In the history of Europe, 1918 is primarily associated with the end of the First World War. But in Eastern and Central Europe 1918 also meant the rapid disintegration of the Russian, Habsburg, German and Ottoman empires and the birth of nine new states – Austria, Hungary, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland.
The desire to break away from the imperial yoke and to build modern states and societies radically reshaped the political map of Europe and the Europe we know today was largely shaped by the dreams of the interwar era.
One hundred years on, BOZAR in collaboration with Culture Action Europe and other partners is revisiting this largely unknown page of European history. Seconding commemorations of centenaries across Eastern and Central Europe we examine 1918, not just as an important date in national calendars, but also as a powerful symbol of the explosion of creativity of many people who were aspiring to build a better future. The years following the declaration of independence across the region were a time for building nations and crafting democracies, for unprecedented social transformation and unrivalled experimentation in the arts, science and technology. The future was a blank canvas.
Today remembering 1918 means recollecting and critically engaging with the many visions of modernity that produced, not only the most tragic twists in European history, but developments which simultaneously continue to inspire a better vision of Europe’s future.