The media project centre Offener Kanal Kassel accompanied the 1st European Citizens’ Meeting in November 2018 and reported on the opening ceremony, the Pulse of Europe rally and the workshop European Historical Awareness.

Further information on the EBB 2018 can also be found on the Europa-Union Kassel website.

A look back at the 1st European Citizens’ Meeting in Kassel

by Hannelore Freudenberg

Blessed with pleasant, sunny, albeit somewhat chilly weather, the first European Citizens’ Meeting took place in Kassel from a Thursday evening to Sunday afternoon in November 2018.

Some 150 Europeans from 8 European countries were present at the festive opening event in the Friedenskirche.

The brass ensemble played, the children’s choir sang (how fitting: GIve us Peace!)

Speeches were held and translated by volunteers into Polish, French and English, and – there we had it! – it became very apparent how exhausting our Europe can be. Short greetings went on and on; why do the Poles and French need so many words? It was slow but what an atmosphere.

Emotions were aroused when a text to the European anthem (really ” Freude, schöner Götterfunken” etc.) was sung simultaneously in 5 different languages.

The participating Europeans gathered for evening meals in the district centre Vorderer Westen and during the day in discussion groups covering a variety of topics. In one of them the question “Is there a European identity?” was explored. If so, what does this identity consist of? For one of the participants it was at once “Christianity”, which the Polish European could well understand. The French woman present was really surprised; this would not have been her first thought. After all, France has a tradition of secularity, the strict separation of church and state, which goes back more than 100 years.

We were confronted again and again with the language problem. Which language were we to agree upon when Europeans speaking several different languages were present? We learned that Polish is an extremely difficult language, so Poles are able to learn other European languages such as English-German-French with great ease and are happy to do so. The French, on the other hand, as the French people present told us, love their language so much that they are reluctant to express themselves in other languages, and seldom do so.

The grand finale of the Citizens’ Meeting on Saturday afternoon was the pro-European demonstration starting at Scheidemann Platz and ending at the Town Hall steps, led by “Princess Europe” on roller skates, followed by drummers and the “All – Nations – Flag”, made up of the 28 national flags of the EU.

Princess Europe arm in am with Great Britain.

With banners and posters of the participants’ manifold wishes for Europe.

Singing and spoken (German / English) greetings were sent. The accordion player helped to keep us in tune, blue balloons rose into the sky, the winter sun disappeared and it became bitterly cold.

But at 7:30 pm the “European Party” accompanied by music and a great disco atmosphere began in the district centre, so that everyone had the chance to warm themselves up again. Young and old, East and West, black and white met up on the dance floor till midnight, and here there were no more language problems to be found at all.