Contemporary European history is undeniably entangled with Jewish history. However, Jewish-European history should be viewed and remembered from a number of different perspectives to avoid undue simplifications. It encompasses a long and complex history of discrimination, segregation and displacement as well as the systematic persecution, deportation, and genocide of millions of Jewish people in Nazi-Germany and the occupied countries during the Shoa. But Jewish-European History also encompasses histories of cultural exchange, assimilation, and coexistence. On many levels, Jewish life has had significant impact on European culture, politics, science and scholarly learning, and economy.
European remembrance of the Shoa should not be confined to the persecution of Jewish people in Europe and to the genocide itself: that would mean to portray Jewish people as passive victims. Instead, broad examinations and discussions that integrate different aspects of Jewish history are needed in order to effectively confront tendencies of anti-Semitism in Europe today.
This project wants to contribute to this greater process. In different regions of Europe, youths and young adults will form project teams and have a look at local Jewish traditions. After a first preparatory module, they will do research in libraries and archives and conduct oral history interviews. At meetings with the other project teams, the European dimension of the project and, more importantly, of Jewish history will become apparent to the participants. These meetings will offer possibilities for informal exchange and discussion of the participants’ findings and to discover new aspects of Jewish-European history through on-site learning in Verdun, Berlin, Krakow and Auschwitz as European memory places. Each project team will present their work’s product in print, on a DVD or a homepage – whatever the creative process may require.
The comprehensive project will take one year. In February 2012 we want to present the results of the projects with a closing event in form of a one-day workshop in Potsdam and Berlin. Beside the presentation of the results four lectures about different topics of Jewish-European history in Germany, France, Portugal and Poland are part of the conference.