DSC_7208 copieThe closing event of our “Dissent, Conscience and the Wall” Project was held at Cervantes Institute in Brussels on December 10th, 2015.

In agreement with what planned, since 2014 three symposia had been organized in London and Brussels, and each of them had been devoted to one of the following themes: tolerance of dissent and freedom of conscience on both sides of the Iron Curtain; the role of conscience and dissent in bringing about the fall of the Berlin Wall; the changing role of conscience and dissent in Europe since 1989. The final event was the chance to bring all of these themes on the table and discussed them with distinguished panellists.

Challenging questions arisen included: Does historical memory always correspond to historical truth? If historical memory has always been crucial for state building, would it be ever possible to conciliate national remembrance cultures with a common European remembrance, fundamental to foster European identity? In the attempt at building this European historical memory, which path should be followed? Would it be better to start from defined historical moments or from large “topoi”, such as “European freedom”? And what would the role of education be in achieving it?

Moreover, what was the economic impact of Reunification? And how difficult was the relationship among independent groups and the Church in East Germany before 1989?

Panellists’ interventions were followed by intense question-and-answer sessions. We cannot guarantee that the 50 students attending the event went back home with all their doubts cleared. Instead we hope they returned to their countries with more questions than they had before leaving and with the awareness that being an active citizen goes farther than voting. It requires from each of us our own contribution to improve the society we are living in, because, as states the African proverb written on the East Side Gallery on the Berlin Wall: “Many small people who in many small places do many small things can change the face of the world”.

Videos of the event are available on our DCW YouTube Channel.


Toomas Hiio is head of research of the Estonian War Museum – General Laidoner Museum. Since 2008, he serves as a member of the board at the Estonian Institute of Historical Memory.

Toomas Hiio’s research focuses on World War Two and crimes against humanity. He is the editor of the book Estonia since 1944: Reports of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity (2009).

Hiio served as an executive secretary of the Estonian International Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity (1998–2008), and as an adviser for the President of the Republic of Estonia, Mr. Lennart Meri (1998-2001).


Gian Luca Giovannucci, President of EucA – Welcome speech

Panel 1 – The Fall of the Berlin Wall: Now and Then

Mr Matthias Müller, Desk Officer at the Saxony Liaison Office in Brussels – Independent Groups and the Church: A Difficult Relationship – A Case from East Germany

Dr Stefan Gehrold, Director of the European Office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Brussels – The Economic Impact of the German Reunification

Panel 2 – Towards a Common European Remembrance Policy

Dr Markus Prutsch, Administrator at the EU Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies of the Union – European Historical Memory: Policies, Challenges and Perspectives

Dr Andrea Mork, Curatorial coordinator, House of European History – Musealising European History. An Utopian Challenge?

Dr Andrew Hegarty, Director of the Thomas More Institute, London – Report on the project Dissent, Conscience and the Wall