14th Workshop on the history of the concentration camps:
“The Memory of the Camps: actors, topics, strategies”
Neuengamme Memorial, Hamburg, 31.10.07 - 4.11.07
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
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
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
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
The deadline is April 30, 2007.
The decision on the papers will be communicated by end of May.
The organisation committee:
Andreas Ehresmann, Philipp Neumann (Germany), Alexander Prenninger (Austria), Régis Schlagdenhauffen (France)
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
Centre Marc Bloch
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