Call for papers: First International Willi-Münzenberg-Congress

Global Spaces for Radical Solidarity:

Transnational Movements, Social, Cultural and Humanitarian Ideas, Networks and Media of

the 20th Century.

First International Willi-Münzenberg-Congress

Place: Berlin, Münzenberg-Saal at Franz-Mehring-Platz 1, 10243 Berlin

Date: September 17th – 19th 2015

Causes célèbres: Münzenberg as a bridge to the 20th century

A collection of keywords: The „Third Front“; Youth International; Zimmerwald Conference; Founding

Congress of the Comintern; Famine Relief for Soviet Russia; Workers International Relief; Famine

in Germany; Proviantkolonne des Proletariats; Arbeiter Illustrierte Zeitung; Communist Party of

Germany; League against Imperialism and for National Independence; Against the Horrors in

Syria!; the Flame Sign of Palais Egmont; L’Etoile Nord-Africaine; Der Rote Aufbau; The Arab

National Congress; La Ligue pour la Défense de la Race Nègre; Mezhrabpom-Film; First

International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers; Kuhle Wampe; Free Sacco and Vanzetti!;

Neuer Deutscher Verlag; Hands Off China!; Eulenspiegel; Liga Antiimperialista de las Américas;

Indonesian Revolt; Der Weg der Frau; Artiste en révolution; World Committee Against War and

Fascism; Nehru and the Nightingale of India; Berlin am Morgen; Welt am Abend; The Red

Millionaire; ¡Viva Sandino!; For the Release of Dimitrov, Thälmann and all Antifascists; Lutetia

Committee; The Pariser Tageblatt and it’s scandals; Prometheus Film; Writers in exile; Battleship

Potemkin; Association of Worker Photographers; The Brown Book of the Reichstag Fire and Hitler

Terror; World Committee for the Relief of the Victims of German Fascism; London Counter-Trial;

Propaganda as weapon; Editions du Carrefour; The International Coordination and Information

Committee of Aid for Republican Spain; The Moscow Show Trials; The Hollywood Anti-Nazi

League for the Defense of American Democracy; Die Zukunft, Organ der Deutsch-Französischen

Union; “The traitor, Stalin, are you!”; A New Germany! A New Europe!; Komitee Menschen in Not;

Editions Sebastian Brant; Freunde der sozialistischen Einheit Deutschlands; French internment

camps and the “Scum of the Earth”; The dream of Hitler’s overthrough.

Cooperation/ Partners

Grundstücksgesellschaft Franz-Mehring-Platz 1 (FMP1), Berlin, Germany

Åbo Akademi University, Åbo (Turku), Finland

Arbejdermuseet, Kopenhagen, Denmark

Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF), Potsdam, Germany

Institute for Social Movements (ISB), Ruhr University Bochum, Germany

Linke Medienakademie (LIMA), Berlin, Germany

Maison des Sciences de l’homme, Université de Bourgogne, Dijon, France

Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin, Germany

Schweizerisches Sozialarchiv, Zürich, Switzerland

Willi Münzenberg and Global Solidarity Initiatives

It is not easy to summarize all aspects of Münzenberg’s outstanding role in the manifold global

solidarity initiatives of the interwar period. He inspired the International Union of Socialist Youth, the

largest anti-war organization against World War I, and was the organizer of international famine

relief for Soviet Russia. In the early 1920s he formed those efforts into the Workers International

Relief (WIR/IAH). As a film distributor and producer he introduced modern Russian cinema to a

German and European audience. As a political writer and operator of the most influential left-wing

media-empire of the Weimar Republic, the KPD politician grew to become a serious opponent to

Goebbels and Hugenberg. At the same time he initiated the world’s largest anti-colonialist network

of the interwar period. After 1933, his name stood for a series of charismatic, anti-fascist public

efforts like no other. In French exile he partook in forging a German Popular Front within the left

émigré community before becoming one of the most exposed critics of Stalinism after the Stalin-

Hitler-Pact. Ousted by the Comintern, he united large parts of the German and European Anti-

Hitler opposition in an attempt to prevent the outbreak of World War II.

In the summer of 1940 he fled a French internment camp. Months later his corpse was found, but

none of the theses (either suicide or assassination by the Nazis or the Stalin regime) could

ultimately be verified to this day.

Goals of the Congress

One of the results of the First European Willi-Münzenberg-Workshop (2012) on “Internationalism,

Transnational Solidarity Networks, Anti-Fascism and Anti-Stalinism in the 1920s and 1930s” was

the creation of a web-portal, offering a platform to a loose network of scholarly project groups,

political and cultural institutions and media enterprises for further investigations of Münzenberg’s

life-time achievements as well as the research of international solidarity movements (the betaversion

can be accessed via http://www.mü First International Willi-

Münzenberg-Congress aims at the presentation and analysis of the transnational solidarity

networks, their sponsors, key players and ideas in the light of the social, cultural and humanitarian

movements of the 20th century in a global perspective.

– Münzenberg himself, his collaborators and his contact persons from the political and cultural

sector are to be brought into focus by (collective-)biographical contributions, as well as the specific

form and social practices of their world-spanning networks. Alongside with a critical overview of the

international research, the focus will be on the world as a space for propaganda and the arena for

transnational solidarity, from Latin America to Africa, from the Middle East to East Asia, but also the

Weimar Republic and the Anti-Hitler-exile as concrete places, from which networks were created

and global solidarity and propaganda were imagined and organized.

– Moreover, the focus will lie on the diverse movements, stemming from the labour movement and

at the same time transcending its boundaries, which characterized Münzenberg’s initiatives and

their role in facilitating transcultural exchange. Political scripts such as anti-colonialism,

antifascism, anti-racism, revolutionary internationalism, left-wing anti-Stalinism and the cultural

avant-garde will be paid attention to. A special focus lies upon the forms of political and cultural

transfer. Who were its protagonists and which media did they employ? How did the local and the

global intertwine? What role should be given to the intellectual history of modernity and critical

theory? How did the mediatization ensue? Did these networks constitute a cross-party

internationalist world of its own? Or were they merely façades or Potemkin villages to cover up the

reality of the Soviet Union?

– In further contributions, the history of (dis-)continuities and influences of Münzenberg and his

initiatives up to the beginning of the 21st century with its caesuras and continuities will be focused

on. What mechanisms lead to the transformation, subversion and liquidation of the international

solidarity movements and which role did Stalinism play in it? Which concepts about socialism

beyond European social democracy and Stalinism did Münzenberg develop from the devastating

defeats of the workers movement?

– A quarter of a century after the beginning of the “archive revolution”, it is time to evaluate the

fragmented heritage and the historiography in the East and the West.

The full version of the Call for Paper contains a first, extensive collection of ideas for the subject

areas of the Congress. It will be available on the web-portal (http://www.mü

starting December 2014.

Paper Proposals

The deadline for proposals is February 15th, 2015. The languages of the conference are German

and English. The duration of the individual presentations is 20 minutes. We kindly ask for

proposals including the presentation’s title, a short abstract (maximum 400 words – about one

page), and a brief C.V. including the most important (maximum five) publications.

Please direct your proposals to the Organizing Committee of the Congress

The members are:

– Dr. habil. Bernhard H. Bayerlein, Institut für soziale Bewegungen (ISB), Ruhr-Universität Bochum,


– Dr. des. Uwe Sonnenberg, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung (ZZF), Potsdam, Germany

– Dr. Kasper Braskén, Åbo Akademi University, Åbo (Turku), Finland

– Matthias Nehls, Grundstücksgesellschaft Franz-Mehring-Platz 1 (FMP1), Berlin, Germany

Financial Matters

In case of a proposal’s acception, the costs of the stay and the hotel will be covered. We kindly ask

to use own funds for the travel costs. Only in case this should not be possible, coverage of the

travel costs can be held in prospect.

Internationales Willi-Münzenberg-Forum (IWMF)


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