“It is important to remember the Second World War. One must remember this terrible time in order to prevent it from happening again.”
After a series of conferences, workshops and numerous exchanges with eyewitnesses organised in 5 countries, conclusions are easy to draw from the “History through their eyes” project. Students’ testimonies similar to the one chosen above were recurring in Caen, Nijmegen, Berlin, Bastogne and Cassino.
Despite different countries of origin, languages, background and interests of project participants’, the personal stories chosen for the exhibition caught students’ attention who were eager to deepen the knowledge about the Second World War history in their respective countries but also to look for different perspectives on the lesser-known ground. The overall objective was to help students attain a deeper understanding of the Second World War, its causes and effects. The lessons learned highlighted the universality of the topic and the importance of European cooperation and the place of memory.
Thanks to personal stories, students gained a better understanding and could make a personal connection with the topic. These intimate sources offered a unique opportunity to read the voices of the Second World War not by school books or official military historians but by the ordinary men and women who experienced these events.
“History through their eyes” contributed to keep the link between the past and connect it to the present hoping to create a better future.
Caen, June 2018
“As for us in Normandy, this event confirmed that it is in Normandy that the shape of the present world was drawn. The landing of 6 June 1944 was a turning point of the Second World War. Since then, the Normandy Region has established itself as a tourist destination deeply related to the field of memory where visitors from all countries and all generations meet to discover and share the memory of those who fought for peace. The strategy Normandy for Peace aims to make out of Normandy a territory internationally known for its topics related to peace, freedom, conflict resolution, human rights and reconciliation.”
Isabelle Lebreton, Normandy Region
Nijmegen, September 2018
“It is impossible to see the past as it happened. Young people have to use their empathy and imagination nowadays to imagine how it was like to experience war and occupation in the 1940s. Historians are there to help them by presenting the characteristics of the era, and by pointing out the differences and similarities between then and now if possible. It was a privilege to do this and to see how students from Nijmegen became more aware of the past in regards to the present. That is what history is all about! ”
Dr Lennert Savenije, historian, Radboud University Nijmegen
Berlin, November 2018
“Memory could help us to structure our life but we need first to find a way to keep this memory alive especially because the eyewitnesses disappear. In light of the absence of family connections to the Second World War nowadays, the project aims to begin a dialogue with young people about the meaning and future of memory. We have to continue this dialogue.’’
Uta Birkemeyer, Allied Museum
Bastogne, December 2018
“Even today, Bastogne remains strongly marked by the sad events of the Second World War, and more particularly of the battle of the Bulge. The transmission of memory is one of the objectives of the Bastogne War Museum. It was therefore important for the Bastogne War Museum to participate in the EYES project of the Liberation Route Europe. The students and teachers who participated in the workshops around the exhibition appreciated this European approach. Sharing this project with students of many nationalities was very rewarding for the Belgian students. From the EYES project was born a partnership between the Bastogne War Museum and Hénallux High School in Bastogne. The aim of this partnership is to make teachers aware of the transmission of memory for the younger generations. ”
Claire Meyer, Bastogne War Museum
Cassino, February 2019
“The main conclusion of the project is that the commitment of all – institutions, schools, families – should be oriented to a deeper understanding of the knowledge related to European construction, history and legislation for the formation of an aware and adequate citizenship to the problems that Europe will have to face in the coming years.”
Prof. Maria Luisa Calabrese, Municipality of Cassino