CFP: 14th Workshop on the history of the concentration camps “The Memory of the Camps: actors, topics, strategies”

Andreas Ehresmann, Philipp Neumann, Alexander Prenninger, Régis Schlagdenhauffen in cooperation with the Research Centre for Contemporary History Hamburg (FZH) and the Concentration Camp Memorial Neuengamme, Hamburg, 31.10.2007-4.11.2007, Concentration Camp Memorial Neuengamme

Since its establishment in 1994, the annual “Workshop on the history of the concentration camps” has become an international discussion forum for doctoral candidates and young postgraduate researchers working on the history or the memory of the National Socialist concentration camps.

The workshop provides an opportunity for researchers from different fields of the social and human sciences to present a paper and to put it up for debate. Furthermore the workshop offers the possibility to enter into a fruitful exchange of ideas and to discuss current trends in research beyond discipline.

The workshop is organized by doctoral candidates in cooperation with the Research Centre for Contemporary History Hamburg (FZH) and the Concentration Camp Memorial Neuengamme. The conference program includes an excursion to the Bergen-Belsen Memorial. Papers presented at the workshop will be published in the conference proceedings.

We are looking for contributions on three major topics:

1) the history of the concentration camps after liberation and the cultures of memory related to these camps; 2) the conception, organization and development of concentration camp memorials (specifically of Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen); 3) Methodological reflexions on interdisciplinary approaches in concentration camp research (specifically concerning the use of testimonies as a source).

1. This year, the workshop puts emphasis on the memory of the National Socialist concentration camps. Following Reinhart Koselleck’s suggestion, Aleida Assmann recently proposed a model for the joint analysis of individual and collective memory which combines four questions: Who is remembered? What is remembered? How is remembered? And: Who is remembering? Proceeding from the last question, the workshop focalizes on the question, by whom the memory of the camps has been conveyed and sustained. Among these actors of remembrance, the survivors often were the first who dedicated themselves to transmit their experiences to the public and to following generations. They initiated the establishment of survivors’ organizations on the local, national or international level. And they often were the driving force for the erection of monuments and memorials. The concentration camp memorials themselves, too, are important bearers of memory. Preserving and remembering the camps has also become the task of many civil society organizations, of public administrations, and, quite recently, of the European Union. Practically unexplored until now is the counter-memory of the perpetrators. Therefore, we are asking which individuals, groups, associations, states, and supra-national organizations have produced, interpreted, organized, appropriated, transmitted or even exploited the memory of the camps. What were the underlying motivations of the key players? Which material and idealistic resources were at their disposal to push their claims and to which effects? Which constellations and conflicts did result from their activity? Contributions should take into account these and further actors as well as the questions mentioned above: Who, what, and how is remembered?

2. With regard to the focus of the workshop, we are particularly interested in contributions on the history of concentration camp sites after 1945, the conception, establishment and development of camp memorials, the topography of such memorials, the artistic design, the forgetting and/or rediscovery of forgotten camp sites etc. The location of this year’s workshop, Neuengamme Memorial, can be seen as exemplary for how West Germany dealt with historic sites of the Nazi period. After long-lasting conflicts on the realization and enlargement, the memorial, in its current shape, contains multiple layers of utilization before and after 1945. The topography of the memorial reflects the claims of different actors on the local, national and international level. Furthermore, Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen are both at the moment in a phase of restructuring on the basis of recent historical, pedagogical and creative insights. A comparative approach to the development of the two memorials is imposing. By taking place in Neuengamme, the workshop also expands its focus to the Scandinavian countries whereas last year, the centre of interest was laid on Western Europe.

3. Following the conception of previous workshops, we encourage the reflection of methodological questions in historical research and adjacent disciplines. We are especially looking for contributions on new and innovative approaches to the critical use of survivors’ testimonies as a source.

Participants are required to attend the full workshop to enhance the exchange of ideas. Presentations should last about 20 minutes followed by a discussion. Separate panels are scheduled for comprehensive discussions.

This call is addressed to doctoral candidates and recently graduated researchers who are working on the history and the memory of the concentration camps. We particularly invite researchers from the Scandinavian countries, from Poland and other Eastern European countries, from France and the Benelux countries to submit proposals. Conference languages will be German and English.

Please send a one-page proposal and CV via email to [email protected]. The deadline is April 30, 2007. The decision on the papers will be communicated by end of May.