Three CDRSEE members and affiliates actively participated at the International Symposium, “Commemorating 1914: Exploring the War’s Legacy”. The Symposium took place on May 5th and 6th at the Croatian State Archives in Zagreb and was organised by the EUNIC network in scientific partnership with the historians of Zagreb University and the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and Documenta NGOs.
The Symposium gathered 25 historians from throughout Europe to assess the power of history as a means to consolidate peace and reconciliation. A century after the first world wide conflict, memories are bleak as to how the war affected nations’ memories. The Symposium opened debate and encouraged discussion on how the war shaped Croatia’s destiny and that of her neighbours. In particular, it focused on the confrontation of memories, the representation and account of the conflict, the post First World War process of reconciliation, and the memory of the war in the context of building a new Europe.
Snjezana Koren, a professor of history didactics at the History Department of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Zagreb, spoke on the third session of the Symposium, The European War and Reconciliation Issues in the 20th Century. She spoke of the challenges and obstacles of teaching the First World War in Croatia. In particular, she addressed the difficulty of distinguishing whether the war was one of heroes or one of the defeated and how interpretations and memories have confounded those beliefs. Among the key points in her talk was her illustration of the ways in which history teaching can be abused for pseudo-patriotic purposes and current regime interests.
Neven Budak, a historian at the University of Zagreb, graciously shared photographs from his personal collection. The exhibition, Croatians during the First World War, was presented at the Library of the French Institute in Zagreb from April 28th - May 15th.
Nenad Sebek, Executive director of the CDRSEE, spoke on one of the closing sessions addressing memory and history of the war. He presented the Center’s Joint History Project and how this unique regional collaboration amongst historians was able to reform history teaching and utilize its outcomes for spurring reconciliation amongst people in the region.