Do their Communist Lives Count? The Relevance of Communist Functionaries during and after Communism

Vaida Obelene (Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies)

It would appear that former Communist functionaries have devalued their past accomplishments. Their autobiographies published after the collapse of the Communist regime in Lithuania tend to omit or manipulate the information that they had been employees in the Central Committee of Komsomol and members of the Communist Party. As one of my interviewees, a former Communist functionary, put it: ‘I feel a shadow. First of all, I carry it myself. I know that there is this label, and to be honest, if it is possible not to mention it, I avoid it.’

The paper draws on life story interviews conducted in 2005 with those who, during the period of perestroika and glasnost’(1986-1989),were top level employees of the Communist Youth Union (Komsomol) of Soviet Lithuania. The questions under discussion are as follows: How do they think their work in Communist organizations remains relevant and what are the meaningful aspects of their past achievements, despite the change of regime? In a first step, the paper describes how they recount their actions, while performing the duties incumbent upon them, as being beneficial, in particular which and whose needs were served. It then maps how the sense of being useful during Communism interplays in their accounts with their self-presentations as being useful during post-Communism.

Comments are closed.