Timothy Snyder:
A Speech to Europe 2019

»The work of memory is in the present. In our century, a place such as the Judenplatz is not simply a square within a city, but a site that might be viewed from a distance, anywhere in the world, through technology. Jews were once taken from Vienna to be murdered, and that crime cannot be undone. Yet we can bring those who wish to learn from that history to Vienna, to this place. We have chosen this specific place as an opening to a general discussion: as a way to connect the part to the whole, the specific history to our general problems of ethics and politics. The work of memory is for the future. The ones and zeros of 1010 suggest our digital world, the binary language in which machines speak to one another, and in which we must struggle to assert human values, such as responsibility. It recalls an internet which can spread mendacity and hatred, as well as human contact and understanding. We are responsible for recalling the place, and all of the places, within the techniques of our times. And we are responsible for ensuring that the memory of the Holocaust helps us to shape the future. It is in the spirit that we inaugurate these lectures.« Timothy Snyder

ERSTE Foundation has initiated a public lecture, which will be held annually at Judenplatz as of 2019, in honour of Europe Day. The first speaker is the prominent historian Timothy Snyder from Yale University, who is also a Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. The place and time chosen for the lecture are no coincidence: European history is presented at Vienna’s Judenplatz like in no other place. Every year will provide a new opportunity to ask: Which text emanates from this urban space today? A text that shows the European narrative, which brought forth today’s Europe, in a different light. It is a contribution towards giving this idea of Europe – which for so long was an assurance of peace – a place in the centre of the city and of our awareness.

Organized by Wiener Festwochen, ERSTE Foundation and IWM

Weekly Focus IX:

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