On 6 June 2016, the first day of the plenary session of the European Parliament, the English version of the tour Exhibition “Different Wars: National School Textbooks on World War II” was launched in Strasbourg.  It will be on display in the Main Hall of the Louise Weiss Building (1st Floor) until 9 June 2016.
The “Different Wars” Exhibition explores differences in perception and narration of the history of the World War II by comparing modern high school textbooks from the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia.
The school textbooks of today determine the European politics of tomorrow, – said Othmar Karas, MEP, Chair of the Delegation of the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, in his address. – What a child learns about the past forms his or her identity and relation to neighbours. The differences between historical narratives are huge. We should finally come to a common European interpretation of the darkest chapter in our European history.
The “Different Wars” Project was initiated in 2014 by the Working Group “Historical Memory and Education” of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum in close cooperation with historians, civil society activists, history teachers, and enthusiasts from all the countries involved.
The research and coordination work was fulfilled by Antikomplex (Prague), the German-Russian Exchange (Berlin), Gulag.Cz (Prague), the KARTA Centre (Warsaw), the Kostroma Civic Initiatives Support Centre (Kostroma), Memorial International (Moscow), Memorial Italia (Milan), the Society of German-Russian Relationship (Münster/Münsterland), and the Youth Memorial (Perm).
The message behind the project is taking individual responsibility to understand the past and to be sensitive about its influence on the present. In that sense, the exhibition is an extremely important public effort to connect the varying national narratives about the war into a common process of coming to terms with the history, – told Kristina Smolijaninovaitė, Senior Project Coordinator at the Forum and one of the authors of the exhibition. – Bringing “Different Wars” to the European Parliament is a historic moment, as we hope that it would let us start this conversation also in the counties and communities that are not part of our exhibition.
“Different Wars” was previously shown at the Charles University in Prague. Its Russian version was already on display in Moscow and Yekaterinburg and will open in Perm on 16 June 2016.
The project is supported by the European Commission, the Georg Eckert Institute, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the Oak Foundation.