Lustration: Transitional Justice in Poland and Its Continuous Struggle to Make Means with the Past   [open pdf - 542KB]

"Poland was the first East Central European nation to transfer from totalitarian rule to democracy. Although resistance to the communist regime existed since 1956, it was not until 1980 that this transition began to develop. Negotiations between Poland's communist regime and its opposition allowed for the first free elections in East Central Europe in the summer of 1989 and with in months, regimes throughout the region began to fall. Poland's neighbors, Germany and the Czech Republic, immediately adopted policies concerning the crimes of the previous regime upon their transfer but Poland did not. Poland's failure to implement legislation concerning transitional justice led to almost a decade of political turmoil and infighting. In order for an emerging democracy to become effective, it must separate itself from the ideals of the old regime and those individuals and policies that enforced its repression. This thesis will examine the post 1989 governments of Poland, Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic, and East Germany including how each of these nations held the criminal functionaries of the previous regime accountable, while the transition to a democratic state unfolded in turn in the 1990s. It will provide insight as to why Poland, after legislation in 1996, is still struggling with implementation of transitional justice eighteen years after transition."

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