Second preface by Dr. Wolf Schmidt; Körber-Foundation

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Dr. Wolf Schmidt
(Man­ag­ing Direc­tor, {Kör­ber Foundation})
The {Kör­ber foun­da­tion} is proud to present the results of a Youth and His­to­ry sur­vey, the most exten­sive of its kind yet real­ized. This sur­vey was designed and con­duct­ed by an inde­pen­dent group of sci­en­tists from dif­fer­ent fac­ul­ties as well as his­to­ry teach­ers and experts in his­to­ry didac­tics. Every coun­try cov­ered in this book was rep­re­sent­ed by a nation­al coor­di­na­tor. Dur­ing the last four years a Euro­pean-wide net­work of sur­vey par­tic­i­pants ded­i­cat­ed to ques­tions of youth research, his­to­ry didac­tics and his­tor­i­cal and polit­i­cal cul­ture in a com­par­a­tive per­spec­tive has arisen. There are many dif­fer­ent rea­sons for their engage­ment but but they are all agreed on a basic point: the need of a com­mon data base for transna­tion­al dis­cus­sion and in most cas­es even a nation­al inquiry into the enti­ty of his­tor­i­cal polit­i­cal inter­ests and fur­ther atti­tudes and achieve­ments of youth. Issu­ing this book in the pub­lish­ing depart­ment of a foun­da­tion indi­cates an involve­ment of the pub­lish­er beyond the usu­al extent. The {Kör­ber Foun­da­tion} has been engaged in {his­tor­i­cal and polit­i­cal projects} for many years. One of its major projects is the “Stu­dents’ Com­pe­ti­tion on Ger­man His­to­ry for the Fed­er­al President’s Award”. This encour­ages young peo­ple aged between 8- and 21-years to research on for­got­ten, neglect­ed or even sup­pressed top­ics of his­to­ry in their own sur­round­ings. This idea of learn­ing his­to­ry by doing archive work, inter­view­ing wit­ness­es of the past, review­ing old news­pa­pers and find­ing evi­dence of local his­to­ry has attract­ed more than 80,000 young peo­ple deliv­er­ing more than 15,000 pieces of work dur­ing 23 years. Due to this expe­ri­ence, we became aware of so many open ques­tions con­cern­ing his­tor­i­cal learn­ing hav­ing in our more or less spec­u­la­tive debates always missed a more rep­re­sen­ta­tive empir­i­cal basis. Anoth­er project is the Berge­dorf Round Table.These inter­na­tion­al meet­ings, which have tak­en place over the last 30 years, involve a chang­ing cir­cle of par­tic­i­pants from many coun­tries deci­sion­mak­ers and opin­ion lead­ers dis­cussing var­i­ous top­ics of soci­etal and inter­na­tion­al affairs. They have shown us not only the impor­tance of sim­ple mis­un­der­stand­ings and con­flict­ing inter­ests but more espe­cial­ly the influ­ence of dif­fer­ent cul­tur­al shap­ings, his­tor­i­cal notions, tra­di­tions and ide­olo­gies. But how are these influ­ences to be dis­cussed with­out a com­mon denom­i­na­tor? This was rough­ly the back­ground when Bodo von Bor­ries, a long-stand­ing coop­er­a­tive advis­er in our his­to­ry com­pe­ti­tion, told us of the inten­tion of an inter­na­tion­al sur­vey on his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness among teenagers. The Kör­ber foun­da­tion works as an oper­at­ing foun­da­tion and grant­giv­ing is there­fore very excep­tion­al, so the idea to col­lab­o­rate was not imme­di­ate. But after many attempts, Bodo von Bor­ries real­ized that it was impos­si­ble to attain the nec­es­sary ini­tial finan­cial sup­port for this ambi­tious sur­vey from the usu­al sci­ence-grant-sources and when the entire project threat­ened to col­lapse we recon­sid­ered the issue. In mid-1994 we appre­hend­ed the chance to pri­mar­i­ly acquire a data base and from this devel­op fol­low up projects appro­pri­ate to the men­tioned fields of our inter­est. The nation­al sur­veys were sup­port­ed by dif­fer­ent nation­al funds, and the Kör­ber foun­da­tion financed the cen­tral analy­sis and the Ham­burg Uni­ver­si­ty notwith­stand­ing its restrict­ed sit­u­a­tion up held the project. This was the start­ing point in attain­ing addi­tion­al grants from the Euro­pean Union and some oth­er foun­da­tions. The Kör­ber foun­da­tion is very grate­ful for this sup­port. The granters have not been dis­ap­point­ed. The project extend­ed con­tin­u­ous­ly and all of the par­tic­i­pants were extrem­ly ded­i­cat­ed. The inter­na­tion­al man­agers Magne Angvik from Bergen, Bodo von Bor­ries from Ham­burg and Lázló Kéri from Budapest guid­ed the project in an admirable prag­mat­ic man­ner through all the inevitable dif­fi­cul­ties. The fast and care­ful data analy­sis played a very impor­tant part in the ven­ture. The inter­na­tion­al project plenum was extrem­ly impressed by the achieve­ment of Bodo von Bor­ries and his team and on behalf of the granter‘s and publisher‘s side I would like to add my appre­ci­a­tion. I am not going to com­ment on the results here. The sur­vey cov­ered a wide range of top­ics on dif­fer­ent lev­els of school teach­ing, youth men­tal­i­ty, his­tor­i­cal con­cepts and polit­i­cal atti­tudes. More­over, there are 27 coun­tries involved and the ques­tions in the ques­tion­naire are of dif­fer­ent impor­tance to each. So, at the moment, it is impos­si­ble for me to give a con­cise over­all mes­sage. On the oth­er hand, a lot of fas­ci­nat­ing tracks into the mate­r­i­al can be cho­sen and some results, if not con­sid­ered sen­sa­tion­al, may prove dis­turb­ing or surprising.These are items for fur­ther dis­cus­sion with peo­ple from the respec­tive coun­tries and not ones for provo­ca­tion or blame. The {Kör­ber Foun­da­tion} has decid­ed to devel­op some {fol­low up projects}. We nei­ther intend to cov­er all the aspects of Youth and His­to­ry nor to dom­i­nate oth­er “Youth and His­to­ry” activ­i­ties. Some of the results will be used for our new project “EUSTORY- The Kör­ber pro­gramme on his­tor­i­cal cul­ture and pol­i­tics in Europe”. Our aim is to uncov­er caus­es of con­flicts in our tra­di­tions and his­tor­i­cal and polit­i­cal images and to strength­en the aware­ness of his­tor­i­cal ideas in pol­i­tics. Fur­ther­more, to look for ways of cop­ing with nation­al and region­al con­cepts of his­to­ry in a uni­fy­ing Europe and glob­al­iz­ing world. This project con­sists of three main parts direct­ed at dif­fer­ent tar­get groups. First we will pro­vide a Euro­pean-wide Inter­net forum for school stu­dents. To pro­voke debate, the par­tic­i­pants re-answer parts of the ques­tion­naire in their own class or school then analyse and com­pare their results with their nation­al sam­ple as well as with for­eign results in an Inter­net group of some class­es from dif­fer­ent Euro­pean or Mid­dle East regions. The start of this exper­i­ment is sched­uled for autumn 1997. Sec­ond­ly, we will dis­sem­i­nate and dis­cuss the sur­vey among teach­ers and key per­sons of edu­ca­tion through­out Europe. In this field we intend coop­er­a­tion with {Euro­clio}, the umbrel­la organ­i­sa­tion of his­to­ry teach­ers’ asso­ci­a­tions in Europe. Addi­tion­al­ly, it will be pos­si­ble to col­lab­o­rate in nation­al, bilat­er­al or tri­lat­er­al sem­i­nars. As a third point we see the need of deep­en­ing the sci­en­tif­ic inter­pre­ta­tion of some results and gen­er­al­ly sketch­ing a Euro­pean “map” of his­tor­i­cal and polit­i­cal men­tal­i­ties. Last but not least we feel respon­si­ble for main­tain­ing and extend­ing the net­work of Youth and His­to­ry coor­di­na­tors and researchers. There should be cur­rent infor­ma­tion on {new pub­li­ca­tions}, press arti­cles, sem­i­nars or pub­lic state­ments con­cern­ing Youth and His­to­ry by Inter­net and newslet­ter. We hope that this pub­li­ca­tion is a first impor­tant step towards expert dis­cus­sion in Europe. Though we can‘t give grants to indi­vid­ual researchers who will work with the data, we would be very glad to hear from every­body using it in sci­ence, edu­ca­tion or pol­i­tics. Crit­i­cal remarks and sug­ges­tions are always welcome.

Ham­burg, in Decem­ber 1996
{first pref­ace (by Joke van der Leeuw-Roord)} / {back to list of pref­aces} / {back to bib­li­o­graph­ic data} / {back to homepage}