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October 8, 2010

History Division News
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» ‘Our Work Is a Mission’

The Friends’ Relief Service and Displaced People after the Second World War

<image src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2010/10/8/Quakers.JPG" height="550px" width="720px" /> Image: Members of FRS 124 leaving Tilbury for Ostend in July 1945, from the Friends’ Library, London. Used with permission of the Religious Society of Friends in Great Britain

Dr Fiona Reid considers past perspectives on relief work

After the Second World War there were about 10 million displaced people (DPs) in Europe alone. The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was responsible for most of them, yet voluntary societies, such as the Friends Relief Service (FRS) played a huge role too.

The FRS was organised by the Quakers, although not all of its members were Quakers. Team members were largely motivated by the belief that humanitarian work was an expression of Christian commitment and they defined themselves against the highly professionalised model of relief work being pioneered by UNRRA. FRS teams often presented an image of themselves as simply good-hearted amateurs doing their best, yet the Quaker training and selection process was rigorous. Unlike UNRRA, FRS teams were proficient in local languages and only 1 in 10 applicants to the FRS was accepted. The Quakers clearly and deliberately understated their own training. But why? Possibly from a sense of modesty, possibly from a sense of moral superiority, or possibly because they simply felt inadequate when faced with the realities of life in a DP camp. Yet this strong world view – erroneous in itself – may well have maintained morale and protected FRS teams from some of the psychological trauma of relief work.

Fiona Reid is head of Glamorgan's History Division. Her research and teaching specialisms include the social impact of World War II and the history of refugees. This entry summarises the conclusions of her research presentation to the history division's War, Violence and Society seminar series, ‘Our Work Is a Mission’: The Friends’ Relief Service and Displaced People after the Second World War.

June 23, 2010

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» Panzers in Pembrokeshire?

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Cold War Wales and the Labour Party

Why did a Labour government send British soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan?

According to Glamorgan's Norry LaPorte, the Labour Party's development since the 1980s has brought supporters of 'realpolitik' to the fore. Foreign affairs and military strategy shaped Labour's development in the UK - and in Wales. From the spectre of German tanks in Pembrokeshire, through the founding of the Greenham Common Peace Camp, to Michael Foot's disarmament campaign, Wales and Welsh Labour engaged vigorously with Cold War politics. But the British public's response to unilateralist policies finally convinced the party that a pro-American stance was the route to electoral success.

Experts will gather to discuss Cold War Wales: Peace, Politics and Culture at the University of Glamorgan on June 26th 2010. This is a Centre for Modern and Contemporary Wales event, organised by Dr Norry LaPorte, Dr Fiona Reid, and Professor Gareth Williams of Glamorgan's History Division. Download the programme and registration form here, and read more of Dr LaPorte's analysis at the Western Mail.

March 15, 2010

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» History Cinema: "The Search"

Introduction and Screening: Thursday 18th March

<image src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2010/3/15/search.jpg" />

By the end of World War II, Europe faced a refugee crisis involving seven million people. This was a major challenge for the allied victors. Their response can be reconstructed through the memoirs and official records, but what can historians learn from the way their work shown to the wider public?</>

‘The Search’ (1948) is a unique example of a film concerning post-war refugees. Filmed on location in still war-devastated Germany, it depicts relief workers, American soldiers and Displaced Persons. Some of its child actors came from refugee camps, and the film was made with cooperation from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), one of the subjects of Glamorgan's Outcast Europe research project. But 'The Search' was not just an obscure docudrama; it was a box-office success, a classic Hollywood film which triumphed at the Oscars.

Sharif Gemie invites all students and staff to a screening of "The Search" on Thursday 18th March 2010, 5.00-7.00pm, Room J132.

Contact sgemie@glam.ac.uk for further details.

 

 

 

March 6, 2010

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» Refugees - whose responsibility?

History Workshop: Women and Refugees

University of Glamorgan, G.304 and G.305: Saturday 13 March 2010, 10.00-14.00

<image class="right" src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2010/3/6/cohen.jpg" />

There have always been refugees but in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s there were some of the most monumental and severe refugee crises in the history of the world. Throughout the inter-war years democratic regimes collapsed and were replaced by authoritarian models in Italy, Germany, Austria, Spain, France and many other countries. These regimes characterised many individuals and groups as ‘the enemy’, whether they were political opponents – such as the Spanish Republicans – or racially defined ‘others’ – such as German Jews. These were some of the first refugees of the long Second World War.

During the Second World War, there were vast, forced population movements, and more spontaneous movements as people fled from the fighting or from attempts at political persecution. By the end of the war displacement was clearly a tremendous problem and by the summer of 1945 approximately 7 million civilians were on the move in Western Europe. Some wanted to go home, some, especially those from Eastern Europe, were determined never to return.

What should be done with all these itinerant people? Who was responsible for them, and who should look after them? We will discuss the way in which key individuals and groups answered those questions. Susan Cohen will talk about the life and work of Eleanor Rathbone, an Independent MP who championed the rights of the refugees fleeing from Hitler’s Germany. Despite political and popular opposition she argued that they should be given a home in Britain. After the war, the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) was responsible for the care of a large number of refugees and displaced people. Sharif Gemie describes the role of UNRRA and Laure Humbert will talk about one woman’s experiences as an UNRRA worker. Alongside UNRRA there were numerous voluntary organisations, many of whom had a far wider remit for relief work. Fiona Reid will describe the work of the Friends’ Relief Service and will consider the extent to which the Friends offered a distinct approach to welfare work.

The morning will finish with a brief look at an UNNRA film, The Search, which will be introduced by Louise Rees. This will form the basis for a group discussion about the themes raised during the day.

This event is free and all are welcome. There will be an opportunity to buy Susan Cohen’s book, Rescue the Perishing. Eleanor Rathbone and the Refugees. (2010). Contact: freid1@glam.ac.uk for more information

March 5, 2010

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» History Cinema: "Waltz with Bashir"

The Israeli "Apocalypse Now"

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Introduction and Screening: Tuesday 9th March

In 1982, Israel launched "Operation Peace for Galilee" and invaded the Lebanon. There followed one of the worst atrocities of the Arab-Israeli conflict: the massacre of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men, women and children at the Shateela Refugee Camp.

How did the massacre happen? Who should be blamed? For historians, these are difficult, controversial questions about a event with continuing repercussions, and still in living memory. For Israeli soldiers who fought in the Lebanon, finding answers must surely be more straightforward? Ari Folman, director of "Waltz with Bashir", suggests not. He uses powerfully animated sequences of nightmares and fantasies, amnesia and confusion, to reconstruct his and his generation's experience of a campaign fought and forgotten.

Sharif Gemie, Glamorgan's expert on refugee history and the history of the Middle East, invites all students and staff to a screening of "Waltz with Bashir" on Tuesday 9th March 2010, 4.30-6.30, Room H126. Contact sgemie@glam.ac.uk for further details.

January 19, 2010

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» The History Society Presents ...

Fiona Reid

<image class="right" src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2010/1/19/No_end_of_loavesa.jpg" height="275px" alt="shell shock illustration" width="275px">

Glamorgan University's new History Society has been a huge success: membership is growing and the Society has led the first of many expeditions, to the British Museum's Moctezuma Exhibition.

The next enterprise is a series of guest lectures, open to all staff and students of the university. Dr Fiona Reid of the Glamorgan History Division is the first speaker: she is on research sabbatical this year, but returns to Treforest to share her findings on war, medicine and society in the early twentieth century.

Admission is free and all are welcome to attend this lecture in G303 (Glynneath) at 17.00, 20th January 2010.

For more information about the History Society or about this event, please contact Pete Driscoll (08037582@glam.ac.uk), Secretary.

July 15, 2009

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» Dangerous Times?

Norry LaPorte speaks to BBC History Magazine

The Great Depression of the late 1920s and 1930s has been back in the news this year. Commentators have been pondering the link between economic crises and political extremism, dwelling on the collapse of the Weimar Republic, which fell to Nazism a few years after the crash of 1929. Glamorgan Historian Norry LaPorte has been studying protest and violence in the interwar period, looking at divergent experiences in Britain and Germany. In an interview published in the BBC History Magazine in association with the History and Policy network, he considers the possible consequences of the current downturn. Here are five reasons not to expect the worst:


<image class="left" title="Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1978-096-03, 1932" src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2009/7/15/444px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1978-096-03__Mecklenburg__Wahlpropaganda_der_NSDAP.jpg" height="473" alt="Electioneering, 1932" width="350" />

1. Historical Background – We've entered this crisis from a situation of stability, whereas Germany in 1929 was already struggling with the consequences of military defeat, civil war and hyperinflation.

2. Political Violence - Most of Germany's political parties already had paramilitary wings by 1929 – democracy was a new and shaky system and political violence was systemic.

3. Mass Protest – Governments were terrified of mass protest in the 1920s and 1930s – what we've seen recently in Britain have been protests from marginalised groups like the antiglobalisation protesters at the G20 summit.

4. Political Alternatives – We're seeing challenges to the governing party, not to the system. Britain reacted to the crash of 1929 by electing a Conservative government, and looks set to respond the same way again.

5. Learning from the Past – Today's world leaders have learned from the Great Depression and aren't opposed to any kind of fiscal stimulus – their attempts to stop the slump from becoming a crash may or may not succeed, but they have more options then their predecessors.

To read Norry's thoughts on the current crisis in full, buy a copy of July's BBC History Magazine.

April 27, 2009

History Division News
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» Study Day: Women, Work, and Memory

In Response to War: Women, Work, and Memory in the Twentieth Century

<image title="Women's Study Day" src="http://historydivision.weblog.glam.ac.uk/assets/2009/4/27/womens_study_group_edit.jpg" alt="Photograph of participants">

The South West and Wales Women’s History Network and the Outcast Europe research centre held a study day on Saturday 25 April. This day was also part of a wider initiative in which University of Glamorgan historians aim to develop broad discussions on war, violence and society.

Study days are an ideal opportunity to discuss new projects and to present work in progress. Gill Abousnnouga (University of Glamorgan, English) presented a multi-modal analysis of war memorials. This is one of the many areas in which inter-disciplinary research can be fruitful and we hope very much to hear more about this project in the future. Sharif Gemie (University of Glamorgan, History) discussed the work of UNRRA in the Displaced Person’s camps of post-Second World War Europe. We were also pleased to welcome colleagues from the universities of Cardiff and Swansea. Tracey Loughran, (University of Cardiff) who has done much work on First World War shell shock, spoke about gendered interpretations of hysteria; Helen Steele (University of Swansea) talked about her research into the everyday lives of women in National Socialist Austria.

We hope that these study days promote greater collaboration both within and between university departments. The Women’s History Network Annual conference will take place on Saturday 4 July at the University of Wales, Newport. See the South West and Wales Women's History Network for further details.