The Conference "The 20th century: an interplay of views", held in Bonn in 2001, was the final conference for the project "Learning and teaching about the history of Europe in the 20th century". The proceeding were published in a publication of the same name.

One of the special goals of this three year project was to produce teaching resources for secondary schools which would encourage both teachers and students to approach the events of the 20th century (and historical events in general) from a critical and analytical perspective, using the same skills and assessment criteria as historians. This involves, among other things, the understanding that no single version of history should be considered as final or correct.

In addition to presenting and assessing the teaching resources produced, the final conference brought together distinguished historians and writers from across Europe to give their views on the past century.


Their speeches focused on:

  • the role of historical interpretation and memory in forming identity;
  • uneasy confrontations with past roles in the second world war;
  • history still dominated by prejudice and myth;
  • the importance of updating history, particularly one ideologised by a communist past;
  • the role of history in contributing to tolerance and respect amongst Europe's peoples.

The speakers almost unanimously stressed the importance of "looking back" and confronting the past, no matter how painful the process, if Europe was to continue to progress in human rights and democracy.

The 20th century: an interplay of views

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