This article examines the dynamic relationship between the two major dimensions of memory and justice in the context of post-communist countries: truth-telling and retroactive justice. This interdependent and uneasy relationship is illustrated by recent attempts at constructing a new historical narrative of the communist past in Romania in the wake of the de-secretization of the files of both the Communist Party and the communist secret police (Securitate). A systematic analysis of the activity of institutions that have been directly involved in research and public education about the recent past – the National Archives, the National Council for the Study of Securitate’s Archives, and the Institute for the Investigation of Crimes of Communism – is undertaken. The work of these three institutional actors shows a direct relationship between truth-telling in its various forms (access to archives, opening the files and exhumations) and any subsequent retroactive justice and restitution. The main argument of the paper is that while deep-seated dichotomies between former communist and anti-communists in addressing the past still persist, a more nuanced way of seeing the regime that explores the ambiguous line that divides outright repression from cooptation is emerging.
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