EUSTORY Summit 2018: Making Peace with History
One hundred years after the end of the First World War, this year's EUSTORY Next Generation Summit focuses on war and peace in Europe. 120 prize winners and alumni of national history competitions from 25 European countries will come together in November in Berlin to investigate ways of cross-border understanding regarding conflicts of the past and present.
The vision of European unification as a peace project has been put to the test for a number of years: Shots are being fired on the continent again, the EU is quarreling about how to deal with war refugees and immigrants, and in many societies the gaps are widening between those who want to expand European cooperation and those who are favouring a strong nation state and independent national initiatives. In this Centennial Year, young Europeans will gain a deeper understanding of the long shadows of the continent's history of violence and will look for ways of shaping a more peaceful coexistence when they meet at the EUSTORY Summit in Berlin from 14 to 19 November 2018.
"With this large-scale youth encounter we want to give young Europeans the opportunity to use history as a laboratory for international understanding and to talk to each other about the value of Europe," says Katja Fausser, Managing Director of the EUSTORY Network. 120 pupils, students and young professionals from 25 countries will work on aspects of war and peace in Europe in various workshops and with different working methods. More than 200 young people applied to participate.
All Summit participants have successfully participated in national EUSTORY history competitions in their respective countries. Additional participants come from a cooperation project of DVV International and the Körber Foundation "History Competitions in Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine", which is financed by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.
The question of war and peace is often not directly linked to the personal everyday lives of young adults. For many, war is literally history. War was in the past, they know it from the stories of grandparents or schools: "We learn a lot about war - the number of dead, bad living conditions and other cruel details. But we don't actually know what war really feels like," says 18-year-old Rukiye, winner of the German History Competition, when describing her interest in the subject. Through their contributions to EUSTORY history competitions, many participants have already received an impression of how their family or local history has been shaped by the bloody 20th century and right up to today. For some of them, military conflicts are an actual depressing reality, as Mariia, a 16-year-old winner of the Ukrainian History Competition, describes in her application for the Summit: "I live in Donetsk, the war is only 30 km away from us. Soldiers and peaceful residents die, houses are destroyed and people are forced to leave their homes. The war has been going on for five years now."
How does it work, making peace or keeping peace? Together with high-ranking cooperation partners from science, culture, journalism and politics, the participants will deal specifically with aspects of this question in various workshops. How was peace negotiated after catastrophic wars such as the Thirty Years' War or the First World War? How do we and our respective societes deal with the commemoration of the victims, but also with guilt and perpetration? And what can the individual actually do? In all workshop there is room for the question of where historical experiences with war and peace in the families, places of residence or countries of origin of the participants are still relevant today. Mariia from Donetsk hopes that the study of history can also provide motivation for the future: "I believe that every war can be ended through peaceful negotiations. But serious efforts must be made. You have to sit down together and weigh the advantages and disadvantages. History knows many examples of such negotiations".