International and interdisciplinary conference (German/English)
Hybrid conference/online conference (depending on the further development of the pandemic)
Keynotes: Emeritus Professor Helmuth Kiesel (University of Heidelberg) and Dr. Brad West (University of South Australia)
The 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918 has brought the remembrance of the war back into the public view. In a German-Australian comparison, the ways in which the First World War is remembered are strikingly different, which illustrates the different significance that this jointly experienced historical event has for the national consciousness of the two countries. In Germany, the end of the First World War is, on the one hand, commonly considered the “birth of democracy”. On the other, the narratives that emerged in the immediate post-war period were partly ideological precursors for the Nazi dictatorship, which is why the First World War was only regarded as a precursor to the Second World War for a very long time. This is different in Australia, where the “Great War” is seen as a trigger for a specifically Australian consciousness, an important step in the formation of a nation independent from the British “mother country”. Accordingly, the two countries’ respective cultures of remembrance are also different, which can be observed in the commemorations 100 years after the end of the war. In Germany it is above all the tension between war and peace or between autocratic and democratic forms of government that are emphasised and integrated into narratives of European rapprochement and cooperation. In Australia, by contrast, an instrumentalisation of commemoration can be observed. The legacy of the ANZAC troops (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) serves as Australia’s founding myth, with values such as heroism, comradeship, and the willingness to make sacrifices being placed at the centre of national identity. This difference can be observed in the contrasting ways in which the two nations commemorate the offensives of Verdun and Gallipoli, which were very similar in their catastrophic failure. While Verdun is remembered in Germany as a “Menschenmühle an der Maas” [human mill on the Meuse] (Ettighoffer), standing for the inhumanity of industrialised warfare, Gallipoli is seen in Australia as the epitome of bravery and heroism in the face of a hopeless situation.
The conference wishes to explore the different perspectives and mentalities that dominate these cultures of remembrance to this day. To do so, it is crucial to understand the roles that the various cultural media have played and continue to play in the formation of cultures of remembrance in Australia and Germany. Contributions to the conference could examine which media are used, which images emerge, how they are generated and communicated, how the culture of remembrance and the significance of the First World War for the national narrative have developed in the last 100 years in both countries or, in general, how remembrance and cultures of remembrance are produced and received. The conference will take an interdisciplinary approach, including the analysis of literary representations, media reports, theatre productions, art exhibitions, war memorials, as well as biographies of key figures in Australia and Germany.
We are pleased to announce that Emeritus Professor Helmuth Kiesel from the University of Heidelberg and Dr. Brad West from the University of South Australia, two renowned experts in the fields of First World War literature and World War I commemoration, will frame the conference with their keynote presentations.
The conference, which is the result of an international cooperation between universities in Regensburg and Melbourne, will take place from 9-11 December 2021 in Regensburg as a hybrid conference or as a completely online conference (to be announced depending on the pandemic situation). Proposals for a presentation of maximum 30 minutes may be submitted in German or English by 12 May 2021, to illuminate the commemoration of the First World War from a German, Australian, or comparative perspective. They should address the above-mentioned questions or expand upon and enrich them by contributing new perspectives. Contributions from all disciplines of the humanities and social sciences (e.g. linguistics, literary and cultural studies, political science and history, philosophy, psychology, sociology and the like) and from both national contexts are particularly welcome in order to do justice to the multi-perspectivity of public commemoration. If possible, travel and/or accommodation costs of speakers will be covered in the case of a hybrid conference.
Please send Abstracts of 250-400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 May 2021.