This workshop will address the question of far-right memory politics in the Internet era. It is centred on a research project which looks at the legacy of military collaboration with the Nazi army and government, but it seeks to broaden its focus in two ways. First, what parallels and connections can be drawn between the Nazi collaborationists’ memory politics, and those of the European far right in general? Second, what impact has the Internet had on the cultivation and spread of the far-right alternative narrative and memory of modern European politics?
During the post-war era, far-right Nazi collaborationists reorganised in transnational networks. They consistently launched a revisionist, hyper-nationalist and anti-communist counter-narrative to the dominant stories of resistance to and conquest of the Nazi threat. This approach to history has re-emerged, today, as racist, antisemitic, homophobic, and antidemocratic ideas spread across Europe. The story thus advanced has gained an audience far beyond the original veterans’ organisations.
Their creative and aggressive memory politics are used by younger far-right groups to reformulate the narrative of collaboration, enshrining (for instance) heroes and sacrifices in wider, far-right rituals of commemoration, publications and festivals. The veterans and younger far-right activists are thus part of a larger far-right re-telling of the memory of World War Two, one that is bringing revisionist narratives and antidemocratic politics closer to the mainstream in several European countries.
The Internet and social-media / digital space have both changed and augmented the nature and impact of these ideas. Manuel Castells has described how the “networked” society of the Internet allows even small, under-resourced networks a good deal of visibility. Their audience is large, varied, and often responsive to appeals for on-site action (“triggers”). Castells' vision of a “space of flows” – the hubs in which networks crisscross – is useful in studying the dissemination of marginalized counter-histories. Collaborationist veterans exploit these hubs for international exchanges and coordination. They are vital to both revisionist narratives and practices, providing the storylines, heroes and rituals that can be deployed in national contexts in both East and West.
Financers and supporters
This workshop is financed and supported by the Centre for Baltic and East European Studies at Södertörn University, and organised within the activities of project Memory Politics in Far-Right Europe: Celebrating Nazi Collaborationists in Post-1989 Belarus, Romania, Flanders and Denmark (Department of Historical Studies, Södertörn University, financed by the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies).
Organiser: Francesco Zavatti