2014 sees the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Following an initiative of Collegium Hungaricum in Berlin we designed a rather special event: In a complex simulation game, 30 participants from all over Europe replayed the Paris peace conferences. In a second phase, the negotiations were repeated, this time under the vision of creating a sustainable European peace order.
At the Paris peace conferences 1919/20, the victorious powers negotiated the conditions for peace with the defeated nations, the so-called Central Powers. The results were then presented to the latter for signing without them having had any substantial say in the terms of the contracts. Like their historical role models, the representatives of the Central Powers in our simulation experienced considerable frustration.
The simulation game “Renegotiating peace” provides a historically accurate depiction of the negotiations’ content as well as the different actors’ positions and power relationships. For us, this meant embarking an extensive and new form of research during preparation time.
The participants from all over Europe had gathered in Berlin for the “History Campus ’14”, organised by the German Federal Agency for Political Education (bpb). The roles given to them were of different nationalities to their own, as far as this was possible. This made for some very special moments, such as when a Hungarian participant playing a Briton demanded that Hungary hand Transsylvania over to Romania, while a Romanian playing a Hungarian was trying to prevent just that from happening. “It breaks my heart because I am Romanian” he commented, laughing.
Via the historically accurate replay of the negotiations, the participants gained a comprehensive insight into the historical facts on the First World War and its consequences. But that was not all: In the second phase, the participants repeated the negotiations, but this time they were instructed to include their knowledge of the catastrophic developments during the decades following the signing of the treaties. Thus a connection was made between past and future – new ideas were developed (such as the renunciation of reparation payments or the creation of a pan-European army). One of the notions emerging many took home from this event was that the idea of a European union would have been a good idea even back then, but clearly the time was not ripe…
Facts + Figures
Students and young people from all over Europe
- Greater familiarity with the historic interrelations between the First World War and the peace negotiations
- Reflection on the consequences of the Paris peace negotiations for the European post-war order
- Better understanding of other points of view
Collegium Hungaricum Berlin
The simulation game “Renegotiating Peace” was another very god experience in working with planpolitik. After extensive preparation, they managed to integrate complex historical facts into a simulation game that could be played in 2.5 days. Their long-term experience with this format was tangible during this event. While providing professional guidance and a a relaxed atmosphere, they reacted flexibly to the participants and their needs. I hope there will be many more renegotiations of peace!
Corinna Erlebach, Culture and PR Management, Collegium Hungaricum Berlin | .CHB
In the media
politikorange (10.05.2014): Video about History Campus 2014 (in German)
Collegium Hungaricum (12.05.2014): Documentary of the simulation game (in German)
Collegium Hungaricum (08.06.2014): Video about the exhibition “Die große Illusion” – you can learn about our simulation game from minute 6.38 onwards (English subtitles)
die tageszeitung (01.07.2014) about the exhibition “Die große Illusion”: Die Brille des Irrealen (in German)