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BerlinMauer
Photo: Hadar Naim; Licence: CC-BY 2.0. 
 
Visitors can find such engravings in many areas of Berlin: they mark where
the Wall used to be.

 

With the gaze of all European media outlets focusing on the Berlin Wall and its historical importance, E&M wants to talk about the 25th anniversary of its fall from a personal perspective. This year, as an exclusive for our magazine, we are pleased to host the experiences of three young Italian women who spent two months in Berlin on a volunteering project at the Berlin Wall MemorialAlice BaruffatoEugenia Pennacchio and Veronica Pozzi, one of our Sixth Sense editors, share with us their feelings and their thoughts, developed over the course of their work at such an important place for the Europe in which we live.

 

Eugenia Pennacchio foto

 

Eugenia – The choice of building an historical memory by giving prominence to real life people

 

Behind the great history of nations and heads of state, there are the little, local stories and, behind these stories, there are real people, their lives, their emotions, their everyday experiences. As an historian I often forget that. I have been studying and analysing epochal events: wars, peace, their causes, the big protagonists of contemporary history and their actions, which seem to be solely responsible for the geopolitical context of the world where we live.

 

My decision to join a volunteering project at the Chapel of Reconciliation in Berlin, after having done academic research on the pacifist movements of East Berlin, was a good opportunity to re-live and to explain to visitors some of the pivotal events in the history of Germany and of the whole world. But I didn't imagine this two-month project would give me an approach to history and memory that was slightly different from the one I knew and had taken for granted before.

Published in Beyond Europe
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 00:00

Good Reads – From Lampedusa to Scotland

Another week has flown away but not without two of E&M's editors sharing some articles that got them thinking about our continent. This time around, Edgar and Veronica have picked up some online pieces about the value of history and the aftershocks of an Italian earthquake, passing through the Scottish referendum, a law in favour of the rights of transsexuals and Europe's immigration debate.

 

Edgar, Baby editor

6edgar

HISTORY AND HUMILITY

 

In one of the first tutorial sessions of my undergraduate history degree, I clearly remember a classmate nonchalantly reeling off George Santayana's famous quotation about the value of history: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." The tutor was unimpressed. "You're lucky you didn't say that in your interview," he said. His point, reprised by many of my teachers throughout the next three years, was that history is not a crystal ball. If we gaze into the past we do not see the future; only the past.

 

At the time, these historians' strident insistence on the practical uselessness of their subject was a little deflating. Why were they devoting their lives to such a futile endeavour? They were clearly jaded, I thought, if not outright depressed. Only gradually did I realise that this warning against drawing lessons from history was a valuable lesson in itself. If history teaches us anything at all, it is how little we can control or even predict our own fate.

 

Published in Good Reads
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