‘Between hope and fear, war histories continued ‘ (Summary Closing Remarks)

Peter Romijn (NIOD, UvA) started his Closing Remarks of the KNHG Spring Conference with the provoking statement ‘Don’t believe all the promises you’ve gotten today’. Although a new research agenda did not crystallize during the conference, Romijn sees starting points for future research. In the last two decades the interconnection between history and memory has been the centre of attention and historians like Tony Judt, Mark Mazower and Saul Friedländer presented new integrated narratives of WWII. So where do we stand now? Is the historiography of the Second World War moving towards an end? Not yet, as the Keynote Speech of Martin Conway and the four sessions of the Spring Conference made clear. Romijn finds the proposal of Conway to focus more on the history of emotions inspiring. He thinks the interrelated emotions of hope and fear could be used as a starting point for looking at the history of WWII, but also in understanding the history of the 20th century in a more general sense.

Romijn thinks the following ‘topics’ should be  included in future research 1) the perspective of the warring state: how did societies adapt to war? 2) a focus on regional, local and individual (biographical) histories 3) investigating the possibilities and tools the digital turn brings us, as well as looking at possible new ways of exchanging our knowledge 4) cooperating with legal studies, for instance on the subject of the Bijzondere Rechtspleging after the war 5) the transgenerational presentation of the history of WWII now witnesses are no longer alive: what do we teach and in which manner?

Romijn ended his Closing Remarks just like he started them: with a provoking statement: ‘No results yet, but otherwise our work would be too easy’.

afbeelding van Lennert Savenije Lennert Savenije

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