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What is required for an adequate international remembrance of the outbreak of the Second World War?

Members of the Körber History Reflection Group from 10 European countries discussed the current legacy of the Hitler-Stalin pact with representatives of the Office of the Federal President. Key question of the debate was how, today, 80 years after the onset of the Second World War, this could and should best be internationally remembered.

In May 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War will be commemorated in many countries in Europe and the world. For a deeper understanding of the significance the war and the rupture in civilisation of the holocaust have in individual societies and for Europe as a whole until today, it is essential to look at developments that led to the beginning of the Second World War. The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, and its secret additional protocol, that arranged the split of Europe into different spheres of influence, have impacted the relations between Russia, Germany and their neighbouring countries in Central Eastern Europe ever since.

Therefore, the following questions were at the heart of the exchange between the Körber History Reflection Group and the representatives of the Office of the Federal President: Where do different perspectives on the beginning of the Second World War lead to political and diplomatic tensions today and how should these tensions be met? How could a closer examination of the summer of 1939 contribute to an international, forward-looking, remembrance of the Second World War in the run-up to the anniversary in May 2020?

The confidential conversation underlined the importance of cross-border and interdisciplinary exchange between representatives from politics, diplomacy, history and media in times of increasing confrontation.

Prior to the conversation at the Office of the Federal President, the Körber History Reflection Group visited the political archive of the Federal Foreign Office. There, they spoke with the head of the political archive, Elke von Boeselager, about the importance of facts during the so-called “post-factual era”, based on documents from the archives about the outbreak of the First and Second World War.

 

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