Do you remember...
My granny told me once, that in 1955, on a historical day she stood on the square, in front of Castle „Belvedere“. The day that Austrian Prime Minister Leopold Figl spoke to the crowd the famous words „Austria is free !“ Until today those words, spoken when the occupants, allies winners of the 2nd world war left Austria, are famous landmarks in Austria's postwar history
2WARdS-Europe deals with those very personal memory of individual persons regarding war and difficult conflicts. Senior citizens who share with us their experiences and impressions, their memories on hard times in European history and in their personal life. Their testimonies made our meetings in the project unique, the involvement in this important part of history became personal, with faces and names.
Now it’s up to us, to make all this even more worth full by spreading this to a wider public and to find ways to enrich younger generations awareness of conflict and wars using it on the web, in video’s and workshops.
It’s good to reflect on memories. On the role of them in general and on those presented here by 2WARdS Europe. As special and as important as they are, they still are „only“ personal memories, not history, not historical facts. But when they are not historical, they are actually much more than that: They allow us a deep insight into what seems to be important for these persons, here and now, about the past; The picture and story that summaries a bunch of memories of on outstanding period of their life, in many ways a very personal „truth“, a layer that explains attitudes, feelings and positions in the here and now.
But still, they are „just“ memories. They are not even necessarily what „really“ happened in these persons‘ life. The French philosopher Maurice Halbwachs is one of the key researchers when it comes to the question, what memory is and how it is created. After him others, like Pierre Norá, Aleida and Jan Assmann, Timothy Snyder or Harald Welzer helped us to get closer to the answer, what memories are. They paved the way to understand about the memories presented here: that they are created in the here and now, and also for this here and now! To a certain extent humans tend to make them fit into their stories of life which preliminary conclusion is - again- here and now. The German social scientist Heiner Keupp calls this phenomenon „life coherence“. We want to make sure, that it was always „me“ in the past, and somehow it seems to be easier when back then it was the same person who we are in the here and now.
Some elements of the stories are presented for a certain audience, some are put in front to receive appreciation for what we share and conclusively for who we are. Appreciation in a positive or critical way, both are possible. This does not mean, that these stories are wrong, or a lie, or a show. They contain truth, and more for the person telling it.
They stay something very special, that do not necessarily give us a pure insight into history. 2WARdS Europe tried to collect such memories. They are not the history of the World, but they show a lot about the history of the persons telling their stories. And ultimately they show a lot about us, because they are chosen to be told to us.
We wish you interesting and intense moments while discovering these pieces of European and individual memories...
My granny was not in front of the Belvedere, as we found out later. This does not make my granny a liar, it makes her very human. My granny had a very good reason to tell her story about this historical day in 1955. She lived it as if she was on the square. Remembering what happened that day was important for her, it created her truth, it fits in her live.