my father was a communist

Rajk_sr_138x219Question from the audience: You said there is no place for morality when it comes to dealing with the past – it's not about saying “I was young and stupid”. So it seems that in your opinion it's about the facts rather than reconciliation. But what would that achieve? Is there a purpose in that? Or is it just about the truth – full stop?

MS: No, otherwise I wouldn't care so much. I think that the younger generation – my son for instance, who is 25 – has no chance of understanding history. The 1950s were exceptional, communism and Nazism were exceptional regimes. It's still important to talk about the past, about personal experience, about how it was in detail, and not only to rely on archives. I think that it's the responsibility of those writers and intellectuals who are still alive to talk about the past openly, as Ivan Klíma has done. Through their experience you can understand what it means to lose your freedom. That danger still exists. You can lose your freedom every day. I believe that the younger generation is not aware of the dangers. It is not systematic, it is perhaps not about life and death, but it can be. So what I am calling for is to give the younger generation at least the chance to understand the past and to prevent them from making the same mistakes.

Martin M. Simecka and László Rajk deal with the past at Eurozine here.