Aggressors: The Construction of National Enemy Images in Europe

Aggressors: The Construction of National Enemy Images in Europe

The Ladenburg Research Network of the Daimler and Benz Foundation
Conference venue "Domhof", Hauptstraße 9
Funded by
Daimler und Benz Stiftung
Takes place
In Attendance
From - Until
26.02.2024 - 28.02.2024
Vilma Vaskelaitė, Zentrum für Geschichts- und Kulturwissenschaft, Historisches Seminar, Universität Heidelberg

The international conference "Aggressors: The Construction of National Enemy Images in Europe" in Ladenburg on 26-28 February 2024 will bring together leading experts and young scholars from all over Europe to discuss and compare historical narratives about aggressors cultivated by different communities of memory.

Aggressors: The Construction of National Enemy Images in Europe

As the illusions of perpetual peace and security in Europe are shattered by the conflicts in Palestine, Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh, images of aggressors become ever more relevant in public discourse. The first meeting of the Ladenburg Research Network of the Daimler and Benz Foundation will focus on discursive constructions of enemies crucial to the formation of collective identities. Historiographical narratives, museum storytelling, media representations as well as digital content will be examined with the aim of laying the foundations for a new multi-perspective and multidisciplinary approach in memory and conflict studies.


Aggressors: The Construction of National Enemy Images in Europe

Ladenburg, February 26–28, 2024

February 26, 2024

13:30 – 13:45
• Prof. Dr Lutz Gade/Dr. Jörg Klein – Welcome Address

• Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen – Self-Perception and External Perception of an Aggressor: The Paradigmatic Case of Napoleon

14:30 – 16:00 Panel 1. Aggressors in Museums
Chair: Prof. Dr. Ilaria Porciani
• Prof. Dr. Dominique Poulot – Louis XIV in Museums: The Modalities and Challenges of Curating the History of Violences
• Prof. Dr. Alexandra Bounia – The Absence of a Personified Aggressor in Historical Museums
• Prof. Dr. Ilaria Porciani – Commentary

16:00 – 16:30 Coffee Break

16:30 – 18:00 Panel 2. Aggressor Memories across Media
Chair: PD Dr. Ivan Sablin
• Prof. Dr. Cord Arendes – “The Aggressor ‘Light’? Internet Memes as Form of Communication in Popular Culture”
• Philipp-Thomas Wehage – Overcoming the Aggressor with Ease? Considerations between Aggression, Play, and Cultural Studies
• Dr. Katharina Friege – The Hitler Taboo: Laughing at the Führer in Popular Film and Television, 1940–2015

18:15 – 19:30 Roundtable. “Our Favorite Enemies”: Towards a Comparative and Transnational Study of Aggressor Images in Central and Eastern European Historical Cultures
Chair: Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen
• Prof. Dr. Diana Mishkova
• Prof. Dr. Balasz Trencsenyi
• Prof. Dr. Tanja Penter
• Prof. Dr. Marek Tamm

20:00 – Dinner

February 27, 2024
9:00 – 11:00 Panel 3. Premodern and Modern Aggressors
Chair: Prof. Dr. Diana Mishkova
• Dr. Stamatia Fotiadou – Unraveling Basil II the Bulgar-Slayer: Multifaceted Perspectives on the Byzantine Emperor
• Prof. Dr. Anti Selart – Ivan the Terrible: The Rehabilitation of an Aggressor
• Benedek Marton Vasy – Cromwell, William III and Beyond: A Comparison of Secondary School History Textbook Narratives across England, Ireland, and Northern Ireland
• Dr. Maciej Górny – The Disappearing Giants: Muravyov the Hangman and Beast Butler

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:30 Panel 4. The Nineteenth Century
Chair: Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen
• Dominik Szczęsny-Kostanecki – Between Justification and Condemnation: Polish Perceptions of Napoleon’s Invasion of Spain 1808–1813
• Dr. Piotr Kuligowski “A Lesson to All the Bad Kings”: The Perception of William I and Nicholas I in Belgian and Polish Parliamentary Discourses, 1830–31
• Prof. Dr. Luigi Cajani – Josef Radetzky through Austrian and Italian History Textbooks
• Dr. Andrew Mycock – Cecil Rhodes and the Imperial History Wars

13:30 – 14:30 Lunch

14:30 – 16:30 Panel 5. Interwar Aggressors
Chair Prof. Dr. Balazs Trencsenyi
• Prof. Dr. Xosé Manoel Núñez Seixas – Napoleon and the Moors are Back! External Aggressors and National Narratives on the Spanish Civil War, 1936–1975
• Prof. Dr. Stefan Berger – Historiographical Nationalism in Interwar Europe: The Use of “Aggressors” in Comparative Perspective
• Prof. Dr. Nada Boškovska Leimgruber – Boris III: Aggressor or Liberator and Unifier? History Politics in the Balkans
• Dr. Martin Valkov – King Boris III of Bulgaria in the Competing Memory Discourses about the Holocaust

16:30 – 17:00 Coffee Break

17:00 – 18:30 Panel 6. Aggressors of the Second World War
Chair: Prof. Dr. Stefan Berger
• Prof. Dr. Martin Conway – The Male Enemy: Images of Men as the Aggressor in Europe in the era of the Second World War
• Prof. Dr. Efi Gazi – Perceptions and Images of Mussolini in 20th c. Greece
• Prof. Dr. Marja Jalava – The Convicted War Criminal as a Sacrificial Victim of the Nation: The Postwar Reception of the Former President of Finland Risto Ryti

19:30 – Dinner

February 28, 2024
9:00 – 11:00 Panel 7. Cold War Aggressors
Chair: Prof. Dr. Tanja Penter
• Prof. Dr. Corine Defrance – The Aggressor in the Cold War Using the Example of the Berlin Crises (1948/49, 1958/1961)
• Prof. Dr. Frank Bösch – “We Have to Pet the Tiger”: West German and International Perceptions and Reactions on Gaddafi
• Dr. Adéla Gjuričová and PD Dr. Ivan Sablin – Brezhnev in the Context of the Prague Spring and the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan
• Prof. Dr. Chris Lorenz – All in the Family? On the Political and Historiographical Discourse on Soekarno in the Netherlands

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:30 Panel 8. Current Developments
Chair: PD Dr. Ivan Sablin
• Prof. Dr. Katja Makhotina – Stalin – “Father of Fatherlands” and People’s Henchman: The Mute Stories of the Repressed in Post-Soviet Russia
• Prof. Dr. Florian Bieber – New Narratives of Victimhood and Aggression during the Yugoslav Wars
• Daniel Weinmann – Aggressor Images of Digital Historical Propaganda in Putin’s Russia on YouTube
• Dr. Fatih Durgun – The Crusaders in Contemporary Memory: Diverse Representations of Saladin and Richard the Lionheart in the Age of Brexit and Religious Nationalisms

Contact (announcement)

Vilma Vaskelaitė, Project assistant, email:

Susanne Hallenberger, Daimler and Benz Foundation, email:
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