Memory beyond Rhetoric

October 2014 – February 2016

The idea

Looking back 100 years to understand the present we face and build the future we yearn, World War I forever changed the course of history and marked the start of the 20th century in many ways. One of its main consequences was the growth of nationalism and violent contraposition between the European countries. But at the same time, some thinkers and visionaries dreamed about a unified Europe.

Today, Europe is in a deep crisis. Citizens no longer trust the European project, and quick solutions for the social and economic problems are sought without success. It’s in this context that remembrance became inspiration for our future. And it’s in this context too, that the project “Memory beyond Rhetoric, the WWI and the growth of the pacifist movement in Europe” wants to raise awareness about and remembrance of WWI, and promote a mature idea of peace, anti-militarism and non-violence. At the same time SCI will deepen the link between WWI and the origins of the organisation, which arose (indeed) from those who dreamt of a peaceful Europe. Or as a slogan in one of the activities of the project says: Paths which once separated us, shall unite us today.

SCI remembrance project aimed at:

1

promoting peace, anti-militarism and non-violence

2

encouraging active participation at European Level

3

Contributing to citizens’ understanding of the Union, its history and diversity.

Its main purpose is to endow citizens with significant knowledge about that part of our history, exploring the links between WWI and the creation of bodies that would avoid such a tragedy to happen again.

The project reflects on the importance of memory but also on how memory is built and transmitted, trying to deconstruct the myth of the sacrifice of soldier-hero and bringing the idea of war back to where it belongs: mass-destruction and eruption of violence.

The activities

Memory beyond Rhetoric included the organization of activities in some of the most meaningful scenarios of the First World War, such as the international seminar in Verdun (France) where the “Battle of Verdun” was fought in 1916 and where Pierre Cérésole organized the first SCI workcamp.

The project included training courses, seminars, study camps and events.

Preparatory activity

Lozen (Bulgaria), 16 – 19 October 2014

The team discussed the project objectives and analyzed key terms such as Memory, Remembrance, Pacifism and War. The debate was also stimulated by to the visit to the National Museum of Military History in Sofia, with its exhibition on WWI.

Training for multipliers

Folgaria (Italy), 21 – 28 May 2015

The training took place in the north of Italy, along the WWI front, where 25 participants coming from different countries gathered to share experience and create new tools to be used within the Memory beyond Rhetoric project.

Bilateral Study Camp (Italy – Austria)

Kötschach-Mauthen (Austria), 14 – 24 July 2015

The first of three Study Camps at former sites of WW1 in Europe took place in Kötschach-Mauthen in the South of Austria, very close to the trenches where Austria-Hungarian troops fought against Italians.

 Multilateral Study Camp

Berlin (Germany), 17 – 29 July 2015

The second Memory beyond Rhetoric Study Camp was held in Berlin, where participants gained a new perspective on Berlin during WWI and created an interactive virtual museum in a video game Minecraft.

 Multilateral Study Camp

Ypres, Poperinge, Mesen and battlefields in Flanders, Belgium, 23 – 30 August 2015

The study camp involved 27 participants who were involved in different local activities, including a visit to the local Museum “In Flanders Fields”, and created their own street peace action.

International Peace Seminar

Verdun (France), 11 – 14 November 2015

The event gathered 31 European citizens and focused on the growth of the pacifist movement in Europe, from WWI up to now and analysed the meaning of pacifism and volunteering for peace today.

Final Visibility Event

Barcelona (Spain), 19 – 21 February 2016

The final visibility events saw the participation of 60 citizens. The events included the launch of the exhibition “SCI, between war and peace since 1920”, meeting a group of local activists for a visit to two key places for the Catalan Memorial: The Maternity of Elna and The Exile Memorial Museum, and work on possible follow-up actions.

Resources

Memory booklet

The Memoric Booklet is the final product of the project and collects reflections on the war, the pacifist movement, testimonials and activities.

Peace Action in Ypres (Belgium)

This action was organized and done by the participants of the Multilateral Study Camp that took part in Ypres (Belgium) from the 23rd to the 30th of August 2015. This Study Camp, focused on WWI remembrance and pacifist movement, took place within the frame of the project Memory beyond Rhetoric: WWI and the growth of the pacifist movement in Europe and it was cofunded by the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union.

Partners and supporters

Supporter

 This project received financial support from the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union.

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