At the Guardian’s Cif blog Tim Garton Ash considers what lessons others, eg us, can learn from Poland’s attempt to deal with it’s dark, difficult past – “Should you remember or forget? Should you use trials, purges, truth commissions, or simply throw open the archives?” Given the questions he poses it’s worthwhile highlighting his conclusion.. as we lurch forward on those already poisonous foundations.
On balance, I remain convinced that the sooner you can do it the better. “It” should mean a rapid, scrupulous, individually appealable lustration of those in genuinely important positions in public life and, even more vital, some form of public reckoning with the larger issues of the difficult past. The necessary complement to a velvet revolution is something along the lines of a truth commission, which also gives people a sense of historical catharsis – otherwise often lacking in peaceful, negotiated transitions – and draws a clear line between dark past and better future.