A new ‘generation’ of democratic politicians? Models of political and social progress in Germany, France, and Italy

A new ‘generation’ of democratic politicians? Models of political and social progress in Germany, France, and Italy between dictatorship and the Cold War

18-19 April 2012, Rome

Deadline: 15 November 2011


How did the experience of autocratic government inform the way in which politicians developed new policies in Germany, France, and Italy after the end of World War II? What conclusions did politicians draw from their past experiences with totalitarianism? Did a new “generation” of leaders with shared democratic ideas gain the leading positions of these countries? Or did some of them already have experiences with democratic structures that were made prior to the dictatorships? Did any kind of exchange, transfer, or international collaboration exist or did politicians act exclusively within their particular national context?  Finally: Was the experience with totalitarian regimes kept alive in public memory and did people try to develop and implement progressive, forward-looking ideas of social organisation?

Another aspect of great importance is the relationship between the post-war elites and the army.  Which positions did each of them take regarding a demilitarisation and remilitarisation? What role did the army play in developing plans for the future? Taking these central questions as a starting point one can raise specific issues about each respective country, which will reflect the contrast between the occupied and collaborating states of France and Italy on the one hand and Nazi Germany on the other. What role did the two dictatorial experiences, namely first with fascism and then with National Socialism, play for Italy?

In the case of France, one must bear in mind the experience of the popular front, the bringing into discredit of the counterrevolutionary right by Vichy and the disappearance of the “deux France” after the Second World War. Regarding the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR, we should examine whether the resulting conflict between the two systems was of greater importance to their development than the previous experience under the Nazi dictatorship.

The workshop aims to provide some initial answers to these questions. It also strives to analyse whether the year 1945 should be regarded as a break with the past or as the beginning of a phase of continuity in Germany, France, and Italy in terms of how they envisioned a democratic society. Comparative studies which contribute to a better understanding of young post-war democracies by showing the similarities and differences of the ways in which former dictatorships affected modern states will be particularly welcome. If possible, papers should cover the period between 1945 and 1960.

The workshop will be held in English.  A publication of the contributions is planned. The keynote address will be given by Prof. Dr. Andreas Wirsching, director of the Institute for Contemporary History Munich-Berlin. Please send your abstracts (not more than 500 words) and a short CV no later than November 15th 2011 to spaeth@dhi-roma.it. Notice of acceptance will be made by December 15th.  The costs of travel, accommodation and conference expenses will be covered.

Contact: Jens Späth (spaeth@dhi-roma.it)

Via Aurelia Antica, 391
I-00165 Rom, Italien
+39 06 66049267
39 06 6623838

Conveners: German Historical Institute, Rome; German Historical Institute, Paris

Venue: Rome, German Historical Institute, Via Aurelia Antica, 391, 00165 Rome

Emilia Robin

Chercheuse associée à l'UMR SIRICE. Violons d'Ingres : guerre froide, médiation scientifique, logiciels libres

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