How Pupils Live, Interpret and Share Their Memory-Culture – Impressions from the Baltic Sea Region

February 6, 2015

We all are part of history and history and culture makes up part of our identity. One needs to be aware of one’s past, traditions, and culture in order to appreciate the freedom and the existence we all enjoy today. One key to facilitate opportunities for such experiences is the combination of individual, group/communicative and cultural memory, together with the orientation at cultural coreevents and places. Such context is embedded in a certain order of social challenges and knowledge-transfer, and depends on interests, experiences, stereotypes and purposes of the actors. In order to explore the influence of the framework on human memory-attitudes, it is helpful to evaluate how pupils from Germany, Latvia and Poland are coping with memories from the past, which they remember from their own biography, from family, school and society. It also intends to facilitate opportunities for young people to make autonomous research and intercultural encounters. The study presents a parallel analyses of questionnaire data related to the aspects of remembrance of a nation’s cultural and historical events as gathered from school students aged 15 – 19, and aged 10 – 14; participants from different regions of Germany, Latvia, and Poland. The data gained from a questionnaire reflects the significance the past events as viewed by pupils.

The study is based on different educational approaches, which concern aspects of collective memory or collective identity, such as Holocaust-education, anamnestic education, ethics of remembrance, and heritage education. For the research and facilitated educational concepts, the models of retrospective anticipation, of discovery learning, autonomous research (real, virtual), intergenerational and intercultural commemoration, of sustainable education and media education, are crucial. Therefore, all educational efforts are based on the reservoir of past events, and on the way, how young people experience, interpret and use them to follow their interests and develop their attitudes. The adults (researchers, teachers, educators) only facilitate the framework and material and assist them in initiating, making and evaluating their own projects. Because memory-cultures in Europe are a plural(istic) phenomenon, and an educational chance and challenge, based on common collective memories, ritualised in society, community, family, and focused on the process-like nature of culture by deand reconstruction, the common cultural memory over centuries, the common cultural factors and elements, such as the confrontation-memory of aggressor and victims or the trauma of holocaust and war, of deportation and expulsion, have to be recognised, as well as the challenge of political, cultural, ethical and social transition, and the resource of common interests and of an analogue emotional and religious framework, exemplified in narrations, rituals and attitudes.

The first empirical overview (about 400 answers from three countries) mostly confirms the theoretical considerations, and motivates wider research and development of appropriate environments and concepts for autonomous research. Therefore, we invite researchers, teachers, educators, students, and pupils to join this project and to contribute to it by cooperation, participation, ideas, and comments.

Please contact the Coordinator: Geert Franzenburg (; 0049- 251/92266845). Organisational committee: Geert Franzenburg (D), Dzintra Ilisko (LV), Piotr Kopec (PL).