All great cities have monuments and memorials, and Budapest is no exception. There are monuments created by governments honouring the heroes of the past that punctuate the space and remind us of the nations’ history. Some monuments, like the Shoes by the Parliament, are darker and more poignant, honouring those who suffered during the Holocaust. There are also memorials created by private initiatives, such as the Little Frog in Szabadság Squarer, or the plaques on some Yellow Star Houses. Monuments can become a mixture of public and private, such as the Memorial to the German Occupation in Szabadság Square where people have added their memories, pictures and flowers, altering the meaning, telling a different story. Memorials can be in a street or place names that honour events, people or actions. Does a change of place name help us to forget the past and accept a new present? Should some aspects of the past be forgotten?
Governments and people use the same spaces and same streets, but in different ways and this can lead to clashes. Is there a clash now between how the state and the people imagine memorial sites, what should be remembered and why?
The CEU students in the Cultural Heritage Studies Programme are organising a roundtable discussion to consider what is the role of the government and that of the people in defining national memory, memorials and monuments. This is part of the “Memories of the Danube” project because the Danube is an emblematic place, linking people and nations. We have invited guest speakers to represent different fields; modern history of Central Europe, the archival history of the Cold War, Holocaust studies, and the role of Europe. We also hope to hear the opinions of you, the audience.
We expect a lively discussion on this subject, particularly when we consider how much governments everywhere influence how we remember our history, how we view ourselves as a nation, and ultimately how we view ourselves.
The discussion panel will be
- Éva Kovács - Research Programme Director at Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies and Research Chair at HAS Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Sociology
- Gabriella Ivacs –Head of Archives and Records Management at the International Atomic Energy Agency and formerly Chief Archivist at CEU, Budapest
- Stefano Bottoni – Senior Research Fellow in Contemporary History at the Research Center for the Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
- Tamás Meszerics - A Hungarian politician and Member of the European Parliament from Hungary. He is a member of the Politics Can Be Different, part of the European Green Party. He is an Assistant Professor at CEU
The discussion will be moderated by Daniel Ziemann, Associate Professor at the Department of Medieval Studies at Central European University.