Fleeing the nazis : the blessed exiles of Asia ?

Philippe WELLNITZ's picture
Call for Papers
October 21, 2021 to October 23, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Asian History / Studies, Diplomacy and International Relations, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Literature, Modern European History / Studies

Fleeing the Nazis: the blessed Exiles of Asia?


Conference organised by the University Paul Valéry Montpellier III (IRIEC)


21 to 23 October 2021 in Montpellier


This meeting is a continuation of the UFA Montpellier-Weimar Conference "Construction des mythes de héros de guerre (Allemagne, France, Japon)" organised by Philippe Wellnitz (Berlin, 2014), and later edited, Helden und Heldenmythen als soziale und kulturelle Konstruktion Heroes and heroic myths: a social and cultural construction: Deutschland, Frankreich und Japan / Allemagne, France, Japon),  Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2017.

After having studied the ambivalent construction of warrior 'heroes', this new conference focuses on two other ambivalences associated with the so-called Second World War: the position of host states towards exiles fleeing nazism; the 'survival ethic' of the exiles themselves.

The racial policy of the Axis forces Indeed led to the exile of populations that had to negotiate their existence, if not their survival, with their respective host countries. Case studies usually limit themselves to a country or geographical area, but have no global and comparative approach to the phenomenon, and Asia as a place for exiles persecuted by Nazis was somehow neglected.

This conference aims at tracing back this diaspora of German and other exiles in Asia and finding out how they managed to live and cohabit with the host states (members of the Axis, neutral countries), how they transcribed their singular experience during and after the war, and how they considered these constrained intercultural relations. But these same approaches are also valid from the point of view of the host country.

The following aspects could be addressed (non-limitative suggestions):

1° Political: segregation vs. integration

2° Economic: interests of host states vs. survival economy

3° Intercultural: visions of the host vs visions of the exiles

4° Memorial: official history(ies) vs. testimonies/memoirs/fictions

The approaches will therefore be both historical (archival documents, police reports, diplomatic telegrams etc.) and literary (autobiographical accounts of the persecuted, testimonies and novels of exile/historical novels) ones. This colloquium will question the political ethics of both sides, the racist theories revised according to variable criteria of "usefulness", and the compromises between host countries and their "hosts".

The combination of various area philologies and historiographies should allow a sociocritical analyse of cross-cultural encounter, a method actually practiced by the IRIEC, the host research team.

The organizing committee strongly encourages PhD students and young researchers to participate alongside established researchers.

Projects for communication (an abstract of no more than 300 words with a short bio-bibliographical note and the name of your institution) are to be submitted by  August 26th 2021 to the organizers of IRIEC (UPV Montpellier) and Lille:

-- Philippe Wellnitz (UPV Montpellier, IRIEC)


-- Toshio Takemoto (Univ. of Lille)


Proposals will be answered mid-september 2021.

Scientific board

Gerhard Krebs, Freie Universität (FU) Berlin

Marie-Pierre Noel, Université Paris-Sorbonne

Michel Boeglin, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier III

Catherine Berthet-Cahuzac, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier III

Aude Plagnard, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier III

Gérard Siary, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier III

Etienne Dubslaff, Université Paul Valéry Montpellier III


Languages of the conference: French, German, English, Japanese.

Extended abstracts with a final title for the paper are to be sent by 30 September 2021.

N.B. The publication of the conference is planned for 2022 and will lead to further events.

Contact Info: 

Philippe Wellnitz (Université Paul Valéry Montpellier III / France)

Contact Email: