ENRS is an international initiative to discuss and popularize difficult questions of the European history of 20th century, especially concerning two totalitarian regimes – National Socialism and Communism.
The idea to create the European Network Remembrance and Solidarity arose from conviction that it pays to try to build a community of memory and that such activity has to be based on solidarity understood as a bond. The bond with “the other” who perhaps sees and feels differently but whose sensitivity should also be a part of our own image of history. An open dialogue taking into account different historical experiences of European nations was and is the intent that underlies development of the Network. Nevertheless if present and future generations have to derive creative forces from knowledge about our common history then this dialogue has to be supported by individual countries and competent institutions in a consistent and long-term way.
Changes that occurred in Europe after 1989 and the end of the Cold War resulted in almost unlimited freedom of opinion concerning events from the continent’s most recent history. It made discourse on hitherto omitted or weakly exposed topics possible. Soon emerged the differences in opinions about historical questions and tensions and conflicts related to them. The memory about the 20th century’s history, especially narratives built around reasons and outcomes of two totalitarian regimes – National Socialism and Communism – became an important element of social discourse involving attention of citizens of many European countries.
The creators of the Network from Central-Eastern Europe were aware that international disputes referring to tragic history of totalitarian systems, dictatorships, wars and conflicts of 20th century carried on in atmosphere of ideological struggle and quite often under pressure of internal political interests, may disrupt reflection upon the future of Europe. Because of that they decided to start cooperation in order to popularize such way of seeing Europe’s 20th century history and of talking about this history which – while not concealing even the most difficult experiences – will respect perspective and sensitivity of each nation, ethnic and social group involved. Hence the openness of the Network to the new member states willing to join this Central European initiative and also to the cooperation in realization of enterprises with various institutions and organizations dealing with questions of history of 20th century.