Nearly thirty years have passed since the first bricks of the Berlin wall fell. Nearly three decades ago, Central European nations emancipated themselves from the iron fist of the Soviet Union and transitioned their way “back to Europe”. Nearly fifteen years have passed since the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary joined the EU.
Today, the “tragedy of Central Europe”, as skilfully depicted by Milan Kundera, seems far away, and the four Visegrad countries have resumed their rightful place at the heart of Europe. Or have they?
Nearly thirty years have passed since the Berlin wall came crumbling down; yet, the wall is still standing in the minds of many. From Chamberlain’s tragically notorious rebuttal of “people of whom we know nothing about” to Chirac’s famous outburst regarding countries that “missed a great opportunity to shut up”, relations between Western nations and their Central European neighbors have often been governed and driven by painful misunderstandings, infamous clichés, and unprincipled prejudices.
Despite the incredible flow of businessmen, politicians, students, entrepreneurs or tourists who flock in mass to Central Europe; despite stronger-than-ever political and economic ties, Central European nations still appear, to many, as far-away, exotic countries of impenetrable ways; their culture, history, traditions, and worldviews remain largely unknown, or misunderstood, if not looked down upon. Hardly a week ever passes without someone proclaiming that Europe is fractured, hopelessly divided; hardly a week ever passes without someone pointing – either with despair, resignation or malevolent satisfaction – to the ever-widening gap between “East” and “West”.
Kafkadesk’s aim is not to reduce these differences or gloss over current problems and divisions; our purpose is not to artificially tone down points of fracture or bridge this gap by denying its very existence. Far from it. We believe, however, that these differences can, if properly explained and understood, become an incredible source of wonder, an inexhaustible token of Europe’s diversity instead of conveying, as is often the case today, a sense of anguish, unease, and insecurity.
Kafkadesk was therefore created to highlight these countries specificities and uniqueness; explain and inform the roots and factors of current events; combat clichés where they need to be and corroborate them where they should. Kafkadesk will give you all the keys to understand what’s going on, providing all the background to make sense of the flashy headlines. We will help you, in other words, navigate the Kafkaesque mazes of Central Europe.
By giving the floor to locals and expats alike, businessmen and Erasmus students, experts and analysts, Kafkadesk will keep you updated on the most recent news, keep you informed on the must-see events of vibrant cultural and artistic scenes and give you practical tips on how to get around, where to go and what to do.
Last but not least, Kafkadesk works as an open platform and interactive community. So feel free to contact us to discuss a topic, ask a question or give us some feedback on an article you may have particularly (dis)liked!