Pertti Grönholm, Docent of European and World history at the University of Turku, has studied history culture, history politics and historiography as well as collective memory in Europe during the 20th and 21st centuries. Pertti specialises in the history of the Baltic States, Russia and Germany.
“In history – or rather histories – and the past, we search answers for questions like who are we, where are we coming from and headed to”, says Pertti and continues: “the need to belong and identify with a historical narrative, community or process can be used by politicians, journalists and other decision makers. We often also turn to history for reasoning and justification as well as moral backing for the political decisions and future plans we make.”
Pertti sees shedding light to the use of history as HWB’s main goals. “Those political ideologies and religions that aim to control whole societies, the use of history has a specifically strong position. He who controls the past controls the future”, Pertti points out quoting George Orwell. HWB should help ensure that conflicts are not escalated with propagandist or scientifically and ethically questionable use of history: “HWB could help increase mutual understanding between conflicting parties and also contribute to the post-conflict society building efforts”.
Pertti has been a member of HWB since the international conference organised in May 2016 and a board member since 2017. “The workshop on the Armenian genocide at the conference had strong impact on me. Emotions running that high when discussing historical events just goes to prove why HWB’s work is so important”.