2013-2014: Visiting scholar – Dr. Nicholas Williams

The public talk of Dr. Nicholas Williams  in September 2013 was focused on the evacuations in the Franco German border regions under democratic and totalitarian conditions.

Summary of the talk:

The German attack on Poland not only marked the beginning of World War II, but also sparked a unique incident in European history: the evacuation of the so­-called “Red Zones” along the German/French border, totalling more than a million civilians. Planning along the lines of World War I, both French and German governments had built defence lines close to the border.  They expected the “No Man’s Land” in between the two lines, as well as the adjoining Hinterland, to be devastated in a renewed Franco-German military conflict, for which reason these areas were to be evacuated. Once the refugees had arrived in the French Southwest and the German Northeast, they were treated with very varying degrees of welcome. Conflicts arose and life-long friendships developed, yet the manners in which these issues were addressed tell a lot about the different ways in which a comparatively open, and despite war conditions still democratic society in France on the one hand and a totalitarian dictatorship in Germany on the other worked. Hence, several interwoven case studies form a “crossed history”, which leads to comparison not only across but also within borders and throughout regions.

Attached below is Dr. Williams’ professional/academic resume.


Here is the media release of the public lecture at St. Thomas University.