BA History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
War, Memory and Politics of Commemoration in Eastern Europe

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST31842
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? No


The legacies of World War II and the Holocaust are particularly enduring in Eastern Europe. It is not surprising, therefore, that memories of the war have been shaping domestic and international relations in much of Eastern Europe since the demise of the Soviet Bloc. The war memories have been used to promote narratives of independent nationhood, to frame discourses about internal and external security and to justify new aspirations for the future. This course explores war memory and commemoration after the fall of communism to probe the connection between collective memory and national identity in the context of a rapid transformation of society. Students will consider how the memory of past events contributes to the formation of new identities in turbulent times.


HIST31841 is only available to students on History-owned programmes and History or Russian joint honours programmes owned by other subject areas (please check your programme structure for further details).


  • To introduce the main theoretical approaches to the study of collective memory, politics of memory and invented traditions
  • To develop understanding of collective memory’s role in shaping key aspects of contemporary politics
  • To explore the centrality of memory in the construction of identities
  • To consider the ethics of remembering and forgetting
  • To give students a greater understanding of the relationship between memory and transitional justice

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • understand why and how nation-states commemorate the past;
  • show awareness of the diverse forms and functions of social remembering;
  • assess the legacies of World War II and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe;
  • understand the relationship between the present readings of World War Two and the construction of new post-communist identity in Eastern Europe;
  • analyze a range of forms of remembrance including public commemorations, cultural representations and personal testimonies of war survivors.

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • develop analytical skills to understand complex historical, cultural and social issues;
  • apply critical thinking and analysis to cultural representations;
  • formulate arguments backed by evidence;
  • identify and explain competing arguments.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • evaluate historical documents;
  • make effective use of a wide variety of historical sources;
  • undertake rigours contextual analysis;
  • present written work in a coherent, well-structured and well-articulated form;
  • give an effective oral presentation.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • gather, organize and deploy evidence in marshalling an argument;
  • through oral presentations, develop effective communication of ideas and arguments;
  • draw upon a wide range of learning resources (including library materials and the Internet);
  • provide thoughtful and constructive feedback to others.

Employability skills

The following skills, which students will develop through the course, are important for their employability: - gather, organize and deploy evidence in marshalling an argument; - analyse visual and written texts; - communicate both orally and in writing with structure, coherence, clarity and fluency; - critically evaluate a team's performance.

Assessment methods

Group Presentation (Formative): 0%

Source Analysis:  30%

Essay:  70%


Feedback methods

Oral  feedback on presentation


Written feedback on source analysis and essay



Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)




Recommended reading

Barbara A. Misztal, Theories of Social Remembering (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2003).

Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin (New York: Basic Books, 2010).

Memory and Power in Post-War Europe, ed. by Jan-Werner Müller (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

Katherine Verdery, The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Postsocialist Change (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).

Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe, ed. by John-Paul Himka and Joanna Michlic (Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2013).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 11
Seminars 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
EWA OCHMAN Unit coordinator

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