“The Best Event in a Not-So-Good Year!”

Photo: Körber-Stiftung/Lilit Dabagian
Photo: Körber-Stiftung/Lilit Dabagian

The Online History Camp “Don’t Look Back in Anger – Coping with Painful Pasts” ended with satisfied young participants and creative results.

“My love for this Online History Camp began when I received the first email from the organisers, read the title of the Camp, and immediately found myself humming ‘Don’t look back in anger…’.” That’s how Ana, an 18-year-old participant from Georgia, described her special relationship to the Online History Camp for prize winners of the History Competitions 2019/20 in Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The event was organised by Körber-Stiftung in the framework of a cooperation project with DVV International which is funded by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. Originally planned as a one-week physical encounter in Berlin, the programme was adapted to an online setting due to the restrictions fighting the spread of Covid-19.

Ana was one of 16 young people aged between 15 and 20 who took the plunge of getting involved. Olga (16) from Ukraine was probably not the only one who had some concerns in the beginning: “I thought an online camp might be boring”, she admitted, “but it wasn’t at all! Instead I was waiting the whole week for the next Saturday to come!” she laughed during the final feedback round.

In total, there were six good reasons for (joyful) anticipation, as the Online History Camp 2020 “Don’t Look Back in Anger! Coping With Painful Pasts” consisted of six weekly workshop sessions with topics ranging from “Introduction to Family Memory” to “Politics of Memory”, “The (Painful) Past in the Present” and “Digital Storytelling”. Lilit Dabagian, an experienced workshop facilitator from Kyrgyzstan, led through all sessions in a very diverse and interactive way.

“Letters from Bulgaria” is one of the various project results | Photo: Körber-Stiftung/Anastasia Antunovic
“Letters from Bulgaria” is one of the various project results | Photo: Körber-Stiftung/Anastasia Antunovic

In preparation for all sessions, the participants received special tasks, e.g. finding old family photos, defining the last historical event which had great impact on the lives of one’s own family, conducting biographical interviews with contemporary witnesses, etc. During the sessions there was much space for vivid and interactive exchange about gained experiences and different perspectives brought in from the four different countries. Sometimes surprising findings were brought to light – e.g. a “Bulgarian” pen pal of the late eighties in reality turned out to be a girl from the former GDR.

Special highlights of the programme were also the multimedia lectures of the two external experts David Leupold and Tomiris Orozoeva who shared their theoretical and practical knowledge on the nature and handling of memory and on the different aspects and techniques that need to be considered when it comes to taking professional photographs of people and items. “Thanks to the Online History Camp I gained knowledge and skills, for instance in regard to portraying people with my camera”, Polina (16) from Belarus told the organisers.

Polina was one of three participants who presented the results of their personal research during the official “Closing Ceremony” of the Online History Camp which took place on 28 November 2020 and was attended by external guests from all four countries and by representatives of the project partners, the Federal Foreign Office of Germany as well as representatives of German embassies. Polina’s topic was the disaster of Chernobyl in 1986 which forced her grandfather and her mother to leave their home. In an interactive video she presented different perspectives by interviewing her grandfather and her mother who was still a child at that time.

Digital drawing of a former home | Copyright: Körber-Stiftung/Lizi Mamulshvili
Digital drawing of a former home | Copyright: Körber-Stiftung/Lizi Mamulshvili

The presentation by Lika (17) and Lizi (16) from Georgia dealt with the topic of forced displacement. They had conducted research and interviews on the Georgian-Abkhazian War in 1992/93, stressing the fact that the conflict was and still remains painful for both sides involved.

The digital drawing of the former house of her family in Abkhazia which Lizi created on the basis of her mother’s memories is one of the various creative outcomes that are accessible on EUSTORY’s History Campus website.

Find out what some ruins in Vitebsk may have to do with the famous painter Marc Chagall or which role an old oil lamp played in Georgia‘s “Dark Nineties”!

Apart from all the creative and interesting results and formats that the participants created,  the by far most precious outcome of the Online History Camp 2020 is the participants’ wish to keep connected and to stay in contact with each other – hoping to meet and visit each other some day in the near future.

You can see all results of the Online History Camp 2020 here.


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