MIL OSI – Source: Volkswagen Stiftung – Press Release/Statement
Headline: Jetzt online: Veranstaltungsbericht zum Symposium “Long End of the First World War”
The symposium equally evaluated new research and commemoration since 2014. In Session IX on “new historiographies”, Katrin Bromber, Katharina Lange and Heike Liebau (all Berlin) discussed the interactions between remembrance and research in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia during the centennial. They showed how local commemorations are taking shape in complicated political contexts. In contrast to current historiography, official Indian and Egyptian commemorations focus on a heroic remembrance of the colonial soldier and lack critical assessment of the colonial context. Liebau stressed the need to enlarge persistent national and imperial frameworks to more “glocal” and South-South perspectives.Michael Epkenhans (Potsdam) then turned to Europe. Although European politicians used the centennial to promote a more transnational remembrance, Epkenhans argued, national approaches were equally strengthened, especially in Great-Britain where the colonial contribution is often framed into a nostalgic imperial narrative. Official European and Russian commemorations hardly included academic efforts to shed light on the colonial perspective.In contrast to these official commemorations, sessions VII and VIII demonstrated the efforts of grassroots and museum remembrance initiatives to bring colonial experiences into the limelight. The contributors of these sessions also discussed how the loss of “Zeitzeugen” (eye-witnesses) challenges practices of remembrance. In the project “Digging deep, crossing far”, Julia Tieke (Berlin) invited artists to work with oral sources from Asian POWs interned in the Wünsdorf Halfmoon Camp and confronted audiences in South Asia with the results. Jasdeep Singh Rahal (London) of the National Army Museum, London, equally involved South Asian source communities by organizing a re-enactment of a Sikh regiment that fought on the Western front for the British.Inspired by the “sensuous turn” in historiography, Franziska Dunkel (Stuttgart) of the Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg explored the impact of the War on the senses to enter the soldiers’ experiences. In the film documentary “Antoine the Fortunate”, Nefin Dinc (Istanbul) used the memoir of an Austro-Hungarian soldier fighting in the Ottoman Empire to shed light on the complex history of the War in the Middle East. In “Forgotten Soldiers of Empire”, Min Young-Eung (Seoul) was inspired by recently surfaced military songs to screen the experiences of Korean soldiers in the Russian army. Kerstin Schwedes (Braunschweig), explained the efforts of the Georg Eckert Institute for Textbook Research to compare the diverse dealings with the War in European history textbooks.Oxana Nagornaja (Chelyabinsk) finally argued that the absence of witnesses and the state control over Russian museums enabled President Putin to manipulate the re-introduction of the First World War into Russian memories by framing it as the last heroic war of the Tsar regime.