Dealing with the Trauma of an Undigested Past | International Conference Overview

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Vilnius, Lithuania March 5-6, 2020

International conference Dealing with the Trauma of an Undigested Past, Vilnius, Lithuania, March 5-6, 2020 Hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, in collaboration with Andrei Sakharov Research Centre of Vytautas Magnus University, the Psychology Institute of Vilnius University and other partners.


International Conference Overview March 5-6, 2020

Edited by Gabija Dalekaitė Samanta Galinaitytė Evaldas Ignatavičius

Vilnius Lithuania 2020

ISBN 978-609-420-693-1

This overview is an outcome of the interna�onal conference ‘Dealing with the Trauma of an Undigested Past’. Financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. The interna�onal conference ‘Dealing with the Traumas of an Undigested Past’ was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania in collabora�on with: Andrei Sakharov Research Centre of Vytautas Magnus University The Psychology Ins�tute of Vilnius University Embassy of the United Kingdom Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany Embassy of Ireland Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Honorary Consulate of India to Lithuania Honorary Consul of Lithuania in Sri Lanka Polish Ins�tute in Vilnius Cinema bou�que ‘Pasaka’ Informa�on partner: ‘LRT Televizija’


Valdas Adamkus Laimonas Talat-Kelpša Agnieszka Holland Nikolai Svanidze Franklin van der Pols Yves Doutriaux Robert van Voren Lamberto Zannier Irena Vaišvilaitė Svetlana Alexievich Herkus Kunčius Timothy W. Ryback Lukas Welz Andrei Kurkov Jana Javakhishivili M. J. Akbar Vamik D. Volkan Dovilė Budrytė Armand Volkas Esther Shavel-Gerz Nerija Pu�naitė Danutė Gailienė Mahesan Ganesan Simon Wessely Cheryl Lawther

CONTENTS INTRODUCTION Welcoming Remarks | H.E. Valdas Adamkus

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Opening Remarks | Laimonas Talat-Kelpša


Special Greetings | Agnieszka Holland




Moderator’s Word | Šarūnas Liekis


Nikolai Svanidze


Franklin van der Pols


Yves Doutriaux


Robert van Voren


Special Address | Lamberto Zannier


Meeting on ‘Contested Historical Legacies in Public Spaces’ | Lamberto Zannier




Moderator’s Word | Irena Vaišvilaitė


Svetlana Alexievich


Herkus Kunčius


Timothy W. Ryback


Statues and Limitations | Timothy W. Ryback


Lukas Welz


Discussion Highlights




Moderator’s Word | Jana Javakhishivili


Special Address | Andrei Kurkov


The Victory of Fear | Andrei Kurkov


M. J. Akbar


Vamik Volkan


A Psychopolitical approach for the reduction of ethnic, national or religious large-group conflicts | Vamik Volkan Dovilė Budrytė Transnational Memory as Travelling Trauma: Lithuanian Traumatic Memory after World War II | Dovilė Budrytė Armand Volkas


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Keynote Address for the Dramascope Newsletter | Armand Volkas


Discussion Highlights


Special Address | Esther Shalev-Gerz




Moderator’s Word | Nerija Putinaitė


Danutė Gailienė Coping with Historical Traumas: Lithuanian Experience| Danutė Gailienė

115 117

Mahesan Ganesan


Simon Wessely


Cheryl Lawther

132 134

Discussion Highlights

CONCLUSION Conclusion | Laimonas Talat - Kelpša




Vilnius Declaration on Dealing with the Consequences of Collective Trauma


INTRODUCTION On March 11, 2020, Lithuania celebrated the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of the independence a�er fi�y years of Soviet and Nazi occupa�on. For countries, 30 years is not a lot and in comparison, with other countries of the world, Lithuania is s�ll considered to be a ‘young’ country. However, despite this rela�vely short period, Lithuania, together with the two other Bal�c States – Latvia and Estonia, achieved excellent results. Lithuania is part of the largest interna�onal organiza�ons such as the United Na�ons, European Union, NATO, OSCE, OECD and other regional and interna�onal en��es. Throughout this period, it has experienced impressive economic growth and ranks among the top 50 countries in terms of the global development according to the UN Human Development Index of 2019. However, despite these spectacular achievements, there is s�ll a feeling of unease. Lithuania struggles with some of the highest European rates of suicide, alcoholism and emigra�on. Lithuania has a very complicated history, and it has been proven that violent historical periods have trauma�c effects on na�ons. How can these effects of trauma�c historical events affect genera�ons today? And with which methods can one deal with them? In order to find answers to these ques�ons, as well as to share the knowledge with the rest of the world, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania decided to host an interna�onal conference on the eve of its 30th anniversary of independence. This interna�onal conference �tled Dealing with the Traumas of an Undigested Past is the first large – scale interna�onal event of its sort, an unprecedented effort to try to ‘marry’ psychotherapy with diplomacy. This conference aimed to gain insigh�ul knowledge and a be�er understanding of the various historical collec�ve traumas interna�onally and to look for new and proven ways to help larger en��es such as na�ons to overcome their collec�ve traumas and their consequences. Over many decades, psychotherapy has developed a body of instruments helping individuals deal with their personal traumas. With an accelera�ng rate of success, professionals have been applying these instruments in tackling the post-trauma�c stress disorders of their pa�ents. Governments also have adopted these tools for addressing the needs of affected groups such as war veterans and refugees. However,


can these scien�fic achievements of psychotherapy help overcome collec�ve traumas caused by warfare, ethnic and religious violence, genocide, massacre, or poli�cal oppression? Is it feasible to approach and treat a society as a pa�ent? What are the long-term consequences of a collec�ve trauma that remains una�ended for genera�ons? The conference looked into the scope of collec�ve trauma among different na�ons and explored the cases of both success and failure in addressing the trauma�c effects and post-trauma�c disorders. With the help of the conference, it tried to evaluate these cases from the perspec�ve of psychotherapy professionals and sought to develop policy recommenda�ons, which could help governments, and interna�onal organiza�ons facilitate peacebuilding, reconcilia�on, and healing of the historical wounds.


WELCOMING REMARKS H. E. Valdas Adamkus President of the Republic of Lithuania in 1998-2003 and 2004-2009 Lithuania

Former Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency (US). Recipient of an international environmental award for outstanding achievements on the international arena. Receiver of the US Environmental Protection Agency gold medal for the achievements in service and the award of the U.S. President for outstanding service. Honorary doctorate in universities of Lithuania, USA and other countries.


In this magnificent historical space, I invite you to talk about the bright and complex pages of our past. Collec�ve traumas have le� deep scars on all the con�nents. Some of these scars are s�ll bleeding to this day. In order to heal these traumas, to prevent them from being reac�vated firstly, it is necessary to understand their causes, their consequences, and to acknowledge them. Like many countries in our region, from the very beginning, Lithuania has experienced turmoil, where great periods of harmony and crea�vity have been replaced by fierce wars, torture, and loss of independence. The possibility of wri�ng the true history of our na�on and state and the ability to learn from it, we have basically regained only now, thirty years ago. Having become the masters of our own des�ny, we are well aware of how long and complicated the process of recovery from all the traumas of the past is, but without it, it is impossible to move forward. Without it, it is impossible to build strong and las�ng rela�onships, both in our society and with other na�ons and states. When speaking of the pains of the twen�eth century, which have trauma�zed us and Europe as a whole in a very drama�c way, I also draw on my personal experience. It contains traces of the two most brutal, totalitarian regimes of the �me and the occupa�on of the country, which lasted for five decades. Pointless and transcending the boundaries of healthy percep�on annihila�on of the popula�on, deporta�ons, poli�cal and religious oppression, restric�ons on human rights and freedom, forced emigra�on from the homeland, of which I was a part. A�er spending several years in a refugee camp in Germany, later with millions of emigrants like myself, I found myself in the United States. In both Germany and the United States, I have seen up close the consequences of the repression and persecu�on of the Holocaust, they have affected genera�ons and they are s�ll felt to this day. During the difficult Soviet era, when I started visi�ng Lithuania, I re-experienced what the consequences of oppression are and what all the restric�ons and censorship of democracy and human mean for the society. Similar personal experiences are conveyed through the tes�monies of specific people and are met in the books, which have gained worldwide recogni�on, by the author and the Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, who has honoured our conference by her par�cipa�on.

Collec�ve trauma is not only a systema�c but also long-term injury to groups of people and society. It some�mes ignites difficult disputes to resolve between na�ons and states about the evalua�ons of the past. For us, they were part of our thirty-years-old independence experience. In its first year, it was accompanied by the threat of internal conflicts and disagreements with our neighbours, but step by step, thanks to wise leadership, these threats were minimized. We have built rela�onships based on common understanding and reconcilia�on. The support of foreign countries and interna�onal organiza�ons has helped us a lot on this path. Our memberships in the United Na�ons, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO, the European Union and in other regional and interna�onal structures. The condi�ons for these memberships were democracy, human rights, respect for minori�es, and good neighbourliness, meaning the smooth resolu�on of issues and the signing of mutual agreements. Probably the best example would be the path between Lithuania and Poland, which was plagued by various pains in the past, towards what we can proudly call a strategic partnership today. The speakers of the conference will list more of such examples around the world. I am delighted and proud to have been able to be part of this concordance and partnership process for both of my presidencies. Unfortunately, our region, as well as the rest of the world, is s�ll rich in completely opposite stories. There is s�ll a lot of tension in the world and areas where unresolved conflicts are s�ll present. And in some places, the conflicts are deliberately

In order to heal these traumas, to prevent them from being reactivated firstly, it is necessary to understand their causes, their consequences and to acknowledge them.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past ignited, poisoning not only the rela�ons between na�ons but also the mutual trust between ci�zens. There is no need to look far away for an example. I believe it is important that not only the countries themselves would focus on reconcilia�on, which they are some�mes awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts, but also the whole interna�onal community should be involved too by mobilizing the financial and diploma�c resources of na�onal organiza�ons. Openness and ac�ve par�cipa�on are necessary to expand further the area of peace, reconcilia�on, and coopera�on around the world. In this conference, we will focus on a variety of experiences of collec�ve trauma. We will talk about ways to treat them and listen to the inspiring success stories. The conference brought together poli�cians and diplomats, psychologists and psychiatrists, scien�sts, and representa�ves of civil society. I think more effort is needed in analysing success stories and learning from past mistakes. More research, publica�ons, and documentaries, which are available to all, are needed. This conference and other events of a similar nature must con�nue and complement each other to encourage people to talk, open up, and communicate on complex topics. Reading various publica�ons available today, we are aware that the consequences of collec�ve trauma hurt even the younger genera�on. When we regained our freedom and independence, we hoped to avoid that. Therefore, based on this experience, we must work pa�ently and with more focus, to heal our wounds quickly, to reduce the likelihood of new threats and conflicts. I wish the par�cipants of the conference meaningful and open discussions, new acquaintances, and definitely produc�ve mee�ngs.



A few years ago, a book by Dr. Terrence Real landed on my desk by sheer accident. The book bearing a �tle, I Don’t Want to Talk about It, and a sub�tle, Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression, explains how men carry on through life with their childhood traumas, repeatedly hur�ng themselves – and those around them – just because they don’t know how to deal with their pain. In a generic way, this book offers a be�er understanding of why, for example, men in Lithuania commit suicide six to seven �mes more o�en than women, resul�ng in one of the highest ra�o difference between genders in the world. But can it also explain why we, Lithuanians as a na�on, so o�en feel… how shall I put it?... slightly depressed and misplaced? Do we owe this sen�ment to a certain trauma, the existence of which we do not recognize and the pain of which we are not able to overcome? This ques�on deserves a closer a�en�on. The modern world way too o�en employs the sta�s�cal numbers of GDP growth, income per capita and trade levels to measure an individual na�on’s accomplishments. From this perspec�ve, Lithuania must be one of the success stories, bearing in mind where we started 30 years ago and where we have reached now. In 2019, the UN Human Development Index ranked Lithuania as #34 out of 189 na�ons, firmly pu�ng the country at the top quin�le of global development. Second, we must realize how trauma works on a collec�ve psyche. The effects are not only immediate but also with long-las�ng repercussions. Untreated trauma is passed on to the subsequent genera�ons. Therefore, dealing with trauma requires a delicate and commi�ed effort.

Laimonas Talat-Kelpša State Secretary at the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former Ambassador of Lithuania to India Lithuania

Former Minister Plenipotentiary at the Lithuanian Embassy in Georgia. Former Adviser to the Prime Minister, Assistant Foreign Policy Adviser and Assistant to the National Security and Foreign Policy Advisor at the Office of the President. Holder of the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary diplomatic rank. Recipient of the Lithuania’s NATO Accession Medal and Georgian Order of Honor award.

Yet, the popular feeling that prevails in Lithuania is that of unease rather than sa�sfac�on. Despite the spectacular growth, people s�ll feel lagging behind. They spend like crazy – last year, for example, consumer spending reached an all-�me high. But at the same �me, 39 percent claim they can buy less today than they could 10 years ago (Swedbank opinion poll, 2019). The country enjoys a physical presence of NATO and US troops, but its people s�ll men�on ‘Russia’ and ‘war’ in the first

march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius


place when asked to define ‘threat’ (a study by Lithuanian Social Research Centre, 2017). So what is wrong with us? In the textbooks of psychology, con�nuous low mood and sadness, feeling hopeless and helpless, having low self-esteem, feeling irritable and intolerant to others, are listed as the characteris�c symptoms of psychological depression. Can it be that our society is ill, and the name of the disease is not coronavirus? One of the reasons for Lithuanians to be depressed could be our difficult and complicated history. Each healthy na�on has a success story, a historical narra�ve on which it relies during dark hours. Building such a narra�ve for Lithuanians o�en reminds a struggle in the quicksand. Our record of victories is rather short, and those few op�ons, which the poli�cal class tries to capitalize on, turn out either to be ill chosen or come under systemic a�acks from abroad. Our twen�eth-century history, in par�cular, is disputed and revisited with such an intensity that normal people start feeling like they are losing the grip on reality and everything they are. The twen�eth century was extremely brutal for Lithuania. In addi�on to the tradi�onal horrors of war, which by itself involves a wide array of trauma�c experiences, the popula�on of Lithuania was exposed to a rou�ne of brutal violence, which lasted for a prolonged period. Thus, in just one decade from 1940 to 1950:


Roughly 200,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis and their local collaborators; 156,000 other ci�zens thrown into prison and tortured by the Soviets; No less than 130,000, mostly women and children, deported to Siberia; 20,000 perished as freedom fighters in the an�-Soviet resistance which lasted un�l 1953; Roughly 150,000 Polish-speaking popula�on ‘transferred’ from the Vilnius region to Poland a�er the war; 64,000 people fled from the formerly Nazi-occupied Klaipėda region, leaving the city of Klaipėda with only 28 civilians when the Soviet army entered the city in 1945; 56,000 or more fled the country in 1944-45, escaping the return of Soviets and repressions. This rounds off to approximately 800,000 people, who have vanished from the surface of Lithuania in just one decade. The es�mate total number of the Lithuanian popula�on in 1940 was 2.8 million. 800,000 is a staggering number. A substan�al volume of research has been produced, especially in the last 30 years, registering and analysing the sufferings of these vic�ms, most of whom have been lost forever. It is right that we seek truth about what happened to these people, because it helps to comprehend the full scope of our shared tragedy. On top of that, a growing volume of research is coming up, dedicated to the perpetrators. Today we have a fairly good understanding of how the Soviet repressive regime func�oned in Occupied Lithuania. Slowly, with hiccups, we come to face the role of Lithuanian collaborators and popula�on at large during the Holocaust and our responsibility for what happened. And the role of those who chose to ac�vely collaborate during the later years of Soviet occupa�on, s�ll divides our society and awaits our a�en�on. Meanwhile, the fate of those nearly 2 million who stayed and survived under oppression for 50 years, who witnessed the killings and tortures, who lost property and family members but were even not permi�ed to grieve, who themselves were constantly and systema�cally abused by the authori�es through terror, depriva�on, injus�ce and other ‘smart innova�ons’ of totalitarianism, has been largely neglected.

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Each healthy nation has a success story, a historical narrative on which it relies during dark hours.

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past We are the first- or second-genera�on descendants of these 2 million. It is no surprise, therefore, that our lives are not easy. Our self-esteem is severely damaged. Our rela�ons with neighbours, both immediate and poli�cal, are complicated. Rebuilding bridges with the Jewish, Polish and other communi�es s�ll comes with a difficulty, despite some progress already taking place. To rephrase Terry Real’s book, do we want to talk about it? And then, what are the means of overcoming the secret legacy of this social depression? This conference is an a�empt to examine the issue from a broader professional perspec�ve. It has brought together experts from fields as different as diplomacy, psychotherapy, literature, cinema, and many others. The aim is four-fold: First, we need your help to understand and acknowledge our trauma. This does not always come easy. However, one who wants to heal must diagnose and acknowledge his or her problem for starters. Second, we must realize how trauma works on a collec�ve psyche. The effects are not only immediate but also with long-las�ng repercussions. Untreated trauma is passed on to the subsequent genera�ons. Therefore, dealing with trauma requires a delicate and commi�ed effort.

Janušauskienė, D., et al. (2017). Ar Lietuvos gyventojai jaučiasi saugūs? Subjektyvus saugumas kintančiame geopolitiniame kontekste. [Online]. A case study. Lietuvos socialinių tyrimų centras, Vilnius. Available from: [Accessed 29 May 2020] Swedbank Opinion Poll (2019). Ar gyventojų nuomonė atitinka realybę: kaip per 10 metų kito lietuvių pajamos ir kainos? [Online.] Available from: [Accessed 3 June 2020]


Third, we have to put our collec�ve traumas in a larger interna�onal context. It is important to understand that our pain is unique but hardly singular. There are other countries and na�ons, from Sri Lanka to Ireland, who have suffered in recent history and who s�ll struggle to come to terms with their trauma�c past. Can we learn from their experience? Finally and most importantly, what are the methods and means of overcoming collec�ve traumas? Can we lean on the academic accomplishments of psychotherapy? Or maybe art? Or literature? Can we develop a universal toolbox, a certain blueprint, for those na�ons and socie�es who are s�ll in the denial stage of their mul�ple trauma? Our big neighbour comes as an immediate example, but probably there are many more. Our conference is structured along these lines, and I am thrilled and happy to see so many dis�nguished and interna�onally recognized guests par�cipa�ng. On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I welcome you all and wish you best of success in your proceedings.


Agnieszka Holland

I believe this conference will be a frui�ul, important and intellectually enriching event. The topic of the conference is very close to me and I was dealing with this subject in several of my films. Is it possible to take any lessons from the history? Is the history only the burden and trauma or is it also a chance, a new beginning and in some cases, possibility for hones�es?

Film Director, Screenwriter, awarded by numerous international prizes, three-time Oscar nominee

I think that for many years a�er the World War II, the trauma of the Holocaust and the history, which was around the World War II and the Stalinist crimes, created some kind of vaccina�ons for the next genera�ons. This vaccina�on was responsible and led to the crea�on of the European Union. The answer to those traumas, those fears and those disappointments of humanity with itself. This vaccina�on has worked for many years, unfortunately, now it is evapora�ng, it is not working anymore. Therefore, the ques�on is, if we are s�ll able to work our memory, to work it in an honest and courageous way. Are we able to make the history our ‘cure’? And this ‘cure’ is possible if we find courageous, objec�ve and intellectually brave ‘doctors’, the ‘real surgeons’ of the memory.

Photographer: Boryana Pandova for Sofia International Film Festival

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Nominated for the Oscar in 1985 for Angry Harvest, in 1990 for Europa Europa and 2012 for In Darkness. Recipient of the Poland’s prestigious Officer’s Cross of the Order of Restitution for her outstanding contribution to Polish culture in 2001 and 2011 and the Special Orzeł (Eagle) Award for her consistent artistic achievement in Poland and abroad. She was also honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the 1999 Film Festival in Las Vegas.

Are we able to make the history our ‘cure’? And this ‘cure’ is possible if we find courageous, objective and intellectually brave ‘doctors’, the ‘real surgeons’ of the memory.





1 Mann, T. (1946). The Tragedy of Germany.

Many socie�es have faced historic traumas. And will undoubtedly con�nue to do so in the future. Unusually, the process of healing comes naturally. However, the effect of some events has been so massive and divisive, that it seems almost impossible to encompass. As the German writer, Thomas Mann wrote in 1946, a�er the end of the Second World War, 'How will it be to belong to a na�on […] under whose desperate, megalomanic efforts to become a na�on the world had to suffer so much! […] Back of every sentence that we construct in our language stands a broken, a spiritually burnt-out people… a people that can never show it’s face again'.1 Yet socie�es have to con�nue and to find ways to rebuild and create a new future. Usually, the physical reconstruc�on comes rather quickly, but the mental diges�on takes a much longer �me and starts in all seriousness only decades later when a new genera�on takes the fore. The issue of how to remember the past o�en leads to renewed tension and conflict. In some countries, all visible traces of the past have been removed as much as is humanly possible, while in others, symbols of the past have been adapted or merged with others that symbolize the period of survival and renewal. This session will look at these issues from various perspec�ves and will try to draw lessons that might help to ease the process of diges�ng and healing in the future.

Šarūnas Liekis Professor, Dean of the Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy at Vytautas Magnus University Lithuania

MODERATOR’S WORD All countries have a trauma�c experience, which defines their public thinking on historic memory. Not only historians but also poli�cians, philosophers, bureaucrats are involved in heated public delibera�ons and discussions. Lithuania is not an excep�on. The Holocaust represents the bloodiest page in the history of modern Lithuania. The genocide of the Jews should thus logically occupy a central place in the memory of the na�on’s twen�eth-century experience of wars and foreign occupa�ons. Also, Lithuania’s Holocaust is situated within a difficult conversa�on on the history of Jewish-Lithuanian rela�ons and is closely linked to the broader transforma�on of historical memory in modern-day Lithuania. Embedded within this se�ng are a number of issues: the context of war�me memory; conflic�ng post-war narra�ves concerning the Holocaust; the emerging na�onal conversa�on about the Holocaust since the late 1980s in both the academy and the public sphere; the poli�cal dimensions, both domes�c and interna�onal. Though it is a part of the longstanding process and long-sought goal of the Jewish community has been achieved state commemora�ve recogni�on early in the process, there are also s�ll persistent genera�onal and ideological divides in the issue as well as many other problems that plague Lithuania’s historic traumas.

Member of the Faculty Council, Professor at the Dept. of Political Science, and Member of Vytautas Magnus University Senate. Chairman of Executive Group of National Project Tauta ir Valstybė (The Nation and the State) under the Research Council of Lithuania. Inter alia, Expert for the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance.

All countries have a traumatic experience, which defines their public thinking on historic memory. Not only historians but also politicians, philosophers, bureaucrats are involved in heated public deliberations and discussions. Lithuania is not an exception.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Nikolai Svanidze Historian, Journalist, TV presenter Russia

Author and Presenter of many television and radio programs. Member of the Council for Civil Society and Human Rights under the President of the Russian Federation. Professor at the Russian State University of the Humanities. Author of the TV documentary series Historical Chronicles and the book Medvedev based on interviews with the Russian president at that time, Dmitry Medvedev.


There are different perspec�ves and evalua�ons of the historical events and historical traumas. For example, the First World War, in Europe known as the Great War, it has created mental damage to the na�ons. There are monuments in the capital ci�es of Europe, which are usually built as tributes to the First World War vic�ms rather than the Second World War vic�ms. However, it is important to remember that the First World War has influenced all the 20th-century events that have occurred – the collapse of several empires, the forma�on of several totalitarian regimes and World War II. Without an understanding of how Europeans perceive the First World War, the causes and circumstances of World War II cannot be understood. One cannot fully understand the people who were engaged in sharp poli�cal controversy. The Munich Conspiracy and the Ribbentrop – Molotov Pact. How did the Munich Pact come about, why did it become possible at all? European leaders feared war. This trauma of war is completely understandable. By using his talent for poli�cal demagoguery, Hitler managed to trick the poli�cal leaders. It made an impression. It was demagoguery, but talented demagoguery and people believed it. World War II is understood differently by different countries. As if, it was not one war, but mul�ple wars. One for England, the ba�le for Normandy. The next one is for the US, the Pacific. The third is for Germany. The fourth is for Poland. The fi�h is for the people of the Soviet Union. For the whole world, the war began on September 1, 1939. For the Soviet Union, the war started on June 22, 1941, when Germany a�acked the USSR. I am talking about the fact that it is not a different understanding between states, but people understand it differently. Most of the Soviet people were unaware of the events that led to events in June 22, 1941 the events between September in 1939 and June in 1941. If World War I led to pacifism and the fear of war in Europe, then World War II is a terrible trauma for the Soviet Union that makes us think we have always been right. The role of the Soviet Union in defea�ng Hitler is huge. We were right when we liberated the neighbouring countries from Hitler, but what happened next, the Russian ci�zens did not know and do not want to know. I ask you to understand that it is difficult for the children and grandchildren of a Soviet soldier who liberated Warsaw and Prague to understand that the same Prague and Warsaw were later occupied by the USSR itself.

It is psychologically difficult. The traumas of war are different. And they set people apart even though they could unite because victory over Hitler is common. But everyone is watching themselves. It is a shared victory. That is the truth. Therefore, the most categorical assessment is that Hitler would not be defeated without the joint ac�on of the USSR, the United States and England. Another trauma that differen�ates about the totalitarian past is the a�tude towards the Soviet Union. Many Russian ci�zens, former ci�zens of the USSR suffer from Stockholm syndrome. People value those who tortured them. Thus, un�l the Holodomor is assessed, Stalinist repression is assessed, un�l the Katyn massacre, Budapest, Prague are assessed – a general assessment of historical events is not possible. Assessments of the history of Russia and new Eastern Europe differ. For the Russians, it is pride that there was an empire that everyone feared. For the new Eastern Europeans, a completely different memory, feeling, a completely different psychological complex, this needs to be understood. The Russians should understand the people of new Eastern Europe. The new Eastern Europeans must understand Russians. Understanding the differences does not mean agreeing. But understanding is very important in order to find common solu�ons.

Understanding the differences does not mean agreeing. But understanding is very important in order to find common solutions.

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Franklin van der Pols Historian & Sociologist, Chief-editor of Museumpeil and Strategic Advisor to museums in Europe The Netherlands

Editor-in-Chief of Museumpeil, a journal for museum professionals, and strategic advisor to different museums in Europe. Specializes in the public understanding of science and technology. Former Director of the Dutch Science Week and Director of the National Foundation for the Public Understanding of Science and Technology. Former Head of Exhibitions at the Netherlands Royal Army Museum.


My subject is how to translate history to the general public, and I would like to talk to you about na�onal traumas and the way people talk about it. Trauma is like a mul�-headed dragon, difficult to define and more difficult to fight. I firmly believe that it helps to talk about problems, whether it concerns your marriage, your family or your na�on. Some deeply distressing events can cause trauma. Others cause strong and las�ng feelings of shame and guilt, situa�ons where we should have acted but could not. The Dutch Veterans Ins�tute makes the dis�nc�on between trauma and moral injury. As I understand it, in dealing with grave traumas talking will not help. You have to intervene directly into the brain or you have to use methods like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). In dealing with moral injury (individual and collec�ve) talking will help. I am not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist but a historian. So, I will stay away from neurophysiological and psychological dimensions of trauma. But I think ‘moral injury’ can be helpful as a term when looking at trauma from the perspec�ve of civil society. What is our responsibility as a ci�zen? For me, collec�ve traumas are foremost collec�ve moral dilemmas. What we as a society should have done but failed to do! My country, The Netherlands, has had three big collec�ve moral dilemmas in the 20th century. The first one is the deporta�on of our Jewish ci�zens during the Second World War. Secondly the war of independence in Indonesia. And the third one is Srebrenica. I want to talk with you about Srebrenica. Srebrenica is the greatest massacre on European soil since the Second World War. A�er Tito’s death, the tensions in Yugoslavia grew, and war broke out. The UN stepped in and decided that some places should be safe havens and asked the Dutch government to go to Srebrenica. Many other countries refused to go there because they considered Srebrenica to be indefensible. But a�er many discussions in our parliament, the Dutch government agreed to send soldiers to Srebrenica. In the end, 8000 Bosnians were murdered and secretly buried. So, who got the blame? Did Secretary-General Kofi Anan step down from office? No. Did the French general Janvier accept his responsibility as commander of the UN army? No. Did the Dutch government accept their responsibility? Yes, seven years later. But who s�ll get most of the blame? The Dutch soldiers.

In 2001, I was asked to become head of exhibi�ons at the Royal Army Museum. To my amazement, I discovered that the public trusts museums even more than scien�fic organiza�ons like universi�es, for whom I worked in the past. For me that is the real treasure of museums: the public trusts them. Trust is built on honesty and honesty means that you are open about your mistakes, about your black pages. Therefore, the most important task for museums is to try to establish an honest and open view on our collec�ve past. Therefore, I wanted to do an exhibi�on on Srebrenica in 2005, ten years a�er the tragedy. A�er some problems (almost everyone wants to forget their failures and mistakes), we made a mul�-perspec�ve, interac�ve movie. The visitors are invited to stand in the shoes of a soldier, a Commanding Officer and a civil servant of the Ministry of Defence during the Srebrenica events. The movie shows dilemmas for these three people and the visitors are asked to decide what they would have done in their place. For example: You are a soldier and you are travelling through enemy territory. You see a wounded soldier at the side of the road. What do you do? UN instructions are very strict, just to observe and not participate in the fighting or help wounded soldiers. But according to international law, you have to help a wounded soldier, what do you do? Well, the interac�ve movie was a success, even our cri�cs said that they gained a be�er perspec�ve on the dilemmas soldiers in ac�on had to face. I think it was a success because we did not judge; we just showed the dilemmas and asked the visitor what he or she would have chosen to do. To conclude, for me it is obvious, collec�ve trauma�c events, the black pages in our history, should be talked about. Not to judge but to understand. And if you have to judge, please make sure that you state your own part in it. Be a part of the process, otherwise reconcilia�on, I think, is impossible. Secondly, welcome returning soldiers with respect, because we as a society sent them to ba�le. Think about some form of public debriefing a�er a military mission. I think we did a li�le piece of that in our museum. And lastly, think about the phrasing you use when talking about trauma�c events. Do you say ‘soldiers’, or do you say ‘our soldiers’? Do you say ‘100,000 Jews were killed’ or do you say ‘100,000 of our Dutch Jewish ci�zens’ were killed. When we forget to add ‘our’, we imply that they do not belong to us. A collec�ve moral dilemma needs a discussion about our collec�ve responsibility.

march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius

For me it is obvious, collective traumatic events and moral dilemmas should be talked about. Not to judge, but to understand. And if you have to judge, please make sure that you state your own part in it. Be a part of the process, otherwise the reconciliation, I think, is impossible.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Yves Doutriaux Member of the Conseil d’Etat, Former Ambassador of France to the OSCE France

Counsellor of State, Judge in the Supreme Court administrative cases, Legal Adviser to the government on International Accords inter alia, Advisor on anti-discrimination to the Défenseur des Droits, and Associate Professor in Public Affairs (Paris 1 Sorbonne) and Geopolitics (Paris-Dauphine). Former Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations in New York, Consul General of France to Canada, Counsellor to the French Permanent Mission to the European Union.

In the case of France, ci�zens, especially in some French suburbs of the big ci�es are far from being at ease and these socie�es s�ll wrestle with mul�ple traumas. In France, the history can be a topic of division on the poli�cal scene, especially when the poli�cians embody the past in the so-called ‘memorial laws’. What is the ‘memorial law’? It is a law that sets an official point of view of the state about the historical event. The first memorial law in 1990 condemns any acts of an�semi�sm, racism, xenophobia and sets a penalty for those who commi�ed these crimes. The second memorial law of 2001 recognizes the Armenian genocide of 1915. The third memorial law, which was accepted in 2001, recognized trafficking and slavery as crimes against humanity. Fourth rather controversial memorial law on recogni�on of the na�on and na�onal contribu�on in favour of French returnees that was released in 2005. The major historical periods are s�ll being contested in France of today. The issue of coloniza�on and par�cularly the war in Algeria are s�ll extremely sensi�ve topics today. The representa�ve of those who fought against each other, many of them are s�ll living in the France of today. Besides, there is a geopoli�cal aspect of trauma, a consequence of the trauma of the past. Therefore, the commemora�on at the end of the war in Algeria and the tribute to be paid to its vic�ms from both sides of the conflict, have been a topic of controversy. Former president Chirac inaugurated memorial in Paris, which displays the names of 15,000 soldiers who died during that war. The memorial law of 2005 focuses on the posi�ve aspects of coloniza�on. Historians and teachers are rather opposed to poli�cal interference on teaching and research and believe it should be separate from poli�cs. The law also triggered controversy not only with the academics but also with Algeria and has been repealed from the law, so it is no longer in legisla�on. Aboli�on of slavery, commemora�ons, and memorials. On May 10th, the memorial law of 2001 was adopted and each year it is the Na�onal Day on Memory on Slave Trades, Slavery and their Aboli�on. The highest-level officers in France a�end the ceremonies. The educa�on of slavery aboli�on is pivotal in France, so every year there is a circular send by the Minister of Educa�on to all teachers for them to read a text during classes.


There is a founda�on named Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation. The founda�on aims are to foster a non-confronta�onal memory of slavery, collaborated research on slavery and post-slavery and also, promote memorial tourism. S�ll in the two ci�es, Nantes and Bordeaux, there are debates about changing street names, because street names are named a�er the people who played a role in the 18th century on the slave trade. Similar changes have been made in Paris. Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault said, ‘It is impossible to speak about France of today without speaking about its colonial past and geopoli�cs again. Its peculiar rela�onship with Africa which is part of French and French-speaking African respec�ve iden��es’. Therefore, we have to build on the past, to share something in common, even though some�mes the past was a trauma. We have to overcome the trauma, to make this respec�ve trauma part of our respec�ve iden��es. This is very challenging.

We have to build on the past, to share something that we have in common, even though sometimes the past is traumatic. We have to overcome the trauma, to make this respective trauma part of our respective identities. This is very challenging.

march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Robert van Voren Professor, Executive Director of Andrei Sakharov Research Center at Vytautas Magnus University Lithuania

Professor of Soviet and post-Soviet studies, Chief Executive of the International Foundation Human Rights in Mental Health Federation, Global Initiative on Psychiatry and Executive Director of the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. Author of several books on the Holocaust and post-soviet traumas.

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Reading about the pillaging and the murder is difficult, even almost eighty years later. It touches you to the core; it violates all your boundaries and defence mechanisms. However, for me equally painful is reading about the incredible level of compliance. The fact that the overwhelming majority of the popula�on looked the other way, let their compatriots be killed and in fact, made us of the situa�on to enrich themselves with the property of those who had just been murdered and a�er this, they con�nued their lives as if nothing happened. The Ninth Fort is the site of the largest mass murder in the history of Lithuania. Within one day, over nine thousand Jewish Lithuanians were murdered by Lithuanian police ba�alion officers. You could say that on October 29, 1941, Lithuania lost forever its innocence and engraved the combina�on of vic�m and perpetrator in its history. Of course, the killings in the Ninth Forth were not the first case of mass murder of Jewish compatriots on Lithuanian soil. It was an orgy of violence and extermina�on that will always remain hard to understand, let alone accept and forgive. It takes genera�ons to digest. There is a lot of talk about the issue of ‘double genocide’ to which some Lithuanians refer also in their trenches. I am not sure that the deporta�ons of the Lithuanians to Siberia can be

legally considered as genocide but what I know is that the fate of many returnees from Siberia was no different than that of Jews who survived the Holocaust. It is very clear: Lithuania was vic�mized and not only by the double Soviet occupa�on. The whole history of the 20th-century Lithuania is a long sequence of misfortunes that very much shaped the na�on and is a par�al explana�on of what happened during the war. We all, in fact, know what happened, we all know how horrible it was and we are s�ll struggling with the a�ermath. The war changed us forever; both vic�m and perpetrator, and life will never be the same. Nevertheless, in order to move on, we have to try to learn to understand, to come to terms with what cannot be undone, to build a new life, a new life together and try to use past experiences to help prevent a repe��on in the future. I think the majority of Lithuanians know what happened during the war and feel the tension of being descendants of vic�ms and perpetrators at the same �me. Especially the younger genera�on wants to know, wants to explore and wants to come to terms in order to be able to digest and move on building their country; a country that is gradually becoming mul�-racial and European again.

The war changed us forever; both victim and perpetrator, and life will never be the same.

I believe that we should invest in something extremely valuable and important, for us and future genera�ons: we should invest in tolerance. And tolerance means a willingness to understand the other, if not to accept the other and to build bridges that eventually help create a wall against indifference and compliance. We should invest in a ‘decent society’ as Avishai Margalit so beau�fully puts. We tend to simplify life, to divide people into groups, into those who are good and those who are bad. It is easy, yet before we know we are building walls, depor�ng people and finding a million explana�ons why we are ‘on the good side’. Judging is so easy and so, is blaming the other side. Yet we live on such a thin line between good and evil and many of us will find themselves every now and then on either side.

25 march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius

Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

SPECIAL ADDRESS Lamberto Zannier OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Italy

President of the Centre for International Negotiation and Mediation of the University of Gorizia, OSCE SecretaryGeneral for two consecutive three-year terms in 2011-17. Former UN Special Representative for Kosovo and Head of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Former Director of the Conflict Prevention Centre of the OSCE.


Tensions within socie�es have increasingly become one of the root causes of modern conflicts. They feed on different perspec�ves and historical narra�ves as well as on cultural, religious, poli�cal differences within the society. Divisions within socie�es can be made more visible by the increasing polariza�on of rela�ons between countries, which unfortunately occurs at a �me when we face global challenges and would need more shared visions and strategies. The impact of memory is very important. History, of course, is based on facts and it is important, first of all, that one recognizes those facts. Yet, in an increasing trend towards more robust iden�ty poli�cs, governments tend to strengthen their own narra�ves on history. They select historical processes on which to focus as significant for their country, meaningful from their perspec�ve. They may play down or even ignore darker pages that might be difficult to explain or to jus�fy. Yet socie�es are becoming more diverse. What is important for some may be irrelevant or even confronta�onal for others. And the historical perspec�ves can also change. The impact of geopoli�cs can amplify this dissonance if there are external players who encourage different narra�ves that can create division in the society. How can we move past the collec�ve trauma and use historical memory to build bridges rather than reinforce divisions? What is needed is the recogni�on of these different narra�ves and the recogni�on of the ‘mirror of pain and pride’: what one celebrates as a great moment of pride for his own na�on or people can be seen by others as a dark page, a �me of mourning. The acknowledgement of the suffering experienced by a group or by a na�on is a good star�ng point. However, some�mes you need some gesture of reconcilia�on or even compensa�on for what has happened. Establishing the truth and seeking redress in some cases is the only way for a community to move on. Transi�onal jus�ce mechanisms can be very useful to expose evidence about terrible crimes. Without such evidence, ethnic, religious or poli�cal groupings involved in violence may be less inclined to accept responsibility. Most importantly, these mechanisms can help survivors, but also the successors of survivors, regain a sense of dignity and self-respect.

Nevertheless, how do we foster inclusive memories and narra�ves? How do we ensure that historical memory is not used to divide socie�es? The first step is about history educa�on, which determines what future genera�ons will learn about their past. Both what we teach and how we teach it should reflect the diversity of society and acknowledge the presence of mul�ple and some�mes contras�ng perspec�ves and narra�ves. History educa�on content should be flexible and focus on developing students’ cri�cal, historical and inquisi�ve thinking skills so they can make well-informed judgements about historical facts. The second level pertains to public spaces, where states make visible whom and what should be remembered. Grūtas Park is an elegant way of preserving the complicated memory in a light manner that is not heavily poli�cized. As well as the right for public commemora�on and tolerance, and these rights should be managed in a way that does not create instability. Also here, it is important that relevant policies and ini�a�ves take into account the diversity of the society. Finally, the right to truth for people is fundamental. Efforts to establish facts can give a decisive contribu�on to overcoming traumas and successfully dealing with the past. If these principles are followed, this would be a good step forward in crea�ng an environment which is more transparent, more stable and which would contribute to generate the space for dialogue among states on these difficult issues.

If these principles are followed, this would be a good step forward in creating an environment which is more transparent, more stable and which would contribute to generate the space for dialogue among states on these difficult issues.

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march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius

MEETING ON ‘CONTESTED HISTORICAL LEGACIES IN PUBLIC SPACES’2 Lamberto Zannier OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities

As I travel and engage interlocutors in the OSCE area in my capacity as High Commissioner on Na�onal Minori�es, I witness how new crises and conflicts are increasingly feeding on ethnic divisions. While socie�es have become more diverse, iden�ty poli�cs is on the rise. Integra�on processes are progressing slowly and the protec�on of rights is o�en insufficient, leading to the marginaliza�on of certain groups in society and, in some cases, to radicaliza�on. In this polarised environment, minori�es are frequently instrumentalized to serve poli�cal and na�onal agendas in the wider geopoli�cal landscape. When I meet with minority representa�ves, but also with government ins�tu�ons – and the ministries of educa�on and culture with whom I engage regularly are very relevant in this context – I no�ce the impact of this trend in many areas. Disputes about monuments, street names, the use of flags, and so on, are o�en men�oned to me as a source of disagreement and controversy between majority and minority communi�es. It is becoming increasingly difficult to enact policies fostering the progressive integra�on of socie�es in an inclusive manner, while simultaneously protec�ng the iden�ty and culture of minority groups. And this leads to fissures in our increasingly diverse socie�es. In the field of educa�on, new trends towards more investment in teaching in the State language (which is undeniably important for integra�on), with a reduced investment in mul�lingual educa�on, which is perceived as strengthening the iden�ty of minority communi�es, is crea�ng tensions within mul�-ethnic socie�es. These tensions are o�en conveniently fuelled or exploited by external players, in the current geopoli�cal environment. We also see examples of minori�es resis�ng integra�on, demanding levels of protec�on that would effec�vely isolate them from the rest of society in the country where they reside. In the background, conflic�ng historical narra�ves o�en emerge as a primary source of these tensions, which can lead to clashes between different communi�es in society.

2 Zannier, L. (2019). Meeting on Contested Historical Legacies in Public Spaces, All Souls College, Oxford University, Oxford, 25 March.


History and memory have always been sensi�ve poli�cal issues, but it is increasingly apparent that there are very real security implica�ons. Memory poli�cs are part of iden�ty poli�cs, and we are witnessing first-hand how divisive forms of populism and na�onalism drive wedges between communi�es

in countries across the world. As you well know, myths and memories are an integral part of ethnic and na�onal iden��es. All na�ons use historical interpreta�ons to create a common sense of purpose. Na�onalists then prefer to tackle the ques�ons ‘who we are’ and ‘where we are going’ by selec�vely focusing on the ques�ons ‘where we came from’ and ‘what we have achieved and endured’. This is where it gets difficult and where the poten�al for conflict exists. Each na�on makes its own choices, o�en preferring to remember its successes and tragedies while skipping other – normally darker – pages, including the suffering that it may have inflicted upon others. This is some�mes referred to as the ‘mirror of pride and pain’, where the pride of one group is the pain of another, and vice versa. Focusing on the poli�cal impact of historical memory in the OSCE space, I believe we should look at three areas: the educa�on system, where educa�on ministries write or approve an official history curriculum; the legal sphere, where parliaments adopt ‘memory laws’ that establish official historical narra�ves or some�mes even prohibit alterna�ve interpreta�ons; and the public space, where heroes or historical events are remembered through statues, street names, monuments and other symbols. In quite a few of the countries I have visited, poli�cal disputes over what to remember and what to forget overlap with ethnic divisions within society. It is an old adage that history is wri�en by the victor, but in mul�-ethnic States, it is also too o�en the case that history is wri�en by the majority. Some�mes this can undermine integra�on, as poli�cians pursue ethnocentric na�on-building processes that are built on specific historical memories that emphasize and enlarge the differences and distance between groups. This weakens the cohesion of society and makes it vulnerable to inter-ethnic tensions. When the official historical narra�ves of different countries are diametrically opposed, this can aggravate disputes between them. People genuinely feel that their na�onhood is being threatened if their historical achievements are denied by other States or if suffering inflicted upon them is not acknowledged, and can, therefore, respond quite strongly. In a geopoli�cally tense environment, countries may feel threatened by the narra�ves in other countries. This can lead to acrimonious exchanges and deteriora�ng bilateral rela�ons, which is


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past some�mes referred to as ‘memory wars’. Of course, we have to consider the wider context in which these disputes take place, and that there may be actual threats in the military, poli�cal and economic fields. Also, we cannot disregard the fact that the memories of an o�en-recent violent past may s�ll be vivid, and that the process of reconcilia�on and elabora�on of the trauma that war has brought may not have been completed, and indeed may not be completed for some �me to come. So, one first very general conclusion is that concerted efforts are required in this polarized environment to encourage and support dialogue and reconcilia�on, both within and between States. The topic of symbols is intrinsically related to the principles of inclusion and integra�on. This is why my predecessors included it in the 2012 Ljubljana Guidelines on the Integra�on of Diverse Socie�es. Guideline 50 focuses on fostering inclusive public spaces: ‘States should promote integra�on by respec�ng the claims and sensi�vi�es of both minority and majority groups regarding the display and use of symbols in shared public space. While being mindful of freedom of expression, States should avoid the divisive use of symbols and discourage such displays by non-State actors. Where appropriate, opportuni�es to promote inclusive symbols should be sought’. When we discuss monuments and other symbols, many people immediately think of the Balkans. In North Macedonia, ethnic Albanians and ethnic Macedonians have each erected their own statues, and the legacy of the Skopje–2014 project is s�ll visible. Just last month in Georgia, tensions erupted between ethnic Armenians and ethnic Azerbaijanis over a statue to an ethnic Armenian hero of the Nagorno-Karabakh war. In the US, we have seen what happened in Charlo�esville amid rising tensions related to confederate statues. I keep running into contested symbols everywhere I go, as ethnic minori�es increasingly making their voices heard and challenge the hegemony of the memories of the majority. I have recently come back from Latvia, where a large Soviet-era statue in Riga recurrently leads to heated debates. In the Netherlands, where I live, there are groups calling for the renaming of streets or the dismantling of statues of colonial-era administrators. In my na�ve Italy, I visited the town of Bolzano/Bozen where a poli�cally charged frieze to Mussolini was changed by ar�sts a�er an open compe��on. I understand that the Rhodes Statue here in Oxford was also controversial.


But how do we apply the Ljubljana Guidelines to these cases? This is easier said than done. Since 2012, the HCNM has not engaged countries on this issue in an opera�onal way. Some may be resistant to any engagement at all. They may think that history – and all that symbolizes it – should be le� to historians, as some representa�ves of OSCE governments have in fact told me. I would be happy to do that… if everyone did. But I have no�ced that too o�en, poli�cians do not heed this advice, and fall for the tempta�on to use history to play iden�ty poli�cs. This is also why I cannot leave educa�on to teachers and I cannot leave language to linguists. So, my answer would be: the display and use of historical legacies in shared public spaces may be too important to be le� to historians. While I fully recognize the sensi�ve nature of this issue, I believe my Ins�tu�on is well placed to explore, within the limits of my mandate, how it can help policymakers manage disputes in a pragma�c way. Just like the display and use of symbols in shared public space, language policy and educa�on policy are sensi�ve iden�ty issues internal to States, but over 25 years of HCNM experience has shown that such tensions can be defused by quiet advice and expert assistance, by helping to establish inclusive procedures and by sharing best prac�ces. The devil is o�en in the detail, and when it comes to these issues, it is not only about what is decided, it is o�en more about how and by whom it is decided.

march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius




Memory is the main theme of this panel. It is important to touch upon what is happening with memories and the memory of traumas and the par�cipants are encouraged to speak on topics of suppressed memory, on an aim to control memory, on speaking out memories as telling the truth and overcoming ignorance, on healing memory and reconcilia�on.

Irena Vaišvilaitė Professor at Vilnius University, Ambassador Lithuania

MODERATOR’S WORD At this panel, we are focusing on trauma-related memory, on different forms of it. On perpetua�on, suppression, and erosion of memory. Is art capable to heal memory by releasing, what is suppressed – pain or anger? On the other hand, perhaps, art does represent trauma�c memory to later genera�ons and generates empathy to vic�ms or, at least symbolically, enacts jus�ce to perpetrators? Why do ar�sts work with memories of traumas? How do later genera�ons perceive vic�ms of earlier tragedies and traumas? What are the means and trends to commemorate trauma�c past in public space and to deal with artefacts, produced by trauma�c past? Is damnatio memoriae the best way to deal with collec�ve trauma? Are trauma�c memories really to be treated like ‘an illness’ that has to be healed? Moreover, how we react to the policies of ‘conscious oblivion’, prac�sed by some states towards a tragic past?

Ambassador, Historian, Professor at Vilnius University. Former adviser to the Lithuanian President. Former Vice-Rector of the European Humanities University in Vilnius. Former Editor of the Lithuanian broadcasts of the Vatican Radio and Free Europe Radio in Prague. Author of multiple books and publications about religion, history, architecture and culture.

This panel is about the forms of memory, how memory lives with you, how sometimes memory is managed and what it can do to us.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Svetlana Alexievich Writer, Journalist, Nobel Prize Winner in Literature (2015) Belarus

Author of numerous books and articles on the greatest traumas of the 20th century. Winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. Recipient of numerous prizes and awards for outstanding achievements in literature. Her books have been translated into over 30 languages. Author’s books have been the basis for multiple theatre plays, TV series and documentaries.

Why do I write? All my life I am trying to find the answer to this ques�on. It started with my book called The Unwomanly Face of War. The book focuses on the war, the war that everybody was silent. While working as a journalist, I met up with many women and they did not talk in the same way as men did. Later on, it turned out that I knew one of those women but she, unfortunately, was not around anymore. She died. A�er that, I thought to myself that all the memories of those women could disappear. Same way just as the stories of my Ukrainian grandmother may disappear. Stories about the shocking things that happened during the war. And if it does disappear, this historic �me, these ordinary people, they will remain just a scenery in the historical background. Nowadays, when people are constantly in a hurry and living at a much quicker pace, the literature must also look for new forms of wri�ng. I thought about wri�ng the novel that would be expressed in the voices of people. In the voices of those hundreds of people I interviewed (I interviewed more than a thousand people for my book The Unwomanly Face of War). I have interviewed so many people because not everyone’s speech was well thought out. Some�mes people forget to think about what they are saying. However, I wanted for people, whom I was interviewing to talk though�ully. I wanted to have a dialogue with the person where we both could learn something useful from each other. This is how my novel was born. Another idea also appeared at the same �me. The idea that the project of Russian communism would never happen again. I realized that this is about a hundred years of our history and all I have to do is go through the essen�al moments of this long history. That was the road I took. I found people who saw Lenin. I also went to the wreckage of the empire. It was just a big fraternal tomb and a sea of blood. We also came to Pu�n. To the present. I thought that these stories of these people could become more than just an existen�al rubbish, that you set out on paper and it becomes literature. They had to be told in a construc�ve manner. To make everyday life into reality. To show the life of people, how people value each other, why supers��ons rule us so much. In the name of this, we can give our lives and the lives of others.


The most interes�ng part of my work was that I was able to meet so many interes�ng people. We talked to them about things that were very interes�ng to me as well. Why all this? Why is this happening? Why people, who are figh�ng in the war and live under condi�ons of war, do not go crazy? The conscience of an ordinary soldier is overwhelmed by the lives of two hundred people. And he carries on with his life. He creates family, has children. He loves. How is he coping with all of this psychologically? Humans have become some kind of ‘socio robots’. How does it affect the human mind and why? – It was interes�ng to me.

I thought to myself that all the memories of those women could disappear. Same way just as the stories of my Ukrainian grandmother may disappear. Stories about the shocking things that happened during the war. And if it does disappear, this historic time, these ordinary people, they will remain just a scenery in the historical background.

” Photographer: Alexander Mahmoud, IPTC Photo Metadata

35 march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius

Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Herkus Kunčius Prose Writer, Librettist, Essayist Lithuania

One of the most prolific Lithuanian writers representing the aesthetics of postmodernism. His works have been translated into English, Bulgarian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, German and other languages. He is one of the few Lithuanian playwrights whose works are frequently put on in major theatres, and he has won numerous awards for them in various dramaturgy contests.


I will start with a personal story because I have come to the conclusion that I need to write about what I know, or what I might know. Let us start with 1978 when the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan happened. Already at that �me, fourteen-year-old teenager, I was thinking about the ways to avoid going into the Soviet army. One way was through medical commission. When it was �me to do my check-up at the commissariat, I said that I have a headache and they put me in the neurological department of Kaunas Hospital. Once I was there, I received a piece of advice from the medical staff that the best way to evade going into the Soviet army is to have a puncture in your spine. It was a rather dangerous procedure. As advised by a doctor, I had this procedure done. He said, ‘The machine is stupid, the man is smart’. Because of this procedure when the abdominal muscles are �ghtened, it rapidly increases the blood pressure and the machine detects it. The medics and the commissariat were very surprised to see my medical results and decided that I will not be going to the Soviet army. Unfortunately, a�er I moved to Vilnius, the documents and my medical records were lost. Therefore, I had to do everything again. In 1983, I was already studying at the art ins�tute and the Soviet Union army needed more manpower, so they started taking students from colleges and universi�es. While studying at an art ins�tute, it did not take much effort to fake a light level of insanity and I found myself in the psychiatric hospital. However, my diagnosis did not show serious psychological issues and so a�er all these efforts I s�ll had to leave and go serve in the Soviet army.

Now coming back to the topic of traumas, the unit I was in was different. The officers were rota�ng and some of them were coming from Afghanistan. To put it mildly, they seemed pre�y unstable and trauma�zed. In the unit, there was always a risk that any �me you might be shot. An incident happened when an intelligence officer shot all five of his colleagues. The event was excep�onal for the Soviet army at that �me and the general inspector of the armed forces of the Soviet Union, General Ivashu�n, came to inspect the event. He was one of the most secretly hidden personali�es in the Soviet Union. Due to fate, I was able to meet him, talk to him and salute him. Ever since this episode is strongly embedded in my memory. We have a friend in Moscow, Nikita Petrov, who writes about painful episodes of history. Well, he wanted to write a book about the Katyn massacre, because it was very important for him to find out what people were behind this event. Unfortunately, during Pu�n’s presidency, people were not able to access the archives, so he chose another way around this and tracked the names of the people who received military awards. This is how the book Reward for Shooting was created. Nikita’s example inspired me to inves�gate people who carried out repressions, who were directly responsible for them; many of them were from Lithuania. I choose to learn more about Ježovas because he was from Lithuania. His biography simply baffled me, as a person who was born in Lithuania, upon arrival to St. Petersburg in 1895; he changed his na�onality and con�nued horrible repressions. I was interested in the transforma�on of a man. How at different epochs a person could become an execu�oner and forget his iden�ty. Although during the interroga�on he admi�ed being able to speak Lithuanian. Throughout the period of 1895 un�l 1940, from the Russian Empire, the Red Terror, repression and other things. It is interes�ng to see how the concepts themselves have changed. It was interes�ng for me, to write about all the nega�ve characters who were responsible for these things.

march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius

It is interesting to see how the concepts themselves have changed. It was interesting for me, to write about all the negative characters who were responsible for these things.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Timothy W. Ryback Director and Co-Founder of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation USA

Director and Co-Founder of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation, in The Hague. Former Deputy Secretary-General of the Académie Diplomatique Internationale in Paris, an inter-governmental organization for addressing pressing issues in international affairs. Author of several books and various publications for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Wall Street Journal.

Our ins�tute has been collec�ng cases of historical contesta�ons and conflicts for the past five years. To date, there are more than 140 cases across the world. Deeply embedded historical traumas are present in virtually every society. Different socie�es, different collec�ve traumas and different responses. The Stumbling Stones. This representa�on is more personal, less complex, and, to my mind, more effec�ve and enduring than many Holocaust memorials. More than 60,000 of them across Europe. Collec�vely, they have been called the largest public monument in the world. Individual brass stones in front of houses where Jewish vic�ms lived. Simplicity. A name, a birth date, a loca�on, a death date. So much contained in so few words. A powerful narra�ve, like poetry. Moreover, there are not just individuals’ stones but also en�re families’ stones. Choreography of the stones. A child between his mother and father. Most important, woven into the daily life of the community. You can study them or ignore them, but you know they are there. Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery in the city of Nantes. The legacy was ignored for nearly 200 years but eventually, Nantes decided to confront it. The glass bricks with names of slave ships. It allows a focus on mass tragedies but in a simple narra�ve. Along the wharf, for about 1.5 km, there are more than 1,700 stones and they are set to show the departure point of the ships involved in the transatlan�c slave trade. So, in some ways, it has a very ar�s�c, almost magical effect. You can enjoy the walk. On the other hand, you can reflect on the tragedy. It allows both. It reminds but it does not impose. The brilliant part of this memorial is that there are also bricks for commemora�ng those people who have recently perished crossing the Mediterranean Sea. It is an evolving memorial. It is the way of saying that the past is with us, but we also need to be thinking about the present. We are not alone in bearing the burden of this tragedy. Comfort Woman Statue, Seoul. Here is an example of a truly hidden collec�ve trauma. Neither the vic�ms nor perpetrators wanted to discuss. It is a memorial for women who were pressed into sexual slavery during the Second World War by the Japanese army. Silence and shame. A young girl with bare feet and hands on her lap. Now there are more than


100 statues in Korea. Dozens more across Asia, now even in the United States and one in London. There is an empty chair beside the statue. Visitors can literally put themselves in their place. It is an interac�ve way to engage with a very painful and complicated history without overwhelming one with horror but making it a presence in society. Grūtas Park is one of the most effec�ve remedies I have encountered for dealing with uncomfortable legacies. You do not destroy. You do not hide. You relocate and contextualize. The site offers opportuni�es to mourn, to remember, to commemorate, to comprehend both the immensity, the complexity of the legacy, and its occasional absurdity. Statues and public spaces play a role, they are in some ways the most visible in this role of these legacies and I think when they are properly managed, they can actually help society to heal and understand. When a society begins to confront these legacies, not to overreact and overburden society with the past. When it is done in a moderated way, it can be effec�ve for drawing everyone in, promo�ng a sense of inclusiveness rather than aliena�ng it.

Statues and public spaces play a role, they are in some ways the most visible of historical legacies and I think when they are properly managed, they can actually help societies heal and understand.

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Timothy W. Ryback Director and Co-Founder of the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation

While times change and people change, statues don’t. Global Insight assesses how that’s becoming a problem.

In recent years, statues of contested historical figures have been at the centre of fierce public debate: the call to remove the statue of the 19th-century colonial-era businessman, Cecil Rhodes, in South Africa; objec�ons about a new statue of Captain Cook in Sydney’s Botany Bay; violent and deadly alterca�ons over Confederate generals in Charlo�esville, Virginia. Most of these statues have been standing for decades with rarely a complaint. Suddenly, they are being assaulted with sledgehammers, wrenched from their pedestals and spirited away in the dark of night. But why now? ‘Controversies about statues are really about not responding with understanding and sensi�vity to the changing nature of our socie�es’, says Baroness Usha Prashar, a crossbench member of the United Kingdom House of Lords. ‘It is about iden�ty’. Prashar, who served as Director of ‘race equality think tank’ the Runnymede Trust, sees issues of ‘acceptance, integra�on an sense of belonging’ at the core of these controversies.

Ryback, T. W. (2018). Statues and limitations. International Bar Association. The Global Voice of the Legal Profession. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 May 2020].



New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, agrees. ‘This is not just about statues’, Landrieu says. ‘This is about our a�tudes and behaviour as well’. In May 2017, Landrieu removed four prominently placed statues of Confederate-era ‘heroes’, in recogni�on of the city’s shi�ing demographics and evolving cultural sensi�vi�es. Once the largest slave-trade market in the United States and a bas�on of an�-aboli�onist sen�ment and white supremacy, New Orleans is now home to a majority African-American popula�on, which currently represents 60 per cent of the residents. By removing public monuments that celebrated the former slave-holding South, Landrieu was aligning New Orleans’ cityscape with contemporary demographic reali�es and seeking to create a more inclusive environment. He sees the removal of statues as the most visible part of a larger social project for his city. ‘If we take these statues down and don’t change to become a more open and inclusive society’, Landrieu says. ‘This would have all been in vain’. We erect statues to commemorate heroes of one era, wri�ng history into public spaces, which, in turn, shape the

collec�ve public iden�ty of a community. The problem is that �mes change, demographics change, but statues do not. They con�nue to reflect the ‘master narra�ve’ of a society, which may no longer be shared by the larger community. These ‘master narra�ves’, a term coined by Ronald Takaki, the late Japanese-American historian and pioneer in mul�cultural studies, were originally applied to American history – the widely held but inaccurate view that ‘American’ means white or European in ancestry – but is now embraced by ac�vists around the world reflec�ng on the narra�ves in their own socie�es. ‘Controversies about statues are really about not responding with understanding and sensi�vity to the changing nature of our socie�es.’ Baroness Usha Prashar Crossbench member, UK House of Lords

In the UK, the 18th-century slave trader Edward Colston has been celebrated for his benefac�on to the City of Bristol – statues, buildings, even pastries have been named for him. In a city where the black and minority ethnic popula�on has doubled since the start of the new millennium (from 8.2 per cent in 2001 to 16 per cent in 2011), ci�zens are joining the Countering Colston Movement, ques�oning why a white colonialist, who made his fortune trading slaves from Africa, should be celebrated in a city that prides itself on diversity and just elected a person of colour as its Lord Mayor. Colston is not alone. The statue of Cecil Rhodes, who made his fortune in diamond mines in South Africa (and used that fortune to establish the pres�gious Rhodes Scholarships) was toppled by students in Cape Town in April 2015. The Rhodes Must Fall movement subsequently staged protests at Oxford University, demanding the removal of a Rhodes statue on the High Street, but the protests have since waned. The statue s�ll stands. But the controversy has sparked a na�onwide debate over a ‘balance sheet of the rights and wrongs of imperialism’, with accusa�ons of a�empts at whitewashing by apologists for colonialism. In Canada, there have been similar controversies over statues and memorials to figures who perpetrated wrongs against the country’s indigenous peoples. In the city of Halifax, a statue of Edward Cornwallis, a governor of Nova Sco�a, who put a bounty on the scalps of Mi’kmaq people, became the centre of public demonstra�ons. The statue was removed last


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past February. At the federal level, the Inuits raised similar objec�ons to O�awa’s ‘Langevin Block’, the seat of government, named a�er Hector-Louis Langevin, who engineered Canada’s notorious assimila�on policies, like residen�al schools. ‘If you wish to educate these children you must separate them from their parents during the �me that they are being educated’, Langevin told Parliament in 1883. ‘If you leave them in the family they may know how to read and write, but they s�ll remain savages’. In June 2017, the Langevin Block was officially renamed ‘Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council’. Contested historical figures

In the US, the a�empts to remove statues of contested historical figures have been complicated by na�onal, state and municipal laws and ordinances, especially following the shoo�ng of nine African-American parishioners by a white supremacist in June 2015. That summer, the North Carolina State legislature moved pre-emp�vely to block statue removals by passing a law protec�ng ‘objects of remembrance’. In August 2017, in response to violence in Charlo�esville surrounding the statues of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper called for removal of Confederate statues from state property. He was duly reminded that removal would violate the Heritage Protec�on Act, enacted in July 2013. In response, angered protesters assembled in front of the old county courthouse in Durham, placing a noose around the neck of a statue commemora�ng ‘the boys who wore the grey’, and toppling it from its pedestal. The bronze statue crumpled as it struck the ground. It was set upon by protesters who kicked and spat on the twisted heap of metal. The protesters were iden�fied and arrested, but the charges were dropped in February 2018. Jim Strickland, the Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, sought to remove statues of two controversial Confederate figures: President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, and notorious founder of the Ku Klux Klan, Bedford Forrest. But, he confronted the Tennessee Heritage Protec�on Act, passed in 2013 and amended in 2016, prohibi�ng the ‘removal, reloca�on or renaming’ of memorials on public property. Strickland sought a waiver from the Tennessee Historical Commission, which was rejected, so he resorted to a legal loophole. Strickland sold the two city parks where the statues stood, each for $1,000 to a local non-profit organisa�on, Memphis Greenspace, which immediately had the statues


removed. ‘I was commi�ed to remove the statues in a lawful way,’ Strickland wrote last December. ‘From the beginning, we have followed State law – and tonight’s ac�on is no different’. ‘The greatest controversy has surrounded the statues of southern generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Charlo�esville, Virginia, where a young woman was killed amid violent protests.’ The greatest controversy has surrounded the statues of southern generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson in Charlo�esville, Virginia, where last August a young woman was killed amid violent protests. While media a�en�on has focused on the public demonstra�ons, the origins of the dispute lie not on the streets but embedded in a tangle of State heritage protec�on laws. In March 2017, the Virginia division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, along with other plain�ffs, sued the city of Charlo�esville following a three-to-two vote by the city council to remove the statues of Lee and Jackson from public spaces. Right to move

The suit was based on an arcane law, passed by the State’s General Assembly in 1904, barring coun�es and other local jurisdic�ons from removing public memorials to war veterans. The law was updated in 1997 to include ci�es. Charlo�esville argued that the city was independent of any county jurisdic�on – since the Lee and Jackson statues were erected in 1921 and 1924, and the 1997 amendment could not be applied retroac�vely – and therefore free to remove the two enormous bronze monuments. The judge, Richard E Moore, prohibited the city from removing the statues un�l the case was decided. In August, while the court decision was pending, protests and counter-protests erupted in the streets of Charlo�esville, followed by massive public pressure on the court, which was inundated with ‘thousands of phone calls, le�ers and emails’. Judge Moore was not to be moved. The Washington Post reported the judge saying that the lobbyist campaigns were ‘counterproduc�ve’, a ‘distrac�on’ and ‘worse than a waste of �me’. ‘That’s not how our system works, nor should it work’, Moore said. The city responded by shrouding the statues ‘to mourn the loss of life and severe injuries to members of our community’, while awai�ng a court decision. In February, Judge Moore ordered the shrouds removed but is s�ll delibera�ng on

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past the disposi�on of the statues. Regardless of the Charlo�esville District Court decision, the case will certainly go to the Virginia State appellate court, and perhaps beyond. In the interim, the statues of General Lee and General Jackson, s�ll stand, awai�ng their final judgment.


I am represen�ng today an organiza�on called AMCHA. The Holocaust survivors themselves in Israel and Germany established this organiza�on 30 years ago. They saw the need for a specific organiza�on, a community where the fellow survivors can be treated in a decent way. The organiza�on is currently providing help and psychosocial treatment for about 20,000 people, Israeli Holocaust survivors every day and the numbers are not declining. On the contrary, we are now serving double the size of those whom we served in treatment sessions 10 years ago. This organiza�on is not about healing but about trea�ng the trauma and the present past. Now I would like to talk about our concept of trauma because it differs from other concep�ons. As we have heard, there is this global issue of PTSD and we [workers of the organization] see it slightly differently. Because those who survived Shoah, they are not ill in any way. It is not an illness, injec�on or virus they received during the Holocaust. Trauma, as we [workers of the organization] see, is a normal reac�on to a very abnormal situa�on. Therefore, to react trauma�cally is a normal reac�on. It is not necessary for the severity of the trauma alone, but also to a large extend, is how vic�ms are dealing with it. It has an impact on how they can deal with and process the psychological injuries. The sequences, following the ini�al trauma, are as important as the trauma itself, or even more important.

Lukas Welz Head of the Holocaust Survivors’ Supporting Organization AMCHA Germany Germany

Chairman of AMCHA Germany. He currently serves as a Policy Advisor in the German Bundestag and works for an NGO in the field of political education for the German multicultural society. Former Head of the Working Group Conflicts in Europe of the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research.

According to the stories of the Auschwitz survivor: ‘The DSS told us that we are free, we could go where we wanted and we could do what we wanted, but there is no place where we could have gone.’ It was actually the moment of libera�on, which she remembered as trauma�zing. It was the moment, where she could feel nothing, but emp�ness and pain and all these pains and sufferings became clear as she realized what happened to her and her family. Within the holocaust survivors, also in Israel, for decades there was a conspiracy of silence, so those survivors did not speak in public, did not speak in society because people did not believe what they experienced, although they were fellow Jewish people. Back in the day, the research on how to treat trauma�c experiences was not there and many of the survivors were treated in false ways or some�mes Israeli psychologists were afraid of trea�ng the survivors. In Israeli society, back in a

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past day, the survivors have not been seen as heroes and ma�ered as much, as they are seen today. They have been seen as ‘sheep that went to the slaughterhouse’. And of course, many of them have been seen as broken down mentally and psychically. The survivors did not feel recognized. I feel that recogni�on is one of the most important word when talking about how to deal with trauma.

I feel that recognition is one of the most important word when talking about how to deal with trauma.


We have this conspiracy of silence for the perpetrator side. I think in Germany when we deal with the topics related to the Holocaust and the Na�onal Socialist past there is this conspiracy of silence within families. I think it is this way because the second and third-genera�on is not asking. Therefore, you hear the stories of survivors, you hear the stories of the vic�ms, you have The Stumbling Stones, but there are no stones or marking signs of perpetrator. There is not equal memorializa�on of the past here and I think, this leads also to the consequences in terms of an�semi�sm and con�nuity in racism and other structures within society which we can see un�l today.

DISCUSSIONS HIGHLIGHTS How do you evaluate the current state and the perspectives of memory policy in nowadays Russia?

Russia has a very difficult rela�onship with its past: imperial, communist, World War II, Gulags, etc. Historic traumas in Russia were not buried, the elites in the country are paralyzed. The system of fear s�ll dominates in the country. The marginal ideas such as ‘Great Russia’ emerge in the centre of public debates. The society stopped discussing essen�al topics, and therefore almost seized to exist. V. Pu�n did not become V. Havel not leading the people forward. Russian society does not agree with capitalism. I was wri�ng for 30 years the story of Russian communism and did not find answers to many ques�ons. Russian society is deeply ill. All this comes from the darkness of its past. It is not clear where this society is going, wandering in a vicious circle. Svetlana Alexievich

How does the conspiracy of silence in terms of politics of memory affect it? What is its impact on free speech?

It is a ques�on of free speech vs social good in away. Should we be silent about some things for the social good and compromise our first amendment rights? I guess my answer to that would be that when we are talking about historical wounds, we are talking about healing processes and every wound is different, there are many different types of wounds and they heal at a different pace at different �mes and different rates and some are deeper and some are less so. Someone said, you know when your borders are insecure, then your economy is insecure when your poli�cal situa�on is unstable, some�mes all you have is a historic memory and so you need to build it, to keep the na�on together around the one thing that you can control, which is the historical narra�ve. Once these other issues become more secure you are able to move forward and look into your histories into your narra�ves in a more differen�ated way. I think narra�ves change with �me and in some ways, we build the history for the period that we need. Timothy Ryback

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Historical traumas are essen�al for the forma�on and func�oning of poli�cal communi�es in interna�onal rela�ons. Drawing on historical traumas, states create their biographical narra�ves to make sense of the world to themselves and engage in meaningful rela�ons with the other states. Historical traumas, like crises in interna�onal rela�ons, can mark new beginnings for poli�cal life when new discourses and new iden��es are formed. Traumas play a major role in transforming poli�cal communi�es, producing new narra�ves and reshaping iden��es. Poli�cal transi�ons play a similar role. During poli�cal transi�ons, historical memories of traumas are instrumentalized to legi�mate new poli�cal orders. Consequently, the study of historical traumas and related memories is essen�al for understanding world poli�cs and change in interna�onal rela�ons. When and how do states adopt a cri�cal gaze into their dark pasts? Can different versions of these dark pasts coexist? When and how do states change their narra�ves about their past? How do these changes affect interna�onal rela�ons?

Jana Javakhishvili Professor at Ilia State University, President of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies Georgia

MODERATOR’S WORD I would like to start by recalling a story from my own experience. Last year in March, I delivered the public lecture at the Aljube Museum in Lisbon. This museum also used to be a prison during Salazar’s dictatorship. The Portuguese dissidents/ communists, former prisoners a�ended my lecture. During the lecture, I was telling the facts about my country: namely, about Georgia’s occupa�on by the Russian Red army in 1921, about Lenin’s Red Terror in the 20s, followed by Stalin’s Grand terror in the 30s, during which up to 3% of the country’s popula�on were either executed to death or sent into exile to Siberia. The Portuguese dissidents did not believe me and even were insulted by what I was saying. As it appeared, they believed in a myth of the ‘Humane and just Soviet Union’, where both Lenin and Stalin were heroes and not mass killers, opposite from who they are for me and many others who lived in the Soviet Union. During the lecture, the person in his nine�es even stood up and told me, ‘You are a liar, go home’. To that, I responded, ‘Actually, I do not need to go home, as I feel pre�y much at home here. Because in my home country, the trauma of the totalitarian regime is not acknowledged and there is a conspiracy of silence around it’. During Stalin’s regime, among many others, my grandfather – Mikheil Kandlaki was also repressed and sent to Siberia. We have only one photo of him, and in it, he is only 17 years old. Nevertheless, we are s�ll privileged to have his picture. There are many other families whose members were repressed, and they are not that lucky. In the Soviet Union, keeping pictures of the repressed rela�ves could become a reason for repression for the rest of the family. Therefore, people were usually erasing faces of their repressed family members from the photos. Thus, the genera�on of my grandfather is a genera�on of people who have been erased

President of the Georgian Society of Psychotrauma. She also works for the non-governmental foundation Global Initiative on Psychiatry Tbilisi, Member of GIP Federation. Her research interests concern mental health problems (including addictions) of war-affected populations.

Everything is interlinked. When we are speaking about international relations and the impact of trauma on the international level, we should also keep in mind the individual trauma, family traumas, communal traumas, societal traumas and their interplay. This is a systemic and systematic way of thinking. 49

Dealing with trauma of an undigested past not only from photos, but also from life, and now from the history as well. Georgia failed to implement lustra�on a�er becoming independent from Russia in the early 90s. The society failed to deal with the past, the lessons are not concluded, the history of the Soviet repressions is erased from the collec�ve memory and due to that, we face the danger of it to be repeated. Why did I start with my own story and a story of my country while opening the panel on interna�onal rela�ons? Taking into considera�on that professor Volkan is our panel par�cipant, I am referring to his unique analysis of the former Yugoslavian case. In one of his books, he explores the impact of trauma and humilia�on experienced by the Serbian society due to the conquering by the O�oman Empire over the long period of �me (from 14th to 19th century). A societal trauma that was not grieved properly, in combina�on with personal and family traumas of Slobodan Milosevic, contributed to the conflict in the former Yugoslavia in the 90s. This conflict, in turn, contributed to declaring Kosovo as the independent state. Also, the Kosovo case contributed to poli�cal manipula�ons from the Russian side, which acknowledged ‘independence’ of the two regions of my home country – South Osse�a and Abkhazia. Everything is interlinked. When we are speaking about interna�onal rela�ons and the impact of trauma on the interna�onal level, we should also keep in mind the individual trauma, family traumas, communal traumas, societal traumas and their interplay. This is a systemic and systema�c way of thinking. Additional readings

Javakhishivili, D., J. (2016). The Soviet Legacy in Contemporary Georgia: A Psycho traumatological Perspec�ve. Identity Studies in the Caucasus and the Black Sea Region [online], 5, 20-40. Available from: h�ps:// [Accessed date: 27th of May 2020].


SPECIAL ADDRESS They say that more o�en people remember the ‘bad’ than the ‘good’. Not me. I remember well what has been pleasant and surprised me, but what I did not like is le� in almost inaccessible depths of my memory. That is the ins�nct of ‘self-preserva�on’. It works in a special way; we protect our psyche from the bad memory and support it with a good memory. In our memory, we idealize the past and nostalgia sets in even for �mes, which we would not even wish upon our worst enemy. Following the events of the recent past and actual �me in which we live today, I have a strange feeling that if deporta�on is not forgo�en, it repeats itself. Crimean Tatars know this terrible word be�er than others do. Deporta�on. The struggle of the deported Crimean Tatars to return to their homeland in Crimea lasted almost 50 years and ended in victory. It was historical memory that turned out to be the main engine of this process which included not only the psychical return of the Crimean Tatars but also the restora�on of Crimean Tatar lives in villages and towns occupied by migrants from other regions of Soviet Union. If in 1944, Moscow deported the en�re popula�on of people with military force, in 2014, 70 years later also with the help of military forces Moscow annexed the en�re peninsula part of Ukrainian territory along with the previously deported Tatars. In the new era, we see history repea�ng itself. In April 2014 almost a�er annexa�on, Russia’s President Pu�n signed a document on measures to rehabilitate Armenian, Bulgarian, Greek, Crimean Tatar and German people and provide state support for their revival and development. In which the tragedy of Crimean Tatars was reformulated and downgraded in the best-wri�en style. That is the poli�cal surrealism of the highest standard.

Andrei Kurkov

Novelist, Independent Thinker and Author Ukraine

President of PEN Ukraine club. Author of 19 novels, including the bestselling Death and the Penguin, 9 books for children, and about 20 documentary, fiction and TV movie scripts. His work is currently translated into 37 languages and published across 65 countries.

The Russian authori�es understand that the historical memory of the Crimean Tatars is much stronger than the historical memory of Russia. Nevertheless, when it is necessary when there is no other way, Russia recognizes other people’s traumas but again, this recogni�on is only just a tool in a struggle for Russian state influence for the territory or geopoli�cal interest. In 2016, two years a�er Crimean annexa�on on the anniversary of the deporta�on Russian authori�es already installed the memorial complex to vic�ms of deporta�on. Almost simultaneously with the opening of this complex, the Na�onal Bank of Ukraine issued

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past a commemora�ve silver coin in the commemora�on of the vic�ms of the Crimean Tartars’ genocide. The war of coins and monuments will con�nue. This is the war for historical truth and historical memory. Not everybody agrees that keeping the memory of the tragedies alive is a good thing. The ‘conscious oblivion theory’, the idea that we should not remember the tragic events, that it is not useful to do so. This theory might not be o�en publicly discussed but it is ac�vely promoted in Russia and very successfully too. Crimes of the Soviet system against its own people and other people are reduced or even completely forgo�en. Today they are loyal ci�zens of the Russian Federa�on, they did not and do not demand an apology or compensa�on from their state for the trauma inflicted of their ancestors by the Soviet system. They have safely recanted the past, although they would s�ll tell the true stories for families at home.

Very often historical truth and historical trauma are returned to people through works of art, literature and cinema. The more powerful these media are the longer, the works remain relevant to people and in the end best of them follow in the cultural canon of historical experience.


Once upon a �me, historical traumas were passed on to the next genera�ons in folk songs and ballads. Nowadays, very o�en historical truth and historical trauma are returned to people through works of art, literature and cinema. The more powerful these media are the longer the works remain relevant to people and in the end best of them follow in the cultural canon of historical experience.

THE VICTORY OF FEAR To be honest, I was expec�ng this day with fear and think that I was not the only one who thought that on the tradi�onal Soviet Victory Day – May 9th – the day when, since 1945, military parades and mass demonstra�ons are held in many major ci�es of Russia and Ukraine, there will be acts of terrorism on Ukrainian soil. Just a couple of days before celebra�ons Ukrainian secret services have arrested separa�sts and commandos trying to travel in cars filled with guns and explosives to Kyiv and Odesa. All this shown on TV made Ukrainians even more nervous. Last year, Russia's main parade on Victory Day was held in Sevastopol. It was a giant military celebra�on, with tanks, missile-launchers, and dozens of other war-equipment. Then for ‘dessert’ – a parade of military ships. This was how Russia celebrated victory over Ukraine in the Crimea or to put it more direct – the occupa�on of Crimea. Over the past year, many Russian poli�cians made statements that next Russia's Victory Parade – will be held in Kyiv. Separa�st leaders even now almost daily promise ‘to reach Kyiv’. But, contrary to expecta�ons, the Victory Day on the territory of Ukraine, except the territories captured by the separa�sts went peacefully and without any sabre-ra�ling. In Ukraine, there were no military parades. In Kyiv, military brass bands marched with music. President Poroshenko in his speech promised, ‘Ukraine will never more be celebra�ng Victory Day the Russian way and according to a scenario wri�en in Moscow’.

Andrei Kurkov Novelist, Independent Thinker and Author

And here I have a ques�on: is it necessary to celebrate Victory Day in general? Every country has gone through many wars. France, and the United Kingdom too. Each war had ended – for someone, it was a victory, for someone – a loss. If France was celebra�ng all the victories in all wars, it would never become a comfortable, peaceful state with people, who know how to work and how to enjoy life. In Russia, the cult of the Great Victory in 1945, became part of the ‘official ideology’, reminding people that the fight for the geopoli�cal interests of their leaders or their poli�cians is more important than building a civilized and democra�c state. And this �me again on May 9th fireworks thundered across Russia and walked through the military parades marched through main streets of ci�es, hundreds of tanks and

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past self-propelled guns went on display. The main parade was held in the Soviet-style with a commentator, whose clearly amplified through speakers metallic voice announced to the en�re Russian capital names of military units marching in Red Square, and the names of military equipment that filled the centre with the hum and roar of powerful engines. It is true that at one point the commentator suddenly stopped and did not announce to the Moscow audience that the rocket launchers ‘Buk’ passed by. Probably he did not want to remind the assembled audience about the downed plane of Malaysian airlines. The names of other rockets and missiles the commentator announced correctly. However, this small episode was no�ced only by the military and journalists. Other ci�zens were fully mesmerized by the military might of the Russian army and did not follow the commentator's speech. From �me to �me the voice of the commentator was replaced by Soviet war songs. As a child in Soviet-era, I loved military parades and I can imagine how happy Russian children were to see all these roaring military ‘toys’ on the 9th of May. And again it provokes fear in my thoughts, fear of the future of these children. For them, tanks are not connected to the death of humans. For me – they are. Because the separa�sts' tanks are shelling villages and towns in Eastern Ukraine every day in spite of the ceasefire. And every day they are fired back upon by Ukrainian armed forces. And I know that once this war is over there will be no reason to celebrate. Because in a normal country you do not celebrate death. Instead, you remember the dead ones. I hope Ukraine will never return to Russia's military ‘hypnosis’. And thank God that no military parade in Ukraine on this day was held.


The undigested traumas of history, I think we Indians and the subcon�nent are an example of the impact, long term impact, and genera�onal impact of very par�cular kind of trauma. And this is the trauma of colonialism. The trauma of colonialism is not as sharp as some of the things that we have already experienced and described during the conference. It is a decep�ve trauma because it is disguised quite o�en in paternalism. Our colonial trauma has led, in some ways, to one of the longest wars in history, which is on the subcon�nent and it is a wound, which con�nues to bleed in one manner or another. It is an experience, that is very much part of, not only the na�onal focus but also as a na�onal policy and a na�onal challenge. This complex trauma has a split personality. As I said, it disguises supremacy with paternalism but there is an ul�mate Stockholm syndrome involved. Ul�mate Stockholm syndrome is that the vic�ms learn very quickly to fear each other rather than the perpetrator. This is the part of the vic�mhood process, which comes in. Actually, the Indian ci�zens became antagonis�c towards each other. Then they were towards those who have created this coloniza�on, which were the Bri�sh. The real trauma was the trauma of fear. Fear combined with the paternal supremacy. And it was Gandhi eventually, who discovered the true answer. Every trauma needs to be answered, the challenge has to be met and it cannot be met by the wrong weapons. Gandhi released the answer to this trauma laid in the moral strength and laid in the strength of jus�ce, laid in the strength of mobilizing masses through the moral weapon of truth. We use the terms like ‘body poli�cs’ when we discuss trauma, but in this case, we have to find another term, it is the ‘mind poli�cs’. Because it is fought in the mind, the fear is injected in the mind and the important aspect of this fear is how it is u�lized to keep the cap�ve happily imprisoned. Gandhi’s biggest achievement was not the removal of the Bri�sh from India; it was not freedom of India. His biggest achievement was libera�ng Indians from fear.

M. J. Akbar MP, Writer and Journalist, Former Minister of State for External Affairs of India India

Member of Parliament in the Upper House of the Parliament of India (Rajya Sabha). Former Minister of State for External Affairs of India. Distinguished Author of several internationally acclaimed books on historic traumas. Former Editor and Editorial Director of various political newspapers and magazines in India.

We hear of the policies ‘divide and rule’. The division is based on prejudice, ar�ficial prejudice and by crea�ng fear between communi�es. A fear, which never existed before, it is suddenly ar�ficially imposed. Here you create a difference, a psychological difference, which people have never experienced

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past before. Bri�sh used fear as the poli�cal weapon in order to create fear between Hindus and Muslims and this fear has generated the biggest trauma that we have, which is the trauma of par��on. Moreover, that trauma of par��on s�ll demands a very insidious and o�en brutal price, in terms of social rela�onships, harmonies and interac�ons, which we could not do. And it actually interferes with the contemporary objec�on – to become a great modern na�on. You cannot be a modern na�on without poli�cal freedom, including freedom of speech and democracy. You cannot be a modern na�on without faith equality, faith supremacy does not figure into it. If you want to be a modern na�on, you cannot have a modern na�on without gender equality. Fourth, you cannot be a modern na�on without economic emancipa�on. Out of this, the trauma�c challenge was the second one, the conflict between those in India who wanted to have equality and secularism as the basis as the cons�tu�onal right and those who believed that one faith was superior. The difference is that today, those who believe in imposi�on must understand that the 21st century has no space for it.

The real trauma was the trauma of fear. Fear combined with the paternal supremacy. Gandhi’s biggest achievement was liberating Indians from that fear.


One of the first things I learned was that human beings everywhere are the same. Some�mes they are horrible and some�mes they are very lovable. Secondly, from childhood on, we wear two cloths. One is this my iden�ty, who I am, my ‘percep�onal me’ and the other one is like a big tent. The canvas of the tent represents the large-group iden�ty that is shared by thousands or millions of people who share the same sen�ments such as ethnicity, ideology or history. Each tent is surrounded by neighbouring tents, but designs s�tched on one large-group tent’s canvas are different from designs s�tched on other tents’ canvases. In addi�on, I learned that beneath the observable things, poli�cs, money, whatever, the answer of why we kill each other is because there is something somewhere, we want to protect and maintain our large group iden�ty. In peaceful �mes it is fine, but if somebody comes and hits on your tent canvas or tears apart your tent canvas, your individual iden�ty becomes secondary and you start wearing and sharing the tent’s canvas. I was running a hospital at the University of Virginia and I started the Centre for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction (CSMHI) with the mul�disciplinary faculty. We developed a methodology called A Tree Model. We bring people from opposite sides, but since I am not a diplomat, I am psychoanalyst, I do not tell them what to do, and who am I to tell you, what to do? I let them talk to each other and I see the accordion playing. Person A and Person B at first sit apart and then sit close and then apart. The accordion plays throughout the years. I allow them to talk for years, not one �me. As these people get to know each other, suddenly they start to make decisions that are more realis�c and if they are very close ‘lovey-dovey’, we do not allow them to make decisions because their iden��es are mixed up.

Vamik Volkan Professor Emeritus of Virginia University, President Emeritus of International Dialogue Initiative, four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee

Psychiatrist, internationally known for his 40-years work of bringing together conflictual groups for dialogue and mutual understanding. Professor Emeritus at Virginia University (USA), President Emeritus of International Dialogue Initiative. His research focuses on the application of psychoanalytic thinking between countries and cultures, individual and societal mourning, and transgenerational transmissions of trauma. Four times Nobel peace prize nominee.

Yesterday, we talked about Srebrenica, the ba�le of Kosovo and Milosevic knowingly re-inflamed that. We call them ‘chosen traumas’. ‘A chosen trauma’ is the shared mental image of an event in a large group’s ancestors’ history in which the group suffered a catastrophic loss, humilia�on, and helplessness at the hands of enemies, plus an inability to mourn of losses. The most significant designs a�ached to the canvas of the metaphorical tent that play key roles in the large group's interac�ons with another large-group are ‘chosen traumas’. The word ‘chosen’ does not mean to imply that a

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

From childhood on, we wear two cloths. One is my identity, who I am and the other one is like a big tent. The canvas of the tent represents the large-group identity.

large-group ‘chooses’ to be vic�mized by another large-group and subsequently lose self-esteem. It does, however, recognize that the group ‘chooses’ to psychologize and dwell on a past trauma�c event and make it a major ‘large-group iden�ty’ marker on the metaphorical large-group tent’s canvas. A�er a trauma or a�er a situa�on, in which ‘who are we now’ ques�on is inflamed, a na�on or large-group becomes like a snake, which sheds off its skin, in order to show off a new skin, meaning taking out or changing many societal/poli�cal issues to support large-group iden�ty. People start purifica�on, they get rid of the things they do not like on their iden�ty and purifica�on can start from cleaning your language, like Greeks did. This language that they speak today appeared in the 1830s-1840s, but before that, they have never talked in this language. They got rid of the Turkish verse. And purifica�on happens all the �me here and there. When a conflict between two large groups with different iden��es is inflamed, the protec�on and maintenance of one’s large group iden�ty become the primary issue even this preoccupa�on may be hidden behind some observable real poli�cal, economic, medical and other real issues. If we do not pay a�en�on to this fact, finding a peaceful existence between two large groups in conflict may become very difficult.



When ethnic, na�onal, religious large groups are in conflict, their poli�cal, legal, military, economic and other ‘real-world’ concerns are also contaminated with psychological issues, which may remain hidden. My focus in this paper is to present briefly an unofficial method that I named The Tree Model for reversing the hidden destruc�ve aspects of a conflict and transforming them in order to reach a realis�c and workable preoccupa�on between the opposing par�es. Especially in certain protracted conflicts, such as between Israelis and Pales�nians, Cypriot Turks and Cypriot Greeks, Georgians and South Osse�ans, and severe poli�cal/societal divisions within the same country, understanding this unofficial approach is essen�al to finding more crea�ve solu�ons for the reduc�on of tensions. The concepts of large-group iden�ty and large-group rituals, when understood, can help elucidate some of the seemingly irra�onal aspects of conflicts. The Tree Model described here involves a ‘neutral’ interdisciplinary third-party team led by experts in psychoanaly�c poli�cal psychology.

Vamik Volkan Professor Emeritus of Virginia University, President Emeritus of International Dialogue Initiative, four-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee

Large-group identity

Phenomenologically, ethnic, na�onal or religious large-group iden�ty can be defined as a subjec�ve feeling of sameness shared among thousands or millions of people, most of whom will never personally know or see each other. While they share an inner sameness among themselves, members of a large group will also share certain characteris�cs with foreign large groups. Yet, a simple defini�on of ethnicity or other large-group concepts is not sufficient to explain the power they have to influence poli�cal, legal, economic, and military ini�a�ves and to induce seemingly irra�onal resistance to change. Imagine that, beginning in childhood, each person wears two layers of clothing. The first layer fits a person snugly. It is his or her individual iden�ty. The second layer (the large-group iden�ty) is a loose garment, like the canvas of a tent under which thousands or millions of individuals live. The canvas protects these persons like a mother hen spreading her wings

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past to protect her chicks. In everyday language we refer to our large-group iden�ty, saying for, example, we are Catalan; we are of the Jewish popula�on in Lithuania; we are French; we are Sunni Muslims; we are communists. All of us have a variety of iden��es, including professional and social iden��es, but what I am describing as large-group iden�ty is an essen�al part of each person’s individual ‘core iden�ty’, an internal sense of sameness as described by Eric Erikson (1956). Professionals in the mental health field some�mes witness an individual who, while entering into a psycho�c level of func�oning, begins to lose his internal sense of sameness, his core iden�ty. The experience is terrifying, and some�mes immediately, as if pushing a bu�on, the pa�ent creates a new iden�ty for himself (albeit a false one), declaring himself to be Jesus Christ or Albert Einstein. Some�mes in a clinical se�ng, we observe that when the core iden�ty is threatened, a person may perceive physical death as preferable to emo�onal or psychic death. Just as in the case of the individual, a communal threat of losing large-group iden�ty also creates intense anxiety and fear, this �me as a shared experience. The integrity and strength of this metaphorical tent may be threatened by a variety of factors. For example, wars, war-like situa�ons, terrorism, ruthless dictators, exposure to colonial rule, invasion by the Other and economic collapse have severe effects on an ethnic, na�onal or religious group’s iden�ty. Under these condi�ons, the canvas of the ethnic tent becomes the primary, shared garment for the large group, and its members, in general, will do anything, even sadis�c and masochis�c acts, to protect the integrity of the canvas. At �mes some external influences may lead to severe divisions within the same large group, between those who perceive such external influences, such as a refugee crisis, as ‘bad’ and those who do not (Volkan 2020). In fact, the greater the stress on a group’s ethnic iden�ty, the more the large group will stubbornly hold on to it.


I have iden�fied elsewhere many threads which, when woven together, create the canvas of the ethnic tent (for details, see Volkan 1999a, 1999b). Some of these threads are formed during childhood development, especially through children’s iden�fica�ons with their parents’, teachers’ and other important adults’ investments in large-group iden��es, including their prejudices about the Other. Also, such adults during their interac�ons with the children psychologically ‘deposit’ their beliefs in the children’s minds.

Another thread in the fabric of the tent’s canvas reflects the intertwining of large-group psychology with the internal world of the poli�cal leader (Volkan 2004, 2020). When the large group is under stress and the tent shakes, the large-group leader’s personality organiza�on becomes important. The leader, again metaphorically speaking, is the pole that keeps the canvas of the large-group tent erect. He or she has the power to inflame or tame the group’s sen�ments, and therefore it ma�ers greatly whether the leader is a person like Joseph Stalin or one like Nelson Mandela. During my decades-long work in the interna�onal arena, I also noted how some threads reflect the large group’s historical events, which I call ‘chosen traumas’, as well as the shared mental images of an undigested past. A ‘chosen trauma’ is the shared mental image of a past event that occurred many decades or centuries ago, during which a large group suffered loss and experienced helplessness and humilia�on at the hand of another large group with a different large-group iden�ty. When members of a vic�m group are unable to mourn and such losses and the threat of injury to large-group iden�ty con�nue for a while, they pass on to their offspring the images of their injured selves and psychological tasks that need to be completed (Volkan 2012). Once a past shared trauma becomes a ‘chosen trauma’, the historical truth is no longer important. What ma�ers is the current large group’s use of the shared image of this trauma to create a sense of sameness among themselves. The chosen trauma then becomes a ‘large-group iden�ty marker’. Here is an example of the inflamma�on of a chosen trauma: A�er the collapse of the former Yugoslavia, when Serbs were a�emp�ng to consolidate their ‘new’ large-group iden�ty, Slobodan Milošević and those who assisted him dras�cally reac�vated a Serbian chosen trauma – the shared mental representa�on of the Ba�le of Kosovo that had taken place in 1389 between the O�omans and the Serbs. This led to atroci�es against Muslim Bosniaks and Kosovar Albanians when the Serbs linked the image of these people with the image of the Muslim O�omans in their reac�vated chosen trauma (Volkan 1996). A ‘chosen trauma’ is not an image of a rather recent historical event. For example, the Holocaust that links all Jewish persons, whether they were directly affected by Nazis or not, is not a chosen trauma. Survivors’ pictures and some belongings are s�ll present in the descendants’ homes, and

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past survivors’ stories are s�ll ‘alive’. Those affected by the Holocaust and their offspring are s�ll dealing with their undigested past. The Lithuanians’ undigested past is linked to s�ll remembered tragedies from Soviet �mes. Meanwhile, Lithuanian Jews are s�ll trying to work through the wounds caused by the murder of an es�mated 195,000 to 196,000 of their people during Nazi-occupied Lithuania. Large-group rituals

No large-group tent stands in isola�on; there are always Others. There are rituals that take place between large groups. These rituals are in the service of enhancing various elements of large-group iden�ty and tend to be governed by two general principles: 1) Opposing large groups need to maintain their iden��es as dis�nct from each other (principle of ‘non-sameness’); 2) Opposing large groups need to maintain an unambiguous psychological border between them. Both principles relate to the fact that persons under one tent have a tendency to externalize and project certain unwanted elements onto the Other, the opposing large group as if they were throwing mud on the Other’s canvas. Some�mes a stain remains, crea�ng another thread for the canvas, one that has been inflicted by the Other. At other �mes, the mud gets thrown back at the sender. One ritual that is played out between opposing large groups, especially when they are in conflict, has to do with minor differences between the two large groups (Freud 1917, 1921). Minor differences assume major importance in order to maintain the dis�nc�ons between the two large groups and the psychological border between them. If the stress con�nues, one large group may begin to perceive the Other as less human, so that it becomes more suitable for absorbing projec�ons. First, the other large group is seen as human but ‘bad’; later, they become dehumanized (Bernard, O�enberg, and Redl 1973). When members of a large group are trying to re-stabilize their large-group iden�ty, they ask ‘Who are we now?’ (Volkan 2020). Then another ritual may take place: purifica�on, which intensifies the large group’s iden�ty by shedding some of its unwanted aspects and solidifying its psychological borders. Erasing symbols of other cultures (destroying churches, synagogues or mosques, for example), purging cemeteries and purifying language are all instances of a large group


strengthening its iden�ty through purifica�on in the wake of conflict with an opposing large group. Ethnic cleansing and genocide are extreme forms of purifica�on. The Tree Model

The Tree Model is based on our understanding of what cons�tutes a large-group iden�ty and the rituals that are performed to protect, maintain, or repair this shared iden�ty (Volkan 1999c, 2020). The approach maintains that an interdisciplinary third-party facilita�ng team – composed of psychoanalysts and other clinicians specializing in large-group psychology, along with diplomats, historians, and other social scien�sts – can help opposing par�es to decrease or remove the psychological poisons between them so they can engage in more realis�c nego�a�ons. This method is in some ways quite different from the ‘conflict resolu�on’ ac�vi�es prac�sed by many non-governmental organiza�on (NGO) programs that have sprung up during recent decades. Many such efforts a�empt to erase the psychological wall that has become rigidified between enemy groups, efforts which may cause more difficul�es dealing with the conflict. The Tree Model maintains this wall in order to decrease anxiety over large-group iden�ty issues. It allows the opposing large groups – without giving them advice – to transform their antagonis�c rituals into more peaceful rituals and makes the psychological wall separa�ng them more flexible and permeable. The Tree Model is a mul�-year process with three components: 1) Psychopoli�cal diagnosis (roots of the tree); 2) Psychopoli�cal dialogues (the trunk of the tree); 3) Ins�tu�on building (branches of the tree). A. Psychopolitical Assessment (roots of the tree)

The first step in any effort at unofficial diplomacy should involve an assessment or diagnosis of the problems to be addressed. I believe that large-group problems can only be fully diagnosed on loca�on. Nevertheless, before travelling there, the members of the facilita�ng interdisciplinary team begin their work by studying the country or region’s history and the culture of its antagonist large groups, collec�ng informa�on on the current situa�on, and iden�fying problems. From the beginning, it is clear that interdisciplinary collabora�on is needed. Even though the historian on the facilita�ng team may not be an expert in a par�cular country at issue, he or she

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past brings a methodology and a way of thinking that contributes to understanding the informa�on gathered. Clinicians bring the understanding of the mental images of historical events and how they may be shared by members of a large group. The team consults regional experts, as well as local newspapers when available, and other sources. At the end of this preparatory �me, the facilita�ng team draws up a list of psychological problems, local contacts, and poten�al partners who may be able to provide further contacts and informa�on. Every conflict has its ‘hot loca�ons’. These may include na�onal cemeteries, memorials to those who have died in large-group conflicts, and other historically important or symbolic locales. Visi�ng such places with members of the large groups in conflict allows the facilita�ng team to get quickly to the heart of what these sites represent and why they are perceived as ‘hot’ in the context of the conflict. During this assessment phase, the facilita�ng team examines how elements of a large group’s iden�ty are heightened when threatened and under stress. This preoccupa�on colours every aspect of the conflict and the rela�onship with the opposing large group. This was par�cularly in evidence a�er the collapse of the Soviet Union when my facilita�ng team and I spent six years bringing together representa�ves from the Bal�c Republics with representa�ves from Russia. Our first mee�ng took place in Kaunas in April 1992 (Volkan 2013), with an aim to help Bal�c Republics achieve a peaceful separa�on from Russia. Our first applica�on of The Tree Model took place In Estonia. Estonians were naturally euphoric a�er regaining their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. But my facilita�ng team was able to uncover other less obvious aspects of the Estonian outlook through intensive interviews with a wide range of Estonians and through visits to ‘hot places’ such as the Soviet nuclear submarine base at Paldiski. What we found was that Estonians suffered from an underlying anxiety of ‘disappearing’ as an ethnic group, of ceasing to exist. With the excep�on of a brief period of independence between 1918 and 1940, Estonians have lived for a millennium under the domina�on of others. When at last they regained their independence in 1991, they remained anxious that they would once again be swallowed up by another large group, in this case, Russians. Estonians’ anxiety over foreign domina�on was also fueled by the fact that every third resident of Estonia was ethnic Russian or a Russian-speaker.


While there were plenty of real-world issues in Estonia to a�end to a�er it regained independence, the hidden

percep�on that Estonia could ‘disappear’ caused resistance to policies for integra�ng the ‘non-Estonian’ people living there. If Estonian and Russian ‘blood’ were to ‘mix’, the uniqueness of the Estonian people – whose sense of iden�ty had managed to persist despite their small numbers and adverse circumstances over the centuries – might not survive. Our assessment then indicated the need to help Estonians differen�ate real issues from fantasized fears so they could deal more adap�vely with the integra�on of Russian-speaking residents. B. Psychopolitical dialogues (the trunk of the tree)

A�er diagnosis, the next step is to convene a series of psychopoli�cal dialogues among members of the opposing large groups or within a single country if there is internal fragmenta�on. Ten to fi�een par�cipants from each side are selected – ideally influen�al officials, policymakers, rectors of universi�es and other public figures – to meet in a strictly unofficial capacity. The facilita�ng team also meets with high-level officials such as presidents and ministers of foreign affairs and informs them how they plan to work. This way the applica�on of The Tree Model is not carried out in secrecy and receives support from official authori�es. However, the facilita�ng team does not give frequent media interviews in an effort to shield par�cipants from possible influences that may come from opinions read in newspapers or via other media. As the facilita�ng team meets with the same selected representa�ves from the opposing large groups – several �mes a year for four days at a �me – these discussion gatherings become a ‘laboratory’ for what goes on in the large groups they represent. In this ‘laboratory’, the facilitators can see and help iden�fy the rituals that are ac�vated to protect the large-group iden��es. Some of these rituals are malignant and impede ra�onal progress toward peace, recovery, and coexistence. For example, during the first day of an ini�al mee�ng between influen�al Turks and Greeks discussing their conflicts over the Aegean Sea and Cyprus, frustrated emo�ons were high as par�cipants expressed their percep�ons of the ‘enemy’. That evening at dinner, par�cipants enjoyed each other as ‘friends’. During the next morning’s mee�ng, a Greek par�cipant spoke of her confusion: She had felt hurt and angry during the day and friendly at the dinner. How was she supposed to behave? The facilitators then helped her see how her personal iden�ty and ‘large-group iden�ty’ were on a con�nuum, and that during the mee�ng she had inevitably become a spokesperson of her large

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past group, while at dinner her individual iden�ty held sway. She and the other Greek and Turkish par�cipants were asked to let themselves wear the canvas of their ‘large-group iden�ty’ as their garment during the mee�ngs. This would be the only way to observe the psychodynamics of Turkish-Greek interac�ons at close range. In other words, my facilita�ng team did not try to force an emo�onally civil atmosphere at the mee�ngs but rather aimed to allow emo�ons, including anxiety and anger, to be expressed at an appropriate level. The clinicians on my facilita�ng team tried to ensure that such emo�ons remained useful for insights into the conflict and that the emo�ons neither degenerated to destruc�ve levels nor were so denied that only detached intellectual statements were made during the mee�ng. The psychopoli�cal dialogues are central to the success of The Tree Model. As noted above, the facilita�ng team is interdisciplinary. The clinicians are crucial to the process as they draw upon their years of experience in the clinical se�ng to conduct such mee�ngs. Their exper�se includes the ability to ‘hear’ mul�ple meanings behind the statements made by par�cipants, to tolerate effects, to help par�cipants understand their large-group rituals and percep�ons, and to serve as models for empathic understanding of the Other. There are certain key pa�erns of behaviour, concepts, and strategies that characterize the process of psychopoli�cal dialogues. They evolve and repeat during each four-day mee�ng as well as in a larger process over the en�re two to three-year series. The following are brief descrip�ons of various behaviour pa�erns that my facilita�ng team has observed during psychopoli�cal dialogues between Estonians and Russians; Arabs and Israelis; Turks and Greeks; South Osse�ans and Georgians; and Croats, Serbs, and Bosniaks. 1. Displacement onto a mini-conflict: Some�mes, at the outset of a dialogue mee�ng, a disrup�ve situa�on evolves abruptly and absorbs the a�en�on and energy of all par�cipants. Such a situa�on is usually marked by a sense of urgency, yet the content of this ‘crisis’ is essen�ally insignificant in comparison to the salient aspects of the ethnic or na�onal conflict for which the dialogue mee�ng has been organized. It is reminiscent of the extended debate on who sits where at a conference table that some�mes occurs prior to important nego�a�ons between na�ons. I call these conflicts, and while seemingly inexplicable and incongruous, they are


much like the masques preceding an Elizabethan tragedy that provide condensed and symbolically sugges�ve treatments of what will be explored drama�cally later in the play itself. 2. The echo phenomenon: When representa�ves of opposing sides open a discussion, the echo of recent events involving their large groups can o�en be heard in their exchanges, further igni�ng emo�ons that exacerbate resistances to adap�ve discussions. During psychopoli�cal dialogues, I have seen the shadow of some recent military or poli�cal development fall over the members present. It then becomes necessary to acknowledge and assimilate this shadow and its meaning for both sides before realis�c nego�a�on can con�nue. 3. Compe��on to express ‘chosen traumas’ and chosen glories: Members of opposing large groups in dialogue frequently enter into a compe��on to list historical grievances (’chosen traumas’) and some�mes past triumphs, which I call ‘chosen glories’. ‘Chosen glories’ like ‘chosen traumas’ are mental images of past shared events, this �me glorious ones, which have become large-group iden�ty markers. ‘Chosen traumas’ are more effec�ve than chosen glories in promo�ng large-group cohesion. Consequently, lis�ngs of past large-group traumas during a dialogue tend to be more prominent than references to past successes. Furthermore, ‘chosen traumas’ bring to mind past helplessness, and thus magnify the percep�on of present danger, especially if one’s large group remains passive. During the dialogue, series representa�ves of the opposing large groups also become preoccupied with undigested elements of rather recent shared trauma�c events. The compe��on to list grievances, especially at the outset, seems involuntary and occurs according to the principle of ‘the egoism of vic�miza�on’ (Mack 1979) there is no empathy for the other side’s losses and injuries. The task of the facilita�ng team, therefore, is to model empathic listening. 4. The accordion phenomenon: A�er some airing of ‘chosen traumas’, ‘chosen glories’ and undigested past experiences or their deriva�ves, and when more empathic communica�on begins, the representa�ves of the opposing large groups o�en experience a rapprochement. This closeness is then followed by a sudden withdrawal from one another and then again by closeness. The pa�ern repeats

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past numerous �mes. I liken this to the playing of an accordion – squeezing together and then pulling apart. Ini�al distancing is a defensive manoeuvre to keep aggressive a�tudes and feelings in check, since, if the opponents were to come together, they might harm one another – at least in fantasy – or in turn, become targets of retalia�on. When opposing teams are confined together in one room sharing conscious efforts for peace, some�mes they must deny their aggressive feelings as they press together in a kind of illusory union. When this becomes oppressive, it feels dangerous, and distancing occurs again. The most realis�c discussions take place a�er the facilita�ng team has allowed the accordion to play for a while un�l the squeezing and distancing become less extreme. 5. Projec�ons and projec�ve iden�fica�on: Members of one large group in conflict may a�empt to define their iden�ty through externalizing unwanted parts of themselves onto the enemy, projec�ng their unwanted thoughts, percep�ons, and wishes. For example, it is not we who are troublemakers, but they. O�en projec�ons onto the opposing representa�ves reflect a clear ‘us’ and ‘them’ dichotomy of rigid posi�ons: we are ‘good’; they are ‘bad’. During a dialogue series, projec�ons can also involve a more complex rela�onship between representa�ves of the two opposing large groups in a pa�ern similar to the mechanism of projec�ve iden�fica�on (Klein 1946) that psychoanalysts see in individual pa�ents. Team members of one large group may project onto the other large-group representa�ves their own wishes for how the opposing side should think, feel, or behave. The first team then iden�fies with the other that houses their projec�ons – this other is perceived as actually ac�ng in accordance with the expecta�ons of the former. In effect, one team becomes the ‘spokesperson’ for the other team, and since this process takes place unconsciously, the first team actually believes their remarks about the Other. However, the resul�ng rela�onship is not real since it is based on the processes of only one party. The facilita�ng team interprets or interferes with the development of projec�ve iden�fica�on since, once it develops, the reality of percep�ons is compromised. 6. Personal stories: Par�cipants in dialogues invariably bring up personal stories pertaining to the large-group conflict at hand. Ini�ally, personal stories o�en reflect an ‘us’ and ‘them’ (or ‘me’ and ‘them’)


psychology in a black and white manner – the Other is seen as ‘bad’ while one’s own group is experienced as ‘good’. This is similar to the mechanism of splitting that clinicians see among certain pa�ents who divide and experience themselves, in�mate others, and their mental images as either all ‘good’ or all ‘bad’ (Volkan 2011). As empathy evolves, however, stories begin to include ambivalences. To have ambivalence is to begin to acknowledge the Other’s iden�ty as a total being who is both similar and dissimilar, liked and disliked. The Other begins to become more human. 7. Minor differences: When par�es become genuinely more empathic toward each other, they may become anxious if they begin to perceive themselves and their group as too similar to the enemy. As each side’s projec�on of unwanted aspects becomes unstable due to the percep�on that the Other is similar to one’s own large group, par�cipants may exaggerate the importance of minor differences between them to maintain their separate iden��es. Between Croats and Serbs, dialect differences – such as the Croat mlijeko (milk) vs. the Serb mleko – may carry a heavy poli�cal-cultural load. Minor differences thus func�on as a psychological border separa�ng the opposing par�es so that their respec�ve iden��es remain intact. A seemingly trivial disparity may then take on monumental importance and turn posi�ve discussions sour. I have found that minor differences between opposing large groups are o�en psychologically harder to deal with than major differences, such as language or religion. When minor differences become resistances, the facilita�ng team tries to enhance and verify each large group’s iden�ty, so that the minor differences remain minor. 8. Symbolizing the conflict and ‘playing’ with it: A symbol or metaphor that represents important aspects of the conflict may emerge from within the dialogue. For example, the weaker party may personify itself as a mouse while referring to the stronger enemy as an elephant, and then come up with scenarios such as a mouse and elephant next to one another without harming the smaller animal. The par�cipants begin to ‘play’ with this metaphor, to kick it around like a ball. As the mee�ng series progresses, the metaphor captures the a�en�on of the par�cipants and transforms diffuse emo�ons and blurred reali�es into a more concrete understanding of the problem. The playful metaphor connects the par�cipants, allowing them to share in the ‘game’, while at the same �me

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past addressing a cri�cal issue. As this ‘play’ con�nues, poisonous emo�ons begin to disappear, and laughter o�en accompanies the banter. A realis�c discussion of issues can then ensue. (It is important to note that the facilita�ng team should not introduce or fabricate a metaphor or ‘toy’ for the par�cipants to play with – it must be created or provided by the par�cipants themselves). One posi�ve side-effect of the par�cipants’ crea�ng and playing with symbols and metaphors during the dialogue series is the transforma�on of large-group protosymbols (things that become what they represent) into symbols. In war-like situa�ons, one or both sides perceive large groups’ cultural amplifiers as protosymbols, not merely symbols but real. To turn them back into symbols is a sign of progress. 9. Time expansion: When ‘chosen traumas’ and undigested past events and their deriva�ves are reac�vated, the emo�ons and percep�ons pertaining to them are felt as if the trauma occurred most recently – they become fused with emo�ons and percep�ons pertaining to the present and are even projected into the future. Understandably, this �me collapse complicates a�empts to resolve the conflicts at hand. To counteract this phenomenon and to encourage a �me expansion, facilitators must allow discussions to take place concerning the chosen trauma and undigested past and par�cipants’ personal traumas pertaining to the large-group conflict. If feelings and issues about the past can be distanced and separated from present problems, then today’s problems can be more realis�cally discussed. 10. Mourning:


Opposing par�es come to The Tree Model mee�ngs with aspira�ons, hopes, and opinions that may be rigid and unrealis�c. A successful dialogue seeks to tame and loosen such posi�ons, but this is difficult if the losses that result from an altered posi�on or status are not mourned. From a clinical point of view, human beings must mourn when they give up something or when they lose a stubbornly held posi�on. Mourning in this sense does not refer to observable behaviour such as crying, but to psychodynamic processes that occur a�er a loss. Uncomplicated mourning means making images of past and lost persons and things ‘futureless’ (Tähkä 1984; Volkan 1981). The neutral facilitators must be sensi�ve to the mourning process, emo�ons linked to it, and to the libera�on and acceptance of change that it provides.

C. Institution Building (branches of the tree)

Based on observa�on and understanding of the above processes as they take place during the unofficial dialogues, the facilita�ng team intervenes and guides the discussions to weaken or remove the psychological obstacles and to enable the par�cipants to communicate more realis�cally with each other. In �me, they begin to develop crea�ve ideas for applying and promo�ng these new ways of thinking and interac�ng. The third component of The Tree Model involves transferring the insights from the dialogues into concrete ac�ons affec�ng the socie�es involved. In collabora�on with the dialogue par�cipants and local contacts (such as clinicians) they have trained, the facilita�ng team seeks to prevent stagna�on or slippage backwards by ins�tu�onalizing the progress that has been made. In Estonia, for example, within three years following the psychopoli�cal dialogues, my facilita�ng team was able to build model coexistence projects in two villages where the popula�on is half Estonian and half Russian. We also created a model to promote integra�on among Estonian and Russian schoolchildren and influenced the controversial language examina�on requirement for Russians to become Estonian ci�zens. The most important task here was to ‘teach’ people at the grassroots level how to gain poli�cal power, and to help local contact teams evolve as effec�ve non-governmental organiza�ons. Last words

Changing large groups in conflict is a long-term, mul�-year, systema�c process. Through psychoanaly�cally informed psychopoli�cal dialogues that remove psychological obstacles, a core group of influen�al ci�zens (including members of opposing large groups) evolve as partners and ini�ators in building ins�tu�ons to stabilize peaceful adapta�ons. This process is like the growth of a tree. One cannot have branches before the tree is deeply rooted and the trunk is established. This model, of course, has its limita�ons. First, it requires that psychoanalysts and other clinicians develop exper�se in interna�onal rela�ons and collaborate with historians, diplomats, and poli�cal scien�sts. Building an interdisciplinary team has its own psychodynamic challenges. Second, the tree needs water (funds) and it can be difficult to find sponsors for a

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past process that will take many years before the fruits of the tree can be observed by everyone. Nevertheless, as the world changes, there is an increasing need to find serious new methods for preven�ng conflicts and reducing tensions between opposing large groups. The Tree Model is offered as a methodology for a new type of preven�ve or correc�ve diplomacy carried out systema�cally by a neutral third party. References

Bernard, W. W., O�enberg, P., and Redl, F. (1973). Dehumaniza�on: A composite psychological defence in rela�on to modern war. In Sanford, N. and Comstock, C. eds. Sanctions for Evil: Sources of Social Destructiveness, pp. 102–124. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Erikson, E. H. (1956). The problem of ego iden�fica�on. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 4, 56–121. Freud, S. (1917). Taboo of virginity. Standard Edition, 11, 191–208. London: Hogarth Press. Freud, S. (1921). Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. Standard Edition, 18, 63–143. London: Hogarth Press. Klein, M. (1946). Notes on some schizoid mechanisms. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 27, 99–110. Mack, J. E. (1979). Foreword. In Cyprus - War and Adaptation: A Psychoanalytic History of Two Ethnic Groups in Conflict by V. D. Volkan, pp. ix–xxi. Charlo�esville, VA: University Press of Virginia. Tähkä, V. (1984). Dealing with object loss. Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 7, 13–33. Volkan, V. D. (1981). Linking Objects and Linking Phenomena: A Study of the Forms, Symptoms, Metapsychology and Therapy of Complicated Mourning. New York: Interna�onal Universi�es Press. Volkan, V. D. (1996). Bosnia-Herzegovina: Ancient fuel of a modern inferno. Mind and Human Interaction, 7, 110–127. Volkan, V. D. (1999a). Psychoanalysis and diplomacy, part one: Individual and large-group iden�ty. Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 1, 29–55. Volkan, V. D. (1999b). Das Versagen der Diploma�e: Zur Psychoanalyse na�onaler, etnischer und religiöser Konflikte. Giessen, Germany: Psycho-sozial Verlag. Volkan, V. D. (1999c). The Tree Model: a comprehensive psychopoli�cal approach to unofficial diplomacy and the reduc�on of ethnic tension. Mind and Human Interaction, 10, 142–206.


Volkan, V. D. (2004). Blind Trust: Large Groups and Their Leaders in Times of Crises and Terror. Charlo�esville, VA: Pitchstone. Volkan, V. D. (2011). Die Iden�tät von Individuen von Großgruppen – was können wir aus der Arbeit mit Borderline-Pa�enten über interna�nale Verhandlungen lernen? Trans. C. Campisi, In Handbuch der Borderline-Störungen, eds. B. Dulz, S. C. Herpertz, O. F. Kernberg & U. Sachsse, pp. 235–250. Stu�gart, Germany: Scha�auer. Volkan, V. D. (2012). The intertwining of the internal and external wars. In Lost in Transmission: Studies of Trauma Across Generations, ed. G. Fromm, pp. 75–97. London: Karnac. Volkan, V. D. (2013). Enemies on the Couch: A Psychopolitical Journey Through War and Peace. Durham, NC: Pitchstone. Volkan, V. D. (2020). Large-Group Psychology: Racism, Societal Divisions, Narcissistic Leaders and Who We Are Now. London: Phoenix.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Dovilė Budrytė Professor of Political Science at Georgia Gwinnett College

Professor’s areas of interest include gender studies, trauma and memory in international relations and nationalism. Her publications include books such as Feminist Conversations: Women, Trauma and Empowerment in Post-Authoritarian Societies; Memory and Trauma in International Relations: Theories, Cases and Debates; Engaging Difference: Teaching Humanities and Social Science in Multicultural Environments; Crisis and Change in Post-Cold War Global Politics: Ukraine in a Comparative Perspective.

I would like to make two points: 1) Make a case that traumas and trauma�c memory ma�er and ma�er a lot in Interna�onal Rela�ons (IR) 2) Delve into what I believe is a promising area: the intersec�on of trauma, memory poli�cs and the study of interna�onal crises. Thus, the experiences of trauma and the ways in which they are remembered are essen�al for everyday produc�on and reproduc�on of poli�cal order, establishing bonds between individuals and communi�es as well as crea�ng a sense of belonging to a polity, inspiring loyalty to that polity. Also, the experiences of trauma are linked to major upheavals that challenge poli�cal and social orders and set up new orders in their place. Volumes of scholars‘ works show that memory and trauma are closely intertwined with world poli�cs. Poli�cal ruptures produce trauma; however, at the same �me, they also produce openings for new understandings and change. I believe that crises can be analysed as ‘engines of discourses’, yielding opportuni�es for historical memories to be (re)created, challenged and defended. Crises challenge dominant biographical narra�ves of the states and dislocate state iden��es, thus crea�ng openings for the crea�on of new discourses and new meanings. At the same �me, they introduce anxiety, thus increasing tempta�on to fixate on familiar historical narra�ves and ‘defend’ familiar historical narra�ves. These a�empts to ‘defend memory’ are resisted by various actors, both domes�c and interna�onal, crea�ng the poten�al for conflict and raising pressing ques�ons about the ways in which mnemonic conflicts emerge and develop. Serious conflict over trauma�c memory can be conceptualised as a crisis as well because it ‘destabilises both state iden�ty and its rela�ons with other states’. The states that have experienced many traumas in the past and can be described as ‘ontologically insecure states’, are especially prone to anxiety. During such situa�ons, maintaining mul�ple perspec�ves and cri�cal ways of looking at history becomes essen�al. Historical myths related to the ‘figh�ng and suffering’ paradigm re-emerged during the Euromaidan protests, the first stage of the crisis in Ukraine in late 2013 and early 2014. Commemora�on of the Holodomor played an important role in organizing the ini�al Euromaidan protests. ‘The protest energy’ associated with the Euromaidan translated into major changes in memory poli�cs.


Let me move on to the case of Lithuania. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Lithuania developed a rela�vely strong ‘figh�ng and suffering’ memory regime. As the ‘figh�ng and suffering’ paradigm was strengthened by responses to the crisis in Ukraine, it became less socially, poli�cally and even legally acceptable to publically cri�cize the legacy of the par�sans or to ques�on the trauma of the deporta�ons. Memory con�nued to be securi�sed, and this was the cause of domes�c and interna�onal memory wars. In conclusion, crises are accompanied by discursive changes related to memory poli�cs and the emergence of actors who are determined to defend these discourses. Thus, memory becomes inseparable from the feelings of security. The understanding of this dynamic is essen�al for Interna�onal Rela�ons (IR). This way of thinking policy implica�ons, highligh�ng the importance of mul�ple perspec�ves, openness associated with democracy and willingness to address even the darkest parts of the past.

Crises are accompanied by discursive changes related to memory politics and the emergence of actors who are determined to defend these discourses. Thus, memory becomes inseparable from the feelings of security. The understanding of this dynamic is essential for International Relations.

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There is a significant body of literature exploring the transna�onal dimensions of Holocaust memory and its embodiments in various cultural contexts. For example, as hypothesized in a path-breaking work by Levy and Sznaider (2006), the emergence of transna�onal memory has been taking place under the condi�ons of globaliza�on. The Holocaust is described as a decisive trauma�c event that defines modernity; it is a pillar of memory that transcends ethnic and na�onal boundaries. Assmann (2010) conceptualizes the Holocaust not only as a European historical memory (historical trauma) but also as a transna�onal memory, a universal norm and a global icon. MacDonald (2008) argues that the Holocaust is the ‘preeminent symbol of suffering’, and as such is used by various groups to communicate their memories and represent their trauma�c history. This literature has offered valuable insights into the ways in which trauma�c memory based on the Holocaust travels across na�onal and ethnic borders. However, li�le a�en�on has been devoted to the crea�on of transna�onal memories based on trauma�c events other than the Holocaust. When and how can traumas other than the Holocaust become a consolida�ng force for transna�onal memory communi�es?

Budrytė, D. (2013) Transnational Memory as Traveling Trauma: Lithuanian Traumatic Memory after World War II. In Rescende, E. and Budrytė, D. eds. Memory and Trauma in International Relations: Theories, Cases and Debates, Routledge, pp. 168-81.



With these ques�ons in mind, this chapter sets out to explore the crea�on of transna�onal trauma�c memory based on the experiences of the deporta�ons and poli�cal repression carried out in Lithuania under Soviet occupa�on in 1940-1 and 1945-53. It is divided into three parts. First, the essay constructs a concise theore�cal framework capturing various dimensions of transna�onal memory, iden�fying poten�al memory carriers and their roles. Second, drawing on this framework, the study explores the crea�on of the genocide narra�ve by the Lithuanian diaspora in the West a�er World War II. Third, it traces the transforma�on of this narra�ve a�er the end of the Cold War, explores the tensions between two transna�onal memories (the Holocaust and memory about Soviet crimes) and describes the transcultural emo�onal appeal of this transformed narra�ve.

Transnational Memory: its dimensions and carriers

This essay conceptualizes transna�onal memory as having two inter-related dimensions: poli�cal, which suggests that transna�onal memory can be envisioned as a ‘mul�-actor commemora�on field’ (Bell 2009: 352) inhabited by different poli�cal actors with their own visions of memory and their own memory agendas; and cultural, referring to the strength of the emo�onal appeal of the story underlying the memory communicated by the carriers of memory. An analysis of memory carriers, specifically their ac�ons, resources and agendas, allows us to capture the poli�cal dimension of transna�onal memory. Admi�edly, it is much more challenging to analyse the most elusive but nevertheless crucially important aspect of transna�onal memory – the cultural dimension. Drawing on the experience of the Holocaust, Alexander (2009) constructed a theory to analyse the cultural dimension of transna�onal memory, explaining the ways in which trauma obtains universal appeal. Highligh�ng the importance of social construc�on, he developed the concept of a ‘trauma-drama’. The crea�on of the ul�mate ‘trauma-drama’ (the Holocaust) involved the personaliza�on of vic�mhood (through books, films and TV shows). During this process, ‘the sense of moral culpability’ was extended beyond the Nazis specifically, by implica�ng ordinary Germans in the crimes of the Holocaust (Goldhagen 1997: 44) and thus allowed the audience to iden�fy not only with the vic�ms but also with the perpetrators. Highligh�ng the individual level of the ‘trauma-drama’ helped to turn the Holocaust into a transna�onal memory and a global icon. Having acknowledged the existence of other major traumas than the Holocaust, Alexander (2009: 69) wondered whether ‘the degree to which the cultural work that constructs these traumas and responds to them, reaches beyond issues of na�onal iden�ty and sovereignty to the universalizing, suprana�onal ethical impera�ves increasingly associated with the “lessons of post-Holocaust morality” in the West’. Given the enormity of the task (the extent of the cultural work), it appears that the crea�on of other interna�onally appealing ‘trauma-dramas’ should include a wide variety of actors not only governments but also the mass media, poli�cally ac�ve individuals (including former vic�ms), diasporas and interna�onal organiza�ons. Which actors are likely to successfully compete in the global ‘marketplace of trauma’ and why? Which strategies are they likely to employ?

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past Several studies (Jelin 2003, Ballinger 1998) highlight the importance of the ac�ons pursued by former vic�ms in the construc�on of trauma�c transna�onal memory. According to Jelin (2003), vic�ms who have been directly affected by trauma have a privileged role in memory construc�on. Their stories are especially compelling, and their ac�vi�es range from the search for interna�onal recogni�on of their claims to the quest for repara�ons and the crea�on of memory rituals (commemora�ons). Ballinger (1998) traces how the Hiroshima and Nagasaki experiences were constructed as transna�onal memory. The ac�vi�es of survivors as a group ‘have helped to shape both the collec�ve memory of the hibakusha [the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki] group and the more universal memory of Hiroshima’ (Ballinger 1998: 119). To tell their story and to obtain a wide audience, the survivors drew on ‘established metaphors and understandings’ (ibid.: 110). The survivors compared their trauma�c experiences to ‘conven�onalized images such as hell’ (ibid). The use of moving imagery, such as eyes, reflected the survivors’ guilt and fear that ‘the dead are accusing them’ (ibid.: 115). The power of this image-centred memory was magnified through the publica�on of memoirs, the crea�on of literary works, and mass media interven�ons. As argued by Dayan and Katz (2011), the role of the mass media (as a memory carrier) in shaping memory is likely to include the following: 1) the crea�on of electronic monuments; 2) endowing collec�ve memory not only with substance but also with a �me frame (helping to organize personal and historical �me); 3) the possibility of signalling the beginnings and ends of an era; 4) the capacity to edit and re-edit the exis�ng collec�ve memory; and 5) compe�ng with the wri�ng of history. The ceremonials created by the mass media, according to these authors, are extremely powerful: they have the capacity to electrify large audiences, going beyond na�onal borders. Undoubtedly, mass media as a memory carrier possesses enormous power and the capacity to mul�ply the emo�onal currency of trauma�c accounts. In addi�on, diasporas can serve (and have served) as powerful carriers of transna�onal memory. As argued by Langenbacher (2010), collec�ve memory is crucially important for diasporic iden��es. It helps to establish a link between various diaspora communi�es and the homeland. Diasporas have the power to strengthen (and even to construct) the leading historical narra�ves in their state of origin (their ‘homeland’). Not only do they lend support (including financial


resources) to certain historical narra�ves about collec�ve traumas, but they also lead campaigns to increase awareness about such traumas on the interna�onal level. The ac�vism of the Armenian diaspora is a good example. As narrated by Langenbacher (2010), the Armenian diaspora in the West preserved the memory of the Armenian genocide during Soviet �mes, and they ac�vely promoted genocide discourse in post-Soviet Armenia. The diaspora was able to gain interna�onal recogni�on for this trauma�c memory. The Armenian genocide has been recognized by several countries, most notably France, and there have been discussions about making the recogni�on of genocide a precondi�on for Turkey’s entry into the EU. To gain a be�er understanding of how various transna�onal memory carriers func�on in a specific context, the following sec�on explores a�empts by the Lithuanian diaspora in the West to create a Lithuanian transna�onal memory a�er World War II. The Lithuanian diaspora in the West and the genocide narrative

In post-Soviet Lithuania, as in other former Soviet republics, the leading memory regime has revolved around memories of the Soviet past. A�er the disintegra�on of the Soviet Union, the collec�ve trauma of the poli�cal repression experienced under Stalin (1940-1, 1945-53) became embedded in the na�onal narra�ve and in state-supported carriers of memory, such as textbooks, museums and a research centre. I have analysed the processes related to the construc�on of historical memory at the na�onal level elsewhere (Budryte 2004). In this essay, my focus is on a less explored topic that is, a�empts by the Lithuanian diaspora in the West to turn this trauma�c experience into a transna�onal memory, and the ensuing memory struggles. The transmission of transna�onal memory related to the Holocaust through the global Lithuanian Jewish diaspora has been explored by Malinauskaite (2012). Undoubtedly, 1940-1 and 1945-53 were some of the most turbulent and painful periods in Lithuanian history. In addi�on to the ul�mate trauma of World War II – the Holocaust, when at least 90% of Lithuania’s Jews were murdered, there were other trauma�c experiences, such as mass deporta�ons to Siberia and other parts of the Soviet Union, the exodus of ethnic Germans to the Reich in 1940, migra�on to the West,

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past and popula�on exchanges between Poland and Lithuania in 1944-6. However, in the na�onal metanarra�ve and narra�ons of Lithuanian history among Lithuanians living abroad, the deporta�ons and poli�cal repression carried out under Stalin and the war of resistance (which lasted un�l the 1950s) con�nue to play a major role. In 1940-1, during the first Soviet occupa�on, at least 17,495 people were deported (including 5,124 children under 16) and approximately 30,000 were subjected to poli�cal repression and torture (Anušauskas 2012). (According to the 1923 census, the Lithuanian popula�on was 2,620,000). It is difficult to es�mate the number of people tortured or killed by the secret police (the KGB) in 1945-53 (Anušauskas 2012). However, there is plenty of evidence of the inhumane torture of resistance fighters and their supporters. For example, one common prac�ce of the occupying power was to leave the bodies of resistance fighters in the middle of the town for ‘recogni�on’. Even the mothers of the killed could not ‘recognize’ their sons or daughters because this meant deporta�on to Siberia with the rest of their families. A large number of people – at least 118,000 – were deported to Siberia and other parts of the USSR in 1945-52 (Anušauskas 2012). The mass deporta�ons and poli�cal repression were carried out to create an atmosphere of terror, to subdue the resistance movement and to promote the crea�on of kolkhozes (collec�ve farms). This cursory depic�on of the collec�ve traumas experienced by Lithuania before and a�er World War II suggests that the poten�al exists for the construc�on, in the words of Alexander (2009), of ‘trauma-dramas’ that transcend cultural and na�onal borders. A�er World War II, the Lithuanian diaspora in the West started the construc�on of a ‘trauma-drama’ by introducing the vocabulary of ‘genocide’ to describe the deporta�ons and poli�cal repression under Stalin. This was first done by the poli�cians of the Lithuanian diaspora who a�empted to delegi�mize the Soviet regime on the interna�onal level. In 1948 (prior to the signing of the Genocide Conven�on during the same year), Mykolas Krupavičius, the leader of the Supreme Commi�ee for the Libera�on of Lithuania (an émigré poli�cal organiza�on), together with other members of the Bal�c diaspora, contacted the United Na�ons, arguing that Soviet ac�ons in the occupied Bal�c states cons�tuted genocide. Because of the power of the USSR in the United Na�ons, their a�empts did not lead to the desired result. Diaspora poli�cians, however, con�nued to issue similar


declara�ons to the United Na�ons every year, ci�ng the number of vic�ms and the terror methods used (Anušauskas 2001). Poli�cal ac�ons were followed by poli�cal publica�ons. In 1949 Pelėkis published Genocide: Lithuania’s Threefold Tragedy. Wri�en for a Western audience, the book uses copies of documents and photographs to describe the atroci�es commi�ed by the Nazis and the Soviets, accusing both regimes of commi�ng crimes against humanity. Pelėkis (1949: 231) argued that the two regimes were equally destruc�ve: ‘Both the Soviet and Nazi occupa�ons were alike in that they equally planned to take forcible possession of the en�re Bal�c area for the prosecu�on of their respec�ve ulterior designs’. The Soviet genocide narra�ve was supported by es�mates of those who were murdered, tortured and deported, and memoirs, le�ers and photographs taken in Soviet-occupied Lithuania that found their way to the West. In the early 1950s, similar accounts were released by Latvian and Estonian émigrés. Ac�ng as ‘self-appointed missionaries of truth’ (Pollak cited in Abou Assi [2010]), the authors of these narra�ves tried to make their stories believable by using factual evidence and by making comparisons with the Holocaust. The genocide narra�ve con�nued into the 1980s, with the publica�on of Pajaujis-Javis’ Soviet Genocide in Lithuania (1980), in which the author depicts the life of deportees and the system of spying in camps. Like Pelėkis, Pajaujis-Javis equates the crimes of the Soviet regime with the crimes commi�ed by the Nazis and equates Nazi extermina�on camps with Soviet prison camps: ‘Stalinist policy toward the prisoners of the slave labour camps was as simple as it was brutal: first, to exploit their labour force to the utmost possibility, and then, when they are exhausted, to exterminate them’ (Pajaujis-Javis 1980: 155). Kerulis (1981) and Damušis (1988) strengthened the genocide discourse by a�emp�ng to es�mate specific losses resul�ng from the Soviet (and Nazi, in the case of Damušis) occupa�ons. Kerulis compiled a list with the names of people who had been deported to Siberia and other parts of the USSR. Damušis came up with his own es�mates of the number of vic�ms, referring to the poli�cal repression under Stalin as the ‘KBG genocide’. (Their es�mates of the number of vic�ms of the Soviet deporta�ons varied from 350,000 to 800,000; the current es�mate is more than 118,000; Anušauskas 2012). These documenta�on efforts were strengthened by regular commemora�ons each year, the Bal�c American Freedom League and other émigré organiza�ons

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past organized demonstra�ons marking the Soviet deporta�ons, which they described as the ‘Bal�c Holocaust’. The a�empts of the Lithuanian diaspora (especially in the United States) were part of a phenomenon described as ‘ethnic an�-Communism’ by Radzilowski (2009). Although American an�-communism has o�en been viewed ‘through simplis�c and o�en cartoonish stereotypes’ and derided by many intellectuals and opinion makers, it is imprudent to deny its poli�cal influence, especially during the Cold War. Some of the most successful an�-communist organiza�ons were the Assembly of Cap�ve European Na�ons and the Na�onal Cap�ve Na�ons Commi�ee, both of which were founded by the members of ethnic communi�es in the United States. Ethnic an�-communist voters were a ‘cri�cal grassroots cons�tuency’ that forced US policymakers to pay a�en�on to their foreign policy orienta�ons (Radzilowski 2009). The members of ethnic communi�es in the United States were able to communicate their stories via Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which was a rela�vely effec�ve propaganda tool during the Cold War. In addi�on, during the Cold War, ethnic an�-communist communi�es were able to create one transna�onal trauma story, focusing on their ‘common’ experience of the brutali�es perpetuated by the communist regimes. The ‘Crimes of Communism’: transnational memory after the Cold War


The re-crea�on of this transna�onal memory has con�nued even since the Cold War. Historical memory was at the core of the Na�onal Cap�ve Na�ons Commi�ee, which, in 1993, was authorized by Public Law (US Congress HR 3000) ‘to construct, maintain, and operate in the District of Columbia an appropriate interna�onal memorial to honour the vic�ms of communism’ (Vic�ms of Communism Memorial Founda�on 2013). In Washington, D.C., a monument, located at the intersec�on of Massachuse�s Avenue and New Jersey Avenue, on Capitol Hill, was unveiled in 2007. It is a ‘Democracy Goddess’, a small replica of the statue created by Chinese students in Tiananmen Square in 1989. In addi�on to erec�ng the monument, the an�-communist organiza�ons worked towards the crea�on of an online museum. In 2009, the Vic�ms of Communism Memorial Founda�on, an educa�onal non-profit organiza�on, launched the Global Museum on Communism on the Internet. This museum perpetuates an�-communist memory and includes na�onal exhibits (including Lithuania) about the communist past (Global Museum on Communism 2011).

The content presented in this museum represents a con�nua�on of the same conserva�ve an�-communist narra�ve that was popular during the Cold War. It a�empts to document the suffering and condemn the communist regimes in the strongest possible words. In this context, the Soviet genocide narra�ve perpetuated by the Lithuanian diaspora in the West has become part of this broader transna�onal conserva�ve an�-communist narra�ve. Although it is difficult to assess its impact on public consciousness in the West (the level of knowledge about the communist regimes remains very low), it played an important (albeit controversial) role when it was introduced in post-Soviet Lithuania during the na�onal revival period, contribu�ng to the crea�on of compe�ng discourses of vic�mhood. Undoubtedly, as discussed by numerous authors in the past (Doroņenkova 2011, Onken 2007, Ehin and Berg 2009), this narra�ve has influenced tense Bal�c-Russian rela�ons and has become part of the ba�le of Russian-Bal�c iden�ty poli�cs interna�onally. Russia’s refusal to acknowledge the crimes commi�ed by the Soviet Union and apologize for them has contributed to the perpetua�on of this narra�ve of vic�miza�on by Bal�c poli�cians and ac�vists. The former vic�ms and right-wing poli�cal par�es – Lietuvos politinių kalinių ir tremtinių sąjunga (Union of Poli�cal Prisoners and Deportees in Lithuania) and Tėvynės sąjunga (Homeland Union) – have become the main carriers of discourse about the crimes commi�ed under Stalin. These groups have embraced the term ‘genocide’ to describe the mass deporta�ons and poli�cal repression, and became engaged in pressuring the interna�onal community to recognize their version of the past. In 2000, together with other non-governmental organiza�ons, the Union of Poli�cal Prisoners in Lithuania organized an ‘nterna�onal congress to evaluate communist crimes’, which included former vic�ms, historians, poli�cians and ac�vists from 23 countries. The gathering a�empted to cover a plethora of themes associated with the condemna�on of communist crimes, ranging from experiences in the gulags to the crea�on of post-communist films. A�er its conclusion, the congress adopted a declara�on sta�ng the need to raise interna�onal awareness about the ‘massive losses experienced by the countries occupied by the communist regimes and their inhabitants’ (Anušauskas, Zabiela and Raudeliūnas 2002). In 2000, the tribunal received li�le public backing, especially from the Le�, and it was viewed by the Le� as a poli�cal scheme by the Right to worsen Lithuanian-Russian

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past rela�ons (Avizienis 2004). However, working together with similar poli�cal forces from other former communist countries, the poli�cal par�es on Lithuania’s Right were able to a�ract interna�onal a�en�on to their trauma�c memory agenda. Interna�onal organiza�ons such as the Council of Europe and the European Union have become ba�legrounds for struggles over a new European memory which tries to take both experiences – the Holocaust and communist crimes – into account. Thus, in 2008 the European Parliament adopted a resolu�on declaring 23 August (the day when the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed) as European Day of Remembrance for Vic�ms of Stalinism and Nazism. This declara�on was supported by the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly in 2009 in Vilnius, Lithuania. During the same year, the European Parliament (under a Czech Presidency) led a public hearing on ‘European Conscience and Crimes of Totalitarian Communism’, the conclusions of which called for the establishment of a Pla�orm of European Memory and Conscience to increase awareness interna�onally about the crimes of totalitarian regimes. Mӓlksoo (2009) described these developments as the a�empts of the ‘subalterns’ of Europe – primarily the Bal�c states and Poland – to enlarge the collec�ve memory of Europe by introducing the experiences of European ‘others’ (former communist states). This memory struggle focuses on the desire of the ‘subalterns’ to revise the leading narra�ve about World War II, focusing on the trials and suffering resul�ng not only from Nazi but also from Soviet occupa�on. This struggle has involved resistance to their ‘tradi�onally liminal status’ in Europe and a desire for interna�onal recogni�on of the ‘genocide’ narra�ve. Domes�cally, in Lithuania, the proponents of the ‘genocide’ narra�ve have been quite successful since the early 1990s. The term ‘genocide’ to describe the deporta�ons and poli�cal repression under Stalin was embraced by the Lithuanian government, which in 1993 created a ‘Genocide Museum’ (focusing on the crimes commi�ed under Stalin; renamed in 2019) and the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania to conduct research related to the genocides carried out by the former occupying powers (the USSR and Nazi Germany) in the territory of Lithuania from 1939 to 1990 and to conduct memory work related to the former resistance fighters and vic�ms of genocide. Both ins�tu�ons focused on the Soviet occupa�on (referring to the crimes commi�ed under Stalin as genocide), but did not address Lithuanian crimes commi�ed


during the Holocaust. This led to cri�cism from the US Department of Jus�ce Office of Special Inves�ga�ons, some United States and Israeli poli�cians, and interna�onal Jewish organiza�ons like B’nai B’rith Interna�onal and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre – all of which argued that Lithuania had failed to confront and acknowledge the involvement of Lithuanians in the Holocaust. Tensions between traumatic memories

Responding to this interna�onal pressure, in 1998 the Lithuanian government created the Interna�onal Commission for the Evalua�on of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupa�on Regimes in Lithuania. It was expected that the commission would promote interna�onal coopera�on among historians and non-governmental organiza�ons interested in memory, and develop transna�onal projects related to educa�on and civil society building. The commission had 15 members from various countries: Liudas Truska and Alfredas Bumblauskas, two well-respected Lithuanian historians; the Lithuanian-American historian Saulius Sužiedėlis; Julius Šmulkštys (now deceased), an adviser to the Lithuanian president on Lithuanian-Jewish rela�ons; the Russian historian Jurij Afanasyev; the German historian Joachim Tauber; Nicolas Lane of the American Jewish Commi�ee; and Dan Mariaskin of B’nai B’rith Interna�onal. The prominent Lithuanian poli�cian Emanuelis Zingeris, represen�ng the conserva�ve Homeland Union/Lithuanian Chris�an Democrats coali�on, chaired the commission. However, as described by Suziedelis (2011), the work of the commission was not easy. From the beginning, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Jewish Holocaust survivors cri�cized it for addressing both Soviet and Nazi crimes, implying that those crimes were comparable in number and viciousness. In contrast, conserva�ve Lithuanian groups inside and outside the country reprimanded the commission for its extensive focus on the Holocaust, which, in their view, downplayed the importance of communist crimes. Some of the members of the commission suspended their membership, and the sub-commission exploring Nazi crimes stopped mee�ng in 2005. In August 2012, a�emp�ng to revive this ins�tu�on, Dalia Grybauskaitė, the President of Lithuania issued a decree reinsta�ng the commission and sta�ng the intent ‘to dis�nguish between the crimes commi�ed by the Soviet occupa�on regime and the Nazi occupa�on regime’ (Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentas 2012). Interna�onally known

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past historians, such as Norman M. Naimark and Timothy Snyder, were appointed to serve as the members of the commission. Grybauskaitė’s decree describes the two totalitarian regimes (the memorializa�on of which has led to numerous memory wars in post-Soviet Lithuania) in this way: ‘the dis�nct, unprecedented nature and scale of the Holocaust; other crimes of the Nazi regime, and the devasta�ng consequences of the Soviet occupa�on regime for the people of Lithuania’ (Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentas 2012). Notably, the language of the decree does not use the term ‘genocide’ to describe the Soviet crimes, as the use of this term has provoked numerous debates and memory wars in the past. In addi�on, by including the phrase ‘unprecedented nature and scale of the Holocaust’, the decree tries to address the claims of ‘Holocaust obfusca�on’ that were raised by the cri�cs of the commission. Dovid Katz, a Yiddish studies scholar who moved from Yale University to Vilnius in the 1990s, has been one of the most outspoken cri�cs of what he calls the ‘Red-Brown commission’ and genocide discourse (using the term ‘genocide’ to describe the Soviet crimes). He argues: Bold non-Jewish advocates of truth and reconcilia�on, individuals and NGOs alike, have recently been overwhelmed by a state-sponsored ‘Genocide Industry’ that promotes Holocaust obfusca�on. This is not Holocaust denial but, rather, a ruse to confuse the issue and talk the Holocaust away in a new, cunning paradigm of ‘equal genocides’ [that is, the Soviet ‘genocide’ and the Nazi genocide – the Holocaust]. (Katz 2009)


Katz (2009) is also very cri�cal of the Prague Declara�on on ‘European Conscience and Totalitarianism’ – a resolu�on adopted in 2008 during an interna�onal conference in the Senate of the Czech Parliament, which maintained that the communist crimes deserved the same condemna�on as the Nazi crimes. According to him, the declara�on was ‘cooked up’ in the Bal�cs, and it was a prime example of ‘Holocaust obfusca�on’. Similar objec�ons have been expressed by representa�ves from the Simon Wiesenthal Centre – a global NGO that focuses on figh�ng an�-Semi�sm worldwide and bringing Nazi war criminals to jus�ce (Davoliute 2010). For example, Efraim Zuroff, the Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, described the EU resolu�on as a ‘Red – Brown’ manifesto and argued that: ‘If communism equals fascism, then communism equals genocide. This would mean that Jews also were involved in genocide because among Jews there were many communists’ (cited in Davoliute 2010).

Similar arguments – the so-called ‘double genocide’ perspec�ve (i.e. the repressions carried out by the Soviets in 1940-1 cons�tu�ng one genocide and the killing of the Jews under the Nazis cons�tu�ng the other) was popular in Lithuania during the 1990s. Those who embraced this perspec�ve argued that Lithuanian Jews ac�vely par�cipated in the poli�cal repression of Lithuanians and that Lithuanians collaborated with the Germans and par�cipated in the Holocaust as an act of revenge. However, it is clear that the repressions were organized by the Soviets, not Lithuanian Jews, and that Jews were the vic�ms of both totalitarian regimes. One of the strongest cri�cisms of the ‘genocide’ paradigm was put forward by Tomas Venclova, a Lithuanian émigré and currently a professor at Yale, who in 1995 passionately argued against the overuse of the term ‘genocide’ to describe the Soviet occupa�on in post-Soviet Lithuania, and asserted that in the case of Lithuania, only Jews experienced true genocide, understood as the killing of the people belonging to one group. It is erroneous to suggest, argued Venclova (1995), that there was an a�empt by the Soviets to eliminate the Lithuanians ‘only because they were Lithuanians’. Furthermore, according to Venclova, the Lithuanians should treat the victory against fascism in 1945 as their own victory as well. (The leading historical narra�ve in post-Soviet Lithuania portrays the end of World War II as the beginning of another tragedy – occupa�on by the Soviet Union.) Two decades a�er Venclova’s argument, ‘genocide’ discourse is s�ll alive and well in Lithuania and outside its borders, although its public use has somewhat subsided as the memory entrepreneurs have started using the terms ‘communist crimes’ and ‘the crimes of totalitarian regimes’ instead of ‘genocide’. However, in 2010, Stalin’s Genocides, a book by Norman M. Naimark, a prominent scholar of trauma�c history, in which he argues that Stalin’s mass killings should be classified as ‘genocide’, gave ammuni�on to the users of the term ‘Soviet genocide’, and once again a�racted scholarly and popular a�en�on to the use of this term (Samuelson 2012). Snyder’s (2010) Europe between Hitler and Stalin played a similar role, strengthening the an�-communist conserva�ve genocide narra�ve pioneered by the Lithuanian diaspora in the West a�er World War II. Does this narra�ve have enough emo�onal currency to become a persuasive ‘trauma-drama’ with a cap�va�ng and moving story appealing to ‘ordinary’ Europeans and to audiences outside of Europe?

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past The cultural reach of Lithuanian traumatic memory

As pointed out by Jelin (2003) and Ballinger (1998), former vic�ms can play a major role in construc�ng an appealing ‘trauma-drama’ and crea�ng its domes�c and transna�onal appeal. Memoirs of the former vic�ms can play a major role in delegi�ma�zing the oppressive regime and its use of power – especially if, as argued by Edkins, the survivors can resist ‘the processes of medicalisa�on and depoli�cisa�on’ (2003: 52). The poli�cal and social changes in the USSR during Gorbachev’s perestroika (’restructuring’) and glasnost (’openness’) coincided with an avalanche of memoirs and tes�monies by former deportees and poli�cal prisoners. At first, these tes�monies played the hugely important role of delegi�ma�zing the regime. Later, they became the backbone of a new ‘figh�ng and suffering’ memory regime which embraced the ‘genocide’ paradigm and venerated an�-Soviet resistance fighters. In the words of Avizienis, ‘by ar�cula�ng their degrada�on and suffering in narra�ve form, the memoirists tried to correct the historical record, seek historical jus�ce, and make good on their duty to speak for those who did not survive to speak for themselves’ (2004: 504). Some memoirs are powerful, cap�va�ng stories about human suffering and survival under intolerable condi�ons. Dalia Grinkevičiūtė’s memoir, Lietuviai prie Laptevų jūros (Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea) (2005), now an iconic work in Lithuanian literature, is a case in point. In this work, Grinkevičiūtė writes about the experiences of the deporta�on of Lithuanians to the island of Trofimosk in Siberia. In this ‘land of eternal cold’, the deportees have to build their own barracks and fight for their own survival. Human dignity, the trauma of exile, coping with hunger and the threat of death – these are the main themes that Grinkevičiūtė explores in her memoir. Does this memoir (as well as others wri�en by former deportees) have enough emo�onal currency to cross na�onal borders and become part of transna�onal memory? As argued earlier in this paper, the memoirs of deportees are important to the Lithuanian diaspora, especially in the West, many of whom (especially those who were forced to leave Lithuania during World War II) can iden�fy with the experiences of forced migra�on depicted in the memoirs. (The ‘Eastern’ Lithuanian diaspora – those deported to the East – have, by and large, assimilated into the local culture or returned to Lithuania a�er Stalin’s death.) In the words of Avizienis:


By wri�ng in Lithuanian, the memoirists affirm their iden�ty as Lithuanians, communica�ng with those who share the same language and recognize their cultural allusions. The act of reading can similarly be understood as expressing na�onal iden�fica�on. These memoirs touch something very deep in the consciousness of Lithuanian readers; otherwise, they would not have subjected themselves to the arduous reading such texts require (Avizienis 2004: 514). As noted by Davoliūtė (2005), trauma narra�ves can be ‘inclusive of otherness’; they can form trauma and memory communi�es across ethnic divides. When discussing Grinkevičiūtė’s memoir, Davoliūtė argues that given its preoccupa�on with universal themes and intense personal appeal, this book represents a perspec�ve which is fundamentally different from ‘the irreden�st, ethnocentric historical consciousness’ usually associated with deportee memoirs in Lithuania (Davoliūtė 2005: 52). Grinkevičiūtė’s memoir has been translated into English and German; however, it has not been able to a�ract broader interna�onal a�en�on outside the global Lithuanian community. In contrast, Between Shades of Gray, a novel by Sepetys (2011), daughter of a Lithuanian refugee residing in the United States, has managed to cross ethnic and na�onal borders and gained interna�onal recogni�on. In 2011, it became a New York Times bestseller. Sepetys conducted numerous interviews with survivors, and her novel integrates their experiences into a moving narra�ve wri�en for young audiences. The protagonist of the story is Lina, a 15-year-old girl who tells the story of a long journey to Siberia and her experiences in the Altai region. Full of tragic, graphic details, the book includes descrip�ons of separa�ons of families, survival in crowded train cars, unbearable hunger, forced labour and humilia�on. Like Grinkevičiūtė’s memoir, Between Shades of Gray focuses on the individual and explores universal themes, such as pain, grief, love and pure evil. With its successful personaliza�on of vic�mhood, the book fits Alexander’s (2009) formula for a successful ‘trauma-drama’ with universal appeal. According to Malinauskaite (2012), who has been exploring the cinema�c memory of the Nazi and Soviet occupa�ons in Lithuania, at least 16 films have been made since the early 1990s that draw on the trauma�c memory of the Soviet experience. Many of these films, however, have not managed to resist the tempta�on of portraying the events simplis�cally, embracing an ‘us versus them’ dichotomy. One of them –

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past Vienui Vieni (U�erly Alone) – tells the story of Juozas Lukša, a leading resistance fighter who was able to escape Soviet Lithuania in 1947 and reached Sweden, France and West Germany, where he a�empted to get poli�cal support for Lithuania’s armed resistance against the Soviets (albeit unsuccessfully). He decided to go back to Soviet-occupied Lithuania, leaving his wife Nijolė behind. Lukša perished shortly a�er his return; however, the le�ers he wrote to his wife survived and became part of his historical legacy. In the words of Vėgelytė (2011), the story of Lukša and his family (three out of four brothers died during the an�-Soviet par�san war) has become an ‘essen�al’ story in post-Soviet Lithuania about armed resistance. There is some evidence that, given the emo�onal appeal of Lukša’s story (its universal themes of love, separa�on and heroism, and the successful personaliza�on of vic�mhood); it has the poten�al to cross ethnic and na�onal lines. In 2011, Jonas Ohman, a Swedish documentary filmmaker, and a team of Americans – Valdas Sruoginis, Mark Johnston and Mark Ryan – released the film The Invisible Front, which tells the story of the Lithuanian resistance movement to a Western audience using Lukša’s personal story. According to Ohman, the ‘transmission’ of history to the United States, the other two Bal�c States (Latvia and Estonia), Poland and Russia has already started. Although the Lithuanian resistance movement is li�le known in the West, Ohman believes that Lukša’s story has enough emo�onal currency to a�ract a wider audience: ‘The film is a mirror where a person (the viewer) sees himself/ herself and looks for his/her own iden�ty – character and worldview’ (Bernardinai 2012). It remains to be seen whether Lithuanian trauma�c memory con�nues to travel across ethnic and na�onal borders, appealing to broader audiences. According to Tomsky (2011), traumas exist in a global marketplace dominated by the mass media. Thus, for a trauma�c memory to gain interna�onal visibility, it is crucially important not only to obtain symbolic power but also a�en�on from the interna�onal mass media. In fact, it is difficult to underes�mate the power that the interna�onal mass media has in represen�ng, media�ng and drama�zing trauma. In the case of Lithuanian trauma�c memory, such a�en�on is s�ll lacking, thus hindering the crea�on of a broad transna�onal memory community.


Concluding remarks

Conceptualizing transna�onal memory as a dynamic, mul�layered concept that transcends na�onal borders, this essay has a�empted to explore one instance of transna�onal memory crea�on outside of the well-studied Holocaust paradigm. Drawing on Assmann and Conrad’s (2010) argument that it is currently impossible to study memory without taking the global into account, the essay has explored various non-state actors – former vic�ms, the Lithuanian diaspora, individuals – and interna�onal organiza�ons that have par�cipated in the construc�on of a trauma�c Lithuanian memory that transcends na�onal borders. Similar conceptualiza�ons of memory as a mobile phenomenon have emerged in reac�on to sta�c memory models based on Nora’s (1992) lieux de mémoire imagery and a rejec�on of ‘the crystalliza�on of memory within strictly na�onalized contexts’ (Rapson 2012: 132). Among the various carriers of transna�onal memory examined in this essay, the role of the Lithuanian diaspora deserves special men�on. As shown in the case study, not only was the Lithuanian diaspora in the West able to insert its own version of Lithuanian trauma�c memory into a broader framework of transna�onal an�-communist memory, but it also played an important role in crea�ng a na�onal meta-narra�ve during the period of Lithuanian democra�c transi�on in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The second genera�on of the Lithuanian diaspora, which includes novelist Ruta Sepetys and filmmaker Valdas Sruoginis, has created new transna�onal memories in the post-memory period – the �me when there are fewer and fewer survivors of trauma le�, and the role of books and films increases. The case study presented in this paper points to numerous intersec�ons between the poli�cal and cultural dimensions of transna�onal memory. The poli�cal dimension of transna�onal memory helps us to imagine transna�onal memory as a ba�lefield in which various narra�ves with varying degrees of emo�onal appeal – the ones created by states and non-state actors – collide. The intersec�ons of transna�onal memories about the Holocaust and the Lithuanian Soviet ‘genocide’ are a case in point. As theorized by Levy and Sznaider (2006), the introduc�on of transna�onal memory does affect the shaping of memories in local contexts. In the Lithuanian case, the collision of the Holocaust paradigm and the Soviet genocide discourse resulted in memory wars and compe�ng

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past vic�mhoods. These memory wars were interna�onalized when Lithuania, helped by other post-communist states, was able to make its vic�mhood narra�ve visible on the European level. However, even when a trauma is embraced by enthusias�c and poli�cally ac�ve memory carriers, its emo�onal currency and broad cultural appeal remain essen�al for the trauma’s survival in the post-memory age when, in the words of Hirsch (2012), the past is ‘passing into a history or a myth’. References


Abou Assi, E. (2010). Collec�ve Memory and Management of the Past: the entrepreneurs of civil war memory in post-war Lebanon. International Social Science Journal, 61, 399-409. Alexander, Jeffrey C. (2009). The Social Construc�on of Moral Universals. In Alexander, J.C., Giesen, B. et al.eds. Remembering the Holocaust: a debate. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Anušauskas, A. (2001). ‘Genocido’ savoka Lietuvos istorijoje. Genocidas ir rezistencija, 2 (10), 105-8. _____ (2012) Teroras 1940-1958. Vilnius: Versus Aureus. Anušauskas, A., Zabiela V. and Raudeliūnas, V. (2002). Antikomunistinis Kongresas ir Tarptautinio Vilniaus Visuomeninio Tribunolo Procesas ‘Komunizmo nusikaltimų įvertinimas’. Vilnius: Ramona. Assmann, A. (2010). The Holocaust—a Global Memory? Extensions and limits of a new memory community. In Assmann, A. and Conrad, S. eds. Memory in a Global Age: discourses, practices and trajectories. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Assmann, A. and Conrad, S. (2010). Introduc�on. in Assmann, A. And Conrad, S. eds. Memory in a Global Age: discourses, practices and trajectories. Houndmills, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. Avizienis, J. (2004). Performing Iden�ty: Lithuanian memoirs of Siberian deporta�on and exile. In Neubauer, J. And Cornis-Pope, M. eds History of the Literary Cultures of East-Central Europe: junctures and disjunctures in the 19th and 20th centuries. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. Ballinger, P. (1998). The Culture of Survivors: post-trauma�c stress disorder and trauma�c memory. History and Memory, 10 (1), 99-132. Bell, D. (2009). Introduc�on: violence and memory. Millennium-Journal of International Studies, 38 (2), 345-60. Bernardinai (2012). Filmas Nematomas Frontas apie Lietuvos par�zaninį pasipriešinimą pristatytas Niujorke, 16 September 2012. [Online.] Available h�ps:// [Accessed 5 May 2020]. Budryte, D. (2004). ‘We Call it Genocide’: Soviet Deporta�ons and Repression in the Memory of Lithuanians. In Frey, R.S. ed. The Genocidal Temptation: Auschwitz, Hiroshima, Rwanda, and beyond. Lanham, MD: The University Press of America. Damušis, A. (1988). Lietuvos gyventojų aukos ir nuostoliai. Chicago: Į Laisvę Founda�on and Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. Davoliūtė, V. (2005). Deportee Memoirs and Lithuanian History: the double tes�mony of Dalia Grinkevičiūtė. Journal of Baltic Studies, 36 (1), 51-68.

Davoliute, V. (2010). History and Poli�cs between Le� and Right, East and West. Eurozine, 6 April 2010. [Online.] Available h�ps:// [Accessed 21 January 2013]. Dayan, D. and Katz, E. (2011). Media Events: the live broadcas�ng of history. In Vinitzky-Seroussi,V., Levy, D. and Olick, J. K. eds. The Collective Memory Reader. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Doroņenkova, K. (2011). Official Russian Perspec�ves on the Historical Legacy: a brief introduc�on. In N. Muižnieks, N. ed. The Geopolitics of History in Latvian-Russian Relations. Riga: Academic Press of the University of Latvia. Edkins, J. (2003). Trauma and the Memory of Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ehin, P. and Berg, E. (2009). Incompa�ble Iden��es? Bal�c-Russian rela�ons and the EU as an arena for iden�ty conflict. In Berg, E. and Ehin, P. ed. Identity and Foreign Policy: Baltic-Russian relations and European integration. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate. Global Museum on Communism (2011). [Online.] Available h�ps://[Accessed 6 May 2020]. Goldhagen, D. (1997). Hitler's Willing Executioners. New York: Vintage. Grinkevičiūtė, D. (2005). Lietuviai prie Laptevų jūros. Vilnius: Lietuvos Rašytojų Sąjungos Leidykla. Hirsch, M. (2012). The Generation of Postmemory: writing and visual culture after the Holocaust. New York: Columbia University Press. Jelin, E. (2003). State Repression and the Labors of Memory. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Katz, D. (2009). Prague’s Declara�on of Disgrace. Jewish Chronicle Online, 21 May 2009. Kerulis, L. (1981). A Register of Deported Lithuanians. Chicago: Lithuanian World Archive. Langenbacher, E. (2010). Collec�ve Memory as a Factor in Poli�cal Culture and Interna�onal Rela�ons.In Langenbacher, E. and Shain, Y. eds. Power and the Past: collective memory and international relations. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. Levy, D. and Sznaider, N. (2006). The Holocaust and Memory in the Global Age. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006. Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentas (2012). Dekretas dėl tarptau�nės komisijos nacių ir sovie�nio okupacinių režimų nusikal�mams Lietuvoje įver�n�. No. 1K-1185. Macdonald, D. B. (2008). Identity Politics in the Age of Genocide: the Holocaust and historical representation. London and New York: Routledge. Malinauskaite, G. (2012). The Paradoxes of Europeanization: (de)colonization of cultural memories in the post-Soviet Lithuania from a transnational perspective. The Changing Europe Summer School 2012, Moscow: Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen. Mӓlksoo, M. (2009). The Memory Poli�cs of Becoming European: the East European subalterns and the collec�ve memory of Europe. European Journal of International Relations, 15 (4), 653-80. Naimark, N. M. (2010). Stalin’s Genocides. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Nora, P. (1992). Les Lieux de mémoire: Les France. Paris: Gallimard.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past Ohman, J. and Sruoginis, V., dir. (2012). The Invisible Front (film). Unknown. Onken, E.-C. (2007). The Bal�c States and Moscow’s 9 May Commemora�on: analysing memory poli�cs in Europe. Europe-Asia Studies, 59 (1), 23-46. Pajaujis-Javis, J. (1980). Soviet Genocide in Lithuania. New York: Manyland Books. Pelėkis, K. (1949). Genocide: Lithuania's threefold tragedy. Unknown (Germany): Venta. Radzilowski, J. (2009). Introduc�on: ethnic an�-Communism in the United States. In Zake, I ed. Anti-Communist Minorities in the U.S.: political activism of ethnic refugees. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Rapson, J. (2012). Mobilizing Lidice: cosmopolitan memory between theory and prac�ce. Culture, Theory and Critique, 53 (2), 129-45. Samuelson, L. (2012). Infla�onary Use of a Poli�cal Concept. Reinterpre�ng ‘Genocide’. Baltic Worlds 3/4. [Online.] Available h�ps:// [Accessed 6 May 2020]. Sepetys, R. (2011). Between Shades of Gray. New York: Philomel Books. Snyder, T. (2010). Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. New York: Basic Books. Suziedelis, S. (2011). The Perception of the Holocaust: public challenges and experience in Lithuania. Woodrow Wilson Center European Studies No. 341. [Online.] Available h�ps://[Accessed 6 May 2020]. Tomsky, T. (2011). From Sarajevo to 9/11: travelling memory and the trauma economy. Parallax, 17 (4): 49-60. Vaitkus, J., dir. (2004), Vienui Vieni (film), Vilnius: Daumanto studija. Vėgelytė, I. (2011), Grįžęs kovoti ir žūti. Bernardinai, 12 December 2011. [Online.] Available h�ps:// [Accessed 6 May 2020]. Venclova, T. (1995). Genocidas, Stratocidas, Etnocidas. Lietuvos Jeruzalė, May 1995: 3. Vic�ms of Communism Memorial Founda�on (2013) About the Foundation. [Online.] Available h�ps:// [Accessed 6 May 2020]. For addi�onal informa�on, please see: Budryte, D. (2016). Decoloniza�on of Trauma and Memory Poli�cs: Insights from Eastern Europe. Humanities, 5, (7), 1-13.


My work and my personal story, they are both deeply intertwined. In 1995, fi�y years a�er the end of World War II, I made a pilgrimage to Auschwitz concentra�on camp where both of my parents had been imprisoned for more than two years. What struck me most, wandering around the former burning fields in the summer of 1995, was the fact that they were alive with the most beau�ful wildflowers I had ever seen. I was moved by the way that nature was able to transform the results of such horror into beauty. This transforma�ve principle that I observed so profoundly in nature guides my work as a psychotherapist, drama therapist and theatre director. Healing the Wounds of History, which is what I call my method, is a drama therapy approach to intercultural conflict transforma�on and healing historical trauma in individuals, groups and society. This work is about a search for meaning. It is about memory and remembering. It is about sharing a personal story and being witnessed. It is about how trauma is passed from genera�on to genera�on. It is about working through and integra�ng the complex emo�ons that arise when we face history in a personal way. It is about exploring what happens when the personal and collec�ve come together – when one person's story becomes the story of an en�re people. It is about grief and mourning. It is about remembering and honouring the dead. It is about acknowledging and owning the poten�al perpetrator in all of us. It is about building bridges between cultures. It is about uncovering and transforming self-defea�ng historical narra�ves. It is about cultural and na�onal iden�ty and self-esteem, for humans have a need to feel posi�ve about the tribe to which they belong.

Armand Volkas Psychotherapist and Registered Drama Therapist

Clinical Director of the Living Arts Counselling Centre in Berkeley, California. Director of Healing the Wounds of History. He has developed innovative programs using drama therapy and expressive arts therapies for social change, intercultural conflict resolution, reconciliation and intercultural communication. Healing the Wounds of History has received international recognition for its work in bringing groups in conflict together.

Since its beginnings in 1989, the Healing the Wounds of History approach has evolved from the use of drama therapy in intercultural conflict transforma�on with two or more polarized groups, into mul�ple applica�ons. Workshops that focus on historical trauma and its impact on a single group, culture or na�on. Gatherings open to persons of diverse cultures who wish to explore their personal legacy of genera�onal, collec�ve, ancestral or historical trauma. Individual autobiographical therapeu�c performances in which there is a historical trauma or genera�onal trauma present in the narra�ve of the client or pa�ent that needs healing or transforma�on. Therapeu�c theatre projects in which a group carrying historical or genera�onal trauma devises a theatre

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past piece as a therapeu�c act and shares it with the public. Finally, the applica�on of Playback Theatre performances, which involves transforming personal stories into improvised theatre pieces, on the spot, incorpora�ng music, movement, ritual and spoken improvisa�on. As a young man, I struggled with my Jewish iden�ty. It seemed that every doctoral psychology student at the �me was doing their disserta�on on our dysfunc�on and our trauma, and not on our resilience. The support groups were helpful at first, but In May of 1989, by then having become a psychotherapist and drama therapist, I invited seven children of Holocaust survivors and seven children of Nazis to spend several days together exploring the legacy they carried from the War. I led these groups through a series of drama therapy exercises in which they enacted each other’s stories and dreams, explored specific memories and dilemmas, and created rituals to help each other find some closure with par�cularly painful experiences. I realized then that this work was very powerful and that I could have an impact on the world. I had found my life’s work.

I trust in the profound healing and transformative principles found in nature in Auschwitz where the horror of the ashes of the cremated bodies scattered around the burning fields can be transformed into transcendently beautiful wildflowers


KEYNOTE ADDRESS FOR THE DRAMASCOPE NEWSLETTER5 It is an honour to have been invited to share my work with you, as well as my vision for our profession. But I cannot do this without sharing some of my personal story, for my work with cultures in conflict and my personal story are deeply intertwined. I was born in France to two remarkable people who had, somehow, managed to survive unspeakable humilia�on, degrada�on and trauma with their dignity intact. I absorbed their story through osmosis, through my mother's milk, through their silences, through the flood of stories, sense memories and affec�ve memories poured onto my plate each evening at the dinner table.

Armand Volkas Psychotherapist and Registered Drama Therapist

I swallowed these stories whole. Whether I chose to take on their story, or whether I was chosen does not ma�er at this point. The fact is that their stories are within me. They are part of my very fabric. I can choose to ignore them, which I do, and need to do, in order to live my life. But the images of heroism, fear, degrada�on, humilia�on and death cannot be erased from my mind. What I can choose is how I interpret their story and transform it into construc�ve ac�on in my own life. My work as a drama therapist, helping diverse cultures integrate a legacy of historical trauma, has been a part of my a�empt to master and accept what I cannot erase or change. I have sought to use my historical wounding to inspire acts of crea�on and acts of service in myself, and in the clients with whom I work. My work with historical trauma is about a search for meaning. It is about memory and remembering. It is about sharing a personal story and being witnessed. It is about how trauma is passed from Genera�on to Genera�on. It is about working through and integra�ng the complex emo�ons that arise when we face history in a personal way. It is about exploring what happens when the personal and collec�ve come together – when one person's story becomes the story of an en�re people. It is about grief and mourning. It is about remembering and honouring the dead. It is about acknowledging and owning the poten�al perpetrator in all of us. It is about building bridges between cultures. It is about cultural and na�onal iden�ty and self-esteem, for we all have a need to feel posi�ve about the ‘tribe’ to which we belong.

Volkas, A. (2003). Armand Volkas keynote address. Dramascope: The Newsletter of the National Association for Drama Therapy, 23(1), 6-9. 5

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past My father was born in Lithuania. Driven by the an�-Semi�sm that he experienced and the economic and social injus�ce he saw around him, he became an ac�vist. In 1936 he joined the Interna�onal Brigade and went to Spain to fight against Franco, the fascist dictator. At the end of the Spanish Civil War, he returned to see his family, which was to be for the last �me. He learned a�er the war that his en�re family had been forced to dig their own graves and were then murdered by the Nazis. In 1942, at the age of 26, he volunteered to parachute behind the lines in White Russia and organize resistance. Of the 12 people who parachuted, he was one of only two who survived the descent from the sky. He was a par�san for a year organizing resistance in the Jewish Ghe�os. He was arrested as a Jew and deported to Auschwitz. He survived the ini�al selec�ons for the gas chambers and was forced into slave labour. He searched for his lover who had fought with him in the resistance and had been deported before him. He learned that she had taken one look around Auschwitz, and had chosen to throw herself against the electrified barbed wire rather than face life in the camp. He joined the underground in Auschwitz and was part of the group that blew up the crematorium. Only three people ever managed to escape from Auschwitz. My father was the one who devised the plan to help two of those people to escape. One got to Moscow and the other to London, but no one believed their reports of unimaginable horrors. My mother was born in Poland and experienced terrible an�-Semi�sm in her youth. She le� Warsaw and came to Paris in the early 1930s with her first husband seeking a be�er life. In 1940, the Nazis marched into Paris. Pregnant with my half brother, she escaped to the South of France to give birth to him. She then returned to occupied France where all Jews were forced to register by the Nazis. Her husband, who had joined the French army, had become a prisoner of War. She joined the French resistance, smuggling guns and leaflets and helping Jewish children escape to Switzerland. She was almost arrested by the collabora�onist French police but jumped from a two-story window and escaped. She dyed her hair, changed her name and her iden�ty papers and con�nued to do her clandes�ne work. But she knew that her days as a resistance fighter were numbered. She gave my brother, who was then 2,5 years old, to a French family in Normandy and, soon a�er, was arrested by the Nazis and taken to Drancy. She was beaten and tortured to give names of other resistance fighters. My mother was then deported to Auschwitz with a group of women and ended up on the infamous ‘Block 10’ where Dr Josef Mengele


and Dr Klauber performed steriliza�on experiments on women like human guinea pigs. My parents met in Auschwitz concentra�on camp. My father worked processing the leather goods of the people who had already been gassed. He heard that my mother needed boots. So he smuggled them to her. In the midst of the horror around them, their spirits found the resilience to love. In the death marches that followed Auschwitz, where inmates were moved from camp to camp, my father, half-dead, ended up in Buchenwald where he was recognized and nurtured back to health by a German poli�cal prisoner who had fought with him in Spain. My father was liberated in Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, by the American army. My mother, who had been transferred to many other camps a�er Auschwitz, escaped into the woods on April 15th, which she considered her libera�on day. My mother made her way back to France and found my brother alive. The French family in Normandy she had le� him with had hidden my brother and protected him during the War. Her first husband, who had also survived the War, and my mother were reunited. But 5 years and Auschwitz between them proved too much of a chasm and they divorced. A�er the war, my father was a man without a family and without a country. He came to Paris looking for my mother, where they met again and chose to reconstruct their lives together. I was born in Paris a�er the War. Wan�ng to leave the blood-soaked earth of Europe behind them my mother, father, half-brother and I moved to the United States to start a new life. How does one work through a legacy like this?

It was theatre that gave me a way to begin to address the existen�al and iden�ty ques�ons I struggled with as a result of my legacy. A�er gradua�ng with an MFA in theatre from UCLA, I created a theatre piece with other post-War Jews of my genera�on on the legacy of the Holocaust. I began to feel that the greatest revenge against Hitler would be to create a new Jewish culture. So I created an experimental theatre company in Los Angeles that explored Jewish culture and values through theatre. At the same �me, in the mid-70s, sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors in the US began to discover each other and compare our experiences. This was helpful at first, but

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past a�er a while, I saw that the children of survivor support groups were only serving to perpetuate our vic�miza�on. I was interested in transforming my vic�miza�on, not wallowing in it. I began to wonder about the Germans of my Genera�on. What were they thinking and feeling? Were the children of perpetrators struggling with their legacy like I was? In 1975, I began working as a drama therapist in a Psychiatric Hospital and at California Institute for Women at Frontera where the Manson women were incarcerated. I wanted to understand the perpetrator in all of us. Is it tamable? If so, then how? In 1986, I was asked by a public defender to work with a 21-year-old man who had murdered two adults and an 18-month-old child with a knife. Over the course of a year, I worked in�mately with this man, and in so doing, I immersed myself in the mind of a perpetrator. Using drama therapy I went with him into the moment he took the knife and stuck it into the bodies of his vic�ms. I was driven by a need to understand him. I wanted to know how someone could dehumanize others enough to torture them, rape them, or kill them. I tes�fied on his behalf at his death penalty trial and in the end, the jury, when interviewed a�er the sentencing, said that it was my tes�mony that humanized this ‘quote’ ‘monster’ enough to save his life. A�er working with this man for more than a year, I felt compelled to con�nue my work with other perpetrators. It was almost a spiritual need. I felt driven to understand the evil behind the Holocaust and knew that the closest I could get to working with Nazis was to work with their children who knew them in�mately. In 1989, I invited seven children of Holocaust survivors and seven children of the Third Reich to spend several days together exploring the legacy they carried from the War. I led these groups through a series of exercises in which they enacted each other’s stories and dreams, explored specific memories and dilemmas, and created rituals to help each other find some closure with par�cularly painful experiences. We argued. We yelled at each other. We drew. We painted. We created poetry. We created characters. We grieved. We held each other. We played together, reclaiming childhoods that had been lived in the shadow of the War. At the end of the workshop, what struck me most were the deep bonds that had been formed. Something profound and transforma�ve had taken place. There was a feeling of redemp�on. I realized this work was very powerful and that I could make an impact on the world. I had found my life’s work.


A�er this experience, I conducted mul�ple workshops in Germany and the United States on the legacy of the war. Over the next several years my work evolved. In France, I began to work with the legacy of French Collabora�on with Nazi Germany and the Algerian War. I have brought together Pales�nians and Israelis, Japanese, Chinese, Koreans on their legacy of World War II, African Americans and European Americans on the legacy of Slavery, Blacks and Jews on their frayed alliance and Deaf and Hearing Cultures. I will soon be organizing gatherings with Na�ve Americans and European Americans on the legacy of the genocide of Na�ve American people. In Healing the Wounds of History workshops, when people gather to do this work they have the opportunity to transform the feelings they have inherited so that they are no longer imprisoned by them. The cycle of rage, shame, and guilt is broken. People feel less burdened and depressed, more able to manage difficult cross-cultural interac�ons in the world. Very deep bonds are forged. The transforma�on that occurs profoundly affects the par�cipants, but the influence of their work together does not stop with them. The work also provides social therapy for the larger community. It ripples out, changing percep�ons and providing a powerful model for dealing with racial injus�ce, cultural hatred and genocide. There has been no model available for how to integrate a history of perpetra�on. When these things happen, people get entrenched in hatred and a desire for vengeance. There are no models for how to hear each other, work through rage, or access goodwill when you s�ll want revenge. No one has taught us how to reach out, to grieve, and to remember. If we do not learn how to do this kind of healing, then conflicts will only escalate. If we do not work through these deep hurts and tame the poten�al perpetrator in all of us, the human race is doomed to destruc�on. Part of what I do is to bring this work out into the public through film, public performances and commemora�ons. I do this in order to show people that this kind of healing is possible. I am saying that it can be done. It is possible to move from being entrenched in hatred to being allies, and here are some possible steps to do it:

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past The first step in bringing cultures in conflict together is breaking the taboo against speaking to each other. O�en there is an invisible barrier preven�ng contact. Speaking to the ‘enemy’ is o�en perceived as a betrayal. But when two polarized groups break the taboo and engage in honest dialogue, they can begin to work through the layers of unresolved feelings they carry about each other. I work with the emo�onal pioneers who pave the way for others to follow. The next step is humanizing each other through telling our stories. When members of cultures in conflict listen deeply to each other’s stories and hear each other’s pain, they begin to care about one another. Their feelings of empathy and friendship become more powerful than the historical impera�ve to hate each other. Drama therapy, Playback Theatre and Psychodrama are powerful tools in the art of role reversal. They help to create double binds, which par�cipants must resolve. How can I hate this person and have empathy for them at the same �me? When there is enough trust, I move into a phase in which we explore and own the poten�al perpetrator in all of us. In order to reconcile, people need to acknowledge that under extreme circumstances, we all have the capacity for cruelty. Accep�ng this truth is the great equalizer. It levels the playing field. The next phase is moving deeply into grief. Grieving together and giving each other permission to grieve is essen�al. People carry their parents' and grandparents' and their ancestors’ pain, and un�l that pain is grieved fully, the legacy con�nues to be passed on to the next genera�on. Another step is to move towards crea�ng performances, rituals of remembrance and integra�on. Groups in conflict create commemora�ve rituals and performances to publicly acknowledge the complex, difficult history they share. These rituals provide a way for people to channel their feelings in an aesthe�c form. These public presenta�ons serve to extend the healing effects of the reconcilia�on into society by touching the lives and consciousness of others who did not par�cipate in the workshops.


The final phase of this work involves making commitments to acts of crea�on or acts of service. When people carry a legacy of historical trauma one of the ways to master it is through acts of crea�on and acts of service. This is done through sharing stories, crea�ng poetry, art, theatre and

transforming the pain of their past into beauty. Or they need to channel their energy into service: working with poli�cal refugees, helping survivors of rape, or doing other work that helps to end injus�ce. In 1995, fi�y years a�er the end of the war, I made a pilgrimage to Auschwitz. I saw ‘Block 10’, where my mother had been operated on. I visited the gas chambers. I walked around the camps. In Birkenau concentra�on camp, I wandered around the place they call ‘the burning fields’. At a certain point in the war, there were so many transports bringing in Jews that the gas chambers could not kill them fast enough. So they created huge piles of bodies and burned them for weeks on end. What struck me, wandering around the burning fields, was the fact that they were alive with the most beau�ful wildflowers that I had ever seen. I was struck by the way nature was able to transform such horror into beauty. This spiritual reality mo�vates my work. My parent’s stories of heroism and survival became allegories with messages, values and lessons for me to live my life. From their experience I learned that: In the face of injus�ce and oppression, it is important to take ac�on. I learned that even in the face of overwhelming odds it is important to hold on to hope and resist. I learned that there can be no poli�cal solu�ons to the ills of humankind un�l we understand the nature and the needs of the human being. We live in extraordinarily frightening and dangerous �mes. We need innova�ve solu�ons to the social, cultural and poli�cal issues that face us. We as drama therapists have powerful tools and with these tools, we have the ability to create in�macy, empathy, community and resourcefulness in realms that most people would consider hopeless. I believe, as Jacob Moreno did about Psychodrama, that drama therapy has the ability to transform society itself. We, as healers, are the resistance fighters of our �me parachu�ng behind the lines to fight against violence, hatred, dehumaniza�on and aliena�on in our society. I encourage you to take ac�on, even in the face of overwhelming odds! Find the courage to create your vision of a be�er world!

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past For additional information, please see:

Volkas, A. (2009) Healing the Wounds of History: Drama Therapy in Collec�ve Trauma and Intercultural Conflict Resolu�on. In Johnson, D. and Emunah, R. eds., Current approaches in drama therapy, Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, pp.145-171. Volkas, A. (2014) Drama Therapy in the Repair of Collec�ve Trauma, In Sajnani, N. and Johnson, D. eds., Trauma-informed Drama Therapy: Transforming Clinics, Classrooms, and Communities, Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, pp.41-68.


DISCUSSIONS HIGHLIGHTS What are the take-home message about the impact of the historical traumas in international relations from your professional perspectives?

The importance of openness to discuss historical traumas, even though it might be extremely difficult to do so. An importance of na�onal and interna�onal conversa�ons about historical traumas.

Dovilė Budrytė

I think this is about uncovering the historical narra�ves and for me, the key is changing the narra�ve.

Armand Volkas

I would appreciate the official government to be involved in this. When you have dialogues, suddenly the second person in Duma goes back to Tatar Mongol invasion, and we need to realize that such images whether you want it openly or not, interfere with poli�cal discussions and when you know them, you can deal with them differently.

Vamik Volkan

One by-product of the historical trauma is crea�ng an imagined past, what I call in one of my books ‘the romance of regression’. We must, and be very careful, not to convert romance of regression into unreal future.

M.J. Akbar

My phrase would be persistence, pa�ence and going forward together on the na�onal and interna�onal level, promo�ng mul�disciplinary coopera�on.

Jana Javakhishvili

What do you think could be new ways of raising awareness about historical events?

I think that academicians probably should take on the responsibility of breaking the conspiracy of silence. It should be mul�disciplinary, not only psychologists but also historians, etc. I think we should advocate for this type of legisla�ve changes which are preven�ng us from exploring the past, we should do more as the academicians, to feel more responsibility and cooperate with the journalists and cooperate with ar�sts and this conference could be a model how to bring the mul�disciplinary coopera�on on the interna�onal level and promote awareness. Jana Javakhishvili

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past There are so many ways of helping socie�es and people to work through the things that Jana has described. From my own experience, it was an unofficial diplomacy, meaning that we follow interna�onal sugges�ons, we would not be able to do anything without the coopera�on of governments, we would go, and we would not end up with the parliamentary agreements between people. We call it an unofficial diplomacy which is a series of unofficial discussions. So, we can see how people are looking at the world, how people are looking at the world from different points of view.

Vamik Volkan

What will happen now with new situation, which we have now in Europe, especially with the refugee crisis coming from the Middle East?

Refugees are divining the countries to people who allow for the tent door to open vs people who do not want refugees to come in. This is a very big problem because dividing the countries, there are real issues about it, economic, medical, societal issues. We need to understand the �me when conserva�sm becomes intertwined with malicious prejudice, which becomes extremely bad. On the other hand, when liberals become too liberal. Vamik Volkan


SPECIAL ADDRESS The Monument against Fascism, 1986. In the late 1970s, amidst the rise of Neo-Fascism, the city of Hamburg ini�ated a public dialogue about the construc�on of a monument against fascism. In 1986, via an interna�onal compe��on, Esther Shalev-Gerz and Jochen Gerz’s proposal was selected. Installed in a busy public square, the monument is a 12-metre-high column, 1 x 1 metre, clad in lead. Residents were invited, in a text translated in seven languages, to ra�fy a public statement about fascism by engraving their names with the metal pencil provided directly onto the surface of the monument. ‘We invite the ci�zens of Hamburg, and visitors to the town, to add their names here to ours. In doing so we commit ourselves to remain vigilant. As more and more names cover this 12-metre-high lead column, it will gradually be lowered into the ground. One day it will have disappeared completely and the site of the Hamburg monument against fascism will be empty. In the long run, it is only we ourselves who can stand up against injus�ce.’ At the inaugura�on, it was hard for the public to accept the novel idea of such a monument, yet it made them talk about fascism, about personal responsibility and about what it means to par�cipate ac�vely in a monument. It became a place where people were given space to express themselves. The central idea was that every �me the surface of the monument was covered up with inscrip�ons to where one could reach, it would be lowered to the ground in order to enable new inscrip�ons. Each act of signing created a new memory of

Esther Shalev-Gerz and Jochen Gerz, Monument Against Fascism, 1986, 1992 permanent installation, Hamburg, Germany

Esther Shalev-Gerz Internationally Renowned Artist

Paris-based contemporary artist. Internationally recognized for her seminal contributions to the field of art in the public realm and her consistent investigation into the construction of memory, history, the natural world, democracy and cultural identities. Artist’s exhibitions have been displayed worldwide. She created permanent projects in public spaces in Hamburg, Galilee, Stockholm, Knislinge, Geneva, Glasgow and Vancouver.

Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

First, you have to take the ‘food’ and put it in your mouth in front of everyone before starting to digest.

par�cipa�on. A�er 8 years of progressive lowerings, all that remained visible is the top of the monument now level with the ground and the text panel. How can we place the legacy of the past in the present to create new forms of memorials? And how can the ar�st inspire a society to address violence without repea�ng it in the means chosen to represent it? The Shadow, 2018 is my most recent permanent artwork. It is embedded on the ground of the largest campus plaza of the University of Bri�sh Columbia in Vancouver. It is 100 x 25 meters long. The Shadow depicts the ghostly silhoue�e of a first-growth tree, a Douglas fir. It is a shadow that does not move. A way to stop �me. It is made of 24,000 pavers in 3 differing shades of grey. I decided to let the materiality of the pavers play their role. Instead of cu�ng each paver according to my drawing, I let the shape of the pavers ‘pixelize’ the appearance of the shadow. A contemporary mosaic that engages pedestrians underfoot, offering horizontal immersive perspec�ves. The Shadow invites individuals to consider the scale of the trees that once existed on this site. The Shadow summons the memories of those forgo�en things that populate our collec�ve and individual psyches. Losing touch with the materiality that created it, we are compelled to interpret what we see instead of acknowledging the erasing or the denial that caused it to disappear. It establishes a dialogue between presence and absence, culture and nature, past and poten�al future, and through its humble invita�on to a reconcilia�on with nature, the work meets crucial ma�ers of our world today. At the �me it was inaugurated, a sudden fascina�on towards trees arose, everyone was enthralled, reading, musing about trees and people understood that The Shadow is the par�cular portrait of One Par�cular Tree. Esther Shalev-Gerz, The Shadow, 2018, permanent installation, UBC, Vancouver, Canada

What is so incredible is that all of us look different from each other. Everyone, each tree, each animal is a unique portrait. Why so? Because each of us has a unique history? It seems that two things are fundamental: diversity and history.

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Between Listening and Telling, The Last Witnesses, Auschwitz 1945-2005, 2005, installation view, MCBA, Lausanne, 2012, photo Nora Rupp

Between Listening and Telling: Last Witnesses, Auschwitz 1945-2005, 2005. I was asked by both the Shoah Memorial and the City Hall of Paris to make a proposal for the 60th anniversary of the libera�on of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentra�on camp. With a team, I worked to record the tes�monies of 60 Paris based survivors. Each one related their experiences of the camps and described their lives before, during and a�er internment. The interviews remained unedited. In the grand Hall of the Paris Hôtel de Ville, four red tables wound in four parallel rows along the length of the Grande Salle. On each table, at opposing intervals were 60 small DVD players with headphones allowing viewers to listen to a par�cular verbal tes�mony. Many of the survivors had never told, even to their families, that they had been interned in Auschwitz. They brought their families to the exhibi�on to listen to them. In a complementary installa�on, I created a video of the moments of silence a�er the ques�ons are asked and before the answers are given, when a survivor is a�emp�ng to put in this li�le ‘box’ called a word her/his psychic, mental and emo�onal memories of the past experience. It was projected on 3 large screens, crea�ng a tryp�c portrait of their deep memory.

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past Les Inséparables, 2000/2008. I created it in Weimar, as part of my installa�on The Imaginary House for WalternBenjamin. It is an animated double clock sculpture, 3 x 1,20 meters. It is a permanent installa�on in Sweden and in the city of Geneva. A clock with two co-joined faces, its hands are moving in opposite direc�ons. The hands of the right dial indicate the �me flowing towards the future while those on the le� flow simultaneously towards the past, counter clock-wise. Hours pass in both direc�ons, in the present, they are always inseparable. It is the archive of three Time forms: Chronos, (�me), Hapax (unique) and Kaïros (the right moment, or opportune and decisive moment).

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Les Inséparables, 2000-2016, permanent installation, 8-10 rue Lissignol, Geneva, Switzerland

This work evokes a richness of themes that run through the double clock – otherness, �me, history, the construc�on of personal and collec�ve memory, the double, the twofold, complexity and the concept of inseparability. It is that even when you are separated at the same �me you are not because it is a part of you. So, this idea that you le� the country behind, a man behind, it is always with you. It is in a way a part of your life. And for me, this clock became like an en�ty by itself. This idea is constructed from visual and temporal overlaps. As for the Shadow, as for the Monument, some ideas emerge and need to be realized in order to envision contemporary mythology in an unprecedented way. Additional readings

Tissage d’Europe, 2006-2009 is a map of Europe that remains unfinished. Recognising geographic boundaries and borders as construc�ons that are altered and re- fabricated over �me. Shalev-Gerz chose to work with the female lace ar�sans of Puy-en-Velay. For 2 years they collaborated to create this unique delicate 120 cm x 86 cm, lace art peace where each knot by which a na�on is a�ached is able to be un�ed and at the border, a loose thread allows for future states to leave or assemble. In Tissage d’Europe Shalev-Gerz has based the individual pa�erning for each country on different natural forms inspired by illustra�ons of Ernst Haeckel’s Art forms in Nature represen�ng the indigenous and na�ve or

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Tissage d'Europe, 2006-2008, Lace Project, Manufacture des Gobelins

foreign and invasive. The ar�st chose to work with a map represen�ng the current Member States of the European community and the future candidates. Half of a World, 2014 is a proposal for the Na�onal Holocaust Monument, O�awa, Canada In 2013 Shalev-Gerz’s team was selected as one of the six finalists in the compe��on for the design of the Na�onal Holocaust Monument of Canada organized the Canadian government. Inspired by a fragment of the Talmud sta�ng that destroying a life is destroying a world and saving a life is saving a world. Acknowledging the fact that the Holocaust has le� all and everyone in a par�al state, not only those who lived through it but those who have come to know about it and even those who s�ll are to learn about it. Shalev-Gerz and her team designed a 20-metre-wide and 14-metre-high half-sphere of white marble represen�ng a world torn in half. Here, monumentality signals the enormity of loss in a fragmented world. The sculpture’s form is abstract and representa�onal at once: one world, one people, one person, torn apart. As in all Shalev-Gerz’s works, visitors are invited to experience the past, the present and the future at a personal and individual level. This half-world seems to float over a meandering wall whose gentle curves define a large gathering space for mourning and remembering, for commemora�ve ceremonies and individual experiences, and provide a 20-meter-long sea�ng area for a contempla�ve pause. Inscribed on the wall

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past are quotes sharing personal tes�monies, thoughts and reflec�ons of the Holocaust. Now that those who have survived the Holocaust are passing away, these words by survivors, writers, filmmakers, historians and public servants are an invita�on to the visitor to read, to remember and to share. The curve culminates at a transparent wall of stacked white marble shelves. The gaps between the marble slabs are spaces to be filled over �me with stones that visitors carry from their home grounds. As in the Jewish burial custom, the placing of stones bears witness to future genera�ons, while crea�ng a personal memory of passage, par�cipa�on and commitment.

Esther Shalev-Gerz, Half of A World, 2014

At the foot of the monument, rounded pebbles are embedded in the pavement in the shape of a half ellipse. Each year, during the April remembrance of the Holocaust, the shadow of the monument would have come into alignment with the pebbled ellipse. Sharing a World, 2016 is a computer-generated image, natural pigments on archival paper, 90 x 120 cm. Sharing a World reflects on the poten�ali�es of the Split and on possible modes to make space for the Other. Two very similar human figures whose bodies are covered with traces of hardships stand in a moment of suspension as they contemplate the two parts of a split sphere. These two half-spheres could be the outcome of a violent division as well as a gesture of openness or an invita�on to share reali�es or experiences that could eventually fit together to create a new whole. In a �me of urgency, this moment of reflec�on is an invita�on to consider the fundamental ques�on of how to share, split, break or divide today, through the exchange of words between telling and listening to the Other.


Esther Shalev-Gerz, Sharing a World, 2016



Overcoming collec�ve trauma is a long and demanding process, which requires collec�ve efforts from the socie�es. The purpose of coping is to give meaning to the trauma�c experience, to integrate it into healthy cultural well-being and to create healthy cultural self-esteem. Each collec�ve trauma is unique; therefore, each country’s experience is different. Addi�onally, every country chooses a unique way of addressing and dealing with the trauma�c experience. Nevertheless, some factors in the process of coping with collec�ve traumas are universal. First, it is the acknowledgement of trauma as well as the introduc�on of truth and the restora�on of jus�ce. On the other hand, every society has certain condi�ons and cultural features, which affect its decision in choosing the most appropriate ways of coping with traumas. It is, therefore, important to see the widest possible range of experiences within socie�es and groups. What can we learn from different countries and different cultural experiences?

Nerija Putinaitė Associate Professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University Lithuania

MODERATOR’S WORD The nega�ve of trauma expresses through different forms of individual and societal self-destruc�on. All sorts of violence, including domes�c violence, child abuse, suicide, alcoholism, drug abuse, mental illnesses, and behaviour problems as consequences of trauma are transmi�ed to the next genera�ons. Unresolved past traumas destructs �ssue of the society, the poli�cal agents could be inclined to instrumentalize sufferings of unresolved past for their poli�cal ends. To turn the nega�ve of trauma into posi�ve means to change the meaning of trauma. The recogni�on of trauma on the personal, societal or poli�cal level is one of the effec�ve ways to deal with the ghosts and evils of the past. Personal capability to ar�culate own trauma is important not only to the vic�ms but also to the perpetrators, whose lives are usually marked by the trauma�c past. Societal readiness to hear personal stories of trauma and to recognise the sufferings as valid builds the level of societal recogni�on. It helps to create the posi�ve of trauma even in circumstances of poli�cal rejec�on of trauma. Poli�cal recogni�on transforms the meaning of past traumas through state rituals and symbols of memorisa�on, and narra�ves of reconcilia�on of society.


Philosopher and associate professor at the Vilnius University Institute of Political Sciences. Former adviser to the President of the Republic of Lithuania in the Culture, Science and Education Group and former Vice-Minister of Education and Science. Author and editor of numerous books and articles on a variety of topics.

During the panel, we spoke about both positive and negative impact of trauma for the future generations and how to make the negative into positive?

I guess, we as Lithuanians, have some experience then it comes to coping with trauma because all three Bal�c countries are in a unique situa�on. From all the 15 Soviet states, only three Bal�c States managed a�er independence to join the biggest interna�onal organiza�ons. We already had three decades to reflect on our past, to inves�gate, to discuss, to fight and to share these experiences with other people. When speaking about the cultural trauma, we have to reflect that coping with cultural trauma can be construc�ve but not necessary. When we cope with it, it means we restore healthy cultural iden�ty, we become more mature, but at the same �me, we can fall into cultural complexes and we can fight about it for years or even decades. When speaking about Lithuanian experience, we speak about the true cultural traumas, one of them started with all of the occupa�ons, Nazi occupa�on, Soviet occupa�on, and especially the second occupa�on that lasted very long. Another cultural trauma means a radical change of everything: of life, of culture, which happened a�er the restora�on of independence. In science, we have quite a clear indicator of this change; some scien�sts call it a Social Thermometer. Suicide rates serve as an indicator of mental health. We can see how drama�cally it has changed in Lithuania, in the pre-war �me, we were a country with low suicide rates and then during Soviet occupa�on, the suicide rates have been increasing un�l the independence movement. It was very clear that the atmosphere has changed, a�tudes have changed and for some years, we were different. Finally, when the reforms came and only a�er years when Lithuania has joined the EU and NATO, the suicide rates have started to decrease. And we hope it will con�nue to decrease in the future.

Danutė Gailienė Clinical Psychologist, Professor at Vilnius University, Founder of Lithuanian Association of Suicidology

Clinical Psychologist. Professor at Vilnius University. Author of numerous books, articles and researches on collective traumas. Pioneered the very first studies on suicidology and psychotraumatology in Lithuania, which triggered the establishment of two research centres at Vilnius University, the Centre of Suicidological Research and the Centre of Psychotraumatology.

When we speak about coping with trauma, we need to have two condi�ons: 1) trauma�za�on must be over; 2) there should be a recogni�on of trauma. In Lithuania, we can already see some phases of coping with trauma. First phase was ‘public rituals’. In the beginning, it is important to have open symbolic acts of trauma recogni�on. Another phase would be comple�ng ‘the mourning process’; a very impressive example was the first expedi�on to Siberia. Families went to these places and brought back the remains of their rela�ves. I know from the psychotherapeu�c prac�ce, for many people expedi�ons were very important, it helped people with their

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

We cannot say that we are a mature and healthy society yet, it is still a long way to go but we are on the right track.


grieving processes. A very important thing in Lithuania was ‘restora�ve jus�ce’. It was described by law, who are the vic�ms of the occupa�ons and there was a compensa�on system for them. The next phase for society was revealing ‘the hidden collec�ve memory’; it was the phase of lots of memoirs and witnesses. It was very emo�onal, very intense. The next phase was ‘cultural representa�ons’, where historical representa�ons and traumas were expressed using various forms of arts – books, movies, theatre plays. ‘Cultural representa�on’ helps reflect different aspects of the historical traumas using mul�ple direc�ons. I also wanted to show you that we have a new challenge. Our research in psychotraumatology showed that repressed people by occupa�ons, they cope quite well individually. However, we have another problem. From the long-term perspec�ve, it seems that those individuals, who adapted to the system, suffer more and it is dangerous when vic�ms themselves do not think that they are vic�ms. Therefore, a lot of work s�ll needs to be done. We cannot say that we are a mature and healthy society yet. It is s�ll a long way to go but we are on the right track.

COPING WITH HISTORICAL TRAUMAS: LITHUANIAN EXPERIENCE The historical experience of Lithuania allows to study not only the trauma�c effects of historical upheavals, but also ways of overcoming trauma. We have already had 3 decades to reflect on our past, to inves�gate, to discuss, to fight and to share these experiences with other people. The most per�nent condi�on for studying the effects of trauma is the very acknowledgement of trauma. Before trauma�za�on is over, before the vic�ms and the perpetrators are named, the study of the effects of trauma is not possible. Some�mes small, limited trauma studies are carried out in refugee centres, centres for torture vic�ms, but that is not sufficient for extensive research. The history of psychotraumatology is replete with tensions and struggles for the acknowledgement of traumas and trauma vic�ms (Herman, 1992; Weisæth, 2004; Gailienė, 2008). The reasons for denial and lack of acknowledgement of trauma may be poli�cal, emo�onal, professional and other (Gailienė, 2008).

Danutė Gailienė Clinical Psychologist, Professor at Vilnius University, Founder of Lithuanian Association of Suicidology

Out of the 15 former republics of the Soviet Union, only the three Bal�c countries – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – have fully restored their independence and joined the Western alliances the EU and the NATO in the early 21st century. The totalitarian past was over. The choice for the development of Western democracies was resolute. Once democracy was restored, it became possible to study and evaluate the effects of the quick succession of the Soviet, Nazi and again Soviet occupa�ons, the prolonged and complex trauma�za�on on individuals and the society, and also inves�gate the ways of coping with trauma�zing past. Traumatizing history

Ever since the interwar period, Lithuania underwent major historic upheavals – it lost its independence, was occupied thrice, experienced long-las�ng Soviet domina�on and restored its independence by peaceful resistance in 1990. As the two criminal regimes of the 20th century – the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany – divided Europe according to their treaty of September 28th, 1939 (as WWII was already under way), Lithuania was passed over to the Soviet sphere of influence. Accordingly, it was occupied by the Soviets in 1940,

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past and immediately came repressions and Sovie�za�on of the country. In 1941, Germany and the Soviet Union went to war with each other, and the Red Army was pushed out of Lithuania by the Nazis. German occupa�on, including persecu�on of disloyal ci�zens and genocide of the Jews, lasted un�l 1944, and in the summer of that year, Lithuania was again occupied by the Soviet army. The second Soviet occupa�on lasted un�l 1990, when Lithuania declared the restora�on of its independence. Social thermometer

According to the sociological theories of suicide, there is an associa�on between the shi�s in the society and suicide rates. Therefore suicide rates may be considered as a quan�ta�ve index, a barometer of a society’s moral health, a social thermometer (Durkheim,1979; Halbwachs, 1930). Epidemiological data on the dynamics of the Lithuanian suicide rates throughout the 20th century shows that all the historical breaks and traumas, as well as radical social transforma�ons are reflected in the suicide rate curves (Fig. 1). Fig. 1 shows the shi�s in the Lithuanian male and female suicide rates over two periods – pre-war (1924-39) and post-war (1962-2018). It indicates low suicide rates in the independent interwar Lithuania (average suicide rate for 1924-39 is 8.1 per 100 000 popula�on). Lithuanian suicide rates were similar to its Catholic neighbour Poland and much lower than in the Protestant Latvia and Estonia on the same Bal�c coast (Gailienė, 2004). This is characteris�c of the European countries of the �me: the Catholic countries had lower suicide rates than the protestant ones. Like in most European countries, Lithuania at the �me had twice as many male suicides as female ones and twice as many suicides in ci�es as in rural areas.

Figure 1. Male and female suicide rates (per 100 000 population) in Lithuania in 1930-39 and 1962-2018

There are no reliable data regarding the prevalence of suicide during the first Soviet occupa�on (1940-41) and the Nazi occupa�on (1941-44). The mortality data were already collected during the second Soviet occupa�on (1944-90), and the quality of their collec�on was rather good (Wasserman, Värnik, 1997). Reliable data about the prevalence of suicide were collected since 1962, but all of them were classified. The researchers could only access certain publica�ons of demographical sta�s�cs labelled ‘Service Use’. But they did not contain detailed informa�on either, only very general mortality data (Jasilionis, 2003). This was due to the Soviet propaganda statements that all the social evils had been overcome under mature socialism. Therefore the data regarding suicides, murders, occupa�onal accidents, cases of cholera etc. were strictly forbidden and concealed. They only became accessible to the public and the researchers at the very end of the regime. Throughout the second Soviet occupa�on, the Lithuanian suicide rate is constantly increasing. It more than doubles from 16 instances per 100 000 popula�on in 1962 to 36 in 1984. Compared to the interwar period, suicides in Lithuania have increased 9-10 �mes. As Fig. 1 indicates, the historic traumas have a greater effect on men, their suicide rates ‘react’ more sensi�vely to the radical psychosocial shi�s. The female rates vary less. The ra�o between the male and the female suicide rates increases from 2 to 6, thus, men in Lithuania are six �mes more likely to die by suicide than women. In 1986, the Lithuanian suicide rate suddenly plummeted from 36 instances per 100 000 popula�on to 25, i.e., decreased by more than a third. It is an unusual case in the history of suicidology. Such a sudden drop as happened in the Bal�c and Slavic republics of the Soviet Union is almost unprecedented. The year marked the beginning of the perestroika. The processes of democra�za�on began and grew stronger. More publicity and acknowledgment of historic truth emerged, an an�-alcohol campaign began. A very strong hope of freedom was in the air. Lithuania, and later the other Bal�c States, replaced the ini�al aims for democra�za�on with more radical ones: complete independence from the Soviet Union. A�er a few years of great poli�cal effort, Lithuania declares the restora�on of the independent Republic of Lithuania in 1990, experiences and withstands the armed aggression of the Soviets on the January 13th, 1991, and is finally interna�onally acknowledged as an independent state in the summer of 1991.

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past A�er the restora�on of independence, radical social, poli�cal and economic reforms began in the country. It was a great challenge. Even though the restora�on of independence was a posi�ve change and the majority of the society enthusias�cally supported it, the shi�s were also associated with trauma�c experiences referred to as pains of transition (Sztompka, 2000): unemployment, infla�on, loss of social status, corrup�on, crime, etc. Resources were short, and not just material ones, but also knowledge and competences required for preven�on of suicides. The suicide rates rose drama�cally. Mortality due to suicide in Lithuania increased by 82.4 % from 1990 to 1996. That year, the suicide rate reached nearly 47 per 100 000 popula�on (Gailienė, 2004). The suicide rates begin to gradually decrease only star�ng in 2005. A prominent public event that marked the beginning of this turning point was the fact that Lithuania joined the Western alliances, the EU and the NATO, in 2004. Since 2002, the average suicide rate in Lithuania has dropped by 47 per cent (to 24.3 per 100,000 in 2018). Thus, the social thermometer indicates that the moral health of the society is improving, and the society is becoming more mature. Societal coping with trauma

Over the past 30 years of Lithuania as an independent state, it is possible to iden�fy several stages of coping with historic trauma (Gailienė, 2019). The first stage included the struggle for independence and its immediate a�ermath, when the main goal was to state the historical truth, acknowledge the vic�ms of the repressions, and restore jus�ce. Some prominent public acts happened before the Lithuanian independence was declared, as soon as the regime began to grow weaker. Public rituals and symbolic acts. One of the earliest societal ac�ons was returning the remains of loved ones from the des�na�ons of deporta�ons, which began in 1989. In the countries under the communist regime, there were numerous people whose grief had been interrupted – their mourning and grief had been arrested (Lindy, Li�on, 2001, p. 24). People who lost their loved ones due to repressions or as members of armed resistance usually did not have the possibility to properly say goodbye, bury them, even find out where the remains are. Besides, the Soviet an�-Semi�sm paid every effort to erase the memory of the vic�ms of the Holocaust and turned the places of their murder into abstract loca�ons of death of ‘Soviet ci�zens’ or ‘peaceful civilians’. As soon as


restric�ons were weakened, the need to finish the process of mourning emerged with great force. Plenty of Lithuanian people went on expedi�ons to the Siberia and other des�na�ons of deporta�ons and brought home the remains of their loved ones (Fig. 2, Fig.3) Those who could not do that a�empted to finish the interrupted goodbyes to their lost ones in various symbolic forms: commemora�ve hills, symbolic cenotaphs, family crosses, etc. (Gailienė, 2008). The loca�ons associated with the Holocaust are again clearly marked as spots of the ‘Jewish genocide’. Lithuania was the first among the newly created post-soviet states to pass the laws regarding protec�on and marking of the Holocaust loca�ons (van Voren, 2011). Another prominent societal act was the Baltic Way of 1989 (Fig. 4). It was a peaceful demonstra�on in the three Bal�c States to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. The capital ci�es of the three countries were connected by 600 km of human chain. More than 2 million people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania held hands to express the will of the Bal�c States to become independent from the Soviet Union.

Fig.4. The Baltic Way, August 23, 1989

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Figure 2. Bringing back the remains of relatives from places of exile, 1989 Fig. 3. Bringing back the remains of relatives from places of exile, 1989

Dealing with trauma of an undigested past The Resistance to the aggression of the 13th of January, 1991 was also peaceful. That night, the tanks of the armed forces of the Soviet Union a�acked an unarmed crowd that had gathered to guard the Parliament, which had declared the independence, and other state buildings. Some died, hundreds were injured (Fig.5). These public ac�ons greatly increased the solidarity of the people, indicated that the experiences are shared, strengthened the ability to withstand common trials. Testimony. A�er 1990, as the independence of the country was restored, the suppressed collec�ve memory of the poli�cal repressions exploded in the public space. New historic facts that had previously been covered up were publicized, always with a strong outcry in the media and the public discourse. Plenty of memoirs and shocking tes�monials about personal trauma�c experiences appeared, wri�en by the persecuted and repressed people, and later, by those who collaborated with the regime. At first such subjec�ve emo�onal stories also made a great impression, but gradually a certain ‘satura�on’ emerged, and the public a�en�on to the authen�c tes�monials began to wane. Cultural representations. A new stage of re-thinking the past and overcoming the historic trauma began when the past traumas, historic upheavals came to be reflected in works of art. Their authors were usually young people in search of their own rela�onship with the historic past. Cinema and theatre produc�ons, books exhibi�ons appeared, containing more and more layers of the past discourse, also covering controversial, problema�c aspects of history. For example, the destruc�on of the Lithuanian Jews during the years of the Nazi occupa�on and the par�cipa�on of the local collaborators in the Holocaust was hardly ever reflected in the public discourse, even though it was acknowledged in the official state documents (Dieckman, Sužiedelis, 2006; van Voren, 2011). Only in recent years have these topics become really intensely expressed on the various levels of the public discourse. Today, reflec�ons on the historical past are much more differen�ated in the public discourse than they were several decades ago. As Daugirdas (2018) puts it: ‘Now we not only talk about the trauma�c experiences and suffering induced in us by other countries and occupa�ons. We talk not only about our resistance and other things we may be proud of. Slowly, even with certain tensions in the community, we begin to talk


about the suffering that we have caused for other na�ons and people, about adap�on and collabora�on with alien regimes. We have already seen not only the intricate story of occupa�ons, but also the possibility of passing judgment on the choices and decisions made by people who acted in it’. (Daugirdas 2018:8). Political actions - restorative justice. In 1997, the Lithuanian Parliament passed the Law Concerning the Legal Status of the Persons Who Have Suffered Due to the Occupa�ons of 1939-1990, as well as the Law of the Restora�on of the Rights of the Persons Repressed for the Resistance against the Occupa�on Regimes. They define the criteria for the legal status of the persons who have suffered under the occupa�ons of the Nazi Germany and Communist Soviet Union, or who have resisted against them. The persons who acquired the status of a vic�m or a member of the resistance are en�tled to state support. Also, President Valdas Adamkus issued a decree in 1998, forming the Interna�onal Commission for the Evalua�on of the Crimes of the Soviet and Nazi Occupa�on Regimes in Lithuania. Psychotraumatological research. For two decades, the Vilnius University has been carrying out the studies into the long-term psychological effects of the occupa�on regimes. These studies began with the project �tled The Psychological Effects of the Soviet and Nazi Repressions, carried out in 2000-2003. The study indicated that the effects of long-term heavy trauma�za�on are also long-term: people who were once repressed s�ll experience various degrees of soma�c,

Fig. 5. Victims of civil resistance, January 13, 1991

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past psychological and social problems. (Gailienė, Kazlauskas, 2005; Kazlauskas, 2006). The studies of the transference of trauma to the following genera�ons have revealed that the children of repressed parents tend to be more sensi�ve, vulnerable (Vaskelienė, 2012; Kazlauskas, Želvienė, 2017; Zbarauskaitė, Čeledinaitė, 2015), even though they were not directly trauma�zed like their parents and do not present with post-trauma�c stress disorders. The parents affected by the heavy long-term trauma�za�on pass on to their children a certain predisposi�on to vulnerability. But it also appeared that the repressed families pass on to their children and grandchildren important traits of psychological resilience (Mažulytė et al., 2014; Mažulytė-Rašy�nė, 2017; Kazlauskas et al., 2017; Kazlauskas, Želvienė, 2015). The most important factor in the transgenera�onal resilience is iden�fica�on with the family history. The children and grandchildren of the repressed families have a lot of detailed knowledge about the historic experiences of their parents and grandparents, they are interested in learning the family stories and telling them to others. Thus, the effect of historic trauma is obviously long-term and very much mul�-layered, requiring a complex view and apprecia�on of mul�ple factors. Paradoxically, it may be claimed that the offspring of the families that experienced direct poli�cal repressions of the Soviets have suffered less and are psychologically more resilient than people from non-repressed families. Adjus�ng to a totalitarian system is more harmful than being repressed by it, even though the vic�ms themselves o�en fail to comprehend the damage. It is s�ll a long way to a mature, healthy society, and s�ll a lot of work to be done overcoming the trauma and righ�ng the wrongs. The cultural and societal studies of the bold and interes�ng Lithuanian scholars like Nerija Pu�naitė and Tomas Vaiseta reveal more and more nuances and details in the Soviet human and social engineering and its effects that may s�ll be perceived among the present-day Lithuanians. However, it is definitely possible to say with confidence that we are clearly on the right track. References Daugirdas, T. (2018). Ar turėsime Vilniuje Czesƚawo Miƚoszo oro uostą? Naujasis židinys-aidai, 8 (8). Dieckman Ch., Sužiedėlis S. (2006). Lietuvos žydų persekiojimas ir masinės žudynės 1941 m. vasarą ir rudenį. Vilnius: Margi raštai.


Durkheim, E. (1979 [1897]). Suicide: a study in sociology. New York: The Free Press Gailienė, D. (2004). Suicide in Lithuania during the Years of 1990 to 2002, Archives of Suicide Research, 8 (2004), 389–395. Gailienė, D., Kazlauskas, E. (2005). Fi�y Years on: The Long-term Psychological Effects of Soviet Repression in Lithuania. In: Gailienė, D. ed. The Psychology of Extreme Traumatisation: the Aftermath of Political Repression. Vilnius: Akreta, pp. 78-126. Gailienė, D. (2015). Trauma and Culture. In Gailienė D. ed. Lithuanian Faces after Transition: Psychological Consequencies of Cultural Trauma [Online] Vilnius: Eugrimas, pp. 9-23. Available from: h�ps:// [Accessed 8 June 2020]. Gailienė, D. (2008). Ką jie mums padarė: Lietuvos gyvenimas traumų psichologijos žvilgsniu. Vilnius: Tyto alba. Gailienė, D. (2018). Why are Suicides so Widespread in Catholic Lithuania? Religions 2018 [Online], 9(3), 71. Available from: h�ps:// [Accessed 8 June 2020]. Gailienė D. (2019). When Culture fails: Coping with Cultural Trauma. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, September 2019 [Online], 64(4), 530-547. Available from: h�ps:// [Accessed 8 June 2020]. Halbwachs, M. (1930). The Causes of Suicide. Taylor and Francis, 6. Herman, J.L. (1992). Trauma and Recovery. New York: Basic Books. Gudaitė, G. (2005). Psychological A�ereffects of the Soviet Trauma. In Gailienė, D. ed. The Psychology of Extreme Traumatisation: The Aftermath of Political Repression. Vilnius: Akreta, pp.108-126. Jasilionis, D. (2003). Sociodemographic determinants of urban-rural differences in mortality in Lithuania. Summary of doctoral dissertation. Kaunas: University of Technology, Ins�tute for Social Research. Kazlauskas, E., Gailiene, D., Vaskeliene, I., Skeryte-Kazlauskiene, M. (2017). Intergenera�onal Transmission of Resilience? Sense of Coherence is Associated between Lithuanian Survivors of Poli�cal Violence and Their Adult Offspring. Frontiers in Psychology [Online], 8 (September 2017). Available from: h�ps:// [Accessed 8 June 2020]. Kazlauskas, E. (2006). Long-Term Psychological Effects of Political Oppression. Doctoral disserta�on. Vilnius University, Vilnius. Kazlauskas, E., Zelviene P. (2017). Associa�on between pos�rauma�c stress and acceptance of social changes: Findings from a general popula�on study and proposal of a new concept. Int J Soc Psychiatry. 63(2), 126-131. Lindy, J.D., Li�on R.J. eds. (2001). Beyond Invisible Walls: The Psychological Legacy of Soviet Trauma, Eastern European Therapists and Their Patients. Brunner-Routlege. Mazulyte, E., Skeryte-Kazlauskiene, M., Eimontas, J., Grigutyte, N., Kazlauskas, E., Gailiene, D. (2014). Trauma experience, psychological resilience and disposi�onal op�mism: three adult genera�ons in Lithuania. Psichologija 49, 20–33. Mažulytė-Rašy�nė, E. (2017). Long-term consequences of historical family trauma: psychological resilience of the offspring. Doctoral disserta�on, Vilnius University, Vilnius.

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past Sztompka, P. (2000). Cultural trauma. The other face of social change. European Journal of Social Theory 3(4), 449–466. Van Ijzendoorn, M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M., Sagi-Schwartz, A. (2003). Are Children of Holocaust Survivors Less Well-Adapted? A Meta-Analy�c Inves�ga�on of Secondary Trauma�za�on, Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2003, 16(5), 459-469. Van Voren, R. (2011). Neįsisavinta praeitis: Holokaustas Lietuvoje. Kaunas: Vytauto Didžiojo universitetas. Vaskeliene, I. (2012). Long-Term Psychological Effects of Political Repression in Lithuania to Second Generation. Doctoral disserta�on, Vilnius University, Vilnius. Wasserman, D., Värnik, A. (1998). Reliability of Sta�s�cs on Violent Death and Suicide in the Former USSR, 1970-1990, Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Suppl.: 394, 26-33. Weisæth, L. (2004). Psychotraumatology: An Overview from a European Perspec�ve. In Gailienė, D. ed. The Psychology of Extreme Traumatization: The Aftermath of Political Repression. Vilnius: LGGRTC, pp. 26-66. Zbarauskaitė, A., Čeledinaitė, G. (2015). Percep�on and Experience of Discrimina�on on the Basis of Na�onality. In Gailienė D. ed. Lithuanian Faces after Transition: Psychological Consequencies of Cultural Trauma. Vilnius: Eugrimas, pp. 9-23.


The war between the government of Sri Lanka and the largest minority started about 30 years ago and ended in 2009. Large number of people died in the war, especially in the last phases of the war more than 40,000 people died according to the UN calcula�ons and even now, more than 15,000 are considered missing. The en�re popula�on in Northern Province was displaced, many of them lost their houses and livelihoods. The war officially finished in 2009, but unfortunately, it did not bring peace. The causes of the war, the poli�cal issues were never addressed a�er the war and are s�ll hanging there Coming to the current context of what is happening in the Northern Province, there is a huge military presence, public gatherings are restricted, and people find it very difficult to talk even in small groups. So, if you look at the consequences of this war and the so-called ‘collec�ve trauma’ is what the society is undergoing even now. The suicide rates have increased over the last few years, alcohol consump�on has increased many fold, the official highest alcohol sales occur in the Northern Province of the country. There are increasing number of complaints of domes�c violence, many reports of child abuse. And overall, the violence in society has increased. The amount of support that people offer to each other has really gone down. People are quite immune to other peoples suffering. People who stood up for others were penalized by the warring fac�ons. So people have gradually learnt to limit their considera�ons only to immediate family members. This in�mida�on created fear and isola�on and unfortunately, these things happened during the war and a�er the war. When we talk about challenges we face in dealing with the trauma, huge problems start with limits imposed on gathering people together and ge�ng government permission for interven�ons is very difficult too. Un�l 2015, any interven�on that had psychological or counselling goals were banned by the government of Sri Lanka. The majority of popula�on of Sri Lanka s�ll live in fear of another uprising by the minori�es. They feel the war was necessity to protect the integrity of the country and to protect the majoritarian culture and religion. The majority of the popula�on is not willing to accept that atroci�es might have been commi�ed by the warring fac�ons and trauma could have resulted to the popula�on in the war zone. Yet, there is no real discussion among the popula�on about trauma and the effects of trauma in the local

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Mahesan Ganesan Consultant Psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health in Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

Consultant Psychiatrist at the National Institute of Mental Health. As the sole psychiatrist for the Eastern Province for almost nine years, he was responsible for providing services for over 1.4 million people affected by military conflicts and tsunami. He helped develop a care model that incorporates child protection, gender-based violence, drug and alcohol abuse, psychosocial activities, services for intellectual disability.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past communi�es and the country at large. As the dominants narra�ves at present are of protec�ng the na�on, religion and culture, na�onal poli�cians are averse to addressing these issues of trauma. At present any form of memoriza�on is banned by the government of Sri Lanka. A�er a few years when these fears fade away, people may be ready to address these issues and consider memorializa�on and healing from the consequences of the war. The minority community that was most affected by the war is not ready yet to face the issues around the war in an objec�ve manner too. The wounds are s�ll raw. They s�ll grieve for the loved ones they lost, and are s�ll ac�vely searching for the thousands people who went missing during the later stages of the war. They have s�ll not recovered from the economic consequences of the prolonged war; many are living in poverty. Among the minority community, there are many groups with different viewpoints. Some deny the atroci�es commi�ed by the rebels, and others blame the rebels for all their suffering. It is very difficult to have discussions about the consequences of the war without highly aroused emo�ons and much blaming. Again some indirect healing ac�vi�es and economic and social recovery would help to bring about an environment where we could start addressing the core issues trauma and healing. This will too take �me.

In the immediate post conflict arena, it is very difficult to resolve internal conflicts. We have to use innovative strategies to try and bring about healing.


Having sustained funding to do anything meaningful was also a problem. The challenge of dealing with the collec�ve trauma that has accumulated for over thirty years will require significant inputs over a sustained period of �me. In a country where there is li�le ins�tu�onal support for this and having poor capacity, there needs to be external support to take on this challenge. Unfortunately, in �mes of short funding cycles this is difficult to achieve. Therefore, when we decide on the programs, those programs had to be acceptable for the government and the local community because the community itself was very polarized as the memories were s�ll fresh. The space was rela�vely free of controversy when it involved health related ac�vi�es or religious ac�vi�es. Hence, most programs dealing with trauma have to be carried out by using one of these approaches. One of the programs that I was involved is called Towards peaceful societies. We try to bring about be�er understanding of their own emo�ons and help them towards good emo�onal management in this program. We use the culturally accepted method of storytelling, usually using an animal story.

Basically, the stories are about foxes, lions, and rats talking to each other. It takes the human part away and it makes much easier for people to talk about it. What we found was, that for the program to reach the masses, it has to be very simple, and it has to be very short. We cannot depend on mental health professionals to deliver the program because we simply do not have enough of them. Therefore, everyone with some minimal training should be able to deliver the program. We designed it in such a way that it was totally non-controversial, partly because then it would be more likely to be accepted by the government. Furthermore, we did not want to contribute and increase trauma by bringing up memories because in the community trauma was s�ll very fresh. The story will be read out, then people will re-enact the story, there will be a discussion, and gradually people will start to talk about their own emo�ons and how they express those emo�ons. It gets them to think; ‘Maybe I should manage my anger a bit more’, etc. To that conclusion, they need to come by themselves, we do not tell that. Compared to the trauma that is there in the West, the trauma that we try to address in Sri Lanka is s�ll very fresh. Hence, we have to overcome many challenges when trying to overcome the trauma. And unlike most of the wars that were fought in the past, the wars that are fought now have no real end, there is no closure. In this context of immediate post-conflict scenario, we face a very difficult task, when trying to address the consequences of war and deal with the trauma that the community has suffered. We have to use innova�ve strategies like the example men�oned above to try and bring about healing. We cannot address healing and trauma in a direct manner. It is this kind of approach that we have to try depending on the ground reali�es and it will be good, if we could find some evidence that it really works and whether it can be replicated elsewhere.

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Simon Wessely Professor of Psychological Medicine at Kings College London United Kingdom

Professor of Psychological Medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. Founding Member of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Unit in 1991 and the Cochrane Depression and Anxiety Group. Founder of the Gulf War Illness Research Unit, which, in 2003, became the King’s Centre for Military Health Research. Chair of the Government’s Independent Review of the Mental Health Act.


The word ‘trauma’ in itself has some cultural connota�ons there and they have changed over �me. It is only in the last genera�on, that if I say something is ‘trauma�c’, you will naturally assume I am talking about psychological trauma. However, for the first half of the 20th-century, it was not a case at all, in all books on medicine and psychiatry, ‘trauma�c’ only meant psychical trauma. Our work of long-term follows those, who served in the war. Through large scale of surveys, interviews and all sorts of different thing that we do, we were able to see how profoundly the memories and meanings have changed. When we compare iden�cal ques�onnaires and interviews that we have done with soldiers or any service personnel over�me about their experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia or whenever we are studying, we no�ce just how much they have changed. The history that people give over�me is not really a history; it is more of the guide to the current way they are feeling. It is about their current mental state rather than their past. The more they are feeling depressed, the more they remember than they did fi�een years ago, but if life improved thing will be dropped, changed or missed out completely. These very dynamic things tell us more about the present than they do about the past. Therefore, it is important to have historians in a team. Also, of course, if our recollec�ons of trauma have changed, so does its meaning. Now, I use the word ‘trauma�c’ and that is a nega�ve thing to describe something trauma�c as ‘nega�ve’. However, not all the experiences that soldiers have are necessarily nega�ve. Some�mes they can be very mixed. For some, their post-war trajectories were very posi�ve, much more than we expected achieved prominence and high office. They were acknowledged and rewarded for their sacrifices and common answer, when asked, would be that deployment helped them to deal be�er with stress. Now, we can also see as relevant to our discussions are the trajectories from the Vietnam veteran. PTSD would not have existed as a diagnosis without Vietnam. It was created and introduced to the psychiatric canon in the 1980s. However, it is not un�l soldiers returned home, that we started to see the emergence of something different or the stereotype of the Vietnam veteran. It is a contested point, as to whether this is much to do with what they experienced during the war or was it more to do with the society to which they

returned, and the reac�ons of that society as it struggled to come to terms with the war they have lost. The odd thing is when we look at the veterans of the First World War, we do not find the symptom of the flashback, and we confined only a handful of those who would describe something recognizable to a flashback. They described lots of other things, depression, tears, and nightmares certainly, but the flashback seemed to be absent. Therefore, our disorders are not sta�c, and they change just as our diagnosis do. War changes everything, for some it could be a �me of excitement, everything is the best it has ever been, and for others, it is horrific and tragic. A single person can be a perpetrator, a vic�m and a bystander at different �mes in their lives. The same it is with countries and so it is with culture. We all know what happened and some of it can be painful to acknowledge but acknowledge it we must. And so, I will end with the Hungarian proverb: ‘Predic�ng the future is easy, predic�ng the past it is both difficult and dangerous’.

A single person can be a perpetrator, a victim, and a bystander at different times in their lives. We all know what happened but sometimes, some of it is too painful to acknowledge but acknowledge it we must.

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

Cheryl Lawther Senior Lecturer in Law, Queen’s University Belfast North Ireland

Senior Lecturer in Law at Queens University Belfast. Currently leading and working on several RCUK funded research projects; leading a Department for Education – Global Challenges Research Fund pilot project on representations of victimhood at dark tourist sites, with a specific focus on Cambodia. Her research interests are in the fields of transitional justice, truth recovery, victims, ex-combatants, reparations, emotions and conflict transformation. Author of the monograph ‘Truth, Denial and Transition: Northern Ireland and the Contested Past’.


My presenta�on today focuses on the idea of ‘haun�ng’ and unresolved past. When I talk about ‘haun�ng’, I am not talking about some obscure interest with the paranormal or the spiritual world but I am using in this presenta�on the idea of ‘haun�ng and ghosts’ as a prism to understand the rela�onship between unresolved past and transmission of post-conflict trauma. Northern Ireland have frequently been described, as a society that is ‘haunted’ by its past and where the ‘ghosts’ of that past would not lay down quietly. I want to talk about the idea of haun�ng, ‘the haun�ng of lives’. When I talk about ‘the haun�ng of lives’, what I am referring is how the dead but aggrieved or injured are some�mes used in a context of poli�cal and social claims-making because they can no longer speak for themselves or are not in the posi�on to speak for themselves. And because there is a poli�cal currency to vic�mhood. The images of the dead and vic�mized are powerful, they are gripping but essen�al, if we like it or not, in helping us to make sense of the conflict. That we also have seen is the crea�on of the hierarchy of the vic�mhood. And you can see that it is not the civilians and vic�ms who are at the top of the hierarchy. In fact, it is either state forces on the Protestant side or paramilitary forces on the republican side and so for the vast majority of those who were affected by the conflict, they are not featuring in these debates about how to deal with the past or ge�ng the a�en�on and respect that they might deserve. Therefore, we s�ll fight over the details of our past. There is also ‘haun�ng of the landscape’ in Northern Ireland. Even though the atrocity of violence may happen many years ago, those echoes or that sense of trauma in the psychical space can persist long a�er the original event. And while these places are obvious links to the themes of mourning, closure and remembrance, it is also about how trauma can con�nue to mark the real landscape or the imaged landscape. The reason for this idea is that geographical space and that rela�onship between �me, space and memory can become frozen at the point of atrocity. It is very common phenomena that when doing ‘dark tours’ and speaking with vic�ms and survivors, who are leading those tours, there is a high chance that, as they pass those places, they are back in that moment of atrocity. The ‘dark tourism’ for visitors is being used as a way to define or redefine history but also to claim legi�macy and jus�fica�on

for the past ac�ons and to reassert claims to vic�mhood or greater vic�mhood over the other community. There is also a ‘haun�ng’ phenomenon in respect to the trauma of the past. Transgenera�onal trauma is something we have very belatedly caught on to in Northern Ireland. What you are seeing now is that children, perhaps grandchildren of those who were affected by the conflict, are presented in school or at home with behaviour problems or problems around drug abuse or other forms of substance abuse. Then those challenges are looked into, it is o�en traced back to the parent of the guardian who has had some form of trauma�c injury during the conflict. We also have a very high prevalence rate of mental health problems and according to the evidence, one of the highest rates of PTSD anywhere in the world. Moreover, all of these factors are undeniably linked to those of the unresolved past and con�nue to exist in our present.

I would argue that ‘ghosts’ that are ‘haunting’ are not some kind of weird obsession with paranormal but in fact, the call to action in response to unsolved legacies of trauma.

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

DISCUSSIONS HIGHLIGHTS What are the most effective ways and means for collective healing and addressing traumas?

I think there should be a polyphony, which includes a live process and have many mul�disciplinary, mul�-perspec�ve voices.

Danutė Gailienė

I am not sure, that there is one way or a set of defined ways, which can help overcome collec�ve trauma. What I do think is, that we need to recognize that trauma exists and we need to be able, within the mechanisms we have, to respond to the trauma�c past. However, that does not mean that we force vic�ms and survivors, for example, to engage with the truth process or engage with psychological therapies but what we can do is to make sure that those facili�es are available and that they are available to vic�ms and survivors in a �mely manner.

Cheryl Lawther

From the perspec�ve of Sri Lanka and the trauma that has been in the recent past I think, truth, jus�ce and repara�on have to happen before we can move any further. Mahesan Ganesan

I would agree to that, first, it is important to re-establish the rule of law. Jus�ce and truth, I think are incredibly important, and we, as professionals, play much part in that. The other thing that I would like to say is that truth and reconcilia�on processes have been men�oned a lot in many countries. However, there has only been one trial of it, actually in Sierra Leone. In the scien�fic paper, couple years ago, the social scien�sts randomly choose 300 villages for a remarkable project; 150 of them had truth and reconcilia�on processes and 150 did not and the results showed that those who had it were more forgiving and more socially se�led I suppose in a way, but they became significantly more depressed and had significantly more PTSD. Therefore, it has some advantages but also has some disadvantages as well. Simon Wessely


What could be the signs of reconciliation in society after the years of regimes and conflicts? What would be the point that the societies are going to the ways of healing, the finish of healing? Is it possible at all?

I think the signs of society towards moving a more reconciled place are in many ways modest but also quite influen�al signs and these signs could be like people would be able to speak and express their cultural iden�ty without fear. That there is tolerance for different prac�ces and different beliefs and different ways of life in society. I also think that in reconciled socie�es people are free to express their own iden�ty and to have respect and acknowledgement of different iden��es and different past. You do not necessarily have to agree 100 per cent with those different perspec�ves but at least allow it to coexist in the same space as your own history. Cheryl Lawther

Absolutely, I would say that a healthy country is where it is good to live looking from different aspects.

Danutė Gailienė

What I see is that, in mul�-cultural, mul�-ethnic socie�es, unfortunately, democracy seems to be very toxic, populist governments use these differences as a way of holding on to power and they do not want the reconcilia�on. The world as a whole has to find an answer to this.

Mahesan Ganesan

The data in Lithuania on the difference between female and male suicide are very striking and unusual. Your males have far be�er psychological health than your females, but they also have one of the highest rates of suicide in the world. I do not have an inkling as so to why, but it is a very clear-cut result.

Simon Wessely

As long as there is a denial of the past, we cannot discuss the restoration of justice. How do we move forward if the other side keeps denying postcolonial migrants, humanities or victims of war?

I think denial can be many different things, it can be a mechanism of protec�on, it can be a way to self-protect your own iden�ty and perhaps try to uphold the blame, and denial can be part of that contested vic�mhood that I was talking about earlier. It can be a way to shake off responsibility for the past ac�ons and inac�ons, say you were the innocent party, or

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Dealing with trauma of an undigested past it can also be a way, for example, to uphold narra�ves, sacrifice and loyalty. But in terms of how we overcome the denial that is the crucial ques�on, I do not think that we can move forward �ll people take ownership and responsibility for the past and they genuinely have to own that past. Perhaps one way to overcome that if we are in a situa�on where we do not have a form of truth and jus�ce, for example, is to keep perpetua�ng. To keep going with other ini�a�ves in terms of dealing with the past and truth recovery, to bring up the material that has been buried in the archives for many years and get the informa�on out to the public that those denials perhaps do not stand to scru�ny anymore. Cheryl Lawther

I mean one of the reasons for denial is the fear of facing the truth and if we can somehow remove that fear. I mean my country was Portuguese, Dutch and Bri�sh colony and the Portuguese and the Dutch ruled the North and East separately from the South. When the Bri�sh came, they made it into one island. It is easy to blame the Bri�sh for the war in Sri Lanka but then I am sure, there were divisions in my country before and the Bri�sh just made maximum use of it. Appropria�on of the blame is easy, but it is never simple, it is much more complicated. So, taking the fear away and understanding the ul�mate mistakes that led to colonialism and star�ng a dialogue could be one way of going forward. Mahesan Ganesan

I think there should be two things: you have to re-establish the rule of law. You just have to have jus�ce first and with that comes the truth and reconcilia�on. You have to put the truth first, you cannot reconcile un�l you have the truth and again it is a task for historians, poli�cians and all the things you have talked about today. So, jus�ce, then truth and then finally third in the list might come the being of reconcilia�on. Simon Wessely


CONCLUSIONS What we have heard from the very beginning – and I am very happy to hear it again – is that traumas are universal experiences. They can happen anywhere, and they do happen everywhere, as was powerfully shown to us on a map. Currently there are more than 140 ‘hotspots’ in the world, where a trauma is being registered. Geographically these ‘hotspots’ cover a wide area from Sri Lanka to Northern Ireland and from US to India. One of our speakers has said a very interes�ng thing, namely that a collec�ve trauma is a collec�ve ‘moral dilemma’, which we as a society fail to solve in the right way at a given point in �me. Thus, trauma actually results from the wrong choices that we as socie�es make. Going back in order to rec�fy those mistakes becomes a very important preoccupa�on later. How do we deal with that?

Laimonas Talat-Kelpša State Secretary at the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, former Ambassador of Lithuania to India Lithuania

Many of our speakers have underlined that trauma must be adopted and internalized [by the society]. What ma�ers in a trauma�c event is people, not numbers. Numbers of course are important but people who suffered, people who commi�ed crimes, people who survived the trauma and their descendants are actually more important. We have to internalize their experiences; we need to take their traumas as our own. For that, there is a lot of work s�ll to be done. Another interes�ng thought that was raised here was that our experience of what we have endured usually dominates the debate about the trauma and overshadows the ques�on of what we are now? How do we live in this post-traumatic period? An important and telling example has been brought to our a�en�on. A Holocaust survivor from Auschwitz, a Jewish lady, told that the day when the camp was liberated and the gate was opened and everyone was told they were free to go, was the most trauma�c day in her life, because she realized she had actually nowhere to go. Nonetheless, to this day we celebrate this day [of libera�on] and repeatedly make the survivors like her to evoke their painful memories. Of course, such days must be remembered; but shouldn’t we pay more a�en�on to the people who were in that place, in that par�cular situa�on, and shouldn’t we try to understand their feelings?

137 march 5-6, 2020 | Vilnius

Dealing with trauma of an undigested past Historical narra�ves can change as socie�es become more open and diverse. But how fast can we change? This ques�on of speed, of velocity, always heralds a conflict [in the reconcilia�on process] since one part will demand: ‘Your healing must come faster; you have to do it quickly’. We Lithuanians hear this quite o�en: ‘Do it faster, reconcile with your history with an increased velocity’. But if you do it too fast, a backlash will develop. You will confront a counter-reac�on coming from within your own society, which is not always ready to adapt so quickly. In the end, the result will be counterproduc�ve. So striking the balance is very important. Establishing the external parameters of what has happened is not enough. Defining trauma from the legal and poli�cal perspec�ve is too simple. The difficult answers must come from within. And for that we as ci�zens must be involved. We must read a lot, learn a lot, and avoid leaving the archives only for scholars. I some�mes go to those places and read the file of a person who is said to have commi�ed a crime. A�er reading these files one can build his or her personal, facts- and arguments-based opinion. Such internaliza�on comes much faster through alterna�ve means like art and literature. We have spent a good deal of �me talking about this during the conference. Understanding trauma is like descending to hell. Our prominent speaker, the Noble Prize Winner, Svetlana Alexievich, applied this metaphor, also adding that coming out of the hell might not always be successful. Such was her personal experience. So once you take this risk of jumping down into the hell, be careful: it might not always be produc�ve. The trauma of colonialism is a thing rather new to Lithuania. We normally speak of different types of traumas. But this morning our dis�nguished speaker from India explained how colonialism is able to reincarnate itself in various types of paternalism, which many socie�es even fail to recognize. So, while being presented with the story of colonialism in India, I was also thinking about another country in our region, a very big country indeed, which so o�en treats its neighbours with this paternalis�c a�tude. We have to face it prac�cally on a daily basis, e.g. through the ins�tu�on of such no�ons as ‘near abroad’ and ‘far abroad’. What is ‘near abroad’ and what is ‘far abroad’? For an outsider, this must be difficult to understand. But big metropolitan na�ons keep such paternalis�c no�ons alive and in use.


Overcoming trauma comes through libera�on from fear. And libera�on from fear comes through the discovery of truth. We have to seek truth and speak only truth once we discover it. Last but not least, pu�ng a word [of truth] into the mouth demands an effort. Our talented speaker of Israeli, French, and since recently Lithuanian, na�onality has ar�culated this metaphor so well and developed it so vividly in her video. Are we aware of this most cri�cal moment, of those few split seconds [of silence], which precede our opening up as start speaking of trauma? Do we reflect on which word should come first from our mouth so that others can hear us, and the destruc�on of antagonism is averted?

Dealing with trauma of an undigested past

CONCLUSION The experiment to ‘marry’ psychology and diplomacy proven to be frui�ul and intellectually enriching. This conference provided the environment in which dis�nguished guests have shared their own personal stories as well as na�onal stories about historical traumas. In addi�on to that, these different stories and approaches allowed for a be�er understanding of what historical traumas are and what their long-term consequences can be. The conference covered a variety of topics such as denial, recogni�on, memory, na�onal iden�ty, grievances, psychological and psychical challenges, which are or can be associated with historical traumas. There are different types of traumas basically on every con�nent. It was emphasized that the recogni�on of all the different traumas is an important first step towards reconcilia�on. Truth and repara�ons were o�en men�oned as the following steps in healing the collec�ve trauma. Transi�onal jus�ce mechanisms can help collect evidence and provide the truth about terrible crimes. Truth and repara�on mechanisms can help vic�ms, survivors, but also the successors of survivors, regain a sense of dignity and self-worth. Finally, the commemora�on of historical traumas is essen�al too. Star�ng with history educa�on, which acknowledges current diversity in socie�es and its traumas in a respec�ul manner. Literature and movies are important tools, which not only allow for the writers, vic�ms, and survivors to talk about these historical traumas, but also help bring others’ a�en�on to the importance of historical events. Statues, monuments, and other art installa�ons help incorporate historical facts and historical events into public spaces and can be crucial when talking about traumas’ recogni�on and healing. However, the cau�onary word here would be to make sure that these type of commemora�on installa�ons are effec�ve in bringing inclusiveness rather than aliena�ng it.


It is important to invest in willingness to understand and accept each other. To allow for different perspec�ves to coexist in the same space. To remember that every wound is different and that every wound heals at a different pace and at a different �me. Therefore, it is important to invest in tolerance, to invest in a decent society.

VILNIUS DECLARATION ON DEALING WITH CONSEQUENCES OF COLLECTIVE TRAUMA Following the discussed topics, cases, examples, and methods, it was decided to have an official document that would offer a summary of the main findings discussed during the conference and recommenda�ons for the future. The following document called the Vilnius Declaration on Dealing with Consequences of Collective Trauma offers the main points and ideas as well as policy recommenda�ons on healing collec�ve traumas and reconcilia�on. These key points combine knowledge from various fields of exper�se such as psychology, psychiatry, history, sociology, law, poli�cs, and literature. Therefore, it offers a wide range of policy recommenda�ons on the conference topic. The Vilnius Declaration was wri�en in collabora�on with the par�cipants of the interna�onal conference and it focuses on be�er ways and methods to understand the current situa�on with historical traumas and their effects on socie�es. Vilnius Declaration On Dealing with Consequences of Collective Trauma

The par�cipants of the Conference Dealing with the Trauma of an Undigested Past, having gathered in Vilnius on the eve of the 30th Anniversary of Restora�on of Lithuania’s Independence Conclude that: Collec�ve traumas are crucial and impac�ul human experiences that significantly affect domes�c poli�cs and interna�onal rela�ons. Traumas influence how socie�es view themselves and how they form domes�c and interna�onal policies. Socie�es experience collec�ve traumas regardless of epoch or geography. Worldwide we s�ll see the consequences of collec�ve traumas resul�ng from natural disasters, colonialism, slavery, racism, genocide, ethnic and religious


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past conflicts, interna�onal and civil wars, poli�cal persecu�on, the Holocaust, crimes of totalitarian regimes, and terrorism. The way collec�ve trauma is dealt with varies from country to country. At the same �me, collec�ve traumas are be�er understood from an interna�onal context. Although each collec�ve trauma is unique, it is important to learn from each other and share methods and lessons in overcoming them. The recogni�on of historical traumas, acknowledgment of their impact, and work on dealing with the past is the path towards reconcilia�on within the society, as well as between people and na�ons, which lays the groundwork for their current and future rela�onships. An open and honest dialogue and joint reflec�on are essen�al to the founda�on for peaceful and democra�c socie�es based on the rule of law and recogni�on of (the) universal human rights. Emphasize that: The consequences of collec�ve traumas have varying impacts on different socie�es. The ques�on is not only how to avoid traumas in the future but also how to deal with the trauma�zing past in such a way that it no longer dominates the present and nega�vely influences the future development of society. Collec�ve trauma affects not only the par�cular vic�ms and their perpetrators, but also society as a whole and its rela�ons with other communi�es: it erodes societal fabric, has the tendency to transmit from genera�on to genera�on and hinders societal well-being. In par�cular, historical trauma can have nega�ve effects on cultural and na�onal iden�ty and self-esteem. Human beings have a need to feel good about the group to which they belong. War trauma, humilia�on, defeat, or subjuga�on nega�vely affects the collec�ve self-respect and can influence the way individuals view or value their own cultures.


Historical trauma impacts large groups of people and trauma�c events become part of their collec�ve narra�ve and iden�ty. Those who survive are focused on staying alive; they cannot take the �me to fully grieve their losses. Once the trauma is over, the focus turns toward building a new life, and the trauma again is forced into hiding because its impact is so overwhelming and painful. Socie�es who con�nue to struggle to deal with the past trauma�c experiences may suffer a wide range of trans-genera�onal consequences, such as the increased prevalence of mental health problems, violence in families, communi�es and other se�ngs, and other problems related to the destruc�ve societal dynamics, including a cri�cal lack of authen�c faith, trust, and self-esteem. Through the acceptance that collec�ve trauma will never disappear and that one has a permanent rela�onship with it, the inheritor can be liberated from a tortured denial or rejec�on of its existence. Diges�ng the trauma�c past provides an outlet for constrained and unexpressed emo�onal energy. Descendants of vic�ms, survivors, and perpetrators grieving together, and giving each other permission to grieve, is an essen�al part of healing historical wounds. People carry their ancestors’ pain, and un�l that pain is fully grieved this legacy con�nues to be passed on to the next genera�on. In dealing with the painful past, a society gains resilience, promotes societal healing, and develops the necessary resources and wisdom that will help avoid future destruc�ve societal developments. A society that is striving to heal needs to try to make sense of the trauma�zing experience and integrate it into a complex cultural iden�ty. During the post-World War II era, there has been a shi� in interna�onal norms towards legal accountability and truth-seeking. Transi�onal jus�ce is a developing interna�onal norm, which provides an environment where socie�es can address their trauma�c past by pursuing jus�ce and telling the truth about the past. Governments and interna�onal organiza�ons should encourage and facilitate efforts suppor�ng this process.


Dealing with trauma of an undigested past Encourage: Governments and International Organizations:



Fully recognize and research what happened exactly, who was involved, and in what way. Support the work of scholars, non-profit organiza�ons, truth commissions, and war crime tribunals in presen�ng the concrete and researched evidence about the terrible crimes. Provide both moral and material support to the ongoing historical inves�ga�on into totalitarian regimes, as only by ac�ng in a concerted manner can we more effec�vely counter disinforma�on campaigns and a�empts to manipulate historical facts and the crea�on of new falsified narra�ves. Make sure that all corresponding historical documents (i.e. archives) are accessible for research purposes.


Assure that justice is done, as restora�on of jus�ce facilitates post-trauma healing and the well-being of those affected. Seek the truth, accountability, and repara�ons. Enable repara�ons for material and immaterial losses to vic�ms and survivors of human rights abuses, especially to those who are iden�fied as most vulnerable (women, children, minority groups, and impoverished communi�es). Assure help to those affected and iden�fy how to provide this help in the best possible way. Develop strategies for preven�ve efforts to break the cycle of trauma and trans-genera�onal transmission.


Acknowledge the losses of those directly affected, e.g. lack of educa�onal and career opportuni�es as a result of individual trauma and support their ways out of social isola�on.


Work with academics to improve the quality and quan�ty of international research about collec�ve traumas. Inves�gate the methods used in other socie�es which helped them heal collec�ve traumas.


Mo�vate and facilitate appropriate reflec�on through multidisciplinary research resul�ng in publica�ons of different formats, both scien�fic and popular, including collec�ons of tes�monies of those involved in trauma�c events, both in wri�ng and audio-visually.


Promote artistic reflec�on of the trauma�c experiences as a powerful tool of exteriorizing and symbolizing pain, facilita�ng the truth-seeking and healing processes.


Provide effec�ve support for projects of historical memory and remembrance. Develop adequate memoriza�on programs, such as remembrance days, vic�m memorials, public recogni�on of those who behaved themselves exemplarily, museums and works of art dedicated to those events, etc.


Deal with the con�nued existence in public spaces of monuments and memorials (parks, squares, streets, etc.) glorifying the perpetrators of collec�ve traumas. Search for a balanced and las�ng solu�on based on exper�se and public dialogue.


Develop educational programs and curricula for primary and secondary educa�onal ins�tu�ons in order to promote next-genera�on awareness and sensi�vity.


Mobilize like-minded countries to make an effort to integrate trauma�c experiences into a universally understood narra�ve free from poli�cal manipula�on and selec�ve stressing of certain historical events. Withhold from using history as an instrument in the poli�cal campaigns and informa�on wars trying to exploit the past for today’s poli�cal struggles.


Take appropriate measures to counteract the efforts to distort historical facts and whitewash crimes commi�ed by the totalitarian regimes. Involve the interna�onal community in helping socie�es who struggle with a proper evalua�on and holis�c diges�on of the past, provide support in overcoming its destruc�ve consequences, and assure democra�c developments. Encourage interna�onal dialogue related to the difficult issues of the contested past, seek mutual understanding and reconcilia�on between the states. Mental health professionals:


Seek a role in developing strategies to break the trans-genera�onal transmissions of trauma and their malignant consequences. Besides being healers of trauma�zed individuals, look for ways to help administer preven�ve medicine to socie�es recovering from collec�ve traumas.


Work more closely with local NGO’s, indigenous (mental) health professionals and other stakeholders in the countries. Provide them with means and knowledge to deal with traumas, but also learn and draw upon local cultural tradi�ons of dealing with collec�ve trauma. Adopted in Vilnius on 6 March 2020


Dealing with the Trauma of an Undigested Past: Interna�onal Conference Overview, March 5-6, 2020/ Edited by Gabija Dalekaitė, Samanta Galinaitytė, Evaldas Ignatavičius. – Vilnius: UAB Petro Ofsetas, 2020. – 138 pp. ISBN 978-609-420-693-1 On March 11, 2020, Lithuania celebrated the 30th anniversary of the re-establishment of the independence a�er fi�y years of Soviet and Nazi occupa�on. During this rela�vely short period of �me, Lithuania, together with the two other Bal�c States – Latvia and Estonia, achieved excellent results. However, despite these spectacular achievements, there is s�ll a feeling of unease. Lithuania struggles with some of the highest European rates of suicide, alcoholism and emigra�on. Lithuania has a very complicated history, and it has been proven that violent historical periods have trauma�c effects on na�ons. How can these effects of trauma�c historical events affect genera�ons today? This interna�onal conference �tled ‘Dealing with the Traumas of an Undigested Past’ is the first large-scale interna�onal event of its sort, an unprecedented effort to try to ‘marry’ psychotherapy with diplomacy. This conference aimed to gain insigh�ul knowledge and a be�er understanding of the various historical collec�ve traumas interna�onally and to look for new and proven ways to help larger en��es such as na�ons to overcome their collec�ve traumas and their consequences. DEALING WITH THE TRAUMA OF AN UNDIGESTED PAST INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OVERVIEW Vilnius, Lithuania, March 5-6, 2020 Translated by Gabija Dalekaitė, Samanta Galinaitytė, Evaldas Ignatavičius (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania) Proofreading and edited by Gabija Dalekaitė, Samanta Galinaitytė, Evaldas Ignatavičius (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania) Cover design by Gabrielė Niekytė (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania) Layout by Gabrielė Niekytė (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania)

Published by Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania J. Tumo-Vaižganto g. 2, LT-01108 Vilnius tel./fax/ (+370) 5 236 2444, (+370) 5 236 2626,, Released and printed by UAB Petro Ofsetas Naujoji Riovonių g. 25C, LT-03153 Vilnius

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