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       the train of memory
  course of memory in europe  
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During the meeting concerning the "places of memory" held in Luxembourg in January 2001, the European Institute of the Cultural Routes and the experts present developed a project for putting in circulation a train of memory.

This train will soon traverse many European cities, ensuring the meeting of Europeans and giving them an outline of their common memory.

voyage memory

Why a train? Because a train is moving just like memory, which is not fixed but in motion, which evolves and grows rich continuously. This train would not aim to uncover only one preset memory but rather a memory with several facets (as many facets as coaches), which would not stop growing rich through contact with the visitor-actors (the workshops of memory collection, for example, would allow the visitors to bring their memory to the mosaic memory of Europe).

Photo MTP

With every arrival of the train in a city, and insofar as it stays there for more than one week, a column will be installed in one of the principal places of the city and there will be conferences and spectacles (theatre, concert, dance, projection of films) around the topic of memory, because memory should not be mummified or confined to museums but constantly created and recreated.

The memory of Europe is complex, just like the cultures and identities are attached to it. The train will restore the connection between Europeans and their plural memory, will lead to rediscovery and recollection. Far from being exhaustive (can it really be so?) it will present topics representative for memory, which would settle in future coaches.

an itinerant museum

Several topics have already been discussed. A coach could for example treat the importance of the role played by the press in collective memory, in particular during the disturbed periods of European history. Another one could approach social memory, making it possible to discover or rediscover the great social events that marked Europe in the past century, from women's vote to the right of association, passing through paid leaves. A coach on immigration in Europe could be made an echo by recalling the history of immigration during the twentieth century, immigration being one of the key components of European identity today, a dimension for too long placed against official memory.

A coach on deportation was of course proposed; it could have the aspect of a stock car, identical to those used for the deportation of population towards camps during the Second World War. One could hear there the "Oath of Buchenwald" in all the languages of Europe, recorded in a loop, a ceaseless murmur to make more comprehensible the need for keeping in memory the horrors that man is capable of.

Meeting of experts about "the sites of memory",
Luxembourg, January 2001. Photo MTP

Broad topics would thus be approached, but more original topics, more ludic, falling under "sentimental" history should also have a place on a train like this, the "things of everydayness" which perhaps sometimes include more remote considerations. It could be a question for example of a panorama of the famous European characters having marked the European imaginary, who acquired their place in the memory of Europe, a coach on the hats of the dignitaries of totalitarian regimes, or a small museum of relics, words and gestures to make more comprehensible the idea that memory is not only matter.

Lastly, the proposal of a coach "collector of memory" seemed a necessary component for this kind of project. Indeed, we said it, memory does not cease evolving and growing, it is by definition moving. Workshops on the collection of memory could be given the responsibility to collect bits of memory. In each city, the people who would agree to testify with their memory would be part of the memory of this train by adding their own memory to it.

The train could accommodate a permanent exhibition, but it also proposes exhibition spaces in European sites of memory.

mind the departure !

This train is yet only in a project state; even if there is no lack of ideas, it would however again be necessary to take time to think about the concept and to determine more precisely in which direction we want to move and direct choices. New ideas are of course welcome.

The difficulty of assembling such a project somewhat delayed its concrete realisation but this heading of the site, "The Europe of Memory", that we propose to you can be regarded as a first stage, virtual, of this train. Each page added to the thread of months will enable us to think of the future coaches of the train and wants to be a dialogue with the visitors, whom we call to contribute to memory.

This European train of memory that will probably be on rails a few years from now presents itself as an original way to cover a subject which, covering several fields and epochs, and concerning all Europeans, does not stop evolving.

The train, symbol of voyage and discovery but also of otherness, of fear of the unknown, allows for the exchange but is sometimes synonymous with separation or pain (one of the darkest periods of our history saw a great number of trains passing, whose travellers never returned...) just like the memory of Europe, multiple, dual, made of diverse emotions and lived experiences.

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 more infos ...
 other web sites
 Institute of European memory
  The website launched by Théo Robichet.
 media library
 Shoah, the impossible oblivion
 Le Devoir de mémoire
 La mémoire, l'histoire, l'oubli
  A debate for the 20th century.


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