Ethiopia was ruled for 17 years by a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the regime was toppled by rebels in 1991. After years of conflict around the break-away province of Eritrea, people began pinning their hopes on the reform-minded prime minister Abiy Ahmed.
It was the largest genocide in the 20th century. At least 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda in just 100 days in the spring of 1994. The genocide, which was carried out before the eyes of the world, continues to impact the East African country today. Although memorials throughout the country serve as a reminder of these atrocious events, the conditions in Rwanda today remain far from democratic.
Eleven official languages are spoken in the country on the Horn of Africa – a reflection of the population’s diversity. But it took until 1994 for all its citizens to be granted the same rights. Although white rule ended more than a quarter of a century ago, everyday life continues to be marked by poverty and inequality. With 20,000 murders occurring each year, the crimes of the apartheid regime are increasingly fading into the background.
Tunisia is hardly bigger than Nicaragua. And yet many hopes are pinned on the Mediterranean state where the Arab Spring began in 2011. After the fall of the dictatorship under President Ben Ali, the country underwent a deep process of democratization. During this time, it also began to enthusiastically examine its past. But the results have thus far only been modest.
Argentina was once one of the richest countries in the world. But of the 35 presidents who governed the country in the 20th century, only ten came to office through free elections. Although the last dictatorship was almost four decades ago, it continues to preoccupy the South American country today.
The Republic of Chile is the most economically and socially stable country in South America. Its democracy looks back on a tradition of almost 200 years. However, the country has experienced many political crises in the past. The overthrow of the socialist president Salvatore Allende in 1973 and the establishment of a military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet continue to weigh heavily on the country today.
About a quarter of the Cambodian population fell victim to the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. Under Pol Pot, the leader of the Khmer Rouge, the country was forced into a kind of Stone Age communism. The regime left deep scars on almost every family. Despite international efforts to achieve transitional justice, only three men were actually convicted of crimes. Meanwhile, Cambodia is once again an authoritarian one-party state.
In regard to Asia, the island state of Taiwan is rarely mentioned. Yet the small country off the coast of China is an example to the giant communist empire of how to successfully turn a dictatorship into a democracy. In Asia, Taiwan is now considered a model country in terms of freedom and the rule of law. The country also has much to show in the area of transitional justice.
Prosperity, discipline, cars – these are the clichés that people all over the world associate with Germany. But millions of immigrants and a liberalized lifestyle have led to dramatic changes in the country. In public debate, however, the critical examination of National Socialism continues to play a major role. The communist dictatorship in the GDR has also produced a rich landscape of institutions engaged in a reappraisal of the past.
Russia was ruled by a communist dictatorship for more than seventy years. Millions of people lost their lives under Joseph Stalin, the head of the Communist Party. And yet many Russians still regard him primarily as the ruler under whose leadership the Soviet Union defeated Nazi Germany. To this day, the dictatorial past lies like a shadow over the country.
Few countries have suffered more from war and totalitarianism than Ukraine. For a long time, the process of coming to terms with the 70-year Soviet dictatorship made little progress. After Russian troops invaded the country in February 2022, Ukraine has had to deal with a whole new spate of mass crimes - including missile attacks on civilian targets, such as here in Chernihiv.