Last Thursday 19 May 2016 was held an expert-meeting of the Theology after Gulag research group (ThaG-group). Main coordinator was Dr Katja Tolstaja of INaSEC: the Institute for the Academic Study of Eastern Christianity at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam.of INaSEC: The ThaG-group is interreligious and multidisciplinary, and aims at understanding the experience of communist totalitarianism from religious, sociological, historical (and son on) perspectives.
Most speakers were physically present, while several others spoke via Skype. In Amsterdam, Irina Flige of the Saint Petersburg section of Memorial discussed the memory politics – or rather the lack thereof – in modern Russia. Flige reminded her audience of the fact that over the last 25 years no significant language has been devised to properly discuss the totalitarian Soviet past. She also insisted on the fact that those who try to do so are being victimised, Memorial being one of them. (Just one day later, on 20 May, Russian Parliament went a step further with stigmatising foreign funded NGOs. See the German language news page of Memorial.)
A most remarkable quote was Dr Scott Kenworthy’s “A car accident is a car accident” – meaning: he as a historian is looking at the facts (the car accident), while others, theologians, must try to figure out why it happened in the first place.