June 24, 2014 at 11:39 am

Zakić Completes Volkswagen Fellowship at Freiburg Institute

Dr. Mirna Zakić, Assistant Professor of History, completed a postdoctoral fellowship from the Volkswagen Foundation during 2013-14 in residence at Germany’s Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies.

Dr. Mirna Zakic

Dr. Mirna Zakic

Her current research focuses on ethnic German communities in Southeast Europe, the transnational spread of National Socialist ideology, and the interplay of ideology and ethnicity in World War II. She is revising her book manuscript tentatively titled The Furthest Watch of the Reich: National Socialism and Ethnic Germans in World War II.

She gave a lecture on “The Farthest Watch of the Reich: National Socialism and Ethnic Germans in World War II” on May 8 at Freiburg. She discussed National Socialism beyond the borders of Germany, especially its influence on German minorities in East and Southeast Europe. With a focus on a specific ethnic German community in the Southeast, she challenged an interpretation of National Socialism as a monolithic ideology. The reasons behind ethnic Germans’ receptivity to Nazism and the forms of their wartime collaboration with the Third Reich also were examined.

She also presented a history seminar at Sabanci Universitesi on March 1.

Project description: My proposed monograph, The Furthest Watch of the Reich: National Socialism and Ethnic Germans, 1941-1944, will examine the relations between the Third Reich and the Volksdeutsche of Southeast Europe within the context of the occupation of parts of the Yugoslav lands by the former during World War II. This project departs from the trends evident in the historiography of this period: a reduction of these relations to a top-down imposition unmodified by the Volksdeutsche’s local concerns and experiences (in English-language literature), a legitimizing national ‘myth’ about unqualified collaboration and penetration by Nazi ideals (in postwar Yugoslav historiography), or an emphasis on the Volksdeutsche’s postwar suffering without reference to the wartime context (in Serbia historiography since the early 1990s). Instead, this study introduces complexity and nuance by examining why National Socialism as an ideology appealed to the Volksdeutsche, what other reasons they had for collaboration, and what social developments and political decisions drew them ever deeper into complicity with Nazi crimes, despite private reservations some Volksdeutsche may have had. The specific focus on the Volksdeutsche minority in the Serbian (Western) Banat under Reich occupation, its interactions with Adolf Hitler’s government, and its participation in military operations and the Holocaust in the Banat, Serbia and the Independent State of Croatia allows for an in-depth analysis of the issues of occupation, collaboration and ideology.

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