Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

EDITORIAL

Time to give real meaning to freedom of information

IF YOU try hard, you may be able to get a Slovak to recount stories of life under the communist regime (or socialist as you will be pointedly reminded), but it is not a subject most Slovaks willingly discuss unless pressed.
Perhaps the opening up of the communist secret service (ŠtB) archives in the National Memory Institute will eventually encourage discussion on those 40 years of Slovak history. So far, though, people seem to be content to let sleeping collaborators lie.
The daily SME recently reported that 13 of the 100 best-known Slovak companies are run by former ŠtB agents or collaborators, and another 23 by ŠtB informants. The paper did not name either the firms or the individuals involved.

IF YOU try hard, you may be able to get a Slovak to recount stories of life under the communist regime (or socialist as you will be pointedly reminded), but it is not a subject most Slovaks willingly discuss unless pressed.

Perhaps the opening up of the communist secret service (ŠtB) archives in the National Memory Institute will eventually encourage discussion on those 40 years of Slovak history. So far, though, people seem to be content to let sleeping collaborators lie.

The daily SME recently reported that 13 of the 100 best-known Slovak companies are run by former ŠtB agents or collaborators, and another 23 by ŠtB informants. The paper did not name either the firms or the individuals involved.

While most people are not willing to recount the darker side of living under the shadow of Moscow, the older generation are all too willing to tell everyone how much better life was back in the days when everything was cheap and plentiful.

If the collective memory of Slovakia is allowed to forget the restrictions on travel, on freedom of information, and on the range of goods available in shops, it is only a matter of time before the young - who never lived through the communist era - look back on it through the rose-tinted spectacles of their grandparents and see it as a golden age. And from there it is a short step to trying the great socialist experiment once again.

The process has already begun with the unreformed communists back in parliament. And, in a poll conducted in June last year, more than two-thirds of respondents stated that they thought life was better before the 1989 split with Czechoslovakia and will only get worse.

Now the Slovak state has thrown open the doors of the ŠtB archives, the Slovak press must show its courage by reminding the public what today's elite did in the days before the country's and their own reform. People may believe that it is time to forgive the past, but to forget it would be a grave mistake. It would be inviting history to repeat itself.

Top stories

Sagan rewrites history Video

Cyclist Peter Sagan becomes the first man to win three consecutive world championships.

When the state can’t keep a secret

A selective leak has tarnished President Kiska’s reputation. But he must continue to speak out about corruption.

President Andrej Kiska

Námestie Slobody gets facelift Photo

The architectural tender will gather ideas for the redesign of the biggest square in Bratislava

Námestie Slobody will be redesigned into a kind of living room in the city.

Fundamental values explored at Divadelná Nitra 2017

This time round, the Slovak, European and US ensembles at the theatre festival focus on #fundamentals, i.e. basic values and the essence of all things.

Nature Theatre of Oklahoma: Pursuit of Happiness