Towards a new history of the Second World War? Spring Conference 21 April 2015

In the last seven decades three generations of historians have created an ever-growing body of impressive historiography on the Second World War. Understanding and coming to terms with ‘lived history’ (Fritz Stern) is a defining and challenging element in the historical literature of this war. However, soon those who have actually lived this past will no longer be able to reflect on their experiences. Historians of the Second World War therefore will connect to their subject in a more detached way. Moreover, because the post-1945 international order has changed fundamentally, the Second World War and its history appear to have lost relevance for understanding the world of today.

The 2015 spring conference of the Royal Netherlands Historical Society, organised in collaboration with CegeSoma and NIOD ( the Belgian and Dutch study centres originally founded for the study of the Second World War), wants to stimulate the debate about the future of the specialisation. Are new orientations and methodological innovation required? How will the field connect to current trends in representations of the past in digital forms, in museums and archives? Should they leave the comfort zone of their own specialisations and relate to other fields and disciplines in order to deal with the `big issues´ in the history of the Second World War? Provocative statements on the present state of the historiography of the Second World War within the larger perspective of current historical cultures will be offered in a position paper.

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