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helden. heroes. héros. 1.1 (2013): Märtyrer - Opfer - Helden? Selbstverbrennungen im Ostblock

Sabine Stach

Today self-immolations that took place in the Eastern Bloc between 1968 and 1976 appear more and more as the manifestation of a heroic form of protest against socialism typical to East Central Europe. With regard to opposition and dissent, these instances are attributed an important integrative and mobilizing function culminating in the argument that their ‘legacy’ was fulfilled in the political upheaval of 1989/1990. In examining two instances of self-immolation – Jan Palach in Czechoslovakia in 1969 and Oskar Brüsewitz in the GDR in 1976 – and how these instances were interpreted and treated, this narrative will be scrutinized in the following article.