Fourth Leonidas Donskis Memorial Conference

Difficult Dilemmas
The Role of Museums and Public Space in Remembering the Past

September 21, 2021


In many societies that survived a totalitarian or dictatorial past or went through a period of civil war or internal conflict, the issue of how to remember the past is complex, painful and often leading to renewed tension and conflict. In some countries, all visible traces of the past have been removed as much as is humanly possible, while in others symbols of the past have been adapted or merged with others that symbolize the period of survival and renewal. 

While Germany has removed virtually all traces of the Nazi period, the country is often seen as a valuable example of how to digest a deeply dark page of history. Spain has gone through a remarkable period of change and democratization since the end of the Franco regime, yet it took forty years to remove his body from the valley of the Fallen. In Ukraine Maidan led to the toppling of literally hundreds of Lenin statues all over the country, while in South-Africa some monuments of the past were restructured and combined with elements commemorating the anti-Apartheid struggle. In Vilnius, plans have been tabled to establish a monument to the Lithuanians who saved Jews, while a monument for the Jews killed during the Holocaust is still not established. The shadow of the past continues to color the present in many shades and colors.

Remembering the Past
Remembering the past is important as a means to honor those who excelled in humanity or heroism, to commemorate those who fell victim to repression or terror and to help society in the process of healing. Some, however, argue that it is also important to learn to forget, or feel that the past is so painful that it should not be visible in public space.

The Fourth Leonidas Donskis Memorial Conference will be dedicated to this theme, and is very much in line with the work and thoughts of this outstanding scholar, philosopher and political scientist, who died the early age of 54 on September 21, 2016.
The one-day conference will be followed by a reception for speakers and guests and a Commemorative Donskis Concert at the Ciurlionis Gallery in Kaunas.

The Andrei Sakharov Research Center contributes to the development of a pluralist and democratic society in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

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