The Idea

Soon after the end of World War I, in 1920, some women from Germany and France set up « International Peace Summer Schools » melting German and French youth. They managed to sustain this initiative through 1941, handing it over to friends from Switzerland who run it at a secure place and were able to make German youth travel in spite of strict state control.

So much endeavour, it seems to us, is worthwhile being remembered and deserves an initiative to transfer it into today’s challenges. It is a pledge to take advantage from the WWI – commemoration in order to promote more exchanges between generations within Europe.

VoCE 2014 – 2018 in the first place is about revisiting values of humanity and fraternity which we believe were not destroyed during the wars however devastating they were. VoCE 2014-201 wants to commemorate those values because it is on them that competences of peace, responsibility, and freedom continue to develop. Our project is to strive against cynism, giving a chance to people in Europe to think about their common culture for peace, and to shape it through meetings of choirs for adults, through « Peace Summer Schools » for young adults, designing their specific artistic expression through theatre, dance, music...

Doing so, Peace Summer Schools are meant to provide substantial training for young adults who already are committed locally, with a purpose for one of the manifold aspects of peace. They will be given a chance 

  • - To participate in the agenda-setting of the project by identifying it’s themes and methods ;
  • - To articulate their life experiences and their research for it’s meaningfulness ;
  • - To discover peers in different countries of Europe and to welcome partners in their own ;
  • - To join with others in order to identify peace issues for their generation and to find ways of supporting each other in addressing those.

At some moments, « VoCE/Choirs » and « VoCE/Peace Summer Schools » will share their work in progress. At the end of 2018, common performances will be staged in several places through Europe.

Having been involved in a cycle of Peace Summer Schools should, if it developed successfully, turn out for the participants to hold a solid brickstone they may step onto when heading for their future life as European citizens.

How will European Peace Summer Schools work?

We are not heading for mass meetings but rather for smaller groups with a possibly high rate of self-organisation.

One can imagine cycles of about two years each, staging each four sessions of one or two weeks involving four countries. The countries are the same as those where the choirs will meet. We have chosen several European countries beside those where the well-known dramas of WWI unfolded: our purpose is to bring a common history in Western, Central and Southern Europe to the minds of the participants.

Proposal for scheduling the European Peace Summer Schools :

VoCE - Peace Schools should cling to the VoCE - choir meetings as closely as possible:

1st cycle 2014 – 2015:

-2014 :  

June 4-9, Sarajevo,  with highlight during European Peace Event, launching of the project Welcoming group: OGB&H

June 28 - July  6    Lyon, with highlight “Festival Everybody Sings” and Dialogues en Humanité,Welcoming group: Dancing  Compagnie “Second Breath”, Vénissieux

-2015 :

August 9 – 28 (dates to be confirmed) Lublin,Lvov, Wroclaw, partner “Nowy Staw”, Lublin

Dec 26,2015  – Jan 1st,2016: (dates to be confirmed) Germany,   Volksbund/Dt.Kriegsgräberfürsorge/LV Berlin

2nd Cycle 2015 – 2017

-2015: March 29 – April 6   (dates to be confirmed) Ardennes and Flandern Fields,  Belgium, in cooperation with Guest House Lommel of Volksbund/Dt.Kriegsgräberfürsorge/Belgium

-2016 : 1 week  Spring, Romania

2 weeks August, Peronne, Historial WWI, Somme, France

-2017: 1 week Spring   Germany , possibly in cooperation with Volksbund/Dt.Kriegsgräberfürsorge/LV Berlin

3rd Cycle 2017 - 2018 :with participation of groups from all the countries involved in 1st and 2nd cycle:

-2017 : 2 weeks August, Northern Italy

-2018: Spring, Hartmannwillerkopf, Alsatia, France/ Black Forest Region, Germany

Possibly in cooperation with Volksbund/Dt.Kriegsgräberfürsorge/Guest House Niederbronn

2 weeks Summer, Bielorussia

November :,European Peace festival performance in Germany, with local performances in different places in Europe

What might a session of European Peace Summer Schools look like?

  • Participants : not more than 30 including staff ; ca. 6 young adults from 4 countries
  • Duration :      min. 5 days , max. 18 days, plus travelling days
  • Preparation :  local groups will take responsibility as much as possible with designing the session, including attending preparatory meetings.
  • Contents :      1. Discover the welcoming country starting with « commemoration » of WWI, prepared by the local group and local partner like schools, associations : listening, meetings, excursions, documentation.....

2. Study in depth specific themes related to peace in Europe and wider (social peace, violence, manipulation, fears, etc..) as identified during the preparatory meetings ;

3. Translate the issues and findings into an artistic language (theatre, dance, music) with help from professionals.  Public performance at the end of each session and progress towards a European performance in November  2018.

Project partners :

The lead partners for this project are based in France, namely the association VoCE 2014-2018 created in behalf of this project, including the Ecole de la Paix in Grenoble, a long-established NGO in the field of peace –education, and the Dialogues en Humanite, a Lyon-based initiative for international forums on peace and development

In each of the countries we approach with a request for partnership, we are out to identify a partner with solid experience in international and intercultural projects, and able to mobilize and to accompany young adults in their field.  

To start , we count on

  • OGB&H, with Gen. Jovan Divjak, in Sarajevo
  • Compagnie du Second Souffle, Vénissieux/Lyon, with Azdine Bencoucef
  • Dom Europejski Spotkan/Fundacja Nowy Staw, Lublin, with Tomasz Roszniak
  • Germany: Volksbund/Dt.Kriegsgräberfürsorge/LV  Berlin with Elisabeth Gliesche

We also need to win professionals as partners who would be enthusiastic about sharing their artistic know-how   with the participants. They should be locals from the country that welcomes a session, progressing under the auspices of artists (theatre, dance) who accompany the project at its whole.

A covenant for partnership will be signed to confirm the commitment within each cycle.

Financing the project:

Our prospect is to build up the project in partnership with OFAJ/DFJW,  as in historical terms, this office is  rooted in a purpose of reconciliation .  Substantial co-financing has to be found by each partner in each country that will participate: volunteers for interpretation; accommodation for group meetings and rehearsals,  local transport….

We expect each partner to ask the participants for personal participation fee, the amount of which are defined locally.

VoCE 2014-2018 has been accepted by the French government as part of the official program in commemorations of WWI.(Label du Centenaire, www.centenaire.org) and will try fundraising on it’s behalf.

Summing up: what is special about VoCE2014 – 2018 


European Peace Summer Schools as part of VoCE 2014-2018 are an informal educational effort aiming at providing young adults from all walks in Europe with  competences they need for active peacemaking. Stemming from experiences of humanity, VoCE 2014 – 2018 will help people to be confident in their capacity of continuously shaping Europe as a place of peace in the world.  The outcome of these years of effort will be a joint message from different generations involved in the project, through an artistic language, in 2018.



MJL/March  2014