Grassroots “Détente”

‘A Citizens Search for Common Ground in a Divided Europe’

In the early 1980’s some of the dissident members of the Warsaw Pact Countries supported by the Helsinki Accords signed in 1975, tried to create more space for citizenship and establish a more civil community. This reversal in attitude reflected the original approach, way of thinking and working of organizations such as IKV (Interchurch Peace Council) and Pax Christi. 

The strategy of the Dutch Peace Council, called ‘Ontspanning van Onderop’ (Grassroots Détente) was to involve civilians and local organizations in the debate about geopolitical issues concerning peace and the Cold War. Civilians were to play an important role in dismantling antagonistic notions and enemy sterotyping between Western Europe and The Sovjet-Union.

The Journey of the Razzia (Reis van de Razzia) project examines and researches the heritage of the Peace Movement which originated immediately after World War II and which eventually evolved in to the strategy “Ontspanning van Onderop”. A valid research question would be if that strategy is relevant for today’s citizens and if a civilian is able to truly influence matters of war, hostilities and peace in the vast geopolitical battlefields that are still haunted by the shadow of the Cold War. 

This project is based upon the heritage of traditional initiatives such as Jumelage, or Town Twinning, whereby citizens of either town are enabled and encouraged to socialize and interact with one another on a municipal level in order to get acquineted with an unfamiliar framework, overcoming historical borders.