12. May 2014

On the centenary of the beginning of the First World War, Berlin became the European meeting point to “look back and think forward”. From 7 to 11 May over 400 young Europeans met with politicians and experts in the fields of international relations and history as well as artists.

The event, opened by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, aimed to investigate the personal significance of the Great War for young Europeans, for their national identity and for modern day Europe as a joint peace project. History Campus Europe 14|14 is a joint project by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education, the Körber Foundation and the Robert Bosch Foundation.

Adnan Rahimić, Jovana Rakić, Marta Remacha, Theodora Matziropoulou, Lotta Schneidemesser and Janosch Delcker from FutureLab Europe took part in the event and share some of their reflections.

Jovana Mihajlovi: “What drives my interest to get involved is the fact that I come from a country that unfortunately has quite a rich history of war. Thus I believe I could spread the message which comes from my personal experience; that history has always been teaching us a lot, although we haven’t always been very good students. Having had the opportunity to participate in a public debate with Mr. Steinmeier, Minister of foreign affairs of Germany, I am leaving Berlin with a strong impression that Europe is not condemned to repeat mistakes from the past.”

Marta Remacha: “I believe it is not possible to separate past events from the present situation. When discussing the First World War, we are sharing our concerns, re-shaping our identity and building our future.  Despite the diversity, I left the event with the reinforced impression there is a shared European identity we all agree on. Concerns are all the same across the whole continent: the possible outbreak of war in Ukraine and the progress of right-winged parties in most countries. With the EU elections coming up in two weeks, the motto of ‘look back, think forward’ is more appropriate than ever. We have discussed its past and its present, now it is time to take action for the future of Europe.”

Adnan Rahimić: “Coming from the city of Sarajevo, a place where the Great War started with the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, I understand the importance of constant remembrance on the tragic events. There is no single response to debates such as whether assassinate Gavrilo Princip was a hero, fighting for the idea of a unified Yugoslav Republic, or as a ‘pre-World War One Al Quaida’.  (…) Speaking from some personal experiences of twenty years ago and testifying to today’s events in Ukraine, Syria, Nigeria and other countries in the world, remembrance is a constant process. Only if we live in a world without wars and conflict, we can finally say that the right ‘remembrance monument’ is created and erected.”

Lotta Schneidemesser: “The motto of the event ‘look back – think forward’ sums up why we need historical memory. The History Campus invited us young Europeans to look back from many different perspectives, and encouraged us to exchange ideas, and to enter into discussions – about the past, but, more importantly, about the future. And about the future we want to live in.”

Janosch Delcker was one of the workshop leaders helping participants to frame their thoughts by producing RSA Animate Style videos. RSA videos are short films which illustrate content and visualise interpretations, theses or controversies through a combination of drawing and talking. Watch the results here.