Call for Papers and Participants

 Call for Papers 

25th Workshop on the History and Memory of National Socialist Camps and Killing Sites

Zagreb, May 9-15, 2022

We would like to invite you to participate in the international 25th Workshop on the History and Memory of National Socialist Camps and Killing Sites. The Workshop with the topic “Dynamics of inclusion and Exclusion” will take place in Zagreb, Croatia, from May 9 to 15, 2022.  The Workshop will facilitate debates revolving around the identities of perpetrators and victims, entangled history of fascism, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and the Holocaust.

The Workshop on the History and Memory of the Nationalist Socialist Camps and Killing sites has been held since 1994. It is annually organized by and for young scholars. The idea is to create a non–hierarchical space where curators, Ph.D. and MA students have the opportunity to present and discuss their projects. Additionally, it aims to create a supportive, interdisciplinary, and international forum to exchange ideas between researchers of different disciplines and backgrounds. Those interested can participate in the Workshop in three different ways: as speakers, as participants, and as members of the organizing team.  

During the Second World War, Croatia was a meeting point of three fascist movements: Croatian Ustasha, German Nazism, and Italian Fascism. The Independent State of Croatia was a laboratory of fascist experimentation, which culminated in mass violence and multiple, intertwined genocides against minorities such as Serbs, Jews, and Roma. Mass violence was perpetrated by diverse actors belonging to different ethnic, national, religious, political, and social groups. The Holocaust and genocide in Croatia were also significantly shaped by the particular spatial settings, from terror in the streets of various cities, “anti-partisan” actions in open spaces, victim’s villages which were turned into mass execution sites, or in more than thirty concentration camps. While most of the camps were operated by the Ustashas, some were administered by Italian Fascists and Ethnic Germans in Croatia. Elucidating the shifting constellations and dynamic interaction between various perpetrators is central to the Workshop.  

The Holocaust in Croatia resulted in the destruction of approximately 75% of its pre-war Jewish population. Intellectual, economic, cultural, and urban contributions of over two centuries by Croatian Jewish communities were erased between 1941 and 1945. One of the cities where this was felt the strongest was the capital of Zagreb. Before the Second World War, Zagreb was home to approximately 11.000 Jews, further welcoming 3.000 Jewish refugees fleeing antisemitic persecution in Germany, Austria, and Czech lands. At the end of 1945, barely 2.000 Zagreb Jews remained alive. Nonetheless, even though often forgotten, the architectural, intellectual, and cultural contribution of the Zagreb Jewish community can still be seen today, testifying to the embeddedness and entanglement of the Jewish community in the history of Zagreb itself. In order to honor and learn about this heritage, a guided tour of Jewish history in Zagreb will be organized for the participants of the Workshop. 

In addition to the activities in Zagreb, a day trip to the Jasenovac Memorial Site and Museum is central to the Workshop. Jasenovac was the largest and most virulent of the camps established by the Ustashas. They were the only actors in Eastern and Southeastern Europe that administrated death camps independently of the Nazi regime. The camp complex was established around 100 km southeast of Zagreb after the regime’s first network of extermination camps at the Adriatic coastline was disbanded in August 1941. It quickly turned into the epicenter of destruction in the Independent State of Croatia and became the most radical manifestation of the regime’s exclusionary policies. The majority of the Jews and Roma in Croatia and Bosnia were murdered in Jasenovac alongside thousands of Serbs. At the same time, one of the subcamps, Stara Gradiška, functioned both as an incarcerating site for political and female prisoners and as a transit camp for transports of forced laborers to Germany.

The history of Jasenovac is hotly contested to this day and remains a central reference point for conflicting and opposing interpretations of the crimes of the Ustasha regime. Although there is growing consensus among academics concerning the number of victims, inflated or minimized assessments of the death toll in Jasenovac continue to proliferate in the public sphere in Croatia and Serbia. To learn about intergroup differences in the commemoration and representation of the camp complex, we will visit the memorial area at Donja Gradina, where most of the victims in Jasenovac were murdered. Donja Gradina is located on the Bosnian side of the Sava river in the Republika Srpska. We envisage that a combined visit to the two memorial sites will bring insights into the contested nature of commemorative practices and memorial politics in the region.  

The Workshop welcomes papers that focus on:

  • Historiography. The Workshop welcomes papers that examine inclusion and exclusion in the context of historiography. Papers within this category might address the marginalization of specific concentration camps, killing sites, victim groups, or other aspects overlooked by mainstream Holocaust historiography. Applicants might explore how broader institutional and power configurations privilege particular perspectives on the Holocaust to the detriment of others. We encourage papers that tackle the issue of how the inclusion of “peripheral” or “excluded” historiographical topics contribute to new empirical, theoretical, and methodological approaches to the history of the Holocaust, genocide, and mass violence. 
  • Memory Politics, Museums, and Commemoration. We encourage papers that focus on the inclusion and exclusion of specific narratives and historical artifacts in museum exhibitions, guided tours, and research on competitive victimhood, revisionism, and the appropriation of the past for political use. We also invite papers that deal with new approaches to memorialization, problematize the existing ones and address the issues of emerging museums on global, transnational, and comparative levels.
  • Social dynamics of inclusion and exclusion before, during, and after the Holocaust. We welcome papers that examine the role of social dynamics in shaping and reshaping social ties, group consciousness, self-definition, integrative effects of violence, and relations among perpetrators on macro, meso, and micro levels. Similarly, papers that shed light on victims’ sense of selfhood and belonging, multiple and changing identities, and issues of gender, class, age groups, and language are welcome. Furthermore, we are interested in papers that address the question of resistance, solidarity, and defiance both within and outside the camps. Other possible topics include social stratification and differentiation among prisoners in concentration camps, the omission of particular experiences or themes in survivor testimonies, and the privileging of others.
  • The “Spatial Turn” in Holocaust and genocide studies. We encourage the submission of papers that focus on the spatial dimensions of the Holocaust, genocide, and mass violence. We particularly encourage papers that problematize the perpetrator’s conception of space, the victims’ exclusion from public spaces, and the geovisualization of concentration camps and extermination sites. We invite papers that focus on different levels of analysis of the Holocaust, such as the global, regional, and urban spaces, to improve our understanding of the role space played in everyday life of both the victims and perpetrators. 
  • Digital humanities and visual representation of the Holocaust. We are interested in the ways that digital humanities projects may highlight aspects of inclusion and exclusion. We invite digital, artistic, or visual approaches, which offer alternative and innovative perspectives on Holocaust research. Projects, which combine academic approaches with artistic representations, such as documentary filmmaking, are also welcome. 

Speaker applicants should submit a short CV and a 300-500 word summary of their proposed presentation. The presentation must be held in English and should not exceed 20 minutes. 

General participant applicants should submit a 300-500 word letter of motivation, in which they explain the Workshop’s relevance for the applicant’s research or professional activities.  

Please keep in mind that only curators, MA, and Ph.D. students are eligible to apply for the workshop. Applicants who have earned their Ph.D. by the application deadline will not be considered.

We kindly ask interested applicants to send their submissions as a single PDF or word file to workshopnscamps2022@gmail.com by July 15, 2021. 

The 25th Workshop is organized in partnership with Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past, a civil society organization located in Zagreb that works on reconciliation and sustainable peace in the region, by establishing factual information about war crimes and human right violations and by promoting dialogue about the past. The organization team is currently trying to secure funds for covering the Workshop, including accommodation and travel costs. 

If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

The Organizing Team: Angeliki Gavriiloglou (Freie University Berlin), Christos Chatziioannidis (International Hellenic University), Emil Kjerte (Clark University), Judith Vöcker (University of Leicester),  Lisa Quaeschning (Memorials Brandenburg an der Havel/Brandenburg Memorials Foundation), Lovro Kralj (Central European University), Silke Umdasch (Paris Lodron University Salzburg)