Die Lasten der Vergangenheit: Österreicher und Tschechen im europäischen Kontext
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BURDENS OF THE PAST: AUSTRIANS AND CZECHS IN THE EUROPEAN CONTEXT
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The common Czecho-Austrian past can be discussed at a different level than before, namely at the nonpolitical level to identify the preconditions of mutual reconciliation. There is probably a general rule saying that reconciliation between persons, groups of people and nations can only be achieved if the parties rid themselves of their past, abandon their traditional national positions and cross the symbolical boundaries of previous behavior patterns. In addition, the term 'reconciliation' has different meanings on the Austrian and the Czech sides. In Czech, it means rather a compromise and settlement with legal consequences. In German, however, the word 'Versoehnung' has, in addition to its ethical connotation, also a religious aspect meaning symbolical sacrifice. Thus, the act of 'Versoehnung' means a return to the previous friendly relations, but with the reservation that I give up a part of my conviction and put in advance a certain dose of (conditional) trust in my counterpart. The act of reconciliation also requires creation of a common symbolical intermediate space that must be respected by both sides and that serves as a space of mutual remembrance, while the remembrance must be a dialog, not only an intellectual explanation of (and sometimes a dispute over) symbols and meanings.
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