place, presenting, for example, the USSR as both villain and victim of the war. Considering the relevance of these findings for our understanding of dynamics of remembering in general and in the Lithuanian culture of memory in particular, I point out that embracing the political inherent in all acts of recalling the past does not necessarily lead to politicized, i.e. narrow-minded memories, and I reflect on what these mnemonic practices mean for reevaluating the traditional role of Eastern Europe as the backward other of Western Europe.
Is Multiperspectivity an Adequate Response?
This article raises the question of how German textbooks should deal with issues of migration as one of the main challenges in a globalizing age. In order to prepare the ground for a well-founded answer it follows a twofold agenda. In a rst step, previous attempts at analyzing textbook representations of migration are critically scrutinized and read against the background of current debates on methodological approaches to textbook research. In a second step, anthropological research on the structure of public German discourses on migration is cited as a key to developing a truly multiperspectival mode of representing it. Ultimately, the article demonstrates that education alone cannot be given the responsibility of clarifying questions that politics have failed to articulate and that pupils must be taught to participate competently in the discourse on migration policy. They should be familiarized with the various positions advocated in the political sphere, and simultaneously equipped with the necessary tools for critical re ection.
Felicitas Macgilchrist, Barbara Christophe, and Alexandra Binnenkade
This special issue of the Journal of Educational Media, Memory and Society explores memory practices and history education. The first point of departure for the texts collated here is that memory (whichever concept we use from the current range including collective memory, cultural memory, social memory, connected memory, prosthetic memory, multidirectional memory, travelling memory and entangled memory) is a site of political contestation, subject formation, power struggle, knowledge production, and community-building. Our second point of departure is that history education is a site where teachers and pupils as members of distinct generations engage with textbooks and other materials as specific forms of memory texts that guide what should be passed on to the younger generation. As editors, we solicited papers that investigate how what counts as “worth remembering” in a given context is reproduced, negotiated and/or interrupted in classrooms and other educational practices. This introduction aims to sketch the overarching understanding of memory practices which guide the contributions, to point to the purchase of attending explicitly to the “doing” of memory, to highlight the difference between our approach to history education and approaches focusing on historical thinking, and to introduce the six articles.
On Reproducing, Destabilizing and Interrupting Majority Memories
Johanna Ahlrichs, Katharina Baier, Barbara Christophe, Felicitas Macgilchrist, Patrick Mielke, and Roman Richtera
This article draws on memory studies and media studies to explore how memory practices unfold in schools today. It explores history education as a media- saturated cultural site in which particular social orderings and categorizations emerge as commonsensical and others are contested. Describing vignettes from ethnographic fieldwork in German secondary schools, this article identifies different memory practices as a nexus of pupils, teachers, blackboards, pens, textbooks, and online videos that enacts what counts as worth remembering today: reproduction; destabilization without explicit contestation; and interruption. Exploring mediated memory practices thus highlights an array of (often unintended) ways of making the past present.