On which values was Europe built? What should Europe look like in the future? What impetus do young people in particular wish to provide, when taking forward the intergenerational project that is Europe? And how can cohesion among Europeans be strengthened? The COVID-19 pandemic of recent months has once again highlighted the importance of addressing questions such as these.

The series of discussions under the heading Tell Me About Europe brings together people of all ages and origins to discuss, right here and now, Europe’s past, present and future. As part of the cultural programme of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the EU, the series aims to show a wide variety of perspectives on Europe and to strengthen an intergenerational exchange of views among Europeans.

This dialogue across generations and borders is based on interviews recorded and collected in the European Archive of Voices. In it, eyewitnesses who were born before 1945 tell young people about their own lives and experiences in Europe.

Seven main themes to be discussed

For the Tell Me About Europe project, the curatorial team - Edouard Barthen and Leona Lynen - selected and edited interviews, collating them into seven main themes to be addressed at the events:

  • The search for identity, between values and cultures
  • United in diversity? A Europe of nations
  • Dialogue between east and west
  • Europe’s public sphere
  • A multi-generational Europe
  • Migration
  • Everyday life in Europe

First events held in Prague, Helsinki and Zagreb

The series begins today at the Goethe-Institut in Prague, with German-Czech author and sociologist, Alena Wagnerová, who was born in 1936. She will talk about her personal experiences and her perspective on Europe. The evening will be rounded out by experimental formats. For example, a sound collage by artist Marc Matter that uses extracts from the recorded interviews. The sound collage will also be presented on other stops along the project’s tour.

In Helsinki, on 15 September, people of all ages will gather at the city’s Central Library Oodi, where the main themes will be discussed from a Finnish perspective. Topics will include equal opportunities in education, gender equality and how Finland became more international after World War 2 and thanks to its accession to the EU. Participants will discuss questions such as: How can we learn from history? What will the future of young Europeans look like? The event, which will be held in Finnish, will be streamed live on the internet, with the digital audience able to ask questions in real time. Afterwards a recording of the event will be posted on the project’s website.

In Zagreb, on 1 October, the series will move to the Urania cultural centre, where eyewitness and translator Truda Stamać, who was born in 1942, linguist Aida Alagić, journalist Nora Sefa and history professor Tvrtko Jakovina will first share their perspectives on Europe, then engage in a discussion moderated by television news correspondent Ivana Dragičević. The discussion will be held in Croatian. After this event a recording will also be posted on the project’s website, as well as on the YouTube channel of Goethe-Institut Zagreb.

Other events in the Tell Me About Europe series will be held between October and December, in line with COVID-19 safety protocols, in London, Stockholm, Tiflis, Moscow, Prague, Strasbourg, Rome, Sarajevo, Tirana, Zagreb, Helsinki, Oslo and Luxembourg. Recordings of all these discussions will be posted on the project’s website. The website will also offer virtual tours, interviews with eyewitnesses and experts, as well as video compilations.

For more information on Tell Me About Europe and the dates of upcoming events:

Information on all EU 2020 projects by the Goethe-Institut:

For more information on the cultural programme of Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, click here.

Please note: This text is based largely on a press release by the Goethe-Institut.