The Service historique de la Défense and Sciences Po are organising in the Château de Vincennes on Wednesday the 13th and Thursday the 14th of June 2018 an international symposium about military people in resistances in Europe during World War Two.
This symposium aims to question the specificities – or non-specificities – of military people’s commitment to resistances. It will notably consider the tensions between the fact of being trained to obey orders, on the one part, and that of complying with an ethos gratifying the refusal to surrender and thus of joining a resistance organization, on the other part. As such, belonging to the military could constitute an obstacle against any idea of fighting against the occupant and its auxiliaries. But it could constitute as well a priceless resource in armed combats – be they clandestine or not. The symposium will also evaluate the possible specificities of national cases, identify the circulation of fighting theories and experiences across Europe, and endeavor to establish comparisons.
Considering the situation and the role of military people (Army, Navy, Air Forces, and gendarmerie) in resistances spans two renewed historiographies. On the one hand, the history of the Resistance is no longer exclusively studied through the prism of organizations fighting on the national soil, but takes external resistances into account and, more broadly, systematically situates the resistance fighters within the society in which their fight was born. On the other hand, the renewal of military history focuses more specifically on individual experiences both during the conflict itself and throughout its aftermath.
A very particular attention will be paid to sources, in order to determine whether there was, or not a military specificity in their production, conservation and valorization.
Topics to be explored in presentations may include – but are not limited to – the following.
Joining the resistance when belonging to the military world:
- Did traditional military culture refrain people from entering the resistances, or, to the contrary, did it help them? Did military identity play a role among other social references (age, religion, social background, eventual political commitment, etc.) in the decision to join? What was the impact of professional networks and values nurtured in the military world? Or of previous fighting experiences (World War One, Spanish Civil War, colonization Wars, 1939-1940 campaigns...)?
- Which men (officers, NCOs, soldiers, native people or foreigners, conscripts or volunteers) were more likely to join the resistances and why? In which type of organizations? What role did military hierarchy and statutes possibly play once enrolled?
- When did military people mostly join (in the immediate wake of the defeat, after the occupation of national soil, when a policy of collaboration with the occupant actually was implemented, etc.), and what was the geography of their commitment?
Military practices and combat experiences in resistances:
- What possible influence did theaters of operations (on metropolitan soil or elsewhere) have on resistance fighters’ experience?
- How did the Allies perceive and use the military people who belonged to foreign resistances? And, by extension, how did the latter experience a coalition warfare to the leadership of which they rarely had access and which possibly entailed a new military culture?
- How did military people adapt to irregular warfare alongside men and women who did not have their professional background? How did civilians, and especially women, involved in the resistance become actual and efficient fighters? Was there any phenomenon of mutual acculturation?
Emerging from war, military experiences and transformation of national armies:
- Did such war experiences provoke a deep reorganization and/or renovation of national armies in Europe after World War Two?
- Was there a transformation of military culture thanks to these experiences?
- How did military people who had belonged to the resistances face – or not – demobilization?
- How did these men and women speak and write about their action during World War Two?
- What was the role of military people in the construction of national remembrance?
Papers can be submitted in French or English.
Languages for the symposium will be French and English.
Please send us a 500-word abstract and a short bio by March 15, 2018. Accepted speakers will be notified by April 1, 2018.
The organizers of the symposium will bear the costs of:
- Travelling tickets, accommodations and catering for non-Parisians speakers
- Midday lunches on Wednesday and Thursday Please direct questions and submissions to:
- Jean Bourcart (SHD)
- Robert Gildea (Oxford)
- Claire Miot (SHD)
- Guillaume Piketty (Sciences Po)
- Thomas Vaisset (SHD)
Scientific coordination: Morgane Barey (SHD)