In critiquing a recent book by Charity Scribner, Requiem for Communism, this article addresses fundamental questions about collective memories of Communism and the Soviet bloc: Why and how is “the past” remembered selectively? What happens when forgotten events are brought back to the fore of collective consciousness? What are the actual mechanisms of remembering? Who are the often invisible gatekeepers that direct the paths of our memories? Who are the influential rulers of memory attempting to shape our mnemonic repertoire? Scribner's book indirectly touches on these issues, though not in a fully satisfactory way, especially with regard to working-class life under Communism. Although the book does have some strong points, it too often fails to take account of how people in the region (as opposed to leftist intellectuals in the West who “knew” Communism vicariously) experienced manual labor during the Communist era and how they remember it now.

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