Multicoloured Barometer about Dealing with the Past

Materials: Coloured paper, papers with statements prepared beforehand


Exercise description

A few sets of papers are prepared beforehand, each with a statement/sentence. The papers should be of different colours if possible. When the first set of papers is laid out on the floor, the participants decide which paper to approach. A few of the participants are asked to comment on why they have approached that particular statement. First those standing by one statement are called on, before moving on to the next statement. When the last statement in the set has been commented on, the next set of statements is laid out.

Sets of statements:

  1. “I lived in the midst of the war”; “The war only touched me incidentally”; “The war did not directly affect my life”; “I watched the war on TV”.
  2. “Dealing with the past should be a priority in our societies”; “Dealing with the past is something I don’t understand”; “Dealing with the past is important, but there are many more important things”; “Dealing with the past is a concept imposed by the West”; “Other”.
  3. “Dealing with the past is the responsibility of non-governmental organisations”; “Dealing with the past is the responsibility of the state”; “Dealing with the past is not my responsibility”; “Dealing with the past is the responsibility of the victims”.
  4. “The most important thing is to convict the criminals”; “The most important thing is to establish the truth”; “The most important thing is satisfaction for the victims”; “The most important thing is for my side to admit it committed crimes”.
  5. “My society has progressed far in dealing with the past”; “My society has not even started this process”; “My society has made small steps”; “My society deals with the past every day”.



Type of exercise:


45-90 min


This exercise is useful to start working on the topic because it is a relatively quick and easy way to come to the exchange, by providing a better picture of the different experiences in the group, and it also provides information aabout the extent to which we have already taken a stand in relation to the topic. This kind of exchange contributes to better mutual understanding, which is of crucial importance for a constructive approach to the more demanding questions in this area. If a sound level of exchange has not yet been established in the group (or if the exercise is being done already on the first or second day of the training), it should be noted that it can be demanding for some people because it requires taking a clear stand on difficult issues.

Possible difficulties:

Workshop example: