Forgiving or Forgetting – Dealing with a Painful Past 
Twelfth International Sakharov Conference

May 13 - May 14, 2022
Vytautas the Great War Museum (K. Donelaičio Str. 64
, Kaunas)

The twentieth century history of the Eastern European region is one drenched in blood. Two World Words and two totalitarian regimes – Nazi and Soviet – have left lasting scars in the human texture of the region, resulting in trauma with effects that stretch well into the second and third generations and probably beyond. A multitude of unsettled or undiscussed issues continue to affect inter-human and inter-state relations, and while the process of digestion in Western Europe after Nazi occupation is still unfinished, in Eastern Europe the situation become even more complicated because on one hand the new (totalitarian) rulers forbade an honest discussion of the past and on the other hand imposed a next layer of trauma onto the first through repression and terror. The result is a region that is only at the beginning of digesting the complex and brutal past century.

Lithuania, and the whole of the region of Central and Eastern Europe, has gone through a very troubled century, starting with the beginning of the First World War and continuing into the twenty-first century the region went through many upheavals. The First World war changed the landscape of Europe fundamentally, led after a pause of twenty years to the Second World War, which engulfed the whole of Europe with a massive destructive force. After the Second World War, during which millions and millions of people perished and 60% of the Jews in Europe were exterminated, Europe was divided between a free West and a totalitarian East. The disintegration of the Soviet Bloc in the late 1980s and beginning of the 1990s led to a period of hope, but also to the disenchantment when most of the countries in Eastern Europe struggled with democratic rule or completely abandoned the process in that direction and returned to autocratic or even dictatorial rule. The result is the existence of layer upon layer of traumatic experiences, fueling each other and consequently not allowing one layer to be digested because the next already enters the fold.

The program of the Twelfth International Sakharov Conference is divided into a number of main components. More information will follow later.

The Andrei Sakharov Research Center contributes to the development of a pluralist and democratic society in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

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