First launched in 1994, the annual “workshop on history and memory of NS concentration camps” is a self-organized research framework run by Ph.D. candidates and former participants. A well-established trans-European discussion forum, the workshop facilitates the scholarly exchange between participants through problem-oriented discussion on current research issues and research results regarding the history and memory of the NS concentration camps. Young scholars who are not yet established in academic research and/or museological work are particularly invited to apply. This year’s workshop will be held from August 31 to September 4 in Bremen in collaboration with the “Denkort Bunker Valentin” (“Submarine Bunker Valentin Memorial”) and the University of Bremen.
Our discussions will revolve around the interrelated topics of forced labor, exploitation and war production and shall include various excursions to the historical sites of the “Bunker Valentin” and its surroundings.
The first panel of the workshop will take issue with forced labor in the National Socialist camp system. Subsequently, the different dimensions of the exploitation of the prisoners in the NS camp system will be discussed. The third focus of the workshop will correspond with the historical function of the “Bunker Valentin” as a production site for weapons of war.
We intend to bring into focus the economic as well as the social and ideological premises and consequences of the national socialist war production. This can be exemplified in Bremen Farge, at the site of “Bunker Valentin” and its surroundings.
We invite contributions that critically deal with these or related topics. Some further (non-conclusive) suggestions:
- The NS concentration and extermination camp system: Ideology vs. Economy
- “Extermination through labor“?
- The history and development of the camps / weapons of war production sites
- The role of the German economy in the exploitation of forced labor
- Gender specific aspects of forced labor and exploitation: types of forced labor, survival strategies and chances of survival
- Dimensions of perpetration, agency and “Handlungsspielräume” of perpetrators, profiteers, bystanders and victims
- Visibility of inmates and the NS camp system in the public / public dimension of inmates and the NS camp system: travel through the public sphere to forced labor sites
- Overlap between camps and their surrounding environment: “shared places of work” (civilian workers in concentration camps and concentration camp production sites), economic relations: supply of the camps from the immediate surroundings, “out-sourcing” of prisoner-labor
- “camp society/prisoner society” / “construction site society”
- Organizational structures and personnel policy in the NS camp system
- Ramifications of forced labor and war production on the “camp society/prisoner society”: system of “prisoner functionaries”, hierarchies
- Resistance, sabotage
- “Wunderwaffen” (“wonder weapon”) production in the final stage of the war: military, economic and ideological dimensions
- Postwar dimension: reparations, former forced laborers and their relations with society
- Perception of subcamps, social dealings with the subcamps after 1945
Idea and Concept
The workshop pursues a pronouncedly interdisciplinary approach; it is therefore addressed equally to historians, psychologists, social scientists, linguists and cultural scientists. In recent years physicians and geographers have also successfully participated in the workshop, adding their specific research perspectives, approaches and interests and thus making valuable contributions to the discussion; continuing this fruitful interdisciplinary approach is one of our main objectives, as well as preserving the open spirit of cooperation, exchange of information and debate.
Considering the workshop character of the event, we do not ask for the presentation of completed work, but rather for insights in current research, and discussions of research problems and open questions. The creation of an atmosphere free of hierarchy and competition has been one of the most valuable traditions of the workshop and it is of particular importance to us to continue in this spirit.
Talks should not exceed 20 minutes, with an ensuing discussion of 30 minutes. Workshop languages will be German and English, and simultaneous translation will be provided. Contributors are obliged to send a meaningful paper (ca. 10 pages, in German with an English abstract or in English) to all participants prior to the workshop.
We ask all applicants to send an abstract of two pages maximum (in German with a short English summary or in English) together with a short biography until March 15, 2012 to the following address: email@example.com.
Applicants will be informed about their inclusion in the workshop until March 31, 2012. We expect to be able to cover the costs for accommodation and travel. Traditionally, the contributions to the workshop are subsequently published.
Kai Michael Becker, Noah Benninga, Dennis Bock, Henrike Illig, Agnieszka Ines Nikliborc