Continuity and Discontinuity of University Education and Research Activities of Central European Scholars during World War II


Adéla Jůnová Macková, Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences, v. v. i., Prague, Czech Republic
Milada Sekyrková, Institute of the History of Charles University and Archive of Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic


World War II changed and challenged generations of European researchers, and impacted on the existence of research institutions. Several occupied countries had to close their higher education institutions in 1939 (Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, Poland), scholars lost jobs and students opportunities. One solution that maintained a research career as a viable option for scholars consisted of teams in non-university research institutions. It was a way of survival that offered work, and sustenance, even though with limited teaching opportunities, and limited publication outlets. A generation of students had to leave the universities, and their younger followers did not have a perspective – army life and factory work were an imposed solution. An alternative applied in Austria, Hungary, and Germany itself was to embark on research projects and teaching plans deemed acceptable to the regime and to war conditions. Across Nazi-controlled Europe, racial laws, army conscriptions, and enforced exile exercised a considerable influence, next to a reorientation of research programmes to contributions to the war effort. Historiography mapping and interpreting a profound war impact in occupied regions concerns both institutional histories and individual, more biographically oriented aspects. Personal histories of Central European researchers on diverse sides of the conflict included also resistance to the regime.
The symposium panel is concerned with a continuity and discontinuity of research institutions, disciplines, and research interests of Central European researchers during the war. Both institutional and individual aspects have been incorporated, mapping diverse strategies and outcomes. The individual perspective also includes everyday existence, and very personal aspects of habitus, with practices and representations set in highly complex situations, such as exile, resistance, war effort, or survival in a totalitarian regime.

Contact email: Adéla Jůnová Macková

Deadline for paper submission: November 27, 2017