Comparing the Cultural History of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany

Christian Goeschel's picture
March 21, 2019 to March 22, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Cultural History / Studies, Diplomacy and International Relations, European History / Studies, German History / Studies, Italian History / Studies

The regimes of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany were bound by ideological, diplomatic, cultural, and eventually, military ties. Although those ties wove deep connections between the two countries, the histories of interwar Germany and Italy have largely been written following parallel lines. Attempts to compare the two countries are relatively few and present methodological problems. Since the early 2000s, however, there has been a renewed interest in the relationship between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, as evidenced by recent work on the comparative history of Europe’s principal fascist regimes, and new transnational studies on Italy and Germany in the 1930s and ‘40s. Despite these contributions, conversations between historians of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany still happen quite rarely, perhaps because of the specialized nature of academic networks. Hence, this workshop aims to bring together historians of Fascism and National Socialism with the objective of fostering exchange and collaboration. It will offer a forum in which historians of Italy and Germany can compare findings, draw parallels, and discuss common concerns. 

The workshop is part of a wider project in order to establish an international network on the comparative history of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. The groundwork for this project was laid in a preliminary workshop that we held at the University of Cambridge in June 2017, and which focused on the challenge of reconnecting the social and political histories of interwar Italy and Germany. At the workshop in Cambridge, it became clear that most comparative studies of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany concentrate on the political and social spheres, in part because they are driven by efforts to define generic fascism in political thought. This approach is of limited use when looking at the culture. This is why, at this workshop, we will focus specifically on new directions in the cultural history of the two regimes. Contextualized with questions of power and propaganda, cultural perspectives expose significant points of contact between Italy and Germany, which have often been overlooked. Sessions will encompass both comparative and transnational approaches to art, architecture, music, theatre, craft, aesthetics, literature and other areas of culture, with a particular attention given to cultural diplomacy and propaganda. At the end of the workshop, a discussion will provide an opportunity to reflect on the methodological challenges facing the field. These include practical difficulties, such as disciplinary boundaries, separate networks, and linguistic knowledge, but also epistemological questions about the specificity of national contexts, the uniqueness of National Socialism, and the existence of distinct historical paths. The workshop looks at how these theoretical questions might be addressed by comparing the ideology, aesthetics, functions, and styles of the Fascist and Nazi regimes. 

may be subject to minor changes

Thursday 21 March 2019

15.00–15.30 Introduction 
Christian Goeschel (University of Manchester) and Hannah Malone (Freie Universität Berlin)

Chair: Oliver Janz (Freie Universität Berlin)

Marla Stone (Occidental College), ‘Collaboration and Conflict: The Wartime Culture of Display in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany’

Robert Gordon (Cambridge), ‘Pasolini in Weimar 1942’

Grazia Sciacchitano (University of St Andrews), ‘Comparing Dictatorships: The Challenges of The Field’

17.00–17.30 Coffee break


Chair: Arnd Bauerkämper (Freie Universität Berlin)

Helen Roche (University of Durham), ‘“Als Jungmann einer Nationalpolitischen Erziehungsanstalt interessiert Italien, weil es heute das Land ist, das in seiner Politik am festesten an Deutschland geknüpft ist”: Nazi elite-school pupils as youth ambassadors between Fascist Italy and the Third Reich’

Patrick Ostermann (Technische Universität Dresden), ‘The Catholic Fascists’ Ambivalent View of Germany’

Friday 22 March 2019


Chair: Christian Freigang

Kate Ferris (University of St Andrews), ‘Using Alltagsgeschichte to understand cultures of the ‘everyday’ in fascist Italy (and elsewhere).’

Joshua Arthurs (West Virginia University), ‘From the Monumental to the Everyday: Shifting Perspectives on the Cultural History of Italian Fascism’

John Foot (Bristol University), ‘Microhistory, Fascism and Nazism: Everyday Life and Violence’

11.00–11.30 Coffee


Chair:  Christian Goeschel (University of Manchester)

Giulia Albanese (University of Padua), ‘“La lezione italiana”: Representing and promoting fascism abroad in the 1920s’ 

Mercedes Peñalba Sotorrio (Manchester Metropolitan University), ‘From one war to another. Nazi propaganda in Spain during World War II’

Christian Fuhrmeister (Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich), ‘Art History, Art Protection, and Propaganda – re-assessing German and Nazi initiatives in Fascist Italy before and after 1943’

13.00–14.30 Lunch break


Chair: Lucy Riall (European University Institute, Fiesole)

Carmen Belmonte (American Academy Rome), ‘Dealing with a Difficult Heritage: Fascist-era Monumental Art in Italy’

Clare Copley (University of Central Lancashire), “Guilty buildings”? Responding to the built legacies of Fascism and National Socialism

Daniela R. P. Weiner (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/ Fulbright Graduate Fellow, Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research), ‘Educational Transferences: Comparisons of the Textbook Revision Processes in Allied-Occupied Italy and Germany, 1943-1949’
16:00-16:30 Coffee

16.30-17.00 Closing discussion 

Contact Info: 

International workshop organized by Hannah Malone and Christian Goeschel
Freie Universität Berlin Berlin, Fabeckstraße 25, 14195
Holzlaube, room number 2.2051
21–22 March 2019

Registration is required at the URL below.