The year 1945 marks a turning point in world history. The defeat of Germany and the end of Nazism as well as the defeat of Japan 75 years ago, and its militaristic dictatorship, signified the end of the Second World War, which Hitler had unleashed six years earlier, assisted by Stalin. Conducted on an unprecedented criminal scale, the Second World War and the Holocaust saw the sacrifice of millions of lives. Material losses were immeasurable. Both during and after the war, millions of people were forced to migrate from their homeland. For Central and Eastern Europe, the end of the war was also directly associated with the beginning of the communist dictatorship. To the present day, the year 1945 remains firmly established as a turning point in the collective memory, both within Europe and far beyond. Nevertheless, this memory could never be described as being consistent; it exhibits very different, changing emphases and perspectives across many various countries. The vivid memories of the Second World War and its end have faded with the passing of time and the generation of witnesses. Faced with new political and ecological challenges, the motivation for peace that shaped Europe over subsequent decades is being increasingly pushed into the background.
The conference will focus on the shifts in memories and changes in perspectives regarding the end of the Second World War observed over the last two decades. What are the effects and the impacts of these in the current day? Assessment of these events has transformed over the course of the 21st century against the background of the expansion of the European Union and its present day state of crisis, together with new political challenges and the reorientation of memorial culture. The intention is to enumerate these developments, to analyse their causes, and to discuss their consequences, not least with regard to points of reference for a collective remembering of the year 1945.