The Unbearable Burden of Forgetting. Lustration in Post-Communist Romania

JVF Conference Papers

The question of how to deal with the legacies of repression has been an important source of political divisions in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe. The states from this region had several possibilities available when deciding how to pursue transitional justice: criminal prosecution of important officials, restitution of property or declassifying of secret files for public inspection.

However, none of these options fully answered an important question: “What should and can be done with those involved in the abuses committed by the communist state and by the security services?” The controversial response to these dilemmas was lustration: the vetting of officials for links to the former communist regime. The Lustration Laws generally rely on information contained in the Secret Police files. In enacting and implementing the Lustration Laws, the countries in the region followed different paths and described lustration patterns that reveal significant variation.

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