Cover Osteuropa 12/2019

In Osteuropa 12/2019

Of executioners and heroes
Secret service museums in eastern-central Europe

Anna Ziębińska-Witek

Deutsche Fassung


After 1989/90, many crime scenes of the communist secret services were converted into museums. The buildings that used to serve the state security apparatus as prisons and headquarters have turned into places of remembrance, where the perpetrators are symbolically called to account and the victims are honoured as moral victors and heroes. This meets a need among societies to form a post-communist identity. However, as a result of the blending of historiography and remembrance, the complex picture of the communist system is reduced to its criminal dimension. In the Stasi museums in Berlin and Dresden, the banality of evil is revealed, while in the KGB Museum in Tallinn, the ugly face of the communist espionage system is shown through an ironic prism.

(Osteuropa 12/2019, pp. 55–69)