1. Disarming History.
Historical memory, historical responsibility and reconciliation

Is it possible to forget history? Is it possible to start with "a clean slate"? Who would dare to ask, or even suggest to those who have experienced a massacre that they should forget that part of their history? Many countries are at the crossroads of laying the groundwork for a new co-existence. They want to live in peace but it must be built on the ashes of the recent terrifying past. The duty to remember is a fundamental imperative but there is also a need to not perpetuate past conflicts and resentments or to transmit them to future generations. Memory of victims is the centre of gravity for anamnetic ethics but the articulation of this memory should lead to the genesis of a new history, a new era founded on reconciliation.

We realise that with the same strength as we face these facts, we can also see that contemporaries have no blame for the evils that occurred in history; for the simple reason that we did not exist. In addition to not being at fault, we are the fruit of that history. It is this history, with its joys and shadows, which has enabled our existence. If history had been different, either better or worse, it would have produced other encounters, other connections. Other people would have been born but not us.

History is the teacher of life because we learn to avoid repeating disastrous events that occurred and now are repudiated. We must filter our knowledge of everything positive and enrich this legacy with our action of solidarity in the present. We understand that it is fruitful to remember and useful to communicate that which happened to those who exploded onto the historical scene. We believe that memory of victims is never in vain and that it is not only a way to do them justice but also to deter present and future generations from the evil that can happen. This blissful acceptance of history does not imply or fail to recognise that the evils of the past were truly awful. Ontic acceptance (the chance of my existence) is one thing and ethical acceptance is very different. It is essential to publically acknowledge what happened and that the institutions that played a role in those atrocities are capable of regret in a clear and transparent manner, to ensure that we redress the wrongs that derived from them.

History is crucial for an understanding of the present and the present determines the future. The past does not belong to any institution but a fair approximation of what happened and recognition of the victims of the past is necessary for the process of world peace.

Is it possible to objectively explain History?
Can we speak of historical responsibility?
Is there an antidote to historical resentment?
How can we make historical memory an instrument of peace?