30 years has passed since the Fall of the Berlin Wall. New generation of people who had not directly encountered or experienced the history of that time had already grew up. However, historians are still reluctant to actively research the period of transition and write about it very little, mainly focusing on facts and dates. Suddenly, you realize that your knowledge about the era is quite primitive and superficial.

How to think of an important historical period when all we have about it are only memories? Young people, students of history and political science were interviewed during the online consultations in order to find out how they percieve the transition period in their country and region. Also, they were trying to evaluate the significance of the transition period in their lives nowadays.

Lithuania + Latvia:

3 online consultations with the youth: (2 Lithuanian consultations and 1 Latvian consultation) - it all gathered 19 people from Lithuania (12), Latvia (6) and Poland (1).

All three consultations were held in September - October.


1) 2 online consultations with 16 students from Poland in September and November.

2) 2 online consultations with 5 Polish academics in June - July. 


1) 2 online consultations with young 20 Hungarian students in October.

2) 2 online consultations with 6 scholars from Hungary in July. 

90s history in the Baltic States, Poland and Hungary is still poorly researched. Any attempt to present a period of the past, historically studied in a rather fragmented way already has some indication of how past events should be remembered and evaluated. This is a challenge that worries younger researchers, as attempts to look more scientifically to the past can easily be blamed by the older generation for what they think is the misinterpretation because in their minds they know better how everything went as they lived during that time and remember.

It is a common practice to begin writing history as soon as archives are opened, allowing the access to previously sensitive documents. It is a popular belief that we cannot explore the era earlier as we do not have access to all the data. In other words, there are fears to study and write about the period when there is still a possibility to suddenly learn new unexpected facts about main figures from the time of transformation and it might change the whole perception of the 90s period. What would happen if after writing one version of past events, the new circumstances negating it would appear?

There were many similarities among the students in the Baltic States. The 1989 is more associated with the Singing revolution instead of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. The Singing revolution is seen as very influential and the events are viewed as fascinating and inspiring. The main reason for that could be the fact that 1989 was not just the change of the regime in Latvia and Lithuania, but also the time when those countries gained their independence. The people were actually striving to create their own countries and resisted the Soviet Union. To some young people it is the time of the glory when the generation of their parents gained freedom and opened opportunities. At the same time, they understand that the transformation period is not so easy to explain: there was no one goal or one vision for the future of their countries that all the people desired unanimously. So nowadays this not well researched memory of transition period could be used in political debates to justify their decisions. 

In Poland the change in political system was not as radical since Poland was not a part of Soviet Union so the 1989 were different in Poland. Polish students are not as inspired by their transition period as Lithuanians and Latvians. But they recognise the significance of the Solidarity and the events of transition period to the current politics in Poland. For instance, Polish Church gained its influence during the transition period as it acted together with Solidarity and was seen as one of the biggest anti-communist democratic force. This helped them to stay in power to this day and impose the politics young poles are not satisfied with. Hence, the transition period could be seen as polarising and separating the generations. 

Meanwhile, the students in Hungary does not consider the 1989 as the time of real system change but rather change in the system because it was initiated not by the people but by the political elite. People did not want to be involved in politics, they just wanted to live like Austrians. So, the 1989  does not belong to the young generation and no current political agenda could be based on it. However, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 might be more important as it was the time that people really tried  to change the regime themselves. Also, the events of 1956 are way more discussed than 1989 so it has greater significance for the students in Hungary.

All in all, the 1989 has different meaning for the young people from different countries which depends on the past and current situation of each country. Thus, it is not possible to consider the 1989 as one dimensional turning point in Eastern Europe when communist regime was defeated, all of the Europe became democratic and we reached some kind of the end of History and 1989 could be even more relevant for the Europe than we see.