Finding Personal Relevance in the Centenary of World War One
“It is always easier to understand a historical event if you try to find a personal connection to it. When thinking about the century that passed since World War One (or soon-to-pass, rather), the first thought that crosses my mind is the temporal distance that separates me from the event. A hundred years is four times the life I have lived so far. From this perspective, the Great War doesn’t seem that far away from the generation I represent. Nevertheless, the two worlds – the present one and that of 1914 – are, at least in appearance, fundamentally different”, explains Vlad Badea (24) from Romania the relevance of WWI to him.
A Romanian’s Perspective in the Versailles Peace Talks Simulation
Participating in the Europe14/14 HistoryCampus in Berlin allowed Vlad to further deepen his understanding of the complexity of WW1, by simulating the Versailles peace talks that followed the war. He had to represent Hungary in the negotiations with the Entente – a not so easy enterprise given his Romanian nationality, but fun and interesting, nonetheless, as he declares. “All the nationalist rhetoric I was immersed in during my childhood and adolescence suddenly became cumbersome when I was seated on count István Bethlen’s chair. I got familiarized with Hungary’s domestic difficulties and grievances in a very direct way you do not really get to experience in school or university.”
He also had good preparation: Just a few days prior to the simulation, Prof. Lucian Boia launched The First World War: Controversies, Paradoxes, Reinterpretations, which proved to be extremely useful to understanding the general context of the war and Romania’s particular position. Written in a disengaged and European approach, the book has generated passionate debates in Romania. Eager to know more and be part of this wider discussion on WW1 that was ongoing in Romania, Vlad made an appointment with Prof. Boia for an interview. Their conversation, which took place on May 21st in Bucharest, yielded the results you are all welcome to read here.
A longer version in Romanian can be found on Vlad’s Blog.