The Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance was created and is administered by the Civic Academy Foundation.
“The greatest victory of communism, a victory dramatically revealed only after 1989, was to create people without a memory – a brainwashed new man unable to remember what he was, what he had, or what he did before communism.
The creation of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance is a means of counteracting this victory, a means to resuscitate the collective memory.
Made up of the Sighet Museum and the International Centre for Studies into Communism, based in Bucharest, as well as being the organiser of the Summer School the Memorial is an institution of Memory, unique in that it is simultaneously an institute of research, museography and education.
To the question, “Can memory be relearned?” the answer of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism and to the Resistance in Romania is a resounding “Yes”.”(Ana Blandiana)
International Center for Studies into Communism
The creation of the Sighet Museum was preceded and then supported by the activity of the International Centre for Studies into Communism. It gathered oral history, as well as collecting, in parallel, documents, photographs, and realia for use in the museum rooms housed in more than fifty-six cells of the former prison.
The Museum, which is often confused with the Memorial, is the creation of the Centre for Studies into Communism.
Created in 1993 by Romulus Rusan, and always short of funds and staff, the Centre managed to renovate and fit out the Museum, and to gather the databank needed to fill it with realistic and credible materials. The Centre has a number of departments, whose activity is described below. It has been concerned with recruiting skilled researchers, many from the younger generation, although it would have wished to employ more staff and in spite of low wages. It has stimulated debate on important topics and unexplored territory, within the framework of symposia, seminars, workshops and round-table discussions.
The prestige of the International Centre for Studies into Communism, which is headed by Romulus Rusan, has been confirmed by the presence in the academic board of researchers of international standing.
The Sighet Memorial Museum
Thanks to the material efforts of the Civic Academy Foundation and the scholarly labours of the International Centre for Studies of Communism, both of which organisations are based in Bucharest, the prison became the Memorial, which was taken by the Council of Europe under its aegis and which has had more than one million visitors to date.
The former prison is today the setting for a museum dedicated to what happened under communism in Romania and the other countries of Central and Eastern Europe. The cells have been transformed into museum rooms, each with its own theme or chronology of the political malformation that brought suffering and death throughout the twentieth century, both inside and outside prison walls.
The Sighet Memorial Exhibition Space in Bucharest
Since 9 May 2013, the Sighet Memorial has had an “ambassador” in Bucharest, namely the “Memory as a Form of Justice” permanent exhibition space at no. 66, Jean Louis Calderon Street, where a small sample of the Sighet Memorial is presented for the benefit of visitors to and residents of the capital.
Whereas the Sighet Memorial was created over two decades, the idea for the Exhibition Space came into being two years ago, in the context of the intense debate about the need for a museum of communism in Romania. Many commentators did not know or did not wish to know that such a museum already exists, in Sighet.
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