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Europe 14/14 / Legacy of WWI

Remembering the First World War

Remembering the First World War

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

For four days in May, four hundred young people from Europe and North Africa met in Berlin during the HistoryCampus to investigate the personal significance of the First World War for themselves, for their national identity and for modern day Europe as a joint peace project. Prior to the actual event, participants of the HistoryCampus were asked why they think it is important to remember the First World War.

We would also like to invite everybody who did not participate in the event but who has an opinion on the importance of remembrance of WWI to post a comment here.

Read excerpts of what participants of the HistoryCampus had to say:

Almost everybody wrote that it is important to remember the past and learn from past mistakes. Andreas from Belgium quoted a famous quote: "He who does not know history is condemned to repeat it." Tamara from Slovenia thought along the same lines as Andreas when she mentioned the short memory of mankind. "Due to this short memory the patterns of social, economic and political spheres are indeed repeating themselves and I am afraid that if we stop reminding ourselves of the past mistakes and failures we are going to repeat them all over again".

Agnija from Latvia also connects the past to the present: "WWI changed our ancestors' lives and as a result has influenced ours. If you lose your past, you lose yourself."

Kaja and Eva from Germany both stressed that the First World War showed how important diplomacy is.

And Martin from Bulgaria and Haris from Austria both underscored the European perspective. Martin suggests to "listen to the voice of history in order to create a stable united Europe today". And Haris wrote: "What we have learned from WWI is that the one thing that enables peace and stability is "integration" of the different former enemy states. The EU is such a project of integration of different states, histories and views of history. One hundred years after the First World War we should understand history more transnationally, taking into account different perspectives to overcome stereotypes and myths to strengthen the European process of integration."

Watch Haris video here:

And here is Martins contribution:

Simon from Belgium sums up the importance of WWI in this rather unique comment: "Learning about our common history is a feeling that can be compared to the need of an adopted child to get to know his biological parents".

And now we are curious to find out why you think that is important to remember the First World War.

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1 Comment

  1. First of all, we need to reconsider that we cannot change past – no matter what. However it is our inherent duty remember it because our common destiny is in no way determined and thus must be formed by us in the present. Future is yet to come, but only in the present we can make decisions whose impacts will be called past one day, eventually. This is why remembering the past is always also about "the present". Understanding history may help us creating a splendid future.

    In a nutshell, the First World War as such is definitly one of the most important objects of a common European commemorative culture. Furthermore, that reminiscence urges us to think more transnational and Pan-European. Hence we are supposed not to fail at remembering the old and creating the new all in one.


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