Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Vision 97 Prize winner Snyder stresses solidarity, truth

6 October 2015

Prague, Oct 5 (CTK) - The need for solidarity in connection with the current migrant crisis was underlined by Timothy Snyder, U.S. historian of international renown, when he was taking over the Vision 97 Prize bestowed on him by the Czech Dagmar and Vaclav Havel Foundation Monday.

The prize was presented to Snyder, who lecturers at Yale University and who specialises in the history of Central and East Europe with focus on the Holocaust, on the birth anniversary day of Havel (1936-2011), former Czechoslovak and Czech president.

The Vision 97 prize is bestowed on thinkers who contributed to the understanding of science as an integral part of general culture, who focus on matters related to cognition, being and human existence in an unconventional way.

"Europe is dependent on solidarity and solidarity is dependent on the truth. The false destruction of responsibility can go as far as destroying the European system as such," Snyder said in his speech which he delivered in Czech.

He said a big portion of the current migrant crisis lies out of the Europeans' reach, but the Europeans are capable of deciding whether they will tell the truth about their own history.

Snyder said it would be good if societies, with the exception of Germany, better realised how their leaders behaved in the 1930s and 1940s during the Jewish refugee crisis that preceded the Holocaust.

"I often hear the argument that these countries - Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic - cannot accept migrants because they are homogeneous. However, this argument can rightfully be used by people who are ready to assume responsibility for how these countries became homogeneous," Snyder said.

The Russian war against Ukraine, too, is a war with historical responsibility. To accept the lies that Ukraine was divided, that there was a coup, that nationalists seized power and that there exists no Ukrainian state means to join the aggression and make a solution even more complicated, Snyder said.

He said the current tall stories are of the same type of which western democracies were persuading themselves in 1938 when they betrayed Czechoslovakia in Munich.

To accept such lies now is the same as having been on the side of the West during Munich, he said.

Civic society must always lean on the truth and the truth starts like a struggle of the weak against the strong, Snyder said.

He highlighted the opinions and examples of Havel and many other Czechs, Poles, Ukrainians and Russians whom, he said, he admires.

Last year, the Vision 97 Prize went to U.S. Professor of Anthropology Andrew Lass.

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