Citizens of the Russian exclave Kaliningrad make a special case in the Russian-Polish relationship. Paulina Siegień regularly crosses the border between these two worlds, working for the local media in Kaliningrad, as well as in Gdansk on the Polish side. She spoke to young Europeans from the EUSTORY network about the current tensions between the two countries and their impact on the region.
Today marks the fifteenth year since two planes were directed into the World Trade Center in New York City, starting the war on terror and marking a date has been a clear day-to-day change in history. 9/11. For the first time, this year junior year high schoolers will be taught about the act as a historical event that they weren’t yet alive to witness.
“Who, except ecologists, even still talks about it?” is a valid question Elena exposes in her article and sheds a light on the variety of perspectives and attitudes people in Belarus nowadays have towards the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident. The spectrum of attitudes extends itself from experiencing the accident’s aftermath and being afraid to shake people’s hands up to today’s indifference towards the accident – and where do you find yourself?
From keeping the tragedy a secret in the USSR to commemorating and revealing secret information about the exposure in independent Ukraine – this is how the discussion about Chernobyl shifted throughout the years.
Vsevolod Bohdanovycj Smerechynskyi was one of the 830 000 liquidators who were ordered to clean up the contaminated areas after the accident at Chernobyl nuclear power plant in 1986. According to the Chernobyl Foundation, one out of five of the liquidators had died by 2005, most of them in their 30s and 40s. Smerechynskyi survived, but his believe in the system he was serving as a specialist died. And, like the majority of the survivors, he lost his youth and his health in the catastrophe.
Three decades after the nuclear desaster in Chernobyl, the accident at the nuclear power plant is not just a mere historical fact, instead its radioactive residues still affect people in Belarus and Ukraine today. Still, Chernobyl should not be just a mention in historical books. Instead it should serve as an important lesson on how not to handle a nuclear catastrophe, on failed communication, and severe lack of reponsibilty from the officials. The handling of the accident in the poweplant in Fukushima in 2011 has proven, that we still have a long way of learning ahead of us. Thus, equally as it is part of European history, Chernobyl is a matter of today and the future. If it happend today – this is how we imagine a Chernobyl Twitter-feed to look like.
Does history matter? Seven people in their twenty-somethings from seven different countries take up the challenge of an answer. Reluctant at first, in the end each of them has a personal story to share about what history means to them. What would have been your answer? Check out the video and meet the Editors of the History Campus!