EUSTORY Summit 2018: Making Peace With History
Discussing history is rarely so fresh, lively and intense: At the end of the EUSTORY Next Generation Summit in Berlin, 120 young Europeans presented their views on war and peace in the past and present at the Alte Börse Marzahn.
For five days, in seven workshops, the participants addressed the question of what lessons Europe can learn from dealing with conflicts of the past for the preservation of peace and open societies today. They worked in various formats on topics such as the peace negotiations after the First World War, new forms of remembrance culture, dealing with Nazi looted art, exploring the role of memorials and the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.
They presented their results in creative forms; for example, their work with contemporary witnesses gave rise to a gripping production on questions of civil disobedience, and their preoccupation with history cast in stone led to self-designed monuments on the significance of war and peace. One group, led by Dan Wolf and Dennis Stoecker, formulated a strong appeal for civil courage and commitment based on their work on questions of guilt and responsibility:
Young Europeans were also able to make their voices heard on the political level: A delegation from the EUSTORY Summit was invited to join "Youth for Peace", the youth meeting of the German-French Youth Association and its partners. There, peace messages from 500 young Europeans were handed over to Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Important Encounters in Times of Conflict
The young Europeans were not afraid to tackle difficult topics and to deal with controversial positions during the cooperation at the EUSTORY Summit. This brought participants from Ukraine and Russia closer: "I was a little bit worried about the presence of Russians at the Summit (because of the war). But they appeared to be really cool and broad-minded. We are close friends now. It gives me hope for finding a solution to the conflict," one participant said. Another participant stated: "At the Summit I was able to see the people behind the conflicts for the first time and to recognise the different perspectives on the same issues."
And What's the Conclusion?
Each of the seven Summit workshops had a demanding programme. That is why the preparation time began in advance: In the virtual classrooms of the History Campus Portal, the young Europeans began an intensive familiarisation process six weeks before the start of the workshops in Berlin. Despite, or perhaps because of, the challenging offerings by the various experts and educators, many participants rated the work in their workshops as an unforgettable experience. "It has paid off that we challenged the young people before and during the summit - the feedback from the workshop leaders and participants encourages us to continue to have a lot of confidence in the young people", said Katja Fausser, Managing Director of the EUSTORY Network at the Körber Foundation.
Laboratory for International Understanding
For many young Europeans it was the first experience of such an international group. Many of the participants are certain that they have had formative experiences from which they will draw for a long time to come: "I have become more open and take many friendships home with me. I have acquired additional skills and completely new perspectives. That enriches me personally and I can analyse history from completely new directions," explained one participant.
In addition to the intensive work in the individual workshops, there were also attractive offers for the entire group, such as a "European family constellation" in which participants commented on their view of the current state of the continent with personally designed maps of Europe, a city rally, and a peace gallery. The focus was always on encounters with other young people from 25 countries and intercultural learning.
"At the Summit I got to know other people and cultures. We exchanged about our ways of life. I have more understanding for others now," one participant summarised his experiences. After five days of intensive encounters and exchanges, the young Europeans not only made new friends but also experienced how history can function as a laboratory for international understanding.
Further impressions and results can be found in the Retrospect on the History Campus
How do young people see the history of war and peace? View a short video.
EUSTORY Next Generation Summit in Berlin, Germany, 2018.