When my supervisor told me about this conference two years ago, it seemed like a lifetime away – but all of a sudden it became a last-minute deadline and an intense, stressful few weeks over Christmas, trying to write and prepare my first conference paper. It seemed like a hopeless task with so many other commitments but somehow it came together, and although the surges of panic kept washing over me, I managed to resist the urge to run away and remembered the topic of my paper. If ordinary, decent people could endure and survive years of persecution and Orwellian control under the Nazi regime, what were my worries? That really put my fears into perspective.
Made it! Plenary welcome by David Feldman of the Pears Institute for the study of Antisemitism, Birbeck University, London
My first conference as a speaker
The welcome continued with speeches by my supervisor, Professor Dieter Steinert from the University of Wolverhampton, and Suzanne Bardgett from the Imperial War Museums, UK, all of which made us feel as though our humble offerings were actually quite important, contributing new ways of looking at those dreadful war years, and adding under-researched topics to the world of Holocaust studies.
Dieter gives the welcome speech in memory of his good friend, David
The late Professor Cesarani
David Cesarani was the leading British-based historian of the modern Jewish experience. He was also a notable commentator and broadcaster on the Jewish past and present and took a prominent role in Holocaust education in Britain and abroad. He is also greatly missed by his friends and colleagues, many of whom were with us at the conference.
Taking it all in
Professor Tim Cole, University of Bristol, Uk and Dr.Christine Schmidt, deputy director and head of research at the Wiener Library, UK
Tim’s Keynote speech, ” ‘Please mind the gap’, integrated histories and geographies of the Holocaust and Holocaust memory” gave us all pause for thought.
And then it was my turn … Panel 3, ‘Survivors in post-war Germany’, uh-oh!
A 20 minute paper with questions at the end actually goes by really quickly. I was amazed to find such interest in my topic, especially from Dr.Toby Haggith from the Imperial War Museums, London. Apparently, not only did he himself attend a Quaker school and had never heard of my Quakers in Nazi Germany, but he is also involved in a new exhibition which will involve Quaker history (he took my card). All in all, it seemed to go really well, allowing me to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference with its variety of excellently researched topics.
Below: Two of the Panels chaired by Dan Stone, Professor of Modern History and Director of the Holocaust Research Institute at RHUL.
Not only are conference days filled with exciting new papers and research ideas, but the social side of these events is also important. Chatting with academics and researchers from around the world is very rewarding. It certainly leaves us with the impression that the world of academia is one large family. The food wasn’t bad either!
And then, of course, there was the reception at the Embassy. Networking in sumptuous surroundings with delicious Austrian wine and nibbles:
And finally, after three days of intense concentration and socialising, it was time to say our goodbyes amongst promises of keeping in touch and meeting up again for the seventh International Multidisciplinary conference – starting my research now!