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Remembering 1918: Turning point for Europe

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: April 11, 2018, 16:30 – 20:30

Free entrance. Registration required.

What is the meaning of 1918 for today’s European politics and societies? What is the role of this history in envisioning Europe of the 21st century?

Historians, journalists, teachers and other speakers from 7 European countries will compare their perspectives and discuss the contemporary relevance of 1918, especially with regard to the interpretations ascribed to 1918 throughout the 20th century. The debate should result in a better understanding of the 1918 and its aftermath as seen from Western and Central European perspective and how this perception shapes today’s views, how the interpretation of history varies in countries and what possible impact it has on politics among the countries in the EU.

The debate is organized in cooperation with Czech Centres, Václav Havel Library, BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Finnish Institute for the Benelux, Culture Action Europe, and EUNIC Prague, Austrian Cultural Forum, Slovak Institute and Polish Institute Prague.

The debate will be held in English with simultaneous translation into Czech.

16:30 Opening speeches

  • Václav Havel Library and Czech Centres representatives

17:00 – 18:30  Understanding of the year 1918 in “old” and “new” states

  • Understanding of the events in 1918 by the former empires and the new nations - do the differences still prevail? Do we feel nostalgia, satisfaction, bitterness, indifference…?  And what does the mythology of 1918 mean for the future of Europe? Does it – and if yes, how - influence today’s politics and societies?
  • Moderator: Adéla Gjuričová, historian
  • Speakers: Hungary - György Csepeli, social psychologist / Slovakia - Miroslav Michela, historian / Austria - Christophe Prantner, journalist / Czech Republic - Jan Hanzlík, historian

18:30 – 19:00  Break

19:00 -20:30   Understanding of the year 1918 in Western and Central Europe

  • Are there differences in understanding the 1918 between Western and Central Europe? If so, what are they and how are they reflected in different approaches to today’s reality? Is the year 1918 also perceived as the year of emergence of new states in Western Europe? How was the breakdown of old empires viewed in Belgium and Finland?
  • Moderator:  Pavlína Kvapilová, journalist
  • Speakers: Belgium - Machteld Venken, associate professor at University Vienna / Finland – Kalle Kallio, director of the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas / Czech Republic – Václav Kuneš, history teacher / Poland - Lukasz Jasina, historian

The event is part of a larger project initiated by BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts, Belgium entitled “1918 EUROPEAN DREAMS OF MODERNITY 100 YEARS ON” and supported by the Europe for Citizens program. The project includes two debates in Brussels and one debate in Helsinki and another debate in Budapest on the similar topic of today’s perception of the year 1918.

For more information about the project, please visit:

Accompannying event of the conference is a series of film screenings about the year 1918 organized in cooperation with EUNIC Prague, for more information please visit:


György Csepeli is a Hungarian social scientist. Born in 1946, graduated from ELTE, Budapest in 1970. Professor of Social Psychology at ELTE, Chair of the Interdisciplinary Social Science Research Doctoral Program. He has been teaching at various Universities including UCLA, University of Michigan, New School in New York and Montclair State University. His research interests cover areas of social psychology of intergroup relations such as national identity, anti-Semitism, anti-Gypsy sentiments and conflict resolution.

Adéla Gjuričová is a senior researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History at the Academy of Science in Prague. She focuses on politics and society during the late socialist era, the 1989 revolutions and post-communist transformations. She is co-author of Divided by the Past: Political Identities in the Czech Republic after 1989 (Václav Havel Library 2011).

Jan Biggles Hanzlík was born in Prague, he studied history at the Philosophical Faculty of the Charles University. He had various occupations: journalist, photographer, translator, screenwriter, and writer. For almost ten years he was the chief editor of historical revue Memory and History published by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. At this moment he is a freelance screenwriter.

Łukasz Jasina has a Ph.D in Film Studies (Polish Academy of Sciences). He graduated from Law Studies, History and Journalist Studies at John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin. He spent two Fellowships in Harvard Ukrainian Institute and Toronto University. He was Head of the Eastern branch and publicist in internet weekly "Kultura Liberalna“ and assistant professor at John Paul Ii Catholic University of Lublin and Head of International Department in Polish History Museum. Łukasz Jasina is an author of few hundred publications. He is currently employed at the Polish Institute of International Affairs.

Kalle Kallio is an expert on labour history and difficult heritage, including remembering Finnish Civil War 1918. Since 2005, he has worked as a museum director in The Finnish Labour Museum, which is a national museum of working life and social history. Museum has two branches: Museum of the Deaf and Lenin Museum, renewed in summer 2016. He also acts as a chairman of Worklab (International Association of Labour Museums).

Pavlína Kvapilová is Czech presenter, independent producer, consultant and social media strategist. Later she headed special coverage at CT24, all news channel of Czech TV. Pavlína and her team introduced social media to news, created and shaped interactive formats like Hyde Park CT24. Pavlína then became Director of Czech TV New Media Division.  Her heart project is called Elegantní Česko – Elegant Czechs. It explores the heritage of so called First Republic (Czechoslovakia 1918-38) and inspires wide public to create and adopt modern forms of good old know-how - in fashion, manners, business habits, lifestyle as the whole.

Václav Kuneš teaches Czech language and literature and History at the Grammar school of J. V. Jirsík in České Budějovice. He specializes in methods of modern history teaching. He worked with his students on historical projects about the Holocaust in Slovakia and Poland. He also participated in international projects within Comenius and Erasmus Plus programmes. He organizes historical excursions for his students both in the Czech Republic and abroad as well as discussions with witnesses of historical events.

Miroslav Michela, PhD. is working as historian at the Institute of Czech History, Faculty of Arts at the Charles University and Institute of History, Slovak Academy of Sciences. Miroslav is a co-founder and former editor-in-chief of journal (2007-2013). His main fields of academic interest include 20th-century history, popular culture and nationalism studies, and politics of memory, with a focus on Czechoslovakia and East-Central Europe.

Christoph Prantner is a Senior Editor for the Austrian daily Der Standard in Vienna. He holds a master's degree in Philosophy, Political Science and History (University of Vienna and University of California Los Angeles/UCLA). Mr. Prantner writes since 1997 for Der Standard. In 2001 he worked as a Reporter for Die Welt in Berlin, in 2007 he was the first U.S.-Austrian Journalism Exchange Fellow at USA Today in Washington D.C. From 2007 until 2013 he was Head of the Foreign Desk at Der Standard. Since July 2013 he runs the opinion pages at the paper and writes political commentaries, essays and a well-read blog. He has been a contributor for the BBC, Al-Jazeera, Europäische Rundschau, Internazionale, EAST Magazine and Reczpospolita.

Machteld Venken, PhD is a Belgian Historian and Slavist. She received her PhD from the Catholic University in Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium. After running a research project at Warsaw University in Poland, she joined the University of Vienna. Most recently, she edited the volume Borderland Studies Meets Child Studies. A European Encounter (2017).

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