19.09 at 17:45

The values and moral norms of the societies of occupied Europe – a debate on the book “An Iron Wind: Europe Under Hitler”

Peter Fritzsche’s book presents the history of German occupied Europe from the perspective of various historical sources. Making use of chronicles, letters and a variety of other accounts, the author depicts the realities of everyday life in occupied countries. He shows the efforts undertaken by their residents in order to function despite the growing brutal repressions and total war as well as their struggle to survive the conflict while trying to understand and make sense of the new reality shaped by the Nazis.

In order to demonstrate the disparate experiences of various European nations, the author presents not only France – torn between collaboration and resistance – and Poland – subjected to severe repressions – but also neutral Switzerland. He focuses especially on the ways in which societies reacted to the Holocaust and other mass atrocities. The book also poses difficult questions about universal mechanisms determining the limits of human solidarity and empathy in the face of violence. By confronting us with the witnesses’ fear of captivity and death, it exposes the deceptive nature of applying norms relevant to the time of peace to our deliberations on war.

Peter Fritzsche – a historian, professor at the University of Illinois. Author of numerous books, among others, the acclaimed Life and Death in the Third Reich (2008).

Our guests included:

  • Prof. Sebastian Piątkowski (Institute of National Remembrance Radom)
  • Prof. Tadeusz Panecki (The Maria Grzegorzewska University)
  • Grzegorz Czerniak (Film Projects Team at the Pilecki Institute)
  • Chair: Dr Agnieszka Konik (Center for Totalitarian Studies, Pilecki Institute)