“Do Not Allow History and Memory to Be Forgotten!” Re-emigrants from Yugoslavia as a Memory Community of an Alternative Collective Memory
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The study follows the trajectory of a group of re-emigrants who took an active part in the partisan (antifascist, or Communist) resistance movement during the Second World War in Yugoslavia and who established their own partisan unit, the Czechoslovak Brigade of Jan Žižka. After the war, partisans with Czechoslovak citizenship decided to answer the call from Czechoslovakia, and they and their families settled the areas from which the old German residents had been expelled. After their arrival, the state welcomed them as antifascist heroes (freedom fighters), but at the local level, they were accepted as undesired “outlanders”, “other Czechs”, or “Yugoslavians”. After Cominform issued its first resolution, the regime of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia stigmatized them as being “unreliable for the state”. After the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, they found themselves in a position of memory bearers, a position that did not correspond to the contemporary hegemonic anti-Communist narrative. Due to this fact, the second generation of re-emigrants in particular feels that their ancestors have been unjustifiably erased from history, their legacy and imagined family honour unrecognized. At their own commemorative meetings, they clearly demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the contemporary exclusion of their partisan ancestors from the post-Communist national narrative. I argue in the text that the perceived non-ethnic otherness in the past alongside their historical experience and the contemporary postCommunist politics of memory led the re-emigrants to the formation of their own memory community (and thus identity).
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