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Tereza Juhászová

Abstract

In the 20th century, the two world wars reshaped the map of Central Europe as well as the status of Central Europe’s diverse societies. In my article, I focus on the Hungarian and German minorities in Slovakia and the representation of their problematic historical past in contemporary Slovak museums. More specifically, I zoom in on the exhibition Exchanged Homes displayed in Bratislava, which aims to commemorate the fate of Hungarians, Germans, and Slovaks, all of whom were affected by the population transfers after World War II. Based on the concept of memorial museums theorized by Paul Williams, I aim to show how the different exhibitions engage with the traumatic past of forceful resettlement. By offering multifaceted memories of a troubled past, these exhibitions avoid categorizing “victims” and “perpetrators” along national or ethnic lines. My paper thus analyzes the concepts and components of the exhibitions—the context of the postwar events, oral history interviews, and objects of everyday use that should bring the visitor closer to the experience of the people who were forced to leave. I argue that exhibitions of this sort have the ability to challenge the dominant historical narrative focusing on a national “Slovak” history and help the process of reconciliation between the Slovak majority society, and the Hungarian and German minorities.