Wake up, Europe!

The digital platform Wake up Europe! is composed of one hundred stories about international solidarity and the initiatives organised by groups and individuals together with the citizens of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 war. Western governments took a passive stance towards the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and for most people in Europe, the war was just a media event. However, at the same time, numerous citizens, artists, intellectuals, journalists, parliamentarians, cities, informal citizen groups, and non-governmental organizations across Europe decided not to merely and silently stand by, and were often very critical of their own governments. It was a heterogeneous mobilization, a combination of humanitarian and civil engagement, often in response to and in communication with those in Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina who were involved in the civil, cultural, and intellectual defence of the Bosnian way of life and country, and who sent calls to the outside world not to stay passive, summed up in the slogan “Wake up Europe!”

With a selection of 100 stories, we want to offer a spectrum that illustrates different dimensions of solidarity: we show examples from different countries, from different fields of activity (e.g. humanitarian convoys, aid to refugees, demonstrations, cultural activities), different target groups (e.g. youth, women, trade unions, civic groups), and different discourses and topics that were discussed, such as the memory of the Second World War or the issue of military intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The digital platform is based on research and the exhibition Wake up Europe! Mobilization of Support and Solidarity for Bosnia and Herzegovina and its Citizens During the 1992-1995 War organized in 2021 by the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, in cooperation with Memory Lab, and with the support of the French Institute in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Goethe Institut Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On the thirtieth anniversary of the beginning of the siege of Sarajevo, the History Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina created the digital platform Wake up Europe! with examples of international support and solidarity from the 1990s, not only to inform about the lesser-known dimension of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also to reflect on solidarity today. We hope that the experiences of the recent past can encourage thinking about the possibilities and meaning of solidarity in current war and crisis situations, especially in light of the war in Ukraine.

The Wake up Europe! digital platform project is financed by the “International Relief Fund for Organizations in Culture and Education 2021” of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Goethe Institut and other partners: www.goethe.de/relieffund.