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Churchill History Lecture Series: Military Occupation as a system of rule: rhetoric and reality, theory and practice – Christopher Knowles

21 Feb 2019
Location: Jock Colville Hall, Churchill College
Start time: 17:30
End time: 19:00

The lecture will accompany the launch of a new book edited by Archives By-Fellow Christopher Knowles and Camilo Erlichman, Assistant Professor at the University of Maastricht - Transforming Occupation in the Western Zones of Germany: Politics, Everyday Life and Social Interactions, 1945-1948, published by Bloomsbury Academic. In the book, sixteen international scholars provide in-depth essays on the origins, impact and legacies of the occupation of Germany by the three Western Allies - Britain, the United States and France - after the Second World War.     

 ‘This outstanding collection sheds fascinating new light on many diverse aspects of the occupation of Western Germany after 1945. More than this, however, it asks that we rethink our understanding of occupation in modern history in more general terms. As such it will be crucial reading for scholars of political transition in a wide variety of different fields'.  Neil Gregor, Professor of Modern European History, University of Southampton.

Christopher Knowles’ earlier book Winning the Peace: The British in Occupied Germany made extensive use of personal papers in the Churchill Archives Centre, examining the aims and intentions of important and influential individuals who contributed to physical reconstruction, political renewal and personal reconciliation in Germany after the war. His new book examines military occupation as a subject in its own right, as a system of rule, exploring complex yet topical issues that often arise as a consequence of war, including regime change, transitional justice, everyday life under occupation, the role of intermediaries and personal relationships between occupiers and occupied. In doing so, it puts questions of power, social relations, gender, race and the environment centre stage, and places the occupation within a broader framework of continuity and change in post-war western Europe. 

This is an exceptionally valuable volume that brings together a first-rate group of historians. It belongs on the bookshelf of anyone interested in postwar Germany or the long legacies of the Allied Occupation.’ Adam Seipp, Professor of History, Texas A&M University, USA.

Dr Christopher Knowles studied history as an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, from 1971-74. After a career in electronic publishing and computer software, he resumed his academic studies at the Centre for Contemporary British History (CCBH) at the University of London in October 2005. His PhD thesis was awarded the annual prize of the German Historical Institute in 2014. From April – June 2018 he was Archives By-Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. He is now a visiting research fellow at Kings College London and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

His current research focuses on military occupation as a form of government and system of rule, and on the impact of war and occupation on the history of post-war Germany and Europe. His first book Winning the Peace: The British in Occupied Germany, 1945-1948 was published by Bloomsbury Academic in January 2017. His most recent book Transforming Occupation in the Western Zones of Germany: Politics, Everyday Life and Social Interactions, 1945-1955, a collection with chapters by sixteen international scholars, edited jointly with Camilo Erlichman, was published in August 2018.

Read Christopher Knowles's recent POLIS blog post

Military Occupation as a system of rule


Bookings are not necessary — all welcome.


For all enquiries please contact Amanda Jones, Archives Administrator. T: 01223 336166.

Email Amanda

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