rEUnify: A comparative study of national perceptions regarding German reunification

The reunification of Germany has been a key event in recent European history. It is also a turning point in the construction of the European Union and democratic transition in Central-Eastern Europe. German unity may seem obvious today – especially for young generations – but in 1990, the prospect of a reunification between East and West Germany aroused strong reactions from its neighbours. The difficult historical relations of Germany with these countries have, of course, played a role in this. As such in 1990, German reunification presented an immense challenge for the entire European continent: While Germany was preoccupied with its national reconstruction, its neighbours to the east were embarking on their own democratic and economic transformation.

The rEUnify project puts into practice the exchange on the current significance of German reunification in European neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands, Poland, France and Czech Republic. The debate is being held in several public events in all countries of the participating institutions and will include historical witnesses, local citizens and students in the discussion.

The different national perspectives will be collected in an academic report, published by the political news magazine “New Eastern Europe”.

Preparatory activities: the activities involved 11 participants
Location / Dates: Online via Zoom
Short description: These activities consisted of Zoom partner meetings (once meeting every two months) in 2021 and 2022. Participants discussed the aim of the project, planned events, ongoing work with students, the project logo, authors and topics for the publication as well as promotion and dissemination activities. Before every event, the project partners would meet online to discuss the organisation of the event & share of responsibilities.

Project events (click the links to see the specific events) Six events have been carried out within this project:

Event 1: Opening seminar European heritage 30 years after German reunification
Participation: The event involved 58 citizens, including 50 participants from the city of Berlin (Germany), 2 participants from the city of Groningen (the Netherlands), 2 participants from the city of Liberec (Czechia), 1 participant from the city of Kraków (Poland), 1 participant from the city of Warsaw (Poland), 1 participant from the city of Paris (France),1 participant from the city of Strasbourg (France).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Berlin, Germany on 10/11/2021
Short description: The aim of the event was to present and discuss various perspectives that connect European memory with the German reunification process. Experts analysed which consequences emerged from German reunification after 1990 for the further European integration process.

Event 2: Citizens’ conference: “30 Years of German Unity – What’s Next?”
Participation: The event involved 82 citizens, including 74 participants from the city of Groningen (the Netherlands), 2 participants from the city of Liberec (Czechia), 1 participant from the city of Kraków (Poland), 1 participant from the city of Warsaw (Poland), 2 participants from the city of Strasbourg (France), 2 participants from the city of Berlin (Germany).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Groningen, The Netherlands on 10/12/2021.
Short description: This event was organized to bring together international experts and citizens of Groningen and the German borderlands to discuss and present their memories of and contemporary views on German reunification and discuss them with an international audience.

Event 3: France-Germany – A special friendship with a European dimension
Participation: The event involved 50 citizens, 42 participants from the city of Strasbourg (France), 2 participants from the city of Liberec (Czechia), 1 participant from the city of Wrocław (Poland), 1 participant from the city of Warsaw (Poland), 2 participants from the city of Groningen (the Netherlands), 2 participants from the city of Berlin (Germany).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Strasbourg, France on 08/04/2022.
Short description: The aim of the event was to bring together local citizens from the Strasbourg area – a very important city from the perspective of French-German relations – to present perspectives from different generations and meet with international experts.

Event 4: German Reunification. Perspectives from Poland.
Participation: The event involved 38 citizens, including 32 participants from the city of Kraków (Poland), 2 participants from the city of Liberec (Czechia), 2 participants from the city of Groningen (the Netherlands), 2 participants from the city of Berlin (Germany).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Kraków, Poland on 28/04/2022
Short description: This conference aimed at placing German reunification in the current European context and discussing its Polish-German dimension. More than 30 years after the reunification of Germany, the speakers were asked to draw some lessons from this process which is key to the EU developments and occupies a central place in European common memory. Video of the seminar is available here: https://www.facebook.com/KEWJNJ/videos/364090132445034.

Event 5: “Reunification of Germany from the Czech perspective
Participation: The event involved 57 citizens, including 49 participants from the city of Liberec (Czechia), 2 participants from the city of Kraków (Poland), 2 participants from the city of Groningen (the Netherlands), 2 participants from the city of Berlin (Germany), 2 participants from the city of Strasbourg (France).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Liberec, Czechia on 03/06/2022.
Short description: The aim of the event was to bring together Czech citizens and international experts to examine the perspective of German reunification from the Czech perspective. Speakers presented History of Czech-German relations before 1989; and how they changed after reunification. Lastly, an intergenerational dialogues with citizens from different generations presented their experience with the international experts.

Event 6: War in Ukraine – Different perspectives from East and West Germany and the EU?
Participation: The event involved 78 citizens, including 58 participants from the city of Dresden (Germany), 7 participants from the city of Kraków (Poland), 1 participant from the city of Warsaw (Poland), 4 participants from the city of Groningen (the Netherlands), 5 participants from the city of Berlin (Germany), 3 participants from the city of Strasbourg (France).
Location / Dates: The event took place in Dresden, Germany on 14/09/2022.
Short description: This event was a public conference held at the Dresden City hall which was open to the public and brought together students and international experts from different countries (neighbours of Germany) to discuss the reunification of Germany also in the context of the war which broke out in Ukraine. The event was opened by the vice mayor of the city. Video of the event is available here: https://bit.ly/3v4z7Qy

Student Poster Presentations

1. Dutch students  prepared under the supervision of prof. Florian Lippert

2. Polish students prepared under the supervision of prof. Kinga Anna Gajda

3. Czech students prepared under the supervision of Kateřina Portmann

4. French students prepared under the supervision of Romain Le Quiniou

rEUnify – Photo Gallery

 

Final Publication

Legacy of German Reunification. A view from the neighbours Published in New Eastern Europe issue 5/2022.

Click here to download the publication

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The partners in the project are: Institut für Europäische Politik (Germany), Institut pro evropskou politiku EUROPEUM (Czechia), Euro Créative (France) i Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (The Netherlands). 

 

 

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Project Coordinator: Adam Balcer
e-mail: adam.balcer@kew.org.pl