Leipzig is a very good place from which to approach eastern Europe. For those coming from further west the city is a halfway stop, even if the train connections are not as good as perhaps one might have hoped twenty years ago, when the Iron Curtain disappeared. Leipzig is connected to eastern Europe and its history by a thousand threads – one need only think of the foundation of its university, or of the long-distance trade routes. At their intersection arose the trade fair, which during the Cold War became a sluice chamber, a contact yard between the hemispheres that opened for a moment every year. And consider the renewed interest in eastern Europe in Leipzig today, its book fair and its academic and research institutions, which have become trademarks of the city. So why should anyone from outside take the trouble of essaying an approach to the East in a place which is already so close – geographically, culturally, and academically? All the more so, since the topic of this conference is general and does not imply a question to which one must provide an answer. The chain of ideas “History of memory, places of memory, strata of memory” is more a set of associations and is intended to delimit an area.
more from Karl Schlögel at Eurozine here.