Our paper recalls the essay The Tragedy of Central Europe
, written by the Czech novelist Milan Kundera. We criticize the unhistorical cold-war image of the West that Kundera employs. In his reading, the Second World War just did not take place. We do not mean this objection as an external critique. Since why should someone be interested in Kundera’s omission, after all. We mean our criticism as immanent in the sense that ignoring the WWII, as the “truth” and result of the severe nationalism that was then spread across the continent, precludes the very possibility to apprehend the moral
equality or equal legitimacy of the “socialist” East and the “capitalist” West. Since a tragic collision of two powers is set up only by their equal essentiality, Kundera cannot grasp the tragical dimension of the Cold War, and Central Europe respectively. Underpinned by the WWII and thereby elevated into the genuine Greek tragedy, the Cold War cannot know any victors, losers or pure victims and, moreover, both powers of equal essentiality must experience their own respective demise.
Vlasta Kordová is a PhD candidate in History at Jan Evangelista Purkyně University in Ústí nad Labem. Currently she is a Jan Patocka Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.
Tomáš Korda is a PhD candidate in Political Science at Charles University in Prague. Currently he is a Jan Patoĉka Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.