30. September 2014 - 2. Oktober 2014

The Holocaust and the European Societies. Social Process and Social Dynamics


The mass murder of the European Jews was a political process which originated in National Socialist Germany. It was most importantly carried along by political-ideological leading decisions of the Nazi state leadership and a cumulatively radicalising murder practice, which was mostly executed regionally and locally by the SS and police.

However simultaneously the Holocaust can also be described as a social process. Already the preceding process of exclusion, deprivation of rights and expropriation of the Jews would not have been possible either in Germany or throughout occupied Europe without a multitude of social actors – participants, beneficiaries, helpers, profiteers. In Germany as well as throughout occupied Europe, the Nazis established antisemitic norms and a racist hierarchy, which was connected with a traumatic loss of social recognition and property for the Jewish population. At the same time these norms prescribed that the non-Jewish population had to form a society of exclusion. The mass murder of the Jews was preceded by social processes, and simultaneously the dynamic of murder and violence caused social changes – in Germany, occupied Europe and in the countries allied with Nazi Germany. From this perspective, the analytical category of the “bystander” has become questionable, inasmuch as it insinuates that the societies in Germany and Europe were uninvolved and stood by as spectators during the Holocaust. Yet it seems just as problematic to virtually assign all “bystanders” to the side of the perpetrators. The term “collaboration”, afflicted with the stigma of treason, also exhibits many problems and is thus hardly suitable to the description of social behaviour during the Holocaust. European antisemitism undoubtedly played an important, but certainly not the only decisive role.

For this reason the conference shall take into view the social processes in everyday life which were connected to the deprivation of rights, expropriation and murder of the European Jews. We wish to look at the behaviour of institutions and persons, helpers, co-perpetrators, facilitators and spectators, beneficiaries and profiteers, but also the motives and action situations of those who saved Jews and opposed the dynamic of exclusion, murder and violence. The strategies by which the Jewish victims tried to cope with the radical devaluation of their social status are also to be covered. Detailed studies of everyday life about Central and Eastern European are especially welcome.

The conference will take place between the 30th of September and the 2nd of October, 2014 in Munich, Germany. The conference will be conducted in English. Travel and housing costs will be covered by the organisers.

Suggestions for topics should be sent in the form of an exposé (1-2 pages) accompanied by a CV to:
PD Dr. Frank Bajohr and Dr. Andrea Löw
Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien am Institut für Zeitgeschichte
Leonrodstr. 46 b
80636 München
Please send your proposals before 1st of February, 2014


Dr. Andrea Löw

Leonrodstr. 46 b, 80636 München







Zentrum für Holocaust-Studien am Institut für Zeitgeschichte München