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International Congress on Cultures of Remembrance on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the bombing on Dresden in Second World War

February 13, 2020
Report the Saxony Education Forum of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation

On February 13th, the City of Dresden commemorated the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Dresden, which took place between the 13th and 15th February, 1945.

On this occasion, a broad range of events took place: commemoration ceremonies, a human chain, forums and discussions. These addressed events in the past, but also the development of a future culture of remembrance and commitment to peace, democracy and human rights, in clear rejection of all forms of violence, racism and discrimination.

Dresden, like no other city in the Federal Republic of Germany, stands for the emotional discourses that are held on the topic of actively lived cultures of remembrance. Every year, these conflicts boil up around February 13th, and despite numerous initiatives in recent years, no uniform way of commemoration has been found. Representatives of the two extreme points of the political spectrum are still trying to instrumentalize history, which makes the development of a future-oriented culture of remembrance more difficult.

To address this theme, the Saxony Education Forum of the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation devoted itself to the question of how societies in other countries deal with historical ruptures and self-harm in their communities. How could dark chapters of violence and instability in the history of a country be purposefully dealt with in order to realize a common future design? In order to answer these questions, it was necessary to leave the German perspective and to dare to look beyond the horizon. In cooperation with the City of Dresden, the International Congress Schmerzhafte Erinnerung ("Painful Memories") was thus held from 14 to 15 February at the Lower Church of the Frauenkirche Dresden.

First of all, Pastor Sebastian Feydt welcomed the participants and introduced the history of the Frauenkirche, which is inseparably linked to the events of 13 February through its destruction. Afterwards, the Mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, who also serves as the President of Mayors for Peace, addressed the guests in a video message. After the destruction of Hiroshima, a radical new beginning was necessary for the survivors; since then, remembrance has been an integral part of the city community. Mr. Matsui appealed for deepening international friendship and the peace-building as a component of a historically aware civil society that connects cities worldwide.

After further greetings by Dirk Hilbert, the Lord Mayor of Dresden, and Dr. Joachim Klose, Head of the Saxony Education Forum of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, a discussion with representatives of Dresden's twin cities took place. Linda Bigham as representative of Coventry, UK and Dr. Marek Mutor from Wroclaw, Poland discussed together with Lord Mayor Hilbert the divided history of the cities, ways of reconciliation and confidence building and central tasks for the future, which arise from the heritage of history.


(Photos Courtesy of the Saxony Education Forum of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation)

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