Commemorating the Second World War in the ‘young 21st century’

19-21 July, 2023 – University of York

How has the Second World War been commemorated globally since 1991? How has public perception of and participation in commemorative activity and consumption changed? What strategies have been used to mobilise new technologies and navigate geo-political challenges? What controversies were triggered, narratives adjusted, new formats developed, or new media utilised?

These questions, among others, will be discussed at this two day conference organised by the Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past, University of York, and the Chair of Modern and Contemporary History, University of Bonn.

The programme can be found below.

  • In-person free tickets can be booked for Day 1 or Day 2 of the conference, or for both days. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
  • An optional guided visit to the Yorkshire Air Museum, 2pm-4pm on Wednesday 19th July, can also be booked via Eventbrite. There will be a £5 charge for this on the day.
  • Online attendees should book an online ticket only.
  • For booking questions, please contact James Krull,

Wednesday 19th July (Day 0)

14.00 – 16.00 : Visit to the Yorkshire Air Museum with Chair of the Trustees, Rachel Semlyen (Booking required, £5 fee)

Thursday 20th July (Day 1)

9.15-10.00 : Registration (Tea/coffee)

10.00-10.15 : Welcome

10.15-11.15 : Keynote – Natasha Danilova: “The Second World War: Challenges of Remembrance and Nostalgia”

11.15-11.40 : Break (Tea/coffee/biscuits)

11.40-13.20 : Paper Session 1 – Memorials

  • Werner Suppanz – “Perpetrators in a positive sense”. The window of opportunity for memorials to deserters in the ‘young’ 21st century in Austria
  • Rhiannon Seymour – “The evolution of memorialisation and the role of local authorities – a case study from Rhondda Cynon Taff” [online]
  • Tim Grady – “Constricted Remembrance: British War Memories and the Enemy Dead”
  • Tanja Kilzer – “Remembering the once forgotten. Memorials and culture of remembrance for the victims of Nazi “euthanasia” crimes in Germany in the 21st century”

13.20 – 14.15 : Lunch (sandwiches)

14.15- 15.45 : Paper Session 2 – Colonial Legacies

  • Elisabeth Haines and Iqbal Singh – “Identity, translation and silence – linguistic legacies at the intersection of colonialism and the military in the Second World War”
  • Shreya Sharma – “Rest in Paper: India and the Second World War” [online]
  • Lucky Igohosa Ugbudian – “Commemorating World War Two: The Nigerian Perspective” [online]

15.45- 16.15 : Break (Tea/coffee/cake)

16.15 – 17.45 : Paper Session 3 – Media Representation

  • Martin Tschiggerl – “Did my grandfather storm the beaches of Normandy for this shit?” Mnemonic Wars in Digital Games about the Second World War”
  • Daniel Cowling – “Re-remembering The Great Escape in 21st-century Britain”
  • Pia Schlechter – “#nowar – but which war? Voices of Ukrainians in Selfies on Instagram in The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin”

Friday 21st July (Day 2)

9.15 – 9.45 : Registration (Tea/coffee)

9.45 – 9.55 : Welcome

9.55 – 11.25 : Paper Session 4 – Commemorative Politics

  • Blanka Matkovic – “Politics of War Commemoration in Croatia: From the on-going Historical Debates to the Impact of the recent Wars in the 1990s and current Political Influences” [online]
  • Natalia Matveeva – “Remembrance of WWII and the defeat of Japan in North Korea and the current Russian political narrative” [online]
  • Joseph Quinn – Making an “Irish Myth” of another unremembered past: Commemorating the Second World War in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

11.25-11.45 : Break (Tea/coffee/biscuits)

11.45-13.15 : Paper Session 5 – Commemorative Politics II

  • James Krull – “Undertones of war commemoration: Historical grief and the death of a monarch”
  • Ben Huntley – “From the Few to the Many: Bomber Command and the National Myth of the Second World War”
  • Catherine Palmer – “Architecture of Memorialisation: the workings of memory and the Spitfire”

13.15 – 14.15 : Lunch (sandwiches)

14.15-15.45: Paper Session 6 – Personal Me mory and Oral Histories

  • Harriet Beadnell – “Monty’s Men – British Second World War Veterans and their role in the Commemoration of El Alamein since 1991”
  • Terry Smyth – “Holding onto Memories in Japan” [online]
  • Victoria Mutheu – “Soldiers, Wives and The Silent Ones” [online]

15.45 – 16.15 : Break (Tea/coffee/cake)

16.15 – 17.00 : Reflective Panel