Annual Conference 2017

Jena, June 8-9, 2017

EASTERN EUROPE FACING THE SHOAH – A HISTORY OF ENGAGEMENT, 1941–2016

Conceived and implemented by Germans, the Shoah took place in occupied Central and Eastern Europe. During and after the war, the daunting task for all German occupied countries was to engage with what the Germans had set in motion and were implementing. In recent years, public debate on these complex issues has been increasingly polarized: histories of participation have been juxtaposed with histories of saving Jews and both have been regarded as statements on national character. Engagement with German occupation and policy, however, was considerably more nuanced and complicated.

Any history of Eastern Europe engaging with the Shoah, therefore, must begin by exploring the different German occupation regimes in different countries. These different realities of war and occupation, together with greatly differing cultural, economic and social circumstances and traditions account for a wide variety of reactions to the anti-Jewish German policy of genocide. Ranging from indifference to resistance, from witnessing to collaboration, these reactions as part of Shoah history had considerable influence on framing the research into the Shoah after the Second World War.

With Eastern Europa largely under Soviet control after the war, state socialism was a formative influence on research and memory of the Shoah, just as the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reemergence of sovereign nation states had a major impact on the relationship between Eastern European societies and the history of the Shoah.

The conference aims to explore this history of engagement: The events during the war are analyzed not only in their importance at the time but in the impact they had and have until today. Four panels and one concluding discussion will bring together international experts for an important attempt to map Eastern Europe’s relationship with the Shoah in historical perspective.

The program of the conference will follow shortly.