6. Pay close attention to regional and historical factors
The story of European history is usually told in the framework of existing nation states. The fact that history knows no such borders, however, can be seen in the example of local factors and conditions. For this very reason, it is essential that we foster regional cultures of remembrance: this supposedly conservative perspective – one that does not focus on the “big picture” but instead on the local factors – is often the approach that enables us to make nation-state borders less rigid, above all those borders in people’s minds.
This requires new policies of remembrance in the cities and regions – one that dares to replace or expand nation-state narratives and heroes with regional ones. New official holidays, new memorials, new festivals, new cooperative activities and expanded multilingualism – all of these factors are potential elements in a new city-wide or regional culture and policy of remembrance.
Workshops with a regional connection
Local stories can be gathered at different workshops and then reinterpreted together in new ways within the framework of an “Europeanisation” of local memories and histories. The social-democratic heritage of Europe? Freedom as the founding element of Europe’s “special path”? Or perhaps the fears and opportunities a northern German town like Greifswald is facing in the context of German-Russian economic interests? Exploring questions like these – ones that directly affect local culture and local memories – makes it easier to enable people to experience Europe. Indeed, “Europe” doesn’t just hover over people as they go about their daily lives: in open discussions, people are invited to encounter the otherwise self-evident ways in which they experience Europe in their own everyday lives. Nobody lives and thinks exclusively in a nation-state framework: for this reason, it is important to make people aware of the diversity and boundlessness of local histories. Ultimately, the closer the workshop questions and event themes are set up, the more it becomes possible to reveal common European elements.