“75 Years Since: ‘Blindspots’ in World War II History”

Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 5-6:30 PM CET


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Register for the event before 5 May


On 2 September 2020, the world marked the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II (WWII), a war that remains one of the most painful and conflicting episodes in the memories of nations across the world. This discussion seeks a broader understanding of WWII beyond the mainstream narratives, and draws lessons from human sufferings and injustice that are often overlooked.

The EU-Russia Civil Society Forum and its history programme Confronting Memories, continues its series of discussions on World War II and ongoing socio-political debates on postwar memory- making. In this discussion, we shall look into three geographical ‘blindspots’ in WWII history – North Africa, the Middle East and South America – with topics that have not been discussed adequately.

The speakers will address issues relating to the following questions:

  • In contrast to the Holocaust in Europe, the displacement and sufferings of the Jewish communities in North Africa during WWII has rarely been discussed. How has the history of these Jewish communities been remembered in North Africa?
  • How much of history on ‘ratlines’ to South America has been taught in schools or through the public education system in the respective countries?
  • How have national identities as part of state formation influenced the historical narratives on WWII among different Middle Eastern countries?
  • What lessons can be drawn from these various experiences of WWII in North Africa, Middle East and South America for current challenges today?


Kristina Smolijaninovaitė, EU-Russia Civil Society Forum, Germany
  • Deputy Director of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
  • Since 2015, she has led Operations and Programmes Department. In 2013, she initiated the Forum Working Group “Historical Memory and Education” that she coordinated until 2017.
  • One of the curators of the exhibition “Different Wars: National School Textbooks on World War II” and a co-author of the accompanying catalogue. She studied cultural heritage and languages in Lithuania, Germany and Turkey.
  • She oversees programmes/projects and operations of the Secretariat, as well as supports organisational developement.
  • She is in charge of coordinating annual General Assemblies, EU-Russia Civil Society Research and the History Programme.
Joseph Bahout, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
  • Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut, where he is also an Associate Professor of Practice in the Political Studies and Public Administration Department.
  • Associate Fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, having dealt with political and consultancy activities with various ministries and public bodies in Lebanon.
  • Author of two books (on Syria’s business community and its political outlook; on Lebanon’s post-war political reconstruction), and of numerous articles and book chapters.
Aomar Boum, University of California, USA/Morocco
  • Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Boum is interested in the place of religious and ethnic minorities such as Jews, Baha’is, Shias and Christians in post-independence Middle Eastern and North African nation states.
  • Author of “Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco” (Stanford University Press, 2013).
  • Co-author of the “Historical Dictionary of Morocco” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016) and “The Holocaust and North Africa” (Stanford University Press, 2018).
  • Currently working on a manuscript with Daniel Schroeter, titled “Morocco and Holocaust: The Story of Mohammed V Saving Jews during WWII, 1940-2019”.
Ernesto Bohoslavsky, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Argentina
  • Associate Professor in Latin American Contemporary History at Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Argentina.
  • His main research interests are right-wing ideologies, parties and intellectuals in Argentina, Brazil and Chile, using a comparative and trans-national history approach.
  • He has published several books and articles in Europe and the Americas.
  • He was a visiting professor at several universities in France, Uruguay, Chile and Colombia and his current project focuses on rightist women and youth in South America during the sixties and seventies.
Alexis Dudden, University of Connecticut, USA
  • Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, specializing in modern Japan, modern Korea, and international history.
  • Her selected publications include “The Ongoing Disaster,” in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 71, No. 2 (May 2012); “Troubled Apologies Among Japan, Korea, and the United States” (Columbia University Press, 2008); and “Japan’s Colonization of Korea: Discourse and Power” (University of Hawai’i Press, 2005).
  • Her current project, “Islands, Empire, Nation: A History of Modern Japan”, analyzes Japan’s contemporary territorial disputes through the changing meaning of islands broadly defined.


The discussion will be in English; interpretation into Russian will be available.