„Look back, think forward“ was the motto of the HistoryCampus in Berlin. On the occasion of the centenary of World War One, about 90 EUSTORY alumni were among the 400 young people from more than 40 countries in Europe and North Africa who attended the event from 7–11 May, 2014. The HistoryCampus was opened by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
More than one hundred workshop leaders with backgrounds in sciences, culture and education were coaching participants in twenty-two workshops. Together, they looked at family histories, discussed the different national perceptions of World War One and also talked about the importance of peace and understanding in today’s Europe.
Workshop results were presented during a public Campus exhibition as well as on stage at the closing event at the Maxim Gorki Theatre. “The HistoryCampus made an outstanding contribution to the dialogue about the First World War in Europe,” said Sven Tetzlaff, organiser of the German history competition and Head of the Education Department of the Koerber Foundation. “Four hundred young people brought Europe to life and returned to their home countries as ambassadors of a European peace project.”
Whether comic, theatre, performance, architectural model or museum concept, film, sound collage, simulation game, exhibition, web site or computer game – four hundred Europeans gave their answer to the question: what has the First World War got to do with me? They returned home with a wide range of impressions. „Each life has its turning points. For my grandfather it was the First World War. My own life changed because I discovered his story,” said Roman Roobroeck, a 2011 Belgian EUSTORY prize winner. Roman researched the history of his grandfather during the First World War, and during the HistoryCampus he reflected on the different European perspectives of World War One. Roman also talked about his perspective on war and peace in Europe with the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier who visited the HistoryCampus on 9 May.
Vlad Badea, a EUSTORY alumni from Romania, renegotiated the Paris Peace Treaty in a simulation game as a delegate of one of the involved powers. “I had to take sides which conflicted with my personal identity as a Romanian." It was a helpful experience to get to know one’s own “box” and to reflect on it.
“The HistoryCampus Europe 14/14 has been a source of inspiration for the EUSTORY Network and its member organizations”, said Gabriele Woidelko, Spokesperson of the Steering Committee and Program Director EUSTORY. “We go home with new project ideas on Europe´s shared past and common future. We gained courage from the commitment and enthusiasm of our EUSTORY alumni and other young Europeans that history actually matters for today´s youth. And we gained hope that we can still find common ground, even if our histories are conflicting with each other.”