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Conference “The Peoples’ Wars? The Second World War in Socio-Political Perspective” (London, 14-15 June 2018)

King’s College, London, 14-15 June 2018

For the major Allied powers, the Second World War has long been seen as a ‘good’ war. This has led to a mythologised version of the conflict developing in the public consciousness. The war is often remembered as a ‘Finest Hour’, when ‘both the “ordinary people” and the privileged put aside theireveryday involvements and individual concerns, joined hands, and came to the nation’s defence’. The narrative of a ‘good’ war has much less relevance for the Axis powers, for those countries whose experience of the war was defined by occupation and repression and for the many small nations that found themselves caught in the middle. For these countries, the challenge of coming to terms with war crimes, collaboration and subjugation split the nation at the time, and continues to do so today.

Indeed, it is easy to forget how deeply divided (socially, economically and ethnically) belligerent nations were in the era of the Second World War and the manner in which the shadow of the First World War and the Depression shaped the terms of the interaction between the state and its citizens. Even in those countries where the trials of the period were better managed, there was often a distinct disconnect between rhetoric and reality; the war was a contested and deeply divisive experience, a far cry in many ways from a ‘People’s War’.

Keynotes: Professor Nicholas Stargardt (University of Oxford) and Dr Daniel Todman (Queen Mary University of London)

The conference aims to explore these dynamics and the changes in perspective that emerge from a socio-political rather than a military-organisational approach to studying the Second World War. With that aim in mind, we invite paper proposals on themes including, but not limited to:

Paper proposals should include an abstract of no more than 300 words and a one-page CV. Panel proposals for groups of three to four speakers are also welcomed; they should, in addition to individual paper abstracts and CVs, include a brief description of the panel theme (no more than 500 words). The deadline for proposal submissions is 31 January 2018. Submissions, queries and expression of interest to attend should be addressed to

The Second World War Research Group regularly hosts a series of research seminars at the Joint Services Command and Staff College. The take place between 13:00 and 14:00. For more information on how to attend, please email Dr Andrew Stewart (

January (TBC) – Dr Andrew Stewart (King’s College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College), ‘Wavell and Churchill at War’
February (TBC) – Dr David Jordan (King’s College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College), ‘Title TBC’
March (TBC) – Professor Kevin Passmore (Cardiff University), ‘The Maginot Line’
April (TBC) – Lieutenant General Sir John Kiszely, ‘Norway 1940’
May (TBC) – Professor Brian Farrell (National University of Singapore), ‘TBC’


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