By Prof. Dr. Matthias Weber
The accession of Romania to the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity, which will take place on 28 May, 2014, is good news. Thereby the network gains another strong partner.
In the current year 2014 the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Iron Curtain, which had divided Europe for decades and had created different worlds of remembrance in its eastern and western parts, is to be remembered. Germany and its eastern neighbours remember with gratitude the "Peaceful Revolutions" that led to/ the end of communism and paved the way to freedom.
In European recollections of 1989 Romania brings a unique historical experience: In this country people had to fight hard for the "Turn" (“Wende” – as we call this political upheaval in Germany) in heavy clashes with the dictatorship. More than 1,000 casualties among the civilian population are to be remembered.
Not to be separated from 1989 is the year 1944. When soon we will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the landings of the Allies in Normandy (D-Day), it should not be forgotten, that also 70 years ago with the change of the front in Romania on 23 August, 1944, the war was shortened by several months. Thus the suffering of Europeans was finished more quickly. The resulting occupation of Romania by the Red Army - the replacement of a dictatorial regime with another one - leaves ambivalence in mind, not only in Romania, but also in other countries of Central and South-eastern Europe, which is connected with this anniversary.
In this way people in the states of Europe have their individual memories of the 20th century, depending on their historical experiences. The European Network wants to raise awareness of different and sometimes conflicting perspectives. It aims at complementing various historical images, promoting trust and mutual understanding in Europe.
European Network Remembrance and Solidarity is a multilateral initiative, led by the Ministers of Culture of the member states. The accession of Romania also points out the success of the previous work and at the same time the inherent potential of the project. I want to express my hope, that more countries may follow and join the European Network soon.
May 27, 2014
Prof. Matthias Weber, director of the Federal Institute for Culture and History of the Germans in Eastern Europe and German coordinator of the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity.