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On September 10, 2017 we launched the Exploring Central Europe: History, Memory, and Identity Across Borders, a semester-long program organized in partnership with the University of Lower Silesia in Wroclaw, Poland  and Syracuse University. Together with our students, we begin our journey through which we explore the memories of conflict and ongoing processes of reconciliation in Central Europe.

Viewing the Past from the Present

By Leah Killian

By Leah Killian

Berlin is filled with many monuments and statues. Walking around the city it is very hard to miss these markers of history. more

A History of Anti-Ukrainian Sentiment in Poland

By Timothy Li

By Timothy Li

Although I have not personally attended the marches and rallies celebrating the Independence Day of Poland on November 11, I was quite surprised by the footages I saw featuring a more negative side of Polish nationalist culture. more

Lviv

By Ivan Laryionenka

By Ivan Laryionenka

Lviv is one of those places that rarely leaves anyone without an opinion. more

Train World

By Kaitlyn Kurdziel

By Kaitlyn Kurdziel

When I was little, trains had always been a point of excitement. My dad is very fond of trains. more

Things to Think About While Interacting with Memorials

By Deborah Sue-Ho

By Deborah Sue-Ho

Earlier in the semester, it made me livid that all we know about the Jewish, Romani, homosexual, Polish, Hungarian, Austrian, Soviet, German, Czechoslovakian people who died during the Holocaust and World War II were these categories ascribed by society. more

The Mark of Partitions on Polish Identity

By Gabrielle Marzolf

By Gabrielle Marzolf

It is impossible to discuss the issue of Polish identity without referencing the fact that between the years of 1795 and 1918, Poland ceased to exist on the world map. more

Complex Memory in Berlin

By Bryan Alicea

By Bryan Alicea

In the 1932 German federal elections, Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist party, or the Nazi party, emerged as the largest political party in Germany, and Hitler was eventually appointed Chancellor of Germany in 1933. more

Rebuilding Berlin’s Identity

By Caroline Bartholomew

By Caroline Bartholomew

Berlin was founded in the thirteenth century, but you might never guess that from the way it looks today. more

The Macedonian Crisis: A Tale of a Confused Nation

By Timothy Li

By Timothy Li

When people hear about the name Macedonia, usually they would think of one man, and that man is no other than Alexander the Great. more

A Memorial to the Soviets, Not to Their Victims   

By Cate Ferson

By Cate Ferson

As Stalin and the Red Army made their victorious sweep through Central and Eastern Europe, finally ending the age of Hitler, heroes they had seemingly become. more

Skirting the Line

By Cynthia Wang

By Cynthia Wang

We took it upon ourselves to go to Lviv as frugally as possible, so we bypassed the plane, the train, and even the bus. more

Football Hooligans And Their Role In Polish Politics
By Ivan Laryionenka

By Ivan Laryionenka

Loud, radical, passionate and extremely organized. Unlike the rest of the group that I went to a recent Slask Wroclaw soccer match with, I wasn’t surprised to see a group of a couple of thousand youngsters gathered up behind one of the goalposts. more

Losing Memories

By Kaitlyn Kurdziel

By Kaitlyn Kurdziel

My visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau brought forth a variety of emotions that I am still not sure how to fully process. more

Irredentism in Orban’s Hungary

By Timothy Li

By Timothy Li

One of the most memorable moments that I had while visiting Budapest was when looking at the flags on the Parliament building. more

The Rhetoric of Patriotism & Nationalism

By Diego Franco

By Diego Franco

Where do we draw the line between national pride and racism? Is it divisive to be proud of your heritage? more

The Human Effect of War

By Danielle McDowell

By Danielle McDowell

Walking through the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau can be an experience that overwhelms its visitors into an emotionally numb state. more

Resilience
By Deborah Sue-Ho

By Deborah Sue-Ho

As I walked past barracks where people were housed like animals, buildings which were destroyed to keep in dark secrets, gloomy pictures of people pulled apart from their loved ones. more

The Destruction and Reconstruction of Warsaw

By Gabrielle Marzolf

By Gabrielle Marzolf

Within the Jewish community, it is a practice of remembrance to leave a stone or stack of stones on the grave of a loved one. more

Wawel Castle: An Enduring Symbol of Polish Identity
By Caroline Bartholomew

By Caroline Bartholomew

Throughout its long and tumultuous history, Poland’s borders changed constantly and even disappeared from the map entirely during the 19th century. more

Baby Killers
By Cynthia Wang

By Cynthia Wang

What could I possibly hope to tell you about Auschwitz-Birkenau that you have not already heard a hundred times over? more

Ignoring the Memory of Auschwitz
By Cate Ferson

By Cate Ferson

While looking through the calendar for this program at the beginning of the semester, I felt a mix of excitement and dread when I noticed that we were going to be spending a day at the Auschwitz/Birkenau concentration camp. more

The Communist Terror in Hungary
By Bryan Alicea

By Bryan Alicea

During the Second World War, Hungary was allied with Nazi Germany. more

Auschwitz: Graveyard or Media Platform
By Leah Killian

By Leah Killian

When visiting places like Auschwitz-Birkenau it is important to remember where you are. more

Did Poland and Hungary Lose Their EU Pride?
By Ivan Laryionenka

By Ivan Laryionenka

A strong, prosperous and proud alliance, where each member is ready to cooperate and work side by side with each other for the greater benefit, and is eager to show off its membership in every way possible – that is how I viewed the European Union before beginning my semester abroad. more

A Monumental Dilemma – What To Do with Confederate Identity in America
By Diego Franco

By Diego Franco

Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro); Michael Jordan (Chicago); Abraham Lincoln (Washington D.C) – The statues a country has on display are synonomous with the ideals and history they want to identify with.

The Soviet Cover-up of Jewish Identity
By Leah Killian

By Leah Killian

Jewish Identity in Central and Eastern Europe is something that has been covered up and erased in the post-WWII era, specifically by the Soviet Union during its dominance over this region. more

The Lety Camp
Kaitlyn Kurdziel

By Kaitlin Kurdziel

When we study the Holocaust, it is often from the Jewish perspective. We hear stories of Jewish survivors and the number of Jews killed.  more

Handling Memory through Public Memorials
By Deborah Sue-Ho

By Deborah Sue-Ho

As Central European countries attempt to recover from the events of the Holocaust, several of the governments are challenged with how to remember the events. More

Identity Without Representation: The Romani in Central Europe
By Gabrielle Marzolf

By Gabrielle Marzolf

Most of the conflicts that caused and progressed the Second World War were fueled by an intense and inherent sense of nationalism. more

Remembering the Holocaust in Budapest
By Bryan Alicea

By Bryan Alicea

Between 1941 and 1945, one of the most horrific events in human history took place. more

Budapest’s Memento Park: An example for America?
Caroline Bartholomew

By Caroline Bartholomew

There is more to a monument than it’s physical presence — there is also the story behind who put it there and why. more

How to Close Your Borders
By Cate Ferson

By Cate Ferson

In the wake of the 2016 election, tensions between the Democrats and the Republicans are growing. more

Central Europe through a Cake Lens
By Cynthia Wang

By Cynthia Wang

Fourteen days is a long time to be constantly on the move, yet it is still somehow insufficient to process painful histories and their physical reminders. more

Messages:

Message from Lublin
In front of the Lublin Castle

While the Holocaust history of Lublin is devastating, the current civil engagement built around the memory of a multicultural past is admirable and can inspire efforts in other places. Since the 1990s the Grodzka Gate – NN Theater, a city-funded cultural institution, has undertaken an enormous effort at reassembling the history of a multicultural city by collecting archival materials, photographs and also oral histories and testimonies of people that live or once lived in the city. more

Message from Krynki

The remains of the once Great Synagogue of Krynki

Before WWII, Krynki was an industrial town of as many as 9,000 citizens, most of whom earned their livelihoods working in the now-abandoned local tanneries. At least two-thirds of Krynki’s citizens were Jews, whose spiritual lives were centered around one of several prayer houses and synagogues in the town. more

Message from Sejny

With Krzysztof Czyzewski at the International Centre for Dialogue in Krasnogruda near SejnyOur days of work and reflection with our friends at the Borderlands Foundation in Sejny coincided with sad news of the passing of Max Furmanski, the only surviving member of the once pre-WWII Jewish community of the small town located on the Polish-Lithuanian border. more

Message from Vilnius

After the artistic workshop with Wiesław Szumiński (center) in front of the Sejny SynagogueThe once flourishing Jewish life in Vilnius came to an end in the Paneriai, a suburb of the Lithuanian capital, where beginning in the summer of 1941, six months before the Wannsee Conference, 72,000 mostly Lithuanian Jews were shot and buried in pits. Another 30,000 people lost their lives in the forest, mostly Polish intellectuals and members of the underground Home Army as well as Soviet POWs. more

What is ̏ Urban Labs Central Europe?˝

Traveling through Europe, one is constantly confronted with memories of conflict and reconciliation in places that have experienced dramatic upheavals. Urban Laboratories Central Europe offers a forum for international students based in Wroclaw, Poland to explore ideas about how the culture and politics of memory have shaped modern European identity. A once German metropolis nearly entirely re-populated and rebuilt by Poles at the end of WWII, Wroclaw is today a dynamic Central European city in the process of profound change. One of the host cities of the 2012 European soccer championships, the city has been has been designated the European Capital of Culture 2016. Wroclaw and the other sites visited by students in their time in Central Europe illustrate the continent’s multicultural past, and enable us to grasp how global events (formation of nation states at the beginning of the 20th century, WWI, WWII, Cold War, the building of the European Union) continue to transform the lives of citizens and their local communities.

Methodologically, the project grows from the tradition of action research, which aims at transforming knowledge into practical social action. Therefore, students’ diverse contributions on this site, based on their travels, interviews, site visits, observations, and exchanges with academic experts, officials, practitioners and regular inhabitants of cities and towns mainly in Poland, the Czech Republic, German, Lithuania, are intended to be a voice in deliberations about Europe’s past, but also its future.

These global education programs are organized by the International Institute for the Study of Culture and Education of the University of Lower Silesia in Wroclaw in partnership with the Syracuse University and the State University of  New York at Brockport.

Student Projects in Central European Cities:

Summer 2014 Labs:

Berlin Wall4
Berlin Wall1
Roma 10
Zolnierze1

Our partners:

brockportx234
syracuse_new
ulsx376
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