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Gepubliceerd op 02-11-2021

Call for Papers Wassenaar, 1952: Re-Inventing Reparations

With the generous support of the Royal Netherlands Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the convenors invite proposals to foster a multi-disciplinary dialogue on the significance and legacy of the 1952 Wassenaar negotiations.

In March 1952, German, Jewish and Israeli representatives met in the Netherlands, in secret, in Kasteel Oud Wassenaar to negotiate an unprecedented reparations agreement (Wiedergutmachung/Shilumim). Until then, reparations had been something demanded and dictated by the victors at the end of a war, with the vanquished left with no choice but to pay them. But these categories did not make any sense in the aftermath of the Holocaust – crimes of that scope did not leave behind victors nor vanquished. Signed later that year in Luxembourg, the 1952 agreement was ground-breaking. And it made history.

In the uncharted territory after the Second World War and the Holocaust, a novel and controversial approach to reparations for addressing gross human rights violations and serious international crimes emerged. The aim of this conference is to re-examine the 1952 Wassenaar negotiations blending perspectives from history, law, and international relations. Wassenaar 1952 has often been studied, rightly, as a key turning point in the history of German-Jewish-Israeli relations and as an important milestone in the development of compensation legislation and practice in the early 1950s. But those difficult negotiations also took place in a fraught political context – one that was characterised, at local, transnational and international level by serious tensions and conflicting interpretations about how to deal with the recent past. By studying Wassenaar 1952 as a platform for the creation of a new international practice to address serious harm, the conference participants will work to historicise the notion of reparations and reflect on the legacy of those talks, exactly seventy years on.

Potential contributions could cover:

  • The 1952 negotiations in their local, national and international context
  • The 1952 agreement and the trans-local biographies of its negotiators and opponents
  • The 1952 negotiations and international law
  • The 1952 negotiations in the media and the public sphere
  • The 1952 negotiations and their wider repercussions

The committee invites proposals on relevant topics related to the central theme of this conference: the history, politics and legacy of the 1952 Wassenaar negotiations. The conference will take place in Amsterdam on 22-23 March 2022. Please send proposals (300 words) with a one-page CV by 10 December 2021 to the conference committee at: Wassenaar1952@uu.nl. Informal enquiries are welcome. Authors of proposals will be informed of the convenors’ decision on their submission by 1 February 2022.

Organising Committee:

  1. Lorena De Vita (contact person) Assistant Professor, History of International Relations, Utrecht University
    Prof. dr. Beatrice de Graaf, Distinguished Professor, Utrecht University
    Prof. dr. James Kennedy, Professor of Modern Dutch History, Utrecht University
    Prof. dr. Rianne Letschert, Rector Magnificus, Maastricht University
    dr. Brianne McGonigle Leyh, Associate Professor in Human Rights Law and Global Justice Utrecht University
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