Do you want to rip the band-aid of communism off quickly and painfully or in a less painful way that lasts far longer?
Why do approaches to the past in Central Europe vary so much from one country to another? And in particular, why have Hungary and Poland the first two countries to adopt democratic regimes been so slow to confront the painful issue of state terror? In his remarkable master’s thesis, Tomáš Bezák, a Slovak political science student, drew the following conclusion: in the countries where the communists played an active role in the transition to democracy, confrontation with the issue of past oppression came much later. It is a view that is also expressed by Czech born political analyst Jacques Rupnik in his latest book, “Une democratie trop vite fatiguée” A democracy jaded all too soon: “In countries like the Czech Republic and East Germany, where communist power appeared to be unassailable, there were no discussions and the regimes fell within a few days. So there was no reason to make any promises to the communists.” Circumstances were different in Poland and Hungary. It made sense to make a deal, but there was a price that had to be paid — a promise to put lustration operations on hold, and allow major figures from the communist regime access to senior positions in the subsequent democratic administration.