The UCLA Center for European and Russian Studies, in co-sponsorship with UCLA History, the Promise Institute for Human Rights, and the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies invite you to watch the recording of webinar by Franziska Exeler, the author of Ghosts of War: Nazi Occupation and Its Aftermath in Soviet Belarus. The book talk took place on March 1, 2023. You can watch the recording here on our website or on the CERS YouTube Channel.
How do states and societies confront the legacies of war and occupation, and what do truth, guilt, and justice mean in that process? In her talk, Franziska Exeler examines people's wartime choices and their aftermath in Belarus, a war-ravaged Soviet republic that was under Nazi occupation during the Second World War. After the Red Army reestablished control over Belarus, one question shaped encounters between the returning Soviet authorities and those who had lived under Nazi rule, between soldiers and family members, reevacuees and colleagues, Holocaust survivors and their neighbors: What did you do during the war? The talk analyzes the prosecution and punishment of Soviet citizens accused of wartime collaboration with the Nazis and shows how individuals sought justice, revenge, or assistance from neighbors and courts. It uncovers the many absences, silences, and conflicts that were never resolved, as well as the truths that could only be spoken in private, yet it also investigates the extent to which individuals accommodated, contested, and reshaped official Soviet war memory. It is often assumed that in societies that experienced war, occupation, or violent conflict, the act of seeking justice and accountability contributes to the development of free public spheres and democratic societies (a process also known as transitional justice). In contrast, the talk asks how efforts at "confronting the past" played out within, and at times through, a dictatorship like the Soviet Union.
Franziska Exeler is Assistant Professor of History at Free University Berlin and a Research Fellow at the Centre for History and Economics, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge. She received her PhD in History from Princeton University, and held postdoctoral fellowships at the European University Institute in Florence and the International Center for the History and Sociology of World War II and Its Consequences at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Ghosts of War: Nazi Occupation and Its Aftermath in Soviet Belarus has been published by Cornell UP. The book is the recipient of the 2021 Ernst Fraenkel Prize awarded by the Wiener Holocaust Library in London.
Jared McBride is an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the History Department at the University of California-Los Angeles. He is a historian who specializes in the regions of Russia, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe in the 20th century and whose research interests include nationalist movements, mass violence, the Holocaust, interethnic conflict, and war crimes prosecution. His research has been funded by Fulbright-Hays, the Social Science Research Council, the Mellon Foundation, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and has been published in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Journal of Genocide Research, The Carl Beck Papers, Ab Imperio, Kritika, and Slavic Review. At present, McBride is currently completing a book manuscript on local perpetrators and interethnic violence in Nazi-occupied western Ukraine.
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