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HPI Research Forum on July 4, 2019
〝Martin Niemöller and the history of anti-nuclear pacifism in the Federal Republic, 1950-1984″
By Dr. Benjamin Ziemann, Professor, Department of History, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
The Hiroshima Peace Institute held the HPI Research Forum as follows:
“Martin Niemöller and the history of anti-nuclear pacifism in the Federal Republic, 1950-1984″
2. Date and Time
July 4, 2019 (Thu.) 18:00-20:00
Seminar Room 2, Satellite Campus, Hiroshima City University
9F Otemachi Heiwa Building, 4-1-1 Otemachi, Nakaku, Hiroshima
4. Abstract of the Forum
Martin Niemöller (1892-1984) served in the Imperial German Navy as an officer and U-Boat Captain during the First World War. In 1919, he began to study Protestant theology. As a Lutheran pastor in the affluent parish of Berlin-Dahlem, Niemöller became the figurehead of the Confessing Church in its fight against the National Socialist faction in the Protestant church since 1933. On Adolf Hitler’s personal order, he was detained in Concentration Camps from 1938 to 1945. Yet in September 1939, the international press reported – correctly – that Niemöller had volunteered to fight in the Wehrmacht from his solitary confinement in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp.
In the post-war period, Niemöller became the most prominent German pacifist and the public face of the West German mass movements against nuclear weapons in the late 1950s and again in the wake of the 1979 NATO Dual Track Decision. How could a former career officer who had volunteered to fight for Nazi Germany become a prominent pacifist? Which perceptions informed Niemöller’s shift from militarism to a rejection of nuclear weapons? What was the rationale behind his anti-nuclear pacifism? And how did Niemöller’s peace activism resonate among the German public? These are some of the questions and themes that this talk will cover. By discussing the trajectory of Niemöller’s anti-nuclear pacifism from the 1950s to the 1980s, the talk will also introduce key turning points and developments of the peace movements in the Federal Republic during the Cold War.
5. Profile of Lecturers
Born in Berlin in 1964, Benjamin Ziemann is a German historian, with his PhD from the University of Bielefeld, who teaches at the University of Sheffield. His research covers a broad range of topics in German history during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and in post-1945 Western European history. He is a renowned expert in the comparative military, social and cultural history of the First World War, and continues to conduct research on the First World War and on mass-violence in the twentieth century more generally. One of his long standing research interests is peace history and he is director of the Centre for Peace History at the Department of History, founded in 2009.
Dr. Ziemann is currently completing his biography of Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), a navy officer during the First World who became a Protestant pastor and figurehead of the Confessing Church during the Third Reich. This book, to be published with Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt in 2019, will not only offer the first primary-souce based account of the turbulent life of Niemöller, including his eight years in Sachsenhausen and Dachau Concentration Camps from 1938 to 1945 and his tireless campaigning for peace and disarmament in the decades since 1945. Through the prism of Niemöller’s life, the book will also offer a reflection on continuities in Germany’s twentieth century history and contested issues such as nationalism, religion, guilt and morality