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Conference "Right Wing Politics and the Rise of Antisemitism in Europe 1935-1940/41"

Conference at the Center for Holocaust Studies at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, 18-20 February 2016

Call for papers

Organisers: †PD Dr. Frank Bajohr (Center for Holocaust Studies, Institute for Contemporary History)
Prof. Dr. Dieter Pohl (Alpen-Adria-University, Klagenfurt)†
Dr. Grzegorz Krzywiec (Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences)

During the 1930s, antisemitism grew rapidly, not only in Germany, where it became a central focus of state policies from 1933 on, but in most European countries. This culminated in the issue of the first non-German anti-Jewish laws in 1938 in Italy, Romania and Hungary, but also in an upsurge of antisemitic groups and a wave of antisemitic incidents after 1935. The proposed conference will examine the background, structures and consequences of these developments, which fully radicalized under German hegemony in Europe from 1940/41 on.

The conference will address several topics:†

German influence and the perception of Nazi policies against Jews in Germany: To what extent did German policies on different levels – diplomatic, party relations, foreign economic ties Ц influence antisemitic forces outside of Germany? Were there contacts between Nazi organizations and foreign right-wing groups or governments? How successful were German efforts to form an Antisemitic International in the 1930s, compared with efforts in the 1920s or the 19th century? And how did European right wing forces Ц fascist, nationalist or authoritarian Ц perceive German anti-Jewish measures, especially the exclusion of Jews from employment in the civil service, education and the economy, but also “racial segregation” like the Nuremberg laws?

The upsurge of right-wing politics in East Central Europe and antisemitism: What political changes occurred in these countries during the 1930s and how did they affect antisemitism in the political arena? One might think of the electoral success of the Gömbös camp in Hungary or the coup-d'état in Bulgaria in 1935, but even more of the installation of the short-lived Goga government in Romania in 1937 and political changes and upheavals in Poland especially from 1937 on.

Changes of the discourse on Jews: Was there a change of the public discourse on Jews during the 1930s in non-German countries, like debates on the alleged УJewish questionФ, the reversal of Versailles minority politics, or the relationship of nation building and the role of the Jewish minorities, for example in setting up a Уnational economyФ, but also at the universities.

Fascism and antisemitism: What role did fascist groups play in the upsurge of antisemitism: Fascist groups in East Central Europe were highly antisemitic, while those in Western Europe and Italy only gradually turned towards antisemitism. What were the reasons for this difference? Why was there such a wave of antisemitic outbursts and violence?

Polarizations in Western Europe: In Western Europe, politics shifted to the right to a much lesser degree, but also moved into the opposite direction. Both the take-over of the Popular Front in France and the Spanish Civil War led to political polarizations and to a rise of antisemitism on the right. Did this affect only fascist groups or is a broader consolidation of antisemitic networks visible?

Jewish perceptions: How did European (and North-American) Jewish communities perceive these developments? Were they interpreted against the background of the anti-Jewish wave from 1917-1923, or as a temporary phenomenon connected to the Great Depression, or were they considered as a new long-term crisis of Jewish existence in Europe?

Jewish reactions: How did Jewish communities and individuals react to the upsurge of antisemitic discourse and violence, to losses of political influence, and to the growing obstacles in the civil service, education, and economic activity? Which changes within Jewish communities can be observed as a result of pressure and tensions from outside? How did emigration develop during the 1930s outside of German Reich (since 1938 also including former Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia)?

These questions will be discussed in a three-day conference at the Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien at the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich in comparative and trans-national perspective. The chronological focus will be on the years between 1934 and 1940, and the following countries are of particular interest: Germany (in its transnational context), Italy, France, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Slovakia and Yugoslavia.

The conference will take place between the 18th and 20th of February 2016 in Munich, Germany. The conference will be conducted in English. Travel and housing costs will be covered by the organizers.

Suggestions for topics should be sent in the form of an abstract (1-2 pages) accompanied by a CV via e-mail to:
Please send your proposals before the 21st of June, 2015

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