How is the end of the Second World War commemorated in Europe today? Who is remembered and whose life stories have remained silent? And can traditional interpretations and means of commemoration live up to the complexity of the lives of individuals shaped by the war?
1945 marked a turning point for many European countries and its inhabitants and left its mark until today. 75 years later, national interpretations of the war compete with each other and very often dominate the commemoration of the Second World War. There are still a lot of stories that have not been told. We are interested in young ideas and perspectives on how WWII should be remembered in the future – ideas and insights that go beyond national perspectives and all different kinds of borders. The aim is to contribute to a shared European remembrance that reflects the complexity of WWII as a major turning point in the 20th century.
In November 2019, Körber-Stiftung and EUSTORY started the eCommemoration Project »Europe 1945-2020: Looking back, thinking forward« on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. 25 young people from almost 20 countries in Europe and beyond are working together for six months – online in a closed virtual classroom on the EUSTORY History Campus platform and offline during a weeklong workshop at the History Meeting House in Warsaw in March 2020.
Guided by history educators and digital experts, the participants reflect on the legacies of 1945. They discuss what World War II means in different European countries today, how it is officially commemorated and how experiences of ›ordinary people‹ relate to that: Who is remembered and whose experiences are left out and why? The students are searching for life stories in their local community or family that remained silent until now. Central questions are: Who had to flee, was deported or forced to migrate and how were their experiences inscribed in the places where they continued their lives? Whose biographies do not fit into black-and-white categories like ›perpetrators‹, ›bystanders‹ and ›victims‹? Who changed sides during the War, and why?
The project participants will document these ›Silent Stories‹ of the Second World War in a variety of media formats that will be combined in an innovative Digital Storytelling project. By using the latest technological possibilities and trends to reflect on the relevance of 1945 in Europe until today, they will make a creative contribution to a future-oriented, cross-border culture of remembrance of the war in the digital age. The project results will be presented to the public and discussed by a European expert community in Berlin around the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in spring 2020.