Lessons for Today: Speaking of the Past to illuminate the Future.
The project ‘Historija, Istorija, Povijest – Lessons for Today’ was launched in 2015 by the Anne Frank House, in cooperation with local partner organizations from Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and North Macedonia.
This project builds upon the mission of the Anne Frank House, an independent organization that is entrusted with the care of the place where Anne Frank went into hiding during World War II and where she wrote her famous diary. Nowadays, the organization encourages the reflection on dangers of antisemitism, racism and discrimination and the importance of freedom, equal rights and democracy worldwide.
raising awareness and encouraging discussion about the recent history of nationalism, exclusion, prejudice, discrimination in the region
promoting debate and dialogue on the common past
promoting critical thinking about historical events and their relevance for contemporary challenges
inspiring an interdisciplinary, civic-education oriented history education
In collaboration with the Anne Frank House and Youth Initiative for Human Rights – Bosnia & Herzegovina, Humanity in Action Bosnia & Herzegovina and two Senior Fellows, Laura Boerhout (2012 Amsterdam Fellowship) and Lamija Landžo (2010 Berlin Fellowship), led a Memory Walk workshop in Sarajevo and nearby Istočno Sarajevo in 2013 which encouraged Bosnian youth from different backgrounds to critically reflect on the monuments and contested histories in their living environment. 15 High School students from across the country participated and split into teams to create short films on specific monuments.
A public culture of remembrance serves to shape not only the collective memory of past events, but to guide the way towards reconciliation. Young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to struggle with the legacy of the war that took place in the 1990s. Stuck between a troublesome past and an uncertain future, they are confronted with a socio-political environment heavily divided along ethno-national lines. Widespread distrust and fear continue to be perpetuated in politics, media, education and the commemorative landscape, leaving little narrative space for the youth to voice their own opinions or concerns. Within this repressive atmosphere, it is difficult for the younger generation to develop the critical thinking skills that would allow for an inclusive reflection on past, present and future.
Debate and dialogue are among the mechanisms through which the youth of the Balkan region can build bridges around their common past and thereby shape a better future for all.