European politicians, authors and historians analyze in this volume the potential scope for a history book written from a European point of view. The first stirrings and early initiatives that go back to the 1960s are considered as is the “Europäisches Geschichtsbuch” by Frédéric Delouche and his team of authors (1998) and the problems in store for anyone who is attempting to sail the agitated waters of Europe’s contemporary history. This stock taking forms the basis for an outline of concrete historiographical approaches that might well prove helpful for the actual realization of a history of Europe. Even though the national polyphony of controversial historical perceptions shows little sign of abating, the first rudiments of a diversified, complex approach to Europe’s history, which will be integrative and non-exclusive in character, are becoming noticeable.
What makes Europe fascinating is the heterogeneity of its national historical perceptions and cultures, which, their complexity notwithstanding, are increasingly gravitating towards shared key events in memory spaces that are themselves part of an overarching network.
The question to which we need to find an answer is this: How can the heterogeneity of historical perceptions regarding basic historical key narratives since 1945 be organized in such a way that the required processes of reduction and focussing do not diminish the fascination of the respective differences? And as we unravel this particularly tricky knot, how can we make sure that these differences in the interpretation of the most important historical narratives are acceptable to the respective “others”?
A Publication of the Herbert-Batliner-Europainstitut
Oliver Rathkolb is Professor at the Institute for Contemporary History and Chair of the Department of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna. He is the managing editor of “Zeitgeschichte” (Contemporary History) and member of the advisory board of the House of European History (European Parliament, Brussels).