Nico Wouters, CegeSoma (State Archives, Belgium) and University of Ghent
This report discusses some common themes that emerged during the recent conference in Brussels (June 24-26, 2022), including the importance of understanding the temporal perspectives and objectives of an occupier and of studying the financial economy of occupation and how this impacted the political, military or geopolitical rationale.
Sandra Khor Manickam, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Considered one of the Second World War’s greatest military campaigns, Japan’s victory in Malaya has been attributed to skillful planning and organization. In contrast, it appeared that governing Malaya was much more haphazard and difficult, with scholars arguing that the Japanese occupation authorities were largely unprepared for the task of government.
Yuliya von Saal, Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich, Germany
Based on our knowledge of the history of the region and of previous cases of military occupation, it is unlikely that everyday life would return to normal in parts of Ukraine under Russian occupation, due to the absence of an external threat, the ongoing war crimes committed by the Russians, and the historical experience of the Ukrainians’ underground struggle for national self-determination that is continuing against Russian occupiers today.
David Edelstein, Georgetown University, USA.
There are good reasons to expect that any prospective Russian occupation of Ukraine will be unsuccessful from the point of view of the occupier. The next important question to ask is how a Russian occupation of Ukraine is likely to progress from the moment at which Moscow recognizes that its occupation has stalled or is unlikely to achieve any transformative goals in Ukraine. Based on how other occupying powers have reacted after failing to achieve their initial aims, there are four possible strategies that Russia seems most likely to pursue.
Sophie De Schaepdrijver, Pennsylvania State University, USA
As invasions pushed frontlines deep inside enemy territory, large patches of Europe found themselves occupied by enemy armies. Occupation formed a ‘third space’ that was intricately bound up with the high-intensity, military fronts where there were millions of casualties, and with the mobilization of the home front by the belligerent governments.
Christopher Knowles, King’s College London, UK
In this Network seminar, held on 24 March 2022, five distinguished scholars with expertise in different fields reflected on possible scenarios for a Russian occupation of Ukraine.
Benedikt Neuwöhner, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany
The presence of Allied armies in the Rhineland after the First World War is often understood merely as a prelude to Hitler and the Second World War, and thus a minor episode in European history. However, there are still many neglected research perspectives, which may provide a more nuanced view on the Rhineland occupation. In particular, British and American policy towards Germany differed considerably from the French approach, which is often mistakenly seen as representative of broader occupation dynamics at the time.
Brian Drohan, U.S. Military Academy – West Point, USA
There is an undeniable instrumentalism to the study of history within military institutions. The temptation to draw broad lessons from the past – universally applicable, but often simplistically derived – is alive and well in armed forces around the world. To avoid treating military history as a library of reductive “lessons learned,” as an amplifier for uncritical thinking about the role of military leaders, or as a means of perpetuating popular historical myths, future military officers need to study more than just military institutions, commanders, and soldiers.
The Lived Experience: Personal Memories of Occupation in the British Zone of Germany after the Second World War
Bettina Blum, Paderborn University, Germany
Military occupation can be considered as a distinctive system of rule, shaped by dynamic power relations between occupiers and occupied that operated on different levels: political, economic, cultural and social. In the case of the British occupation of Germany 1945-55, these power dynamics can be observed in daily interactions in the streets, the neighbourhoods or at the workplace, as well as in encounters at political and administrative levels.
Jeremy Taylor, University of Nottingham, UK
Since the US occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, various changes – both in the wider world and within the academy – have taken scholarly debates about occupation in new directions. There is now more willingness on the part of many scholars to question the distinction between occupation and other forms of external control, such as most noticeably colonialism. As such, the increasing tendency to move beyond the definition of ‘occupation’ as set out in international law reflects wider concerns about the structural legacies of colonialism.