With the end of the summer holidays and the beginning of the new school year, the Nida Forum will be held for the sixth time in a unique corner of Lithuania, located on the Curonian Spit near the border with the Russian Kaliningrad (Königsberg) region.
This time, intellectuals from Lithuania, Germany, Poland, France, and Ukraine will meet in this charming Lithuanian town to discuss strength and unity, the theme of this year’s Forum.
“The debate about European unity or lack of unity is as old as the European Union. In fact, probably even older. In our time, it has been fuelled above all by Brexit, which has become a sign of a lack of unity. At the time, there was particularly intense talk of the threat of a complete break-up of European unity. However, the pandemic extinguished these discussions. The war in Ukraine, on the other hand, has sharpened them again to the extreme,” is how Antanas Gailius, initiator and patriarch of the Nida Forum, describes the essence of the issues mentioned above.
At the sixth Nida Forum, participants will try to make a diagnosis of European unity, knowing in advance that it will not be definitive, because life is more interesting than all our forecasts.
Bernardas Gailius – lecturer at the Faculty of History of Vilnius University, author, and writer – will analyse the history of the idea of solidarity and political struggle in the West in the 20th century in his paper entitled “Why did we win?”.
Michael Wolffsohn, former professor at the Bundeswehr University in Munich, a German historian and social activist, born in Tel Aviv, who spent his childhood in West Berlin during the Cold War, will give a remote reading. The professor will attempt to answer the question of German identity, which has undergone many radical changes over the past century. “Only in the 20th century were there six different Germanies. Germany is still Germany, but not the same Germany. German citizens have always been Germans, but from the beginning to the end of the 20th century they were often and for a long time not exactly the same. Not always, but often they were the same Germans,” says Wolffsohn and in his talk he will share his thoughts, hints, and theses on the history of 20th century Germans and try to look at the 21st century.
Jarosław Kuisz is a Polish historian of state and law, political scientist and essayist. Founder and editor-in-chief of ‘Kultura Liberalna’. Associate Professor at the Institute of the History of Law at the Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw – in his talk he will focus on aspects of responsibility and morality in the context of historical trauma. “How do we talk about history and war in today’s Europe?” – asks Dr Kuisz.
Chantal Delsol, Professor of Political Philosophy, Director of the Centre for European Studies at the University of Marne-la-Vallée in Paris and President of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, who describes herself as a liberal neo-conservative, will give a talk entitled ‘The West in danger: remembering and re-learning together’, stressing that we do indeed need to talk about Europe as a whole and not just about ‘the West’.
Andriy Kurkov – one of the best-known contemporary Ukrainian novelists and film scriptwriters abroad, writing in Ukrainian and Russian and describing the contemporary reality of Ukraine in his novels – will ask the question “Is Ukrainian identity bulletproof?” in Nida. In the context of the ongoing brutal war in Ukraine, this question is not at all rhetorical.
Mohamed Amjahid, a German-Moroccan journalist and writer who addresses the issue of various manifestations of racism in his books and journalistic works, will speak remotely on migration issues in Europe in the context of universal human rights under the motto “Good refugees, bad refugees”.
The questions posed by the Forum’s speakers are so numerous and extensive that they are obviously easier to ask than to answer.
Is there something we could call the foundation of unity in Europe, or even more broadly, in the Western world? To what extent does our unity depend on the interests of individual countries? When we speak of unity, do we not usually have in mind some ideal which, like all ideals, is never really attainable, but which is nevertheless worth striving for? Is unity possible when the issue on which we must agree is not as deadly serious as the war in Ukraine? The list of questions could go on almost indefinitely.
But let us wait to see what the Forum speakers will add to it and what answers they will offer.
The Forum will take place on 8 and 9 September at the Curonian Spit History Museum in Nida.