Our project will be based on documenting of memories of witnesses of the key events of the 20th century such as veterans of the WWII, victims of Holocaust or political prisoners of the communist regime, and passing these stories to people in order to encourage them to be more engaged in civil society and to support human rights and democracy. We will directly involve local communities to the documenting and the project will be complemented by online educational platform for schools.
Brezno-Poltár-Revúca-Rimavská Sobota-Lučenec-Detva (Banská Bystrica reg, south-central Slovakia)
Banská Bystrica region is the biggest Slovak region and although during WWII it became the center of anti-Nazi opposition in Slovakia and the Slovak National Uprising was launched here (1944), the self-governing region was led by a representative of the far-right political party ĽSNS until 2017. The parliamentary elections took place in Slovakia in February 2020, and the far-right ĽSNS belonged among the most successful political parties within districts Brezno, Poltár, Revúca, Rimavská Sobota, Lučenec and Detva, where we want to conduct our project. The region is also characteristic by above-average unemployment and brain drain, which contribute to rising intolerance against Roma minority and support of far-right movements.
There are over 250,000 inhabitants living in the catchment area of our project (6 districts within Banská Bystrica region). We would like to involve all citizens via appeals to join the collection and recording of testimonies by recommending their family members-witnesses, local ngo’s and initiatives (especially the ones focused on human and civic rights, democracy or history), local journalists/media as well as primary and secondary schools (here the target groups include primary school pupils, secondary school students, their partners and teachers). In addition, we also want to include representatives of Roma minority, which is being often forgotten or ignored, despite the fact that Banská Bystrica region has the highest number of Roma inhabitants within all Slovak regions.
We will publish and promote appeals to local inhabitants to recommend their family members for recording of the memories of witnesses. The selected witnesses will be recorded by our documenting team (professional journalists and historians who partially conduct the work as volunteers). Primarily we record sound recordings of the testimonials (based on oral history principle), but also film on camera. The testimonials will be also rewritten, proofread and prepared to the final form, plus enriched for photographs, and finally – promoted via media and social media. We will also launch online platform, for which we have already prepared 7 videos and 4 podcasts, database of schools, but we still need to prepare 30 work sheets based on collected testimonies and methodologies for teachers.
The expected result will be collecting and recording of 10 testimonies in each of the 6 involved districts (in total 60) and passing them onto the broader public via our online archive www.memoryofnations.eur and via our media partners (usually a rewritten testimony in a form of an article has 30,000 readers on average on Aktuality.sk, one of our media partners). As for the online educational platform, we want to include 100 primary and secondary school classes (there are usually 25 students in one class), therefore over 2,500 students plus their teachers and parents via homeschooling. The ambition of our project is to fight against current radicalization of society, which brings various negative phenomena as support of far-right violence, intolerance or oppression of democracy.
Via collection and recording of memories of witnesses of the key events of the 20th century with involvement of local inhabitants and their families, and passing these stories on only within the selected districts, but also nation-wide (via our online archive memoryofnations.eu, media and social media), we will encourage people to be more engaged and defend the shrinking space of civil society. We believe that only if people understand their own history in the context, they will understand the need of protection of human and civic rights, and freedoms. We will also introduce an online educational platform for basic and secondary schools students, containing podcasts, video’s, working sheets as well as and methodologies for teachers.
In our documenting work, we are led by a conviction that witnesses of historic events need to have an opportunity to tell their stories in detail and in their entirety. If they are not preserved for the present-day and future generations, the Slovak society will hardly be able to cope with its history of totalitarianism and make a progress towards a tolerant society based on European democratic values. Long-term aim of our educational activities is to contribute to awareness among children and young people about history of their own nation, so they can withstand the current radicalization of society. (According to the opinion polls published around parliamentary election in February 2020, among people under 30 years of age, the far-right ĽSNS would win the elections.)
Funding requested from Civic Europe
1) Recording and processing of 120 testimonies of witnesses from 6 districts (10 testimonies per district, á 300) = 18000 € + coordinator of documentarists = 3700 €, 2) Online educational platform - preparation of 30 working sheets (á 100) = 3000 €, methodologies for teachers = 2000 € 3) Promotional campaign on during 12 months (á 200) = 2,400 € 4) Project coordinator's salary for 12 months (á 900) = 10,800 € 5) Travel expenses = 2000 € 6) Office expenses - 6000 EUR // Own contribution: 5 000 €
We are keen on receiving constructive feedback and share experiences with the others especially from the area of online education as this is a new sphere for us. We would love to hear about projects of European remembrance character from other EU countries.