International Conference: XX. Century: Image of the Enemy in Europe during World War II.
Venue: Comenius University in Bratislava, Department of General History
Organizers: Comenius University in Bratislava – Michala Lônčíková, Eduard Nižňanský
ATID – civil association, represented by Roland Lanz
Bratislava, Slovakia, October 1 – 3, 2017
Even now, it appears that the issue of the enemy is a serious social problem. Of course, this question is extremely radicalized during war times. We think that the problem of finding one’s own identity, whether at its national, confessional, social and possibly at other levels, can be seen as quite a legitimate process. However, it is questionable, at which point the process is gradually transformed into the classic scheme of “us – them”. Own identity defined by statehood, ethnicity or religious beliefs, may gradually gain another dimension when “they” become enemies – real or fictitious – or even the kind of enemy, which must be eliminated at all costs. We can of course encounter such processes in dictatorships, but also in democracies. After all, the image of the enemy had its form in ancient history as well as in medieval history. For the upcoming conference we are concerned with displaying the image of enemy in the narrative and visualizations especially in Europe at the time of World War II.
Aggression of Nazi Germany and its allies created the basic scheme of “us – them”, as no “Tertium non datur” could be enforced. State propaganda in different countries – both allies of Nazi Germany, and their opponents led by the US – GB and the USSR – was also based on this scheme.
Despite the fact that this process was initially implemented only at the level of words and their visualization (e.g. posters, caricatures), the existing stereotypes about “the others” aimed at their gradual dehumanization. Such understanding of internal as well as foreign political enemy could thus be portrayed by the propaganda as an all-mighty opponent. An image of the Jew was thus propagandistically formed, where the Jew was seen as the creator and manipulator of the anti-Hitler coalition and/or the activities of each of its members the US, GB and the USSR. On the other hand, it also embodied “someone” worthless (dehumanized) who needed to be divested of. Again, we may talk about Jews, Communists, or Anglo-American plutocrats. Such approach could lead to military involvement in the elimination of the enemy, which resulted in a participation in the war against Poland and the Soviet Union. This approach also led to contemporary genocide – better known as the Holocaust.
The war further strengthened the image of the national and state enemy. Fear of “the other”, formed by propaganda, should have gradually become public, i.e. general. On the other hand, the contemporary propaganda also helped to form a “positive” side. The image of a “friend” was constantly formed this way. Individual presentations at the conference shall reflect national particularities of the dichotomy (“friend – enemy”) formed this way.
We invite historians and scholars of related disciplines to apply by submitting a proposal for papers (up to 1500 characters) with an accompanying brief biographical note to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15, 2017. Submissions from Ph.D. students are also welcome. The papers should be approximately 15 minutes in length. The working language of the conference is English.
We are looking forward to your proposal and your participation at the conference.
Mgr. Michala Lônčíková
Prof. Eduard Nižňanský
Mgr. Roland Lanz