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A Lesson in Heritage


Littland

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As the clock struck 09:01 professor Heiko was officially late.

Andreas wasn’t too worried, Heiko was often late, and it gave him more time to finish his coffee and get a few more notes ready before the lecture. That wasn’t always easy. Heiko had a reputation as being the most chaotic teacher in Halling University, he had been described as a preacher of history, that’s partly why Andreas signed up. His lessons were a flurry of emotions, dramatizations and deep discussions on how people and events change the course of history.

Andreas was especially excited for today's lesson, on the Treaty of Kehlborg. Possibly the most controversial topic in Littish history, an eternal black spot. He didn’t know too much about it, but he knew the basics. Littland won a war over the Ruvians, they made the Ruvians sign this treaty and ever since the Littish placed their boot firmly on the Ruvians face. Only until after the civil war did tension ease up. But its effects were much more discussed than the treaty itself. Andreas almost majored in Law, so he was quite interested in old treaties and law codes.

 

It was now 09:03 and Heiko entered the room, he had obviously been rushing to the classroom.

Sorry I am late, some old punk took my parking space

Heiko spoke in a Ruvian accent, it wasn’t too noticeable, but his pronunciation of some words were obviously not native Littish. He had told stories about growing up in Nebel and how someone always took his parking space outside the university, where there are no permanent parking spaces.

 

Alright then, are we ready to hate our heritage?

Heiko said with a smile. The classroom, full of young Littish students, didn’t react much.

 

Well you should. It’s important to learn about past mistakes, the sins of our fathers if you will.

You may know the basics of the Treaties which made the Kingdom ‘evil’ against the Ruvian people.

Lack of political influence, removed land rights, restrictions on movements, semi-serfdom, blah blah blah.

But what ABOUT-

Heiko slammed a big folder on his desk. The whole room jumped.

 

What we don’t know?

What I have here is top secret government files on the historical Treaty of Kehlborg, or as us Ruvians called it, The Black Deal.

It’s officially been released today as part of the government's initiative to open the Kingdom's secret archives to the public.

Bullshit I say, if it was secret we wouldn’t even know about it.

This is the tip of the iceberg.

Andreas caught himself leaning forward in his chair. Heiko's classes were a ride, but this was shaping up to be a journey.

 

So? Let me ask you all…

Heiko sat on his desk and looked at the class.

 

Why do you believe genocide is morally incorrect?

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Silence filled the room like a thick fog.

 

Tough question I know, but morality is really the key in this subject, what is good and bad? Who decides, and why do we agree?

 

Heiko waived the folder around a bit, obviously hinting toward the Treaty as deciding morality

 

Before Højsbø started writing about nationalism, this Treaty was all that separated Ruvians and Litts. Genocide, or, serfdom – slavery in modern form, was made the law of the land.

This would lead to over a century of Ruvian oppression and discrimination, even when it ended, it continued because it was seen as the moral way to be against the Ruvians.

 

One of the girls at the front of the class, Lisbeth, started talking, Andreas always knew to zone her out.

 

Um… professor, that seems like quite the heavy accusation. We’ve all learned about the general trends before the war against the Ruvians. I guess you could say-

 

Andreas wasn’t listening any more, his bullshit-filter was up. He looked a bit at his notes until he could hear Heiko again, who seemed just as annoyed as he was.

 

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Okay yes, but, your question? Heiko finally interrupted.

 

Yeah, so like, most of the big key points happen after the Treaty and the Treaty itself, was as you said in your class notes…

 

Which you weren’t supposed to read until I say so, as it says at the top?

 

Yeah, those, that the Treaty itself “is a parchment guarantee on Ruvian rights”. What does that even mean? Like is it-

 

Thank you! I will take it from here.

 

Heiko took a piece of paper out from the folder on his desk.

 

When Svend the 5th signed this Treaty, he promised to protect Ruvian rights. Treating them as equal to his Littish subjects. The treaty, in reality, made over a million people his personal property.

Ruvians were subject to the Throne of Ruvia, which the Littish King had taken for himself. No laws applied, no protections, no rights, not even the right to move between villages, you were a thing.

This is why it's about morality. It isn't about if Littland should have annexed Ruvia, they did win the war. It's if the King should have taken the Ruvian people as war treasure. There is a statue of Svend V here downtown. I'm Ruvian. It's like looking at the person who killed your grandmother.

 

Heiko had mentioned before how he was distantly related to Ruvian nobility. That fact hung heavy in the room. Andreas couldn't imagine how that must feel, and never thought of the statue that way. No wonder it was always spray-painted red.

Before Heiko was about to continue, he looked at the clock and saw class was almost over.

 

That's all for today, sadly. We will continue tomorrow. I want you all to consider morality and what makes history blurry in that field. We will discuss it in groups next time. And don't read the notes beforehand, please.

 

Andreas quickly packed his things. He wanted to ask Heiko a couple of things before he left.

He had to. He simply had to know more and see those papers.

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