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