Project Brüder – The Search For A Common European Story

Project Brüder is looking for young musicians from different countries with a family story related to the First World War.

Brüder, the German word for Brothers, is the search for a common European story. A story that was forged during the ‘great seminal catastrophe of the 20th century’: the First World War. This ‘Great War’ left the world with over 37 million dead and wounded, reshaped Europe’s geographic borders and drastically changed social and (geo) political relationships. Until now, only the Second World War, an event even more devastating, overshadowed the ‘Great’ one’s impact.

This traumatic legacy is part of my family’s history, stated Hendrik Jan. My German grandmother’s youngest brother died on the Eastern front in 1916, twenty-four years old. Some decades later my father fought with the Germans on the Eastern front as an eighteen-year-old Dutch volunteer. He survived, but the trauma he sustained was a dominant factor in our relationship. My father’s war stories and the tales about his German ancestors have had a major impact in my life. Being descendant of these men I feel a certain responsibility for what happened during the World Wars. As a European, and a world citizen I, therefore, want to do my part to keep alive the memory of the universal and intense suffering war brings. By doing so we may keep remembering what happens when we let nationalism and intolerance prevail.

All over Europe, people have family stories like mine. Project Brüder remembers the ordeal our forefathers went through 100 years ago, and by doing so emphasizes the importance of keeping together as Europeans. With project Brüder young, talented musicians from various nationalities are invited to speak about their forefathers who were involved in the First World War and to make an artistic statement: What happened to them and what does this mean to their descendants today?

The stories, told by the musicians themselves, will be filmed on a relevant location, like a former battlefield or the forefathers’ hometown. At the time, contemporaries from all involved countries wrote poems to express their thoughts and to give words to unimaginable experiences. These lyrics are still very powerful and largely relevant today. Therefore participating musicians will be asked to turn a contemporary national war poem of choice into a piece of music. The resulting work will be recorded in collaboration.

My goal is to make a documentary film in which about five musicians tell their story, using their compositions as a soundtrack. The film aims to show that, although we may come from different countries and/or cultures, we are connected through the sacrifice our forefathers made. The film will be released in November 2018, 100 years after the ‘Great War’ ended.

To realize project Brüder I am looking for young talented musicians with a relevant story they want to share, and investors to fund the project. We are looking for talents from (or having roots in) all countries (including former colonies, protectorates or parts of empires) that took part in the First World War. Basic selection criteria are:

  • The musician has a traceable family story directly related to the First World War
  • The musician is willing and able to share his/her story on camera and to travel (if necessary), compose and record
  • The musician has  or is developing a (semi) professional practice as a composer/performer
  • The musicians’ work has a (modest) fan base

Possible (not exhaustive) countries participants may come from are: Algeria, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Egypt, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Moldavia, Morocco, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Scotland, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales.

Are you a young musician with a family story from the First World War? Or do you want to support project Brüder as an individual, organization, or company?

Contact them at 

Project Brüder website