The Holocaust as a metaphor of oppression during the times of Husák’s normalization

Culik, J. (2012) The Holocaust as a metaphor of oppression during the times of Husák’s normalization. In: Holy, J. (ed.) The Representation of the Shoah in Literature, Theatre and Film in Central Europe: 1970s and 1980s. Akropolis: Prague, pp. 189-206. ISBN 9788074700224

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The experience of totalitarian communism is still a live political issue in the contemporary Czech Republic. It influences today's politics and film makers return to it even in films made many years after the fall of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. At least three Czech post-communist films (Král kolonád, 1990, Musíme si pomáhat, 2000 and Protektor, 2009 ) which ostensibly deal with the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia, can reasonably be construed as using the Holocaust as a metaphor for life under Gustáv Husák's normalization regime in the 1970s and 1980s. It was the typical feature of the normalization regime that it did not rely on brutal physical oppression, but on generating fear in the population due to exerting extreme psychological pressure on its citizens. Quite remarkably, extreme psychological anxiety is a major theme in all the three films mentioned above. During Husák's normalization, public life was extinguished and all activity was limited to the private scene within one's family and the circle of one's friends. This is also an important theme in the films discussed in this paper. Sexual promiscuity under oppression is another characteristic feature which can be found in these films which deal with the Holocaust as a metaphor of oppression during Husák's regime. Czech society during normalization was extremely collectivist. It discouraged individualism. In line with this attitude films dealing with the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia assume a critical attitude towards heroic dees and subversion activities. Heroic acts are seen as irresponsible because they endanger the lives of the members of the community who are forced to live under the oppressive regime.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Culik, Dr Jan
Authors: Culik, J.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Slavonic Studies

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