Dr. Leo Ensel, born in 1954 and currently residing in Oldenburg, is a prominent conflict researcher and intercultural trainer with a specialized focus on the post-Soviet space and Central and Eastern Europe. In the 1980s, he made a significant contribution to the West German peace movement by publishing a book addressing humanity's inability to adequately fear the potential nuclear self-destruction of mankind. This work showcased his early commitment to exploring the psychological dimensions of peace preparation.
His academic journey includes a dissertation on the reciprocal images of East and West Germans during the early stages of German reunification. Dr. Ensel's intellectual pursuits reflect a keen interest in understanding the cultural dynamics and perceptions that shape geopolitical landscapes.
From the mid-1990s onwards, Dr. Ensel has conducted numerous intercultural training sessions, particularly at local Goethe Institutes. His training sessions have been a crucial bridge between different cultures, focusing on Central and Eastern European countries such as Poland, the Baltic States, Finland, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Additionally, he has extended his expertise to the post-Soviet region, encompassing Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Armenia. His training sessions delve into the respective images of Germany and the complementary national self-images prevalent in these diverse regions.
In the face of the new West-East conflict, Dr. Ensel's primary concern is the mitigation of false narratives, de-escalation, and reconstruction of trust between nations. Since March 2014, when Crimea was still part of Ukraine, he has been contributing essays with the overarching goal of preventing a new Cold War, or worse, and advocating for the reconstruction of Mikhail Gorbachev's vision of a "Common European Home."
Dr. Ensel's commitment to his cause is evident in his personal interactions with key figures. He has had meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev in spring 2017 and summer 2019 at Gorbachev's Moscow Foundation. Additionally, he had the opportunity to meet with Stanislav Petrov, often referred to as the "Man who saved the world," in the summer of 2016, just nine months before Petrov's passing, at his flat in Fryazino near Moscow.
His literary contributions include impactful books such as "Richtige Angst und falsche Furcht – Psychologische Friedensvorbereitung und der Beitrag der Pädagogik" (Frankfurt/M. 1984), "Warum wir uns nicht leiden können – Was Ossis und Wessis voneinander halten" (Münster, 1993), "Bilder vom fremden deutschen Alltag – Szenische Erkundung des innerdeutschen Ost-West-Konflikts" (Oldenburg 1996), and "Deutschlandbilder in der GUS: Szenische Erkundungen in Russland und Kasachstan" (Oldenburg 2001).
Importantly, Dr. Ensel underscores his independence, emphasizing his commitment solely to the mentioned topics and not aligning with any national narrative. This commitment reinforces his dedication to fostering understanding and cooperation in the complex geopolitical landscape he navigates.