CFP: Cycles of Commemoration. Forced Labor in Europe during World War II.

International Forum, Willy Brandt Center Wrocław in corporation with the foundation „Rememberance, Responsibility and the Future” (EVZ), Wrocław/Poland, September 27-30, 2017.

The three day international forum provides the opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences around the commemoration of forced labor in Europe during World War II. In various formats like public talks, workshops and excursions, participants are invited to exchange their views on the history of NS-forced labor and the ways of commemoration in European comparison. The event is interdisciplinary and addresses researchers especially from history, cultural and social sciences, and experts from the historical-political education, as well as representatives of institutions, which deal with the commemoration of NS-forced labor. Young researchers are particularly welcome. Moreover, the international forum is a platform for receivers of research grants by the foundation EVZ on “Forced labor and forgotten Victims”.

The analysis of NS-forced labor was subject to different attention cycles since the end of World War II. At the end of the 20th century the academic and public interest in the history of forced labor was on the rise. With the fall of the Iron Curtain the debates extended their reach to the whole of Europe. A wide range of institutions and organizations dealing with forced labor, paid tribute to the victims and erected monuments and memorials. Not least of all the payments to former forced laborers raised public awareness in many countries of Europe.

As contemporary witnesses pass away we are facing a critical juncture of commemoration, which changes the perspective and the narratives of NS-forced labor and public interest seems to decline. The time of World War II is about to pass from contemporary history to history. Despite the disappearance of the so-called experience generation the subject of forced labor has not stopped being important and contemporary. Violence directed against the civilian population, the exploitation of the occupied territory and its inhabitants, abduction and forced migration are only some historical aspects with current references to the present political development in Europe and the world.

The aim of the international and interdisciplinary EVZ-forum is the search for answers to some basic questions:

How can we explain that the topic of forced labor was subject to different cycles during World War II?
Which influence did these developments have on the social memory of forced labor and its victims in West, East and Central Europe?
How is this subject present in the public of the affected countries (in official symbols, in regions and villages etc.),
Is there a cross-generational commemoration in the families and in which form?
Which differences exist between the commemoration of the subject in East and West?
What is the role of the knowledge about the granting of financial aid to the victims of forced labor in different countries and commemorative cultures?
Can new media, especially addressing young people, give new impulses to the engagement with the topic and help to keep the memory alive?
How can this subject be anchored in the educational work in schools, museums and memorials?
Which links to present political tendencies and debates arise from the commemoration of NS-forced labor?
Which new approaches to research on NS-forced labor can be found, especially with regard to gender history and public history?

Experts of the above mentioned disciplines from Western, Eastern and Central Europe are invited to submit contributions which deal with the broad field of the commemoration of NS-forced labor, with forms of commemoration, commemorative cycles, programs of educational services or insights in the subject itself. Contributions with a country comparative perspective are particularly welcome.

Proposals for talks (max. 30 min.) and workshops (to 1.5 hrs.) are welcome. Conference languages are Polish and English.

Abstracts in English (max. 500 words), together with a short curriculum vitae as a PDF file should be sent to:
Aleksandra Skibińska,

Deadline is July 16, 2017

Travel and accommodation can be covered on request.

The conference fee is 150 PLN

The international forum is hosted by Willy Brandt Center for German and European Studies, University of Wrocław in cooperation with the Universities in Bohum, Vienna and Tel Aviv.

The Scientific Committee of the Forum consists of:
Prof. Krzysztof Ruchniewicz, Willy Brandt Center for German and European Studies, University of Wrocław
Prof. Constantin Goschler, Ruhr University in Bohum/Germany
Prof. Philipp Ther, University of Vienna/Austria
Prof. Jose Brunner, University of Tel Aviv/Israel

The international forum is funded by the foundation „Rememberance, Responsibility and the Future” (EVZ).

Organizers reserve the right to select applications.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017
until 3.30 pm Enrolment
3.30 – 5.00 pm Sightseeing Tour
6.00 – 6.15 pm Welcome and Introduction
6.15 pm Keynote Lecture

Thursday, September 28, 2017
9.00 – 10.30 am Panel 1: Cycles of Memory, Clarification of the concepts from the perspective of the different disciplines
Coffee Break
11.00 – 12.00 am Panel 2: Forms of commemoration of NS-forced labor and its evaluation
Lunch Break / Exhibition opening

Parallel Panels/Workshops
1.00 – 3.30 pm Panel 3: Remembering or Forgetting the NS-forced labor in country comparison
1.00 – 3.30 pm Panel 4: Forms of commemorative political educational work: school books on trial (selected European examples)

Parallel Panels/Workshops
4.00 – 5.30 pm Panel 5: Research of the history of forced labor by young researchers and their main topics
4.00 – 5.30 pm Panel 6: Forms of presentation: Graphic Novel, Internet, WebDocu, Geo-Bache, exhibition, pamphlet, historical commemorative place etc.
6.15 pm Keynote

Friday, September 29, 2017
Parallel Panels/Workshop

9.00 – 10.30 am Panel 7: Competition of commemoration of forced labor in West and East Europe
9.00 – 10.30 am Panel 8: Commemoration by the affected and their descendants
Coffee Break
10.30 – 12.00 am Panel 9: open topic
Lunch Break
1.00 – 8.00 pm Excursions

Saturday, September 30, 2017
9.00 – 10.30 am Panel 10: Discussion: Which commemoration of NS-forced labor do we need?
Coffee Break
10.30 – 12.00 am Panel 11: Closing discussion

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