Das vergessene zwanzigste Jahrhundert

BERLIN – Die Auflösung der Sowjetunion, die jetzt zwanzig Jahre zurück liegt, kennzeichnet für viele Historiker das eigentliche Ende des “kurzen zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts” – eines Jahrhunderts, das im Jahr 1914 begann und durch langwierige ideologische Konflikte zwischen Kommunismus, Faschismus und liberaler Demokratie bestimmt war, bis die letztere endgültig den Sieg errungen zu haben schien. Aber auf dem Weg hin zum “Ende aller Geschichte” ist etwas Merkwürdiges passiert: Wir scheinen unbedingt aus der jüngsten Vergangenheit lernen zu wollen, sind uns aber sehr unklar über die Lehren.

Jede Art von Geschichte ist Zeitgeschichte, und was insbesondere die Europäer vom zwanzigsten Jahrhundert lernen müssen, hat mit der Macht ideologischer Extreme in dunklen Zeiten zu tun – und mit der besonderen Beschaffenheit der europäischen Demokratie nach dem zweiten Weltkrieg.

In gewisser Hinsicht scheinen die großen ideologischen Kämpfe des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts momentan kaum näher oder bedeutsamer zu sein als die scholastischen Debatten des Mittelalters – insbesondere für die jüngeren Generationen, aber auch für andere. Wer versteht heute schon noch die großen politischen Dramen von Intellektuellen wie Arthur Koestler oder Victor Serge, die ihr Leben für und dann gegen den Kommunismus aufs Spiel gesetzt haben – oder wer macht sich überhaupt die Mühe, sie zu verstehen?

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