European Network Remembrance and Solidarity (ENRS) focuses on studies concerning history of the 20th century and popularisation of historical knowledge in trans-national, European context. ENRS wants to contribute to creation of community of memory which will take into consideration different experiences of nations and countries of Europe. This kind of community of memory can be established only when all its members will accept the principle of solidarity as basic and common rule for thinking and acting. Application of this principle means to acquaint oneself with experiences of the others and to respect those who see and feel the past differently.
The important thing is that the goal of ENRS is not creation of equalized and normalized European interpretation of history. Anyway, such normalization proved to be very difficult if not impossible even in case of communities of memory much smaller than Europe. Instead, the aim of ENRS is rather creation of opportunities to compare national images of memory which can complement each other. We expect that this way the Network will help to solve misunderstandings concerning historical questions and will contribute to eradication of stereotypes, building up mutual respect and better understanding among the Europeans.
The end of the Cold War and changes that occurred in Europe after 1989 enabled a new attitude to historical studies. There disappeared limitations to freedom of expression, official, political interpretations of the recent history were no longer obligatory and topics that were hitherto taboo were widely discussed. This kind of pluralistic operational framework resulted in more intensive than ever exchange of opinions on history but at the same time serious differences concerning many past events emerged that in some cases led even to political disagreements.
In the centre of this debate were and still are problems concerning memory of historical events of 20th century, the century that was marked with violence and its use and experiencing. The most important questions in this debate are whether traditional historical narratives about reasons and aftermath of totalitarian regimes are adequate to current state of research and political awareness of societies. How to crate new, more capacious and internally differentiated narratives? How to shape memory concerning victims of National Socialism and Communism and not to blur their distinctiveness, to avoid throwing at each other the numbers of victims and trivialization of the discourse referring to them? People in many European countries are looking now for the answers to these questions.
The founders of European Network Remembrance and Solidarity are aware of the fact that international discussions concerning such questions can easily become ideological and abused for political purposes and as such to cause more harm than benefits for the cause of common consideration of the past and the future of Europe. Originators of the Network, who belong to scientific and political circles of Germany, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, in order to prevent this decided to popularise such attitude to painful history of the 20th century that takes into account and respects perspectives and sensitivities of nations and ethnic and social groups being neighbours in our part of Europe.
This assumption causes that European Network Remembrance and Solidarity is open for cooperation with various institutions or organisations dealing with study of history and commemoration of historical events and for circles interested in history. The originators of the Network also hope that the other countries will join this Central European initiative too.
Creation of accordance in opinions concerning common history is a long-term process demanding support and involvement of many people. Nevertheless it is the only way to achieve such consensus about the past that will allow present and future generations to derive knowledge and experience from it.