Understanding and overcoming conflict

In der ersten Sektion wird sich dem Tagungsthema in einer allgemeineren, fachwissenschaftlichen Perspektive genähert. Es geht um die Frage des Lernens aus der Geschichte am Beispiel des Westfälischen Friedens, der deutsch-französischen Beziehungen und der deutschen Wiedervereinigung aus polnischer Perspektive.

The first section approaches the conference topic from a technical historiographic perspective. It circles the question whether and how we can learn from history by looking at the peace of Westphalia, the Franco-German relations in the 20th century and the German unification from a Polish perspective.

Chair: Alheydis Plassmann

Michael Rohrschneider, 10.00 am – 10.45 am
The peace of Westphalia (1648) as a model for the Middle East?
23 May 2018 marked the 400th anniversary of the defenestration of Prague, the starting point of the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648). Various academic studies from 2018 raise the question of whether or not comparisons can be drawn from the Thirty Years’ War and the Westphalian Peace (24th October 1648) to today’s conflicts in the Near and Middle East. Furthermore, it has been asked if the academic approach to the Westphalian peace process could contribute to a pacification strategy in Syria’s prevailing civil war.
This paper summarizes the current academic debate and discusses previous contributions. As a starting point functions the proposition that research on 17th century events cannot deliver explicit instructions on how to make peace in Syria according to an idea of „historia magistra vitae“. However, the research on peacemaking in Westphalia in 1648 deepens the understanding of general challenges and specific potentials of traditional instruments of peacemaking. The solutions found at the Westphalian peace congress must not be regarded anachronistically, nor can they provide a tool box for conflicts in the 21st century. But, a diachronic and comparative historical contextualisation allows to find answers on how to cope with wars that were characterised by a high degree of complexity and by the entanglement of religious and political conflicts.


Corine Defrance, 10.45 am – 11.30 am
Entre « rapprochement » et « réconciliation »: les enseignements de l’histoire franco-allemande au XXe siècle
[Abstract will follow]


Miloš Řezník, 11.45 am – 12.30 pm
1989 and the German unification from a Polish perspective
The first steps of the new Polish foreign policy after the fall of communist regime were coined by the semantics and rhetoric of cooperation, rapprochement and reconciliation. Among all the Polish neighbours, the last term was associated especially with the relation to Germany. However, this agenda meant also opening of “complicated” questions of the Polish-German history and made new conflicts (or at least contradictions and differences) between different national, regional and social memories manifest. The clash of memory cultures had been accompanied by the beginning of activities towards a “Geschichtsbewältigung” and “mutual understanding”. In the 1990s, this subject formed a substantial topic of German-Polish relation, perhaps even more from the Polish perspective then from the German one.
From the very beginning of political and social changes, Polish attention focused much more on the relation to the Federal Republic then the GDR. In the Polish national narrative, the whole reshaping of Europe started in Poland, so Poland could claim the credit even for Germany´s “reunification”. Consequently, there was hardly any real possibility to contradict or even prevent the unification process, but the new situation gave rise to a unique “thickening” of Polish discourse on Germany, the Polish-German relations as well as on the threats and chances resulting from the unification in the politics, in security, economy, diplomacy and culture. Taking the famous Paris speech by the foreign minister Skubiszewski from the 17th July 1990 for starting point, the lecture will show the central semantic and functional aspects of this discourse.


+++ The conference has been cancelled due to the unforeseeable spread of Coronavirus +++

Zitierweise / How to cite:
Peter Geiss, Michael Rohrschneider: Abstracts Section I – (What) can we learn from history? Peacebuilding, historical research and lieux de mémoire , 17.02.2020, in: Rheinische Geschichte – wissenschaftlich bloggen, http://histrhen.landesgeschichte.eu/2020/02/peaceteachingbonn-section-one/