‘The good soldier.’ Ideal, instrument of manipulation or contradiction in itself?

‘The good soldier.’ Ideal, instrument of manipulation or contradiction in itself?

German Association for Historical Peace & Conflict Studies in co-operation with NTNU and the Norwegian Air Force Academy
Royal Air Force Academy - luftkrigsskolen Persaunvegen 61, 7046 Trondheim
Vom - Bis
15.10.2015 - 16.10.2015
Maria Fritsche

Over the last few years, a number of military conflicts have erupted or re-emerged all over the world. Older types of wars between national states have largely been replaced by civil wars, terrorist or guerrilla wars, and military and „humanist“ interventions by third-state actors. What has remained a constant, though, is that all participants in the conflicts evoke an ideal of the good soldier that is intended to legitimise participation in the conflict and to secure the allegiance of the fighters.

The conference seeks to establish the historical roots and developments of the normative ideal of the good soldier and discuss the norm in its variety of meanings and ambiguities. The aim is to identify what attributes identify a ‚good‘ soldier at specific points in history and to explain how these attributes were interlinked with military, political as well as wider societal needs. Who was involved in the production of the norm of the ‚good‘ soldier? How was the norm promoted and implemented, and which purposes did it serve? Is the ideal of a ‘good soldier’, which is after all a moral category, not a contradiction in itself, given that the use of violence is not only part of the soldier’s job, but his raison d’etre?


DAY 1 15th October 2015
08:45 – 9:00 Introduction Dean of Air Force Academy Karl Erik Haug & Maria Fritsche

9:00 – 10:10 Panel Soldierly Self-perceptions & Social Practice, Part 1
- Magnus Koch (Hamburg), Ways of justification being a Wehrmacht deserter during and after WWII (Germany, WWII to 1990s)
- Matilda Greig (European University Institute, Florence), Diverse images of the Napoleonic soldier in veterans’ popular published memoirs (Britain and France, 1807-1914)

10:10 – 10:20 coffee break

10:20 – 11:30 Panel Soldierly Self-perceptions & Social Practice, Part 2
- Anders Ahlbäck (Helsinki University), Contesting images of military manliness in Finland, 1918–1939
- Oleksiy Salivon (Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, Stuttgart/Germany), A good Jewish soldier and his body in the German Empire in the late 19th and early 20th century

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch

12:40 – 14:30 Panel Soldierly Self-perceptions & Social Practice, Part 3
- Senem Kaptan (Rutgers University, New Jersey), From Ideal Citizens to Military Culprits: Service and Sacrifice in Turkey's Sledgehammer Trial (contemporary Turkey)
- Tormod Heier (Norwegian Defence University College, Oslo), Balancing Civic and Military Virtues in post-modern societies (contemporary Norway)
- Sarit Cofman-Simhon (Kibbutzim College of Education and Arts, Tel Aviv), Shooting and Crying: Representing Soldiers in the Israeli Theatre (contemporary Israel)

14:30 – 14:55 coffee break

14:55 – 16:45 Panel Norm-setting from Above, Part 1
- Julie LeGac (Paris Sorbonne), A brave and fierce soldier: a demanding model for a French army in search of recognition (France, 1943-45)
- Klaas Voss (Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung), Soldiers Homes, Invalid Companies, Veterans Colonies ¬– Changing Notions of Reintegration (Western World, 19th century
- Bastian Matteo Scianna (London School of Economics & Political Science), Tracing role models in the desert: the Italian military’s narrative of El Alamein as “glorious defeat”

DAY 2 16th October 2015
08:50 – 10:00 Panel Norm-setting from Above, Part 2
- Vaclav Smidrkal (Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague), The Czechoslovak Legionnaires between Conscious Citizens and Messianic Revolutionaries (Czechoslovakia, WWI and beyond)
- Linh D. Vu (University of Berkley), The rhetoric of sacrificing revolutionaries in the National Revolutionary Army (China, 1925-49)

10:00 – 10:10 coffee break

10:10 – 11:30 Panel Norm-setting from Above, Part 3
- Jörn Eiben (University of Oldenburg, Germany), A “Small-Scale War” and its Soldiers: Football and Football Players (Germany, late 19th to early 20th century
- Samantha Killmore (University of Sydney), The Perfect Norm: A Comparative study of Ivy League students and American Air Force Pilots in William Sheldon's somatotyping project (USA 1940-55)

11:30 – 12:30 Lunch

12:35 – 13:45 Panel Transformations, Part 1:
- Tamir Libel (Centre of War Studies, Dublin), National Defence Universities and the construction of European military culture (Europe, last 20 years)
- Angelika Dörfler (Zentrum für Militärgeschichte und Sozialwissenschaften der Bundeswehr, Potsdam), The Staatsbürger in Uniform. The German experience with educating a new type of soldier (Germany, after 1945)

13:45 – 14:00 coffee break

14:00 – 15:10 Panel Transformations, Part 2:
- Efrat Even-Tzur (Tel-Aviv University), The 'good soldier' and the perpetrator's violent thrill: A crisis of a cultural image (Israeli Soldiers)
- Klaus Naumann (Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung), The return of the political soldier in contemporary post-conventional military interventions (Germany, 20th century)

15:15 – 16:00 Concluding Commentary and Summary
Claudia Kemper & Maria Fritsche (chair & vice chair German Association for Historical Peace and Conflict Studies)


Assoc. Prof. Maria Fritsche
Dept. of Historical Studies
7491 Trondheim, Norway
e-mail: maria.fritsche@ntnu.no