The 'Savage Continent'? Everyday Violence in 1940s Europe (HIH2018A)
The module explores the most turbulent decade of twentieth-century European history, and analyses the multiple axes of extreme violence - political, ethnic, racial, personal - which marked this period and instigated momentous changes in the history of the continent. The course aims to explore how such unprecedented violence against civilians, women and children was experienced by ordinary citizens of European countries, and how it transformed and affected their everyday lives, political choices and social attitudes both before and after 1945. We will trace the process by which fierce political and ideological struggles of the 1940s enveloped ever broader sections of the European populations, and examine how different categories of people behaved under these circumstances, what motivated or deterred them, and how they attempted to make sense of (and survive) the whirlwind of the 1940s. The war disrupted prewar collective identities and networks by relocating millions of people – the module will analyse how these migrations of soldiers, refugees, forced labourers, prisoners and prisoners of war re-shaped the continent and influenced personal and national identities.