Second preface by Dr. Wolf Schmidt; Körber-Foundation

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Dr. Wolf Schmidt
(Managing Director, {Körber Foundation})
The {Körber foundation} is proud to present the results of a Youth and History survey, the most extensive of its kind yet realized. This survey was designed and conducted by an independent group of scientists from different faculties as well as history teachers and experts in history didactics. Every country covered in this book was represented by a national coordinator. During the last four years a European-wide network of survey participants dedicated to questions of youth research, history didactics and historical and political culture in a comparative perspective has arisen. There are many different reasons for their engagement but but they are all agreed on a basic point: the need of a common data base for transnational discussion and in most cases even a national inquiry into the entity of historical political interests and further attitudes and achievements of youth. Issuing this book in the publishing department of a foundation indicates an involvement of the publisher beyond the usual extent. The {Körber Foundation} has been engaged in {historical and political projects} for many years. One of its major projects is the „Students‘ Competition on German History for the Federal President’s Award“. This encourages young people aged between 8- and 21-years to research on forgotten, neglected or even suppressed topics of history in their own surroundings. This idea of learning history by doing archive work, interviewing witnesses of the past, reviewing old newspapers and finding evidence of local history has attracted more than 80,000 young people delivering more than 15,000 pieces of work during 23 years. Due to this experience, we became aware of so many open questions concerning historical learning having in our more or less speculative debates always missed a more representative empirical basis. Another project is the Bergedorf Round Table.These international meetings, which have taken place over the last 30 years, involve a changing circle of participants from many countries decisionmakers and opinion leaders discussing various topics of societal and international affairs. They have shown us not only the importance of simple misunderstandings and conflicting interests but more especially the influence of different cultural shapings, historical notions, traditions and ideologies. But how are these influences to be discussed without a common denominator? This was roughly the background when Bodo von Borries, a long-standing cooperative adviser in our history competition, told us of the intention of an international survey on historical consciousness among teenagers. The Körber foundation works as an operating foundation and grantgiving is therefore very exceptional, so the idea to collaborate was not immediate. But after many attempts, Bodo von Borries realized that it was impossible to attain the necessary initial financial support for this ambitious survey from the usual science-grant-sources and when the entire project threatened to collapse we reconsidered the issue. In mid-1994 we apprehended the chance to primarily acquire a data base and from this develop follow up projects appropriate to the mentioned fields of our interest. The national surveys were supported by different national funds, and the Körber foundation financed the central analysis and the Hamburg University notwithstanding its restricted situation up held the project. This was the starting point in attaining additional grants from the European Union and some other foundations. The Körber foundation is very grateful for this support. The granters have not been disappointed. The project extended continuously and all of the participants were extremly dedicated. The international managers Magne Angvik from Bergen, Bodo von Borries from Hamburg and Lázló Kéri from Budapest guided the project in an admirable pragmatic manner through all the inevitable difficulties. The fast and careful data analysis played a very important part in the venture. The international project plenum was extremly impressed by the achievement of Bodo von Borries and his team and on behalf of the granter`s and publisher`s side I would like to add my appreciation. I am not going to comment on the results here. The survey covered a wide range of topics on different levels of school teaching, youth mentality, historical concepts and political attitudes. Moreover, there are 27 countries involved and the questions in the questionnaire are of different importance to each. So, at the moment, it is impossible for me to give a concise overall message. On the other hand, a lot of fascinating tracks into the material can be chosen and some results, if not considered sensational, may prove disturbing or surprising.These are items for further discussion with people from the respective countries and not ones for provocation or blame. The {Körber Foundation} has decided to develop some {follow up projects}. We neither intend to cover all the aspects of Youth and History nor to dominate other „Youth and History“ activities. Some of the results will be used for our new project „EUSTORY- The Körber programme on historical culture and politics in Europe“. Our aim is to uncover causes of conflicts in our traditions and historical and political images and to strengthen the awareness of historical ideas in politics. Furthermore, to look for ways of coping with national and regional concepts of history in a unifying Europe and globalizing world. This project consists of three main parts directed at different target groups. First we will provide a European-wide Internet forum for school students. To provoke debate, the participants re-answer parts of the questionnaire in their own class or school then analyse and compare their results with their national sample as well as with foreign results in an Internet group of some classes from different European or Middle East regions. The start of this experiment is scheduled for autumn 1997. Secondly, we will disseminate and discuss the survey among teachers and key persons of education throughout Europe. In this field we intend cooperation with {Euroclio}, the umbrella organisation of history teachers‘ associations in Europe. Additionally, it will be possible to collaborate in national, bilateral or trilateral seminars. As a third point we see the need of deepening the scientific interpretation of some results and generally sketching a European „map“ of historical and political mentalities. Last but not least we feel responsible for maintaining and extending the network of Youth and History coordinators and researchers. There should be current information on {new publications}, press articles, seminars or public statements concerning Youth and History by Internet and newsletter. We hope that this publication is a first important step towards expert discussion in Europe. Though we can`t give grants to individual researchers who will work with the data, we would be very glad to hear from everybody using it in science, education or politics. Critical remarks and suggestions are always welcome.

Hamburg, in December 1996
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