Winning the Peace - The End of the First World War with its History, Remembrance, and Current Challenges

No 205/2018 from Jul 27, 2018

An international conference will be held on October 11 and 12, 2018, at the German Federal Foreign Office to address the end of World War I one hundred years ago. Attendees will explore the consequences and significance for the present. The conference is being organized by Freie Universität Berlin under the patronage of the German Federal Foreign Office, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Mission du Centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale. To mark the 100-year anniversary of the end of the war, well-known international representatives from academia, politics, and the media will cover a wide range of topics ranging from historical observation to a discussion of current conflicts and possible peaceful solutions to current controversies.

Oliver Janz, a professor of modern history at Freie Universität Berlin and project leader of the conference, emphasizes that the key issues of the conference relate to present times: the point is to learn from 1918 what is important for consideration in 2018. Important questions are therefore: What lines of development extend from the immediate post-World War I period into our present times’ What current problems and crises go back to this time? Which of the concepts for peace that were developed toward the end of the war are still relevant today? What contradictions did they contain, and what limits were set for them? What mistakes were made in their implementation? What did the international community learn from these mistakes in the 20th century, in particular at other turning points in history, such as 1945 or 1989/90, for managing war and peace? What lessons can we learn from the mistakes that were made for dealing with current crises and conflicts?

"Taking into account the emotional reactions that memories of the First World War still evoke in many places as well as the constant temptation to instrumentalize history, it is also important to examine the current cultures of remembrance," says Oliver Janz. "There are many indications that memories of both World War I and its end 100 years ago are perceived very differently in different countries." In Germany, the defeat and the Treaty of Versailles are seen as further milestones on the way to the disaster of National Socialism, according to Janz. "In other countries the memories are of a victory won by heroic sacrifices in a legitimate war for justice and freedom; in still others, the remembrance culture celebrates the attainment of national independence as well as remembering the following wars," he continues. What do these divergent narratives mean for today’s political issues, and where are there points of contact and interfaces that take into account the different national experiences and nevertheless enable common learning?

The conference is being organized on the basis of a decision made by the German-French Council of Ministers on July 13, 2017. It is being organized by Freie Universität Berlin in cooperation with the German-French Institute for History and Social Sciences in Frankfurt, the German Historical Museum, the Marc Bloch Centre, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Fondation Jean-Jaurès , the German Historical Institute in Paris, and Markus Meckel, a former member of the German Bundestag.

The conference is public, and admission is free. Registration is requested via the website: http://win-peace-conference.berlin/invitation. Space is limited, so receipt of a registration confirmation is required to attend.

Time, Location, and Conference Program

  • Thursday, October 11, and Friday, October 12, 2018; Conference opening on October 11 at 9:30 a.m.
  • German Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt), Werderscher Markt 1, 10117 Berlin; subway station: Hausvogteiplatz (U2) or Französische Straße (U6); bus stop: Werderscher Markt (bus 147) or Spittelmarkt (bus M48)
  • http://win-peace-conference.berlin/

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