Videos > Uwe & Gabriela von Seltmann - The future of the past

About the talk:

Gabriela and her husband Uwe von Seltmann are the authors of the project "The Future of the Past" which aims to emphasize the importance of the knowledge of our ancestors' past, especially when it is truly tragic (Uwe's grandfather was an SS man in Kraków and Gabriela's grandfather was murdered at Auschwitz).

Over the last few years they have been meeting Poles, Germans and Jews and discussing how the families of victims and perpetrators can coexist in today's world. Together they ask questions such as ‘how does the third post-War generation relate to the family's difficult past which overshadows their present? And how to shape the future in order to secure peaceful being together?’.

Their work is a challenge of social and political importance and includes an international dimension. Families of victims and perpetrators have to meet again and again, no matter if it is in Rwanda, the Balkans, in Germany or in Poland.

Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt once said it was better to speak of the "future of the past" rather than the "presence of the past". The project is future-oriented in this very sense. Only if we succeed in processing the past in an open way that a process of mutual understanding can set in, thus bringing about peaceful interaction in the present and the future.

You can read more about Gabriela and Uwe at

Recorded during: TEDxKraków 2010

Original subtitles: Krystian Aparta

Translated by: Krystian Aparta

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