1990 / Year One

The year 1990, its significance and presence in our memory

The year 1990 was a turning point in overcoming the communist legacy and shaping democracy in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe. In most of them, it brought the first completely free parliamentary, presidential and local government elections.

The year 1990 also marked the reunification of both German states. For the Baltic states, such as Lithuania - the first country in the region to declare its independence after 50 years of dependence on Soviet power - it was the beginning of a new era.

The Europe that we know nowadays was being born in 1990.

A little over 30 years have passed since the historic breakthrough, when democratic and free-market changes began with the fall of communism. Still, as a society, we know far too little about these events. From a historian's perspective, this is too short a time span to begin serious research, whilst political scientists are more inclined to say that this is way too distant a past and should therefore be the domain of... historians. The layout of the history curriculum in secondary schools also turns out to be unfavourable for the promotion of knowledge about that period. The events of the last decade of the 20th century are placed at the very end of the history education cycle. As a result of this, more often than not, teachers do not manage to cover this material before the end of the final year.

As a consequence of all these circumstances (and because they are different phenomena which are independent of each other) another generation of people is now entering adult life without having - and because of their age could never have had - any personal, biographical experience of the time of the breakthrough, nor did they even acquire school textbook knowledge on the subject.

It is important to ensure that the remembrance - as well as the knowledge - of this important period is restored.

On 18 and 19 November, the results of the ‘1990/Year One’ project were presented in Berlin during two events aimed at teachers from Germany and Poland.

On 18 November, at Schönhausen Palace, during a conference organised for German and Polish teachers, Dr Robert Żurek talked to Markus Meckel, East German oppositionist, participant in the Central Round Table and, after the first free elections, GDR foreign minister. The starting point for the discussion was the German experience of the democratic transition initiated in 1990.

At the Palace, the exhibition ‘1990. Birth of a New Europe’ was also presented.


We would like to invite you to visit the exhibition '1990: The Birth of a New Europe', which is presented in the Palace in Krzyżowa.

It brings us closer to the changes of 1990, a year which was a turning point in overcoming the communist legacy and shaping democracy in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, on the example of the history of Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Lithuania.

The exhibition '1990: The Birth of a New Europe' is a mobile exhibition, available in Polish and English.

It is presented in the Palace, on the second floor, just in front of the May Hall.

The exhibition is accompanied by the website www.year1990.eu

On 19 May, at the New Horizons Cinema in Wrocław was held a special screening of the documental film "Mariupol", followed by a discussion "Long-term consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union", with the participation of:

  • Dr Anna Ursulenko (University of Wroclaw)
  • Dr. Łukasz Kamiński (University of Wrocław)
  • Laurynas Vaičiūnas (College of Eastern Europe)

The event was attended by 332 participants from Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania.

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