Since 1997, FORUM has been an integral part of the landscape of European studies. In addition to contemporary history, it offers insights into the history of ideas and reviews books on Central and Eastern European history. It offers more than just history—for instance, interdisciplinary discussions by political scientists, literary, legal, and economic scholars, and philosophers. FORUM sees itself as a bridge between East and West. Through the translation and publication of texts and contributions from Russian, Polish, and Czech researchers, it offers the Western reader access to the scholarly discourse of Eastern Europe.
The 'short' 20th century is one of the best-documented eras in history. Nevertheless, it holds more mysteries than many periods of antiquity or the Middle Ages of which we have only sparse relics. One of the biggest mysteries is the question of the causes of the collapse of civilization in the first half of the century. In Germany as well as in Russia, regimes came to power invoking the implementation of utopias that had been dreamt up during the 'long' 19th century yet which had been considered unrealizable. Now, it turned out, even the most radical utopian blueprint could be put into place. This development, intertwined with an extraordinarily deep crisis of European democracy, did not happen overnight. It had been looming for a long time. There had even been several prescient voices heralding the upcoming crisis—trailing away without being noticed. Volume 19, Issue 1 of FORUM recognizes some of these unheard prophets and scrutinizes their writings.