The Holodomor in Academic and Public Debates: Ukrainian and European Perspectives

Berlin, September 24-26, 2020
Submission deadline for proposals: April 30, 2020
The conference is organized by Prof. Dr. Martin Schulze Wessel (Munich) and Prof. Dr. Yaroslav Hrytsak (L’viv).

The Holodomor claimed an enormous number of victims and had a profound impact on the Ukrainian nation for generations. Among the mass crimes committed by the 20th century’s totalitarian regimes, such as the Shoah, the Gulag, and deportations and mass expulsions, it undeniably holds a special place. And yet, with the exception of very few specialists, the Holodomor remains largely unknown to the German public. However, owing to a petition aiming at having the Holodomor formally recognized as a genocide by the German Bundestag, the topic has recently gained considerable political significance.

If the Holodomor actually was genocidal in character, is an open question the German-Ukrainian Historical Commission wants to explore, both from both a historical perspective and in the light of international law, at its sixth annual conference, to be held in Berlin, on September 24-26, 2020. The Commission intends to stress specifically the circumstances that brought about, in 1948, the signing of the Genocide convention. Even though the Holodomor is not, in a strict sense of the term, a subject of debate in the history of German-Ukrainian relations, there are, in fact, some aspects to it that intertwine the history of Germany and the Germans with the Holodomor.

A German Mennonite minority in Ukraine, for instance, was hit hard by the great famine, and the Third Reich found the Holodomor a useful instrument of propaganda against the Soviet Union. Here, the Holodomor also appears as a global subject of colonial competition for resources. These and other aspects will be discussed in one section of our conference.

Even though the Holodomor is a very specific case, it can only be explained within the broader framework of a Soviet policy – that also affected non-Ukrainian regions such as Kazakhstan and the Volga region – and of a global context of Soviet rivalry with the West. In another section we will explore regional similarities, but also peculiarities of the great famine. A comparative perspective should allow us to find better explanations for the Holodomor’s specifics.

Finally, the memory of the Holodomor has a complex history in itself. While affected families remember it in their own way, there are also the spheres of official politics of memory, and of transnational memories of the Holodomor among Ukrainian emigrants. In the section on memories of the Holodomor, we hope to discuss how it was shrouded in taboo, its uses and abuses in the politics of memory, but also the intentional destruction of testimonies of the Holodomor.

Please submit your proposals (500-800 words) and a short CV (one page maximum) to Dr. Pascal Trees (duhk@lrz.uni-muenchen.de) by April 30, 2020.

Accommodation will be provided and travel expenses refunded for conference speakers. Conference languages will be English and Ukrainian/Russian. As we aim to publish the conference’s results, please be prepared to hand in your paper in a form that is fit for publication.

The German-Ukrainian Historical Commission is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany.

For organizational questions please contact: duhk@lrz.uni-muenchen.de / +49 89 2180-3056 / www.duhk.org

The call for papers was initially published on the website of the German-Ukrainian Historical Commission: http://www.duhk.org/aktuelles/call-for-papers/