“Don’t mention the war”: does Europe need a shared historical narrative of WW2? 4 May 2020, 6pm
DATE: Monday, 4 May 2020
As Europe is to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2, national narratives of those historic events hugely differ across Europe. Identity and historical memory are often hijacked by populist and nationalist agendas and history suddenly enters the political mainstream. In Brexit Britain, spurious references were made to get rid of “German” control. In Putin’s Russia, the “Great Patriotic War” has been made a centrepiece of contemporary Russian identity, justifying aggression against its neighbours as a crusade against “Ukrainian fascists.” Many countries remain confined to their respective WW2 narratives, often downplaying collaboration and overplaying their nation’s heroism. On the other hand, many people in the West are oblivious to the extent of bloodshed experienced by Eastern European countries (namely Poland, Ukraine, Belarus) in the fight against Nazism. The lack of a shared vision of lessons from WW2 hampers understanding of the Holocaust and the industrial scale that it took in the lands squeezed between Hitler and Stalin.
Ukrainian Institute London and Henry Jackson Society are proud to present an outstanding panel of speakers to discuss these issues:
Serhii Plokhy, historian, author, Director of Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, US
Krzystof Czyżewski, writer, philosopher, President of Borderland Foundation, Poland
Brendan Simms, historian, author, Cambridge University, UK
Moderator: Adrian Karatnycky, Senior Fellow and co-Director of the Ukraine in Europe Program, Atlantic Council, US
The discussion will be preceded by a short presentation of a bespoke research project about key historical narratives of the 20th century across leading media of 6 European countries (Poland, Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany, UK) over 2018-2019. The research was organized and funded by the Ukrainian Institute (Kyiv) and One Philosophy Group of Companies. The research uncovered divergence or omittance in interpreting key events of that century, relating to WW2 (such as perceptions of Russia’s contribution to the defeat of Nazism and interpretations of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact). The research findings will be unveiled by Nataliia Popovych (founder, One Philosophy; co-founder, Ukraine Crisis Media Centre).
Serhii Plokhy is the Mykhailo Hrushevsky Professor of Ukrainian History at Harvard University. A leading authority on Eastern Europe, who has published extensively in English, Ukrainian and Russian, he has lived and taught in Ukraine, Canada and the United States. His recent books include The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine (2015), The Last Empire: The Final Days of the Soviet Union (2015), The Cossack Myth: History and Nationhood in the Age of Empires (2012) and Yalta: The Price of Peace Viking/Penguin (2010; 2011).
Brendan Simms is Professor in the History of International Relations at the University of Cambridge, Director of the Forum on Geopolitics at the University of Cambridge, and President of the Henry Jackson Society. He is the author of ‘Europe. The Struggle for Supremacy, 1453 to the Present’ (London, 2013), ‘Britain’s Europe. A Thousand Years of Conflict and Cooperation’ (London, 2016), and ‘Hitler. Only the World Was Enough‘ (London, 2019).
Krzystof Czyżewski is a practitioner of ideas, writer, philosopher, culture animator, theatre director, editor. Co-founder and president of the Borderland Foundation (1990) and director of the Centre “Borderland of Arts, Cultures and Nations” in Sejny. Together with his team, in Krasnogruda on the Polish-Lithuanian border he revitalized a manor house once belonged to Czesław Miłosz family, and initiated there an International Center for Dialog (2011). Among his books are: The Path of the Borderland (2001), Line of Return (2008), Trust & Identity: A Handbook of Dialog (2011), Miłosz – Dialog – Borderland (2013), Miłosz. A Connective Tissue (2014), The Krasnogruda Bridge. A Bridge-Builder’s Toolkit (2016), A Small Center of the World. Notes of the Practitioner of Ides (2017, Tischner Award for the best essayist book of the year), Żegaryszki (2018, haiku poems), and Towar Xenopolis (2019). Teacher and lecturer, a visiting professor of Rutgers University and University of Bologna. He received a title of the Ambassador of European Year of Intercultural Dialog (Brussels). He is a laureate of Dan David Prize 2014 and Irena Sendlerowa Prize 2015. Together with the Borderland team he is the 2018 Princess Margriet European Award for Culture (Amsterdam) laureate.
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