The history of Nazi persecution in the Channel Islands during the German occupation of 1940-1945 has long been marginalised, even within the islands themselves. No ‘roll of honour’ was ever kept of those who were sent to prisons and concentration camps on the continent for acts of resistance. The exact numbers of those sent away are still not known. The memory of many of these people was not held in high esteem in the decades after the war. Discussion of the Jews deported from the Channel Islands was an even more delicate subject for discussion, as their story potentially involved the tabooed c-word (collaboration). This lecture sheds light on the silence surrounding victims of Nazism in the Channel Islands and gives voice to some of their extraordinary stories.
This lecture is part of a series of programming designed to highlight aspects of the exhibition, Dilemmas, Choices, Responses: Britain and the Holocaust, co-curated by the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Regional Ambassadors and the Wiener Library. Among other topics, the exhibition includes documents and pamphlets on Nazi persecution in the Channel Islands. Participants will have the opportunity to view the exhibition prior to the lecture.
Dr Gilly Carr is a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, where she is also a Fellow and Director of Studies at St Catharine’s College. Her research focuses on victims of Nazism in the Channel Islands, post-conflict heritage studies, and conflict archaeology. She is the author of over 50 publications. Recent publications include Protest, Defiance and Resistance in the Channel Islands: German Occupation 1940-1945 (Bloomsbury 2014, with Paul Sanders and Louise Willmot) and Legacies of Occupation: Heritage, memory and archaeology in the Channel Islands (Springer 2014). She has recently made a BBC documentary about her research which will be screened in May 2016.
Admission is free but booking is essential as space is limited.
As a consequence of the military defeat of the Axis powers and the establishment of communist regimes in eastern and southeastern Europe under Soviet domination, various organized groups decided to resist by force the newly established systems of repression and compulsion. In some cases these groups were newly formed; in others the roots were wartime. Sometimes they competed with one another. Appreciable combat operations continued into the 1950s and pinned down military resources of the USSR and its communist occupation regimes.
The Institute of Modern and Contemporary Historical Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Arenberg Foundation in Enghien (Belgium) plan a scholarly conference (also under the title VIth Arenberg Conference for History) to explore the forms and scope of violent resistance in eastern and southeastern Europe. The focus will be the transnational examination and analysis of the political, social, economic, and religious causes of such resistance.
This topic must first of all be contextualized within the history of communism and anti-communism as well as the history of political violence and resistance during the interwar years and the Second World War. The resisters’ images of the Soviet Union and Russia, their struggle against what was in part perceived as foreign (Russian) rule, and collaboration with the Third Reich must also be taken into consideration.
Through a comparative approach, both regional differences and commonalities in the violent struggles of these groups will be highlighted, while the resistance of Jewish groups and the participation of women must also be factored in.
The survey will also involve problems of definition, contextualization, periodization, and reception of resistance-activity (“freedom fighters” versus “counter-revolutionaries”). Individual conference contributions should deal with significant actors and groups, the limits and possibilities of action, areas of operation and retreat (such as border regions), backgrounds, resources, recruitment, intentions, motives and goals, the consequences of action, or counter-insurgency. Other key questions concern how such resistance was even possible and how the population at large reacted to it.
Because of the very nature of the topic, the problem of evidence is a difficult one given that the sources are both heterogeneous and confusing. As in the case of other controversial themes, the issue of contemporary witnesses, their experiences, and their memories will be raised within the framework of the conference. In this connection, the problem of resistance in historical memory from war’s end to the present day will likewise be broached.
The conference languages are English and German (no simultaneous interpretation). The publication of the conference proceedings is also planned.
The deadline for abstracts of proposed papers is 30 June 2016.
At the latest the conference will take place in the first quarter of 2017.
The deadline for submission of manuscripts for publication in the proceedings will be two months after the conclusion of the conference.
In case of interest, please send an abstract of 400-800 words to the following address:
Institut für Neuzeit- und Zeitgeschichtsforschung / Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften
1030 Wien, Österreich
Fax +43-1-51581-7330 www.oeaw.ac.at/inz
Imagine the scene: a June day in 1943, on the banks of the Marne, east of Paris. Young men and young women are swimming, then chatting in the shade. Because they are wearing very little and having fun it is unlikely that anyone passing by, even a Gestapo agent, might suspect that they are engaging in resistance activity. And that though this is France, the young people are in fact Romanian, Austrian and German.
In recent years, it has become fashionable to see resistance movements in German-occupied Europe not only as national – composed of nationals liberating their own country – but as transnational, people displaced from their country of origin, intending to liberate it when they can but for the moment working together with other displaced people wherever they found themselves in occupied Europe. On rare but fascinating occasions, transnational resistance might also operate across the frontier between occupiers and occupied, between people who were in theory on different sides of the war.
One of the young women on the banks of the Marne was Irma Rosenberg, who had fled to Paris in 1937 from Romania where she was persecuted doubly as Jewish and communist. She lived with another Romanian communist, Julien Mico, who joined the urban guerrilla resistance promoted by the organisation of foreign communists in France, the Main d’Oeuvre Immigrée (MOI). Irma joined another resistance network of the MOI, called Travail allemand or German Work, whose task it was to befriend German soldiers in cafés, department stores and tourist sites, and persuade them to desert, since Hitler was going to lose the war. German soldiers were often only too glad to talk to young women who did not look at them as the enemy, and spoke German. Another of the women was Lisa Bechmann, codename Maria, a Viennese communist who had come to Paris in 1927, married a Yugoslav communist called Milan Gavric, and served as a nurse with the International Brigades in Spain.
Meanwhile, one of the men on the bank was Hans Heisel, a working-class 21-year old, in the communications unit of the German Navy Ministry on the Place de la Concorde. Although he had been in the Hitler Youth, he was brought to question the Nazi occupation by his Yugoslav tailor, who was a communist, and by a comrade in the Ministry, Artur Eberhard, a singer by training, who opened his eyes to Beethoven’s Ninth and the French Revolution. He was then put in touch with Travail allemand and was invited to a swimming party to learn more about how it worked.
A conversion experience
Converted to the cause, Hans Heisel began covert propaganda in the German army, hiding anti-Nazi flyers in toilet rolls in the cafés and restaurants used by German soldiers. The communist resistance in France was always short of weapons, and when Maria asked him to procure a revolver urgently, he stole one from a belt handing up in a café reserved for the Wehrmacht. This served for a major operation by a Polish Jew, a German Jew, an Italian anti-fascist and a Spanish republican, who shot dead SS Colonel Julius Ritter in a Paris street on 28 September 1943.
It is not always easy to find a ‘transnational moment’ in which resisters from different nationalities and sides of the conflict came together and took part in a joint action. But in a 2009 interview Hans Heisel said, ‘The experience I had in Paris completely transformed me, made me into a true human being. Arthur saturated me with the ideas of the French Revolution, Maria persuaded me of the criminal nature of Nazism and of the need for solidarity between peoples. If there is a period of my life that I don’t in the least regret, it is that one’.¹
This encounter has an effect on all three characters. Hans Heisel took part in the liberation of Paris with French resisters and the liberation of Germany with the ‘Paris regiment’ of communist resister Pierre Georges, aka Colonel Fabien, who was killed at the front. Heisel returned to his native Bavaria and became worked in the Communist Youth Movement, but at the height of the Cold War in 1956, when the German Communist Party was banned in West Germany, spent 15 months in prison. Lisa Gavric was sent on a mission to Austria, where she was arrested by the Gestapo. She survived Ravensbrück and in 1948 went with her husband to Belgrade to help build the new socialist society in Yugoslavia. Irma Mico was pressed by the Romanian Communist Party, in power under the auspices of the Soviet Union after the war, to return with her husband to Romania, but she foresaw the harshness with which resisters with expose to the West would be treated, and remained in France. Franco-Israeli director Yonathan Levy made a film about her, entitled Das Kind, in 2010.
¹ Claude Collin, Le Travail allemand. Uneorganisation de la résistance au sein de la Wehrmacht (Paris, Les indes savantes, 2013), 100-1.
Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona (Spain)
On 15th and 16th December 2016, UAB’s GERD (Working Group on Republic and Democracy), with the support of RETTDES (Network of Studies on Totalitarianisms and Transitions to Democracy in 20th Century Europe), organizes the International Seminar ‘Violence and its Narratives (1936-1948)’.
In order to achieve a broad debate and to establish the current status of studies on violence in Spain between 1936 coup, war and postwar periods in comparative perspective, there will be a session devoted to the presentation of papers. These may deal with violence in Spain in all its variants (murders, political cleanings, concentrationary and prison systems, political repression) and analytical perspectives (definitions, cultural dimensions, justifications, enemy images, comparative dimension, etc.), taking as chronological limits the coup of 1936 and the end of Francoist martial law in 1948.
Those interested in participating must send an e-mail before May 30, 2016 to the secretariat of the seminar, Assumpta Castillo, firstname.lastname@example.org, including personal data, title of the proposal and a summary of about 100 words. Selected papers must be submitted before December 1st, and will be presented by their authors. Working languages will be Spanish, Catalan, English and Italian.
The Humanities Research Centre (HRC) was established in 1972 as a national and international centre for excellence in the Humanities and as a catalyst for innovative Humanities scholarship and research within the Australian National University. As a core part of its mission, the HRC welcomes visiting fellows from around the world. The HRC interprets the ‘Humanities’ generously. As well as supporting scholarship in traditional Humanities disciplines, its visiting fellowship programs encourage and support interdisciplinary and comparative research both within and beyond the Humanities. As members of the scholarly community at the HRC, visiting fellows make valuable contributions to its intellectual life, and to the intellectual life of the broader university community.
The theme for 2017 is ‘The question of the stranger’. Full details may be found below. This theme is not intended to constrain, but, interpreted imaginatively, to foster collaboration between scholars from diverse fields and backgrounds.
Visiting fellows are awarded grants to cover travel (up to $AUD3,000) and accommodation in Canberra. While we particularly encourage applicants working on projects connected to the annual theme, some fellowships will be awarded outside of this theme. One non-thematic fellowship will also be offered in partnership with the Australian National University’s Gender Institute.
Fellowships are from 6 to 12 weeks, with preference given to periods of longer duration. (Shorter and longer periods of tenure may be considered in special circumstances.)
All visiting fellows receive an office within the Centre, access to its facilities, and to the resources of the ANU library and the National Library of Australia. Residence in Canberra also offers enviable access to national and indigenous archives and to a variety of the nation’s cultural institutions. Fellows are encouraged to forge connections with other Australian universities and the HRC can assist in their negotiating assisted travel within Australia.
Applicants must have an institutional affiliation with a University or with an equivalent research organisation, and generally have at least a higher research degree or equivalent professional experience, research, and publications. The HRC aims to appoint fellows engaged in innovative research of a high calibre, and to select a mixture of early career scholars as well as more established researchers, and to achieve a gender balance.
Applications for 2017 fellowships are due 30 April, 2016.
Location: The Wiener Library, 29 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5DP Date: April 27, 2016
In WWII, death and violence permeated all aspects of everyday lives of ordinary people in Eastern Europe. Moreover, almost entire populations were drawn into fierce and uncompromising political and ideological conflicts, and many ended up being more than mere victims or observers: they themselves became perpetrators or facilitators of violence, often to protect their own lives but also to gain various benefits. Yugoslavia in particular saw a gradual culmination of a complex and brutal civil war, which ultimately killed more civilians than did the foreign occupying armies. This lecture will tell a story of the tremendous impact of such pervasive and multi-layered political violence, and will look at ordinary citizens’ attempts to negotiate these extraordinary wartime political pressures. It proposes to use Yugoslav psychiatric case files as unique windows into this harrowing history in order to gain an original perspective on the effects of wartime violence and occupation through the history of psychiatry, mental illness and personal experience. By looking at patient files as historical sources, it explores the socio-cultural history of wartime through the eyes of (mostly lower-class) psychiatric patients. Moreover, the experiences of observing, suffering and committing political violence critically affected the understanding of human psychology, pathology and normality in WWII and post-war Balkans and Europe. The lecture traces the formation and re-definition of psychiatric concepts, categories and practices in the context of extreme violence, Nazi occupation and post-war socialist revolution. It shows how such brutal external conditions and unprecedented anti-civilian violence transformed psychiatric and scientific paradigms, and changed psychiatric and broader public evaluations of the human psyche.
Ana Antic is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck. She is a social and cultural historian of twentieth-century Europe, with a special interest in the history of violence, everyday life and psychiatry. Her first manuscript, Therapeutic fascism: Experiencing the violence of the Nazi New Order in Yugoslavia, is forthcoming with OUP. Dr Antic is the joint winner of the 2015 Fraenkel Prize.