The approaching of the DCW Final Event was also the chance for us to organise our last preparatory activity. Once selected for the final event, students were asked to vote through online polls their favourite statements among the ones proposed by the EucA staff.
Those who got more votes were the following ones:
1) This House believes that the Russian Federation should publicly ask for forgiveness for USSR’s crimes against humanity.
2) This House believes that anyone who denies the historical reality of totalitarian crimes against humanity should be sanctioned under national law.
3) This House believes that European Union should implement common educational programs about the three totalitarianisms of the 20th Century (Fascism, Nazism and Communism) in each of the Member States.
4) This House believes that memory is only an individual matter, and political institutions should not interfere in it
All the teams (two for each statement to be debated, government and opposition) worked hard before coming to Brussels, thus having the chance to also emeet in advance their fellows
What remains of the troubled Twentieth Century? What are the legacies of the Communist totalitarianism in East and Central Europe? Can we speak of a need of the same recognition, condemnation or remembrance and commemoration initiatives than of the victims and crimes of Nazism? Is it possible to build a European identity among EU citizens without teaching them history from a European point of view? These were just some
of the questions students had to address or provocatively asked to their opponents.
Preparing the debate was also the chance for them to deeply analyse EU policies on the subject. The European Union has indeed started in the past years a series of initiatives about the public remembrance of 1989 and of the totalitarian regimes in the Twentieth Century. Namely, the European Parliament drafted a resolution on European Conscience and Totalitarianism in 2009.
The document has been followed by the project of the House of European History, a museum about the ancient, modern and contemporary history of Europe as a continent. The museum, which is scheduled to open in September 2016, will also try to reconcile the different narratives of the Cold War in Europe.
Finally, the European Union is increasingly intervening in national educational programs of the member States, trying to harmonize history teaching practices and textbooks. However, this European “politics of memory” has been criticized as it could lead to a single narrative of the past, with the consequences of impoverishing academic and public debates and to reduce critical thinking about Europe history and identity. Therefore, the debates discussed also the political actions taken “in the name” of the recent European past, and tried to assess whether public remembrance of the Twentieth Century is appropriate and beneficial for nowadays Europe.
To put it in other terms: was Pierre Nora, a famous French historian, right when he said that “Memory divides, history unifies”?
No better preparation for the DCW Final Event!