Research Seminar: WW2, Trauma, and the Effects for the Next Generation

History, Cultural Memories, and Economics
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Traumatic experiences leave indelible physical and immaterial marks on people’s lives. Nazi-fascist violence against civilian populations and its long term consequences have been largely investigated within the Humanities, contributing to the development of new disciplines such as trauma studies, memory studies and oral history. However, the socio-economic consequences of trauma for the next generation have yet to be fully explored. Social outcomes later in life, such as health, socio-economic status, are for an important part determined by very early life experiences. There is medical evidence that adverse contextual conditions (stress, hunger, infectious diseases etc.), may hamper the growth of the vital organs of the fetus, which in turn may influence health and educational outcomes in childhood and subsequently also health and social outcomes later in life.

During WWII the western part of the Netherlands experienced a famine (the so called Hunger Winter), while food availability was not a problem in the Eastern and Southern parts of the Netherlands. Cohort exposed to these adverse conditions have worse health and labor outcomes at later ages. Similarly, on September 8, 1943 the Italian Kingdom ceased hostilities against the Allied forces. This act, known as the Armistice, initiated the Italian resistance against fascism, but also marked the start of violent raids against the Italian population, such as the massacre of Fosse Ardeatine in Rome (24 March 1944), in order to spread terror and disrupt social life, and ultimately to discourage Italian resistance. The health and labor market outcomes of cohorts exposed to these violent raids may be compromised. In order to address these very long term effects of adverse conditions researchers have relied on contemporary data of individuals at advanced ages and relate these to the specific conditions around birth. This type of research requires knowledge of the historical context at around the time of birth, detailed individual level data that needs to be linked to the historical data sources/information and appropriate statistical techniques to analyze the data.

This workshop brings together experts from the humanities and social sciences to reflect on the long-term consequences of Nazi violence in both the cultural and socio-economic spheres. More specifically, the workshop:

  • Presents an overview of the work that has been done in these areas
  • Provides the standard techniques to analyze linked historical and contemporary data and the problems researchers may face
  • Explore the massacre of Fosse Ardeatine as a case study of transgenerational traumatic experience of Nazi violence
  • Attention is paid to specific conditions during WWII in some European countries (Italy, the Netherlands, Germany) and how these conditions may affect health and socio economic outcomes as we observe today



14.00 Welcome

14.15-15.00 Prof. dr. Maarten Lindeboom (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam), Traumatic Experiences Adversely Affect Life Cycle Social Outcomes of the Next Generation – Evidence from WWII Nazi Raids

15.00-15.30 Break

15.30-16.15 Prof. Alessandro Portelli (Sapienza University, Rome), History, Memory and Meaning of a Nazi Massacre in Rome

16.15-16.30 Respondent: Dr. Eva Schalbroeck (Utrecht University)

16.30-17.00 Discussion

17.00-18.00 Drinks