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The Musealization of the German Occupation in the New Nation State: The Republic of Belarus

In the context of the official Belorussian politics of memory, the commemoration of the time of occupation during the “Great Patriotic War” is not only presented as the calling card of the country, but is also understood to be an essential element in the national narrative of heroes and victims. This dissertation project examines the musealization of the German occupation in museums, memorial sites and monuments. The study is mainly focused on aspects of the presentation of partisan resistance because the emphasis placed on the role of the partisans was particularly distinct in the Belorussian Soviet Republic (in comparison to other states of the Soviet Union) and because the Republic of Belarus belongs to the few republics which have only marginally distanced themselves from the Soviet past since the end of the Soviet Union. In addition, the examination will take into account places commemorating the Holocaust and zerstörte Orte (places destroyed by the occupiers which where turned into memorial sites after the war).
 
The central questions of this research project are: What characterizes the presentations of the “Great Patriotic War” in the museums of the Republic of Belarus? How is a national narrative constituted and staged by the monuments for partisans, memorial sites and museums? What is the relation between the places of memory dedicated to partisan resistance and other locations dedicated to the German occupation? What symbols are used to remember, and represent, the Holocaust in museums since 1945? What is the role of these places in the context of historical education and tourism? The institutional framework and the presentation techniques of the institutions will be examined as well as social practices and commemorative initiatives outside of state policy. The project focuses on the breaks as well as the continuities which can be observed in the field of the musealization of the Second World War in the Republic of Belarus in the context of the political events of 1989/91.

 

Ekaterina Keding

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