Central European Forum on Violence

An anniversary coming up in March may tempt many in Slovakia to celebrate something that is not celebrated officially: the founding of the wartime, Slovak state, a Hitler ally. We can expect some people to dust off our national coat-of-arms, the double-cross as well as the swastika, and to chant old slogans about the Jewish hegemony, updated to slogans about the European Union’s hegemony over the Slovaks, about the Muslims and, once again, about Jews.

Only a few weeks ago, neo-Nazis from all over Europe, most of them from Germany, rallied in the streets of Budapest holding photos of Hitler and waving their flags and swastikas. Nobody protested and there seemed to be no police presence. Sadly, we have grown accustomed to scenes like these in our part of the world.

There are many pertinent answers to the question of what makes fascism attractive to the youth. We know that its face can be seductive. As Yuval Harari suggests, it is like a mirror that reflects you looking much better than you actually are. In that mirror, you see your beloved nation – or race, or religion – instead of your actual self.  The pathway from the idea of moral superiority of your nation (race, religion) to violence and killing is extremely straightforward. Young people flaunting Hitler’s photos on their T-shirts some days ago in Budapest have already got there.  

On March 10 in Bratislava we want to tackle violence that is bleeding into our reality, whatever its triggers may be –toxic ideologies, frustration of those who feel left behind and are upset by the inability of the society to ensure human dignity for all, be it the overall atmosphere in society. We don’t attempt to approach the subject in a systematic way.  We will simply explore it from several different points of view: the perspective of Slovakia, Poland, United States, the Netherlands and Iraq. From the historical, linguistic and artistic perspectives, as well as the male and female, including a deeply personal perspective.




MICHAL HVORECKÝ (Bratislava – writer)


Joanna Connors has written a report about a cold case: her own. A conversation about an attempt to gain access to the heart of violence.

JOANNA CONNORS (Cleveland – journalist, writer, moderator)
Moderator CHRIS KEULEMANS (Amsterdam – writer)



Is there a code of violence? Panel discussion about the guilt and innocence of language.

Prof. RUTH WODAK (Vienna – linguist) – MARÍNA ZAVACKÁ (Bratislava – historian) – JACEK DEHNEL (Gdańsk – writer) –
Moderator CHRIS KEULEMANS (Amsterdam – writer)


HARIS PAŠOVIČ (Trieste, Sarajevo – theatre director)

Moderator MICHAL HVORECKÝ (Bratislava – writer)


A conversation between two worlds that do not want to talk to one another but have no other choice.

Docudrama, created and performed by CHRIS KEULEMANS and ENKIDU KHALED (Amsterdam – actors).