Post-War Transitions in Europe: Politics, States and Veterans (1918-1923)


The full conference programme for ‘Post-War Transitions in Europe: Politics, States and Veterans (1918-1923)’ is now available.

Post-War Transitions in Europe: Politics, States and Veterans (1918-1923)

Centre for War Studies, University College Dublin
28-30 March 2019

The Centre for War Studies of University College Dublin will host an international conference to commemorate the end of the centenary of the First World War. The conference aims to appraise how European WWI ex-service men and officers contributed to the creation of new states in Europe and participated through associative or political activism to the peace process.

The conference will feature more than 25 presentations across five panels:

  • Demobilisation(s), Remobilisation(s)
  • Veterans and paramilitary violence
  • Veterans, nationalism and politics
  • Fighting for recognition
  • Forging the peace

Professor John Horne (TCD) is the keynote speaker and the conference programme also includes a round table discussion on George Mosse’s Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars (1990) as well as a ceremony to award prizes for the First World War history essay competition for secondary schools.

The full conference programme is now available.

Transfers of allegiance

The 2019 centennial provides an opportunity to reconsider the contribution of WWI ex-service men and officers to the European peace process. The conference intends to explore the kaleidoscopic trajectories of WWI veterans, highlighting their contribution to the construction/reconstruction of European societies between 1919 and 1923. At the local, national and European level, WWI ex-service men and officers shaped post-war societies, making a significant contribution to the creation of a new set of new political entities and frameworks, thus establishing themselves as major actors in the construction/reconstruction process of Europe.

In Europe, the upheaval of the war and the resultant peace treaties reshaped borders and implemented a new, complex mosaic of nation states. Never had the European continent experienced such drastic territorial changes in such a short time. The enforcement of the Versailles Treaty forced Germany to cede territories to Belgium, to Czechoslovakia and to Poland. Alsace-Lorraine was returned to France. The September 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye dismantled the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The United Kingdom fractured with the partition of Ireland and the foundation of the Irish Free State. Nation states were born and reconfigured across central and eastern Europe. Where and to what did the allegiances of WWI ex-service men and officers lie? How did the survivors react to the enforcement of the treaties? What role did WWI ex-service men and officers play in the creation and enforcement of the new order of nation states? Hundreds of European survivors actively participated in paramilitary organizations at the European level. The aim of this conference is to consider the transfers of allegiance which took place in the aftermath of the conflict, from imperial armies to revolutionary armed movements, without however neglecting the incorporation of WWI ex-service men and officers into the newly-raised national armies. European governments did in fact rely heavily on ex-service men and officers to secure the democratic institutions and to maintain peace.

In the aftermath of the First World War, transnational initiatives sprang up throughout Europe, with the aim of bringing together and reconciling WWI veterans from the vanquished and the victorious nations. The aim of this conference is therefore to assess the links between ex-service men of the vanquished and the victorious powers, while analysing their role in the foundation of transnational organizations. On what basis were the latter formed? What common ideals of peace (if any) did they share? Did the articles of the Treaties were imposed on the vanquished weaken the transnational brotherhood? Or is there evidence of the existence of a European solidarity and fellow-feeling between WWI ex-service men? At the local and the national level, did WWI ex-service men and officers contribute to the pacification of the political debate or, on the contrary, did they nourish an exacerbated nationalism? Particular attention will be given to the involvement of WWI veterans in local and national politics.

Scientific committee
-Bruno CABANES (Ohio State University)
-Emmanuel DESTENAY (University College Dublin)
-Robert GERWARTH (University College Dublin)
-John HORNE (Trinity College Dublin)
-Antoine PROST (Université Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Funded by the Irish Research Council and the French Embassy in Ireland

Image: detail from Ein deutscher Soldat, Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R05148 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons.