Idea and Philosophy

Promoting the participation of university graduates

The workshop has been organized annually since 1994 by university graduates for university graduates  working on topics connected to the history and commemoration of the National Socialist camps.

Its primary focus on young university graduates – organizers as well as speakers and participants – makes the workshop unique in this field. While a variety of seminars exists for PhD students only, there are hardly any similar events giving other young researchers – like MA-candidates or young freelancers working in museology or education – the chance to present their work. While there may be chances to do so at summer schools, the main goal of these programs still is to participate in lectures and seminars given by established researcher.

The absence of professors or other university personnel is another plus of this workshop; since everybody is on the same academic level, discussions and lectures can take place in an atmosphere without pressure of self-presentation or competition. The participation of so many young experts in the field grants a high level of knowledge of current academic debates and the latest results of scholarly research.

The workshop aims at providing a place of academic discussion for questions, problems, and words of advice for theses that are not yet finished. Also, academic networking between the youngest researchers shall be enabled.

Self-organization and democratic rules

It is the workshop’s tradition that one can participate up to three times in three different roles or functions: As a speaker, participant or organiser. The next organization-team is democratically elected every year at the end of the current workshop. Different groups can present their ideas for the next workshop. All participants and speakers elect the best proposal for the next year’s workshop.

This basic democratic idea of organizing the workshop guarantees the chance to participate several times and to intensify the exchange between newcomers and more experienced participants of the workshop. In addition this idea assures the continuation of finding a common ground for non-established university graduates in a supportive academic atmosphere.

This principle explains why there is no institution behind the workshop. And that’s why the partners change each year: it depends on the topic and on the place of the workshop.

Interdisciplinary and transnational approaches

Two main particularities make the specificity of the workshop: the interdisciplinarity and the internationalism.

On the one hand, the workshop is addressed at university graduates from different disciplines, like history, sociology, psychology, literature, medicine, theology, arts history etc. The combination of the different perspectives leads to a better comprehension of the phenomenon of the National Socialist camps and extermination sites. This corresponds to the newest development of  research on National Socialism.

On the other hand, the participants come from different countries. National Socialism, through its politics of expansion, was an international phenomenon, which belongs to the history and memory of a lot of countries. Different national approaches complete each other end the transfers of this perspectives through the workshop is a necessity in the context of international exchange. The workshop enables building of international research networks, which should contribute to transfers of knowledge among the different countries.