Berlin –Riga - Mosow

Jan C. Behrends

Dr. Jan C. Behrends © Dr. Jan C. Behrends Jan C. Behrends (1969) since 2011 has acted as Project Director of the international research project Violence and State Legitimacy in Late Socialism at the Centre for Contemporary History in Potsdam (Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung – ZZF). His research focuses on Contemporary European history, Urban History, European Dictatorships and Violence. The project is funded by the Leibniz Association as part of the Research and Innovation Initiative (formerly SAW-procedure)
“We view Europe as a continent of peace. The ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the First World War are intended to reassure us that 2014 is not 1914. The Europe of the present is, thus the grand narrative, no longer the continent of the Great War. But this self-invocation is occurring in the shadow of the conflict in Ukraine. However, what we are encountering there is no new edition of 1914: no, the year 2014 has its own forms of violence.  The war in Ukraine is an instrument of political struggle. Offence and defence now determine the logic of the dispute. No later than intervention on the part of outside powers, the quality of a war was reached in which tanks, rockets and bombers are now being deployed. Even if European policy is still in denial, we are dealing with the war of the 21st century. This war exists without a formal declaration of hostilities, it ignores international law. The levée en masse is alien to it. It has no clear-cut fronts. For weeks at a time it is simultaneously fomented and denied, special-forces units are fighting alongside bandits, the entire rusting arsenal of the former Soviet Union is being put to use just as is psychological warfare in social media. And in the end it all serves the goal of keeping the liberal order at a distance, to put what we call Europe in its place.”

Johannes Grotzky

Prof. Johannes Grotzky © Prof. Johannes Grotzky

Johannes Grotzky is a journalist and honorary professor of Eastern European studies, culture and media at the University of Bamberg. From 2002 until 2014 he served as radio director of the Bayerischer Rundfunk and previously held a number of positions, among them director of the division of politics, chief radio correspondent and chief editor for Central and Eastern Europe in Munich. From 1989 until 2002 he directed the ARD radio studio for South-Eastern Europe in Vienna. As an ARD correspondent he lived for over six years, from August 1983 – July 1989, in Moscow. He studied Slavic and Balkan area studies and the history of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe at the Universities of Munich and Zagreb.
 In addition to his journalistic activities Grotzky has published numerous essays and books about the nations of South-Eastern Europe. He also wrote for the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT and the Neue Zürcher Zeitung for many years.

Liudmila Novikova

Dr. Liudmila Novikova © Dr. Liudmila Novikova Liudmila Novikova is Deputy Director of the International Centre for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences and Senior Lecturer in History at the Faculty of History at the National Research University “Higher School of Economics”, Moscow. She is the author and editor of numerous publications on the Russian civil war and the role of the Soviet Union in WW2.


Alexey Miller

Prof. Dr. Alexey Miller © Prof. Dr. Alexey Miller Alexey Miller, born in 1959, is professor at the European University in St. Petersburg and recurrent visiting professor of the Central European University in Budapest. His research focuses on History of Concepts, Comparative History of Empires, Russian Nationalism and Empire and Remembrance Politics in Central and Eastern Europe. He is author and editor of numerous publications and book series. He is currently working on his new book, “Memory Politics in Putin’s Russia”.
Over the course of the war, which quickly assumed the guise of a life and death struggle, the empires actively played the ethnic card against their adversaries. They encouraged separatism inside the enemy states and introduced repressive measures against disloyal or suspect ethnic groups among their own subjects. The mighty empires engaged in a lethal struggle had destroyed each other, and the collapse of all of them by the end of the war created an opportunity for other players to experiment with the form of nationalising states in this area.

Ivars Ijabs

Dr. Ivars Ijabs © Dr. Ivars Ijabs Ivars Ijabs, born in 1972,  is a an Associate Professor at the University of Latvia, a Political Scientist and one of the country's most well-known political and cultural commentators. His research interests include the History of Political Ideas, Nationalism, as well as Interethnic Relations in Central and Eastern Europe. He is the author of several books on Political Theory and Latvian Politics, as well as of many scholarly articles. He writes a regular column in the Latvian magazine "Rīgas Laiks", as well as in other publications. Vice-President for Professional development of the Association of the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS), as well as a member of several other scholarly organizations. Ijabs has studied Philosophy and Political Science in Latvia, Germany, and Iceland. In 2010, he was Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the State University of New Jersey, USA.

Aivars Stranga

Prof. Aviras Stranga © Prof. Aviras Stranga Aivars Stranga is professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of Latvia. He is the author of seven monographs and more than 150 scholarly and general publications on Latvian Domestic and Foreign Policy and International Relations between 1918 and 1940, and Latvian Foreign Policy from 1991 to 2000. Professor Stranga was visiting professor at Stanford in 2002, 2003, 2009 teaching courses on Baltic History and the History of the Holocaust in the Baltics.

Gespräch zwischen Aivars Stranga und Ljudmila Nowikowa

Although heated debates about who was responsible for the outbreak of the First World War are taking place even now, all agree that the war was the most fateful event of the 20th century, whose outcome contributed decisively to the rise of Communist and National Socialist dictatorships in Russia and Germany as well as the seizure of power by the Fascists in Italy. Latvia, by contrast, profited, as did several other countries – it became an independent state due to the collapse of the German and Russian Empires. It was precisely the turmoil of the First World War that led to a rapid development of political awareness in Latvia – within a couple of years, starting in 1915, ideas of ever-greater autonomy arose within the Russian Empire until they were replaced by the concept of complete independence, which could ultimately be realised thanks to favourable international circumstances as well as the determination and will of a few great Latvian personalities.