Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Research Projects


'Police Brutality and the State in Socialist Poland’ (Joachim von Puttkamer): Like other communist regimes, Poland has a long record of political violence after the Second World War. The attempts to curb violence and police brutality are less known. The project investigates the dynamics of police violence since the early 1950s and its impact on public awareness and the stability of the regime.


‘After the Germans: Sobibór and Shoah Memory since 1944’(Raphael Utz): The Project explores the relationship and the tension between Sobibór as a topographical space and the development of Shoah memory as a moral category. Looking at memorialisations, literary and artistic representations, and the contribution of survivors in their contemporary contexts, the research focus is on actors and their role in the construction and re-construction of narratives surrounding the key Shoah site.


'The uses and abuses of law in shaping historical narratives in post-Soviet democracies' (Eva-Clarita Pettai): The project is concerned with how and to what end political and judicial elites of post-communist states have (ab)used the law not only for righting past wrongs, but also to regulate and shape how the past is being narrated and presented in public. To this end, I focus on the post-Soviet Baltic states, but also consider other cases in the region to trace different patterns and practices of writing and negotiating history in courts, through various kinds of legislation, and via state institutions.


'Doing History: Historical Reenactment as Performative Practice in the US, Germany and Poland'  (Juliane Tomann). The project focusses on reenactments as a social and corporeal practice that aims at experiencing, reconstructing and staging past events by reenactors in the present. Different examples/ case studies are being researched from three countries, namely the United States, Germany and Poland, with the hope of being able to provide a comparative perspective on the issues. Special attention is being paid to the gender perspective and the agency of women: How are gendered narratives being produced in historical reenactments?


Associated Projects

'Tribunals. War crime trials in socialist Yugoslavia' (Dr Sabina Ferhadbegović) - funded by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft/ German Research Foundation)

The project focuses on the Yugoslav prosecution of the war crimes in aftermath of the Second World War. The primary aim is to break with the prevailing tradition of looking at Yugoslav war crimes trials solely from the perspective of retribution. Their purpose was not only to punish and eliminate the former or potential combatants but also to overcome the implications of the civil war and integrate the Yugoslav society. Military trials were also an experimental ground for the development and the implementation of the concept of the revolutionary justice and socialist law. How did they influence the state-building process of Second Yugoslavia?
Before the World War II Yugoslav legal scholars participated in discussions about international criminal law. But what rules and ideas guided Yugoslavian Communists to their law concepts and what traditions, ideological agenda and international developments influenced their jurisdiction of war crimes? Soviet Union was their role model. The adaption of soviet criminal law took place already during the war. The war crime trials can only be analyzed assuming that parallel history just as well as considering the specific Yugoslav situation: The experience of the civil war and the victory of the Partisan movement.
The project emphasizes different, partly simultaneous developments: the transition from the civil war to peace, the communist take-over of power, the participation of Yugoslav jurists in the development of the international criminal law, the building of the Yugoslav State Commission for the investigation of the crimes of the invaders and their assistants and the reorganization of the courts and the jurisdiction.
The analysis of the Yugoslav War Crimes Commissions and their work takes the central part of the examination. How did they impact the Yugoslav perception of law and justice, which is visible until today, as we can see in discussions about the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and in Rehabilitation of former convicts as Draža Mihailović.
Works on Yugoslavia in aftermath of the Second World War rarely adopt the current international research results on civil wars and transitional justice. This project combines current interdisciplinary discussions and links them with Yugoslav experiences analyzing the impact of the war crime trials on the Yugoslav society and integrating the Yugoslav developments in broader European context.