Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS VIRTUAL Festival - Compromised Identities?

05 May 2021, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Compromised identities

Reflections on Perpetration and Complicity under Nazism with Professor Mary Fulbrook, Professor Stephanie Bird, Dr Stefanie Rauch and Dr Bastiaan Willems

This event is free.

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We readily think of ‘perpetrators’ as those directly involved in physical violence: giving the orders, pulling the trigger, killing innocent victims. But under Nazi rule, millions were involved in broader processes of persecution. How can we understand not only direct perpetrators, but also those who were complicit in systemic racism, as well as the passivity of ‘bystanders’? Our exhibition on ‘Compromised Identities?’ explores how perpetration and complicity are represented and understood both at the time and later. This event will present selected highlights from the exhibition, including extracts from short films we have made, followed by a panel discussion in which team members briefly present aspects of their research.

The project website can be visited here.


Professor Mary Fulbrook, FBA, is Professor of German History at UCL. Her recent research has focussed on the German dictatorships – the Third Reich and the GDR – and their aftermath; currently, she is working on bystanders and complicity in systemic racism.

Professor Stephanie Bird is Professor of German Studies at UCL. Her work focuses on narrative ethics, the overlap between fact and fiction, and how our understanding of historical trauma and the perpetration of violence may be enhanced if representations include a pleasurable comic aesthetic.

Dr Stefanie Rauch joined UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies in 2016. Her research interests include the Nazi period and its legacies, media representations and audience reception, WWII intelligence history, and digital humanities. Her current work explores the ways in which non-persecuted Germans and Austrians negotiated different degrees of involvement and complicity in the Third Reich after 1945.

Dr Bastiaan Willems is a historian of the Second World War. His research has focused on the behaviour of German soldiers towards their own compatriots during the defence of East Prussia, Germany’s easternmost province, between July 1944 and May 1945. His current research seeks to explain the increase of public summary executions in the final year of the Second World War.

This talk forms part of the IAS fifth anniversary festival on the theme of ‘Alternative Epistemologies’.

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