War Children in Europe
From 6 – 12 August 2015, twenty young Europeans met at the History Camp in Berlin to exchange and deepen their national research about the fate of War Children in Europe. The meeting concluded the six-months online project dealing with the topic of "War Children in Europe." The project was initiated and financed by the Koerber Foundation and organised with the Agency for Historical, Civic and Media Education as operating partner.
Participants were between 18 and 28 years old and had previously received a prize in a national EUSTORY History Competiton or had participated in the History Festival Europe 14/14, thus having proven their interest in the present day siginifcance of history and their ability to do excellent historical research.
The topic was relevant to the participants, especially to four of them from the Balkans, Georgia and the Ukraine respectively who had been personally exposed to acts of war. Family histories and especially the experiences of the generation of the grandparents in WWII also related to the topic. Seventy years after the end of WWII, the young Europeans from Austria, Belgium, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine examined why some experiences of war children met with little interest after the war and what these experiences mean for today's Europe.
They spoke to contemporary witnesses in Berlin, and wrote down their reflections and results about the topics of children in concentration camps, children in the resistance and children with a military foreign parent. It didn't take long for the topic to broaden and to include children who currently flee from war zones to Europe. A Polish participant reported: "The topic of war refugees has been discussed in the media for the past few months only. Politicians shirk the debate because a mere 19% of the Polish people support the idea of receiving refugees in our country."
At the core of the seminar was a cross-border view at one's own respective history in order to break up national perspectives. Two participants from Serbia and Slovenia stated: "That was a big challenge. The two of us were taught the history of Yugoslavia in school. But when we started to write an information box about the historical context of the biographies of our grandparents, we discovered that we had been taught very different interpretations of the same historical occurrences."
"We are losing the last generation of contemporary witnesses of the Second World War and thus the direct access to their experiences," explains Sven Tetzlaff, head of the education department of the Körber Foundation. "This confronts us with the challenge to accept the accounts of war children as a narrative of its own right on the one hand, but on the other hand verify their authenticity."
Please find more information on the online project "War Children in Europe" here.