Call for papers. The 1952 German-Jewish Settlement and Beyond. New Perspectives on Reparations During and After the Cold War

Open call

Period September 1, 2022 – January 31, 2023

Location Vienna, Austria

On 10 September 1952, the Federal Republic of Germany, the State of Israel, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany signed a historic agreement in Luxembourg, according to which Germany was to pay Israel the costs for “the heavy burden of resettling so great a number of uprooted and destitute Jewish refugees from Germany and from territories formerly under German rule.” The settlement also included a supplement in which West Germany acknowledged the right of victims of National Socialism to claim personal compensation for deprivation of liberty, losses of livelihood, and property resulting from Nazi persecution. The Luxembourg agreement comprised a turning point in the relationship between Germans and Jews. It turned former perpetrators and past victims into partners in negotiations, melding antagonistic narratives into a core of shared history from which both sides could benefit.

Since the German Democratic Republic (GDR) ignored Jewish reparation demands, both Israel and the Claims Conference adjusted their claims to reflect the division of Germany into two independent states. West Germany was content not to take full liability for the past, although it still considered itself as the sole heir of the German Reich and the only legitimate representative of the German nation. In the settlement that was signed in Luxembourg, West Germany agreed to pay its debt in proportion to the size of the pre-1937 German Reich, thus leaving open the question of future restitutions from the GDR. No less complicated was the question of German reparations to countries, as well as to victims of National Socialism who now lived behind the Iron Curtain. Compared to other areas of German reparations, Central and Eastern Europe reparations were less examined. Ensuing German unification, a new wave of compensation and restitution to victims of National Socialism followed, including reparation demands from Eastern European states. These claims were late follow-ups to the incomplete measures taken in the years immediately following the war to restore property and make amends to those persecuted under National Socialism. Yet claims for restitution were now also made against Eastern European countries, challenging them to come to terms with their own troubled past. One example of this development was the Washington Agreement on the settlement of questions concerning compensation and restitution for Nazi victims signed between the Austrian Federal Government and the Government of the United States in 1994. Another one is the 2009 Terezin Declaration issued by 47 countries, agreeing on measures to right economic wrongs against Jews and other victims of Nazi persecution in Europe.

The aim of this workshop is to shed light on and discuss previously underexposed chapters of the history of reparations and restitution in Central and Eastern Europe during and after the Cold War, taking the Luxembourg Agreement as a starting point.

The workshop is jointly organised by the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) and the Weidenfeld Institute of Jewish Studies based at the University of Sussex. This collaboration is part of an ongoing effort to create a platform for discussion of issues surrounding the redress of historical injustice, revealing the broader implication of the German-Jewish settlement as a model for reckoning with an unwanted past.
The organisers invite proposals for papers (20 minutes in length) engaging with these and related themes.

Abstracts should be sent to before 31 January 2023.

Successful candidates will be notified by 2 May 2023.

The workshop will take place in Vienna from 9 to 10 October 2023.

For any further questions please contact:

Éva Kovács:
Philipp Rohrbach:
Gideon Reuveni:
Katrin Steffen: 

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