Scholars from Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and Vilnius will focus on the experiences of veterans from military conflicts in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Lithuania, and Germany. The workshop is organized by the EHU Center for German Studies with support by German Academic Exchange Service.
Participants will consider how state and society addressed the consequences of the Soviet-Afghan War and the withdrawal of international armed forces from Afghanistan 25 years later. The aim is to analyze strategies for (re)integrating veterans of an asymmetric war into society, media, and the legal order in a radically changing international context. Beyond a normative concept of successful (re)integration, the papers will address the many contradictions between the soldiers’ self-perception, their post-war experience, and the contradictions veterans have faced in new social settings.
The workshop is based on the assumption that there is no direct link between individual trauma during an asymmetrical war and the social concepts for overcoming the trauma in the war’s aftermath. However, the asymmetric nature of conflicts like the Soviet-Afghan War and the unwillingness of Soviet officials to address the violent character of the Soviet invasion has had a long-term impact on the veterans, and this impact resurfaced in the newly emerging post-Soviet societies. Participants will consider the question of how various social protagonists and the former combatants themselves deal with their experiences from the Soviet-Afghan War in very different post-war settings.
In this context, the different social and political strategies, oscillating between disappearance and presence, will be compared to the veterans’ own perspectives. One presenter will discuss possible parallels to today’s withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Workshop participants will include Felix Ackermann (European Humanities University), Iryna Sklokina (Karazin Kharkiv National University), Jan Behrens (Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam), Markus Balázs Göransson (Aberystwyth University), Markus Mirschel (Universität Zürich) and Michael Galbas (Universität Konstanz). The workshop is organized by Michael Galbas (Konstanz) and Felix Ackermann (Vilnius) on behalf of the EHU Center of German Studies with support of the German Academic Exchange Service.