The Living Memorial movement

Building resilience based on grief


  • Daniel Mikecz Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Political Science

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The paper investigates the emotional, grief-based resilience-building of a social movement, the Living Memorial in Hungary. The movement was initiated in 2014 as the Hungarian government announced the installation of a memorial of the German occupation of 1944, which denied the responsibility of the Hungarian state in the Holocaust. The Living Memorial aimed to contradict the government’s memorial by offering an inclusive remembrance through telling personal, family stories. A grounded analysis revealed three different actions were realised by the Living Memorial, which all enhanced the resilience of the group on different levels. The discussion of personal and family stories and sharing grief reinforced the collective identity of the group. The personal remembrance also helped to deconstruct the government’s memorial. The political discussions and presentations raised the political consciousness of the participants and strengthened their self-image as competent political actors. It is also revealed that resilience in the case of the Living Memorial was built by a continuous process of reframing and community-building and also by the simultaneous recall and rationalisation of grief and relating emotions.






Resilience and resistance in illiberal regimes