Introducing the Concept of ‘The Zone’ to an Analysis of Work Camps in Germany

Wednesday, 16 May 2012, 4:30pm - 6:00pm, IWM library

Fellows’ Seminar

The concept of the zone comes from the Soviet reality and designates an enclosed facility, usually of military or penitentiary nature, established and managed by the state and out of limits for the broad public. The word came to stand for a whole parallel reality, in which special laws applied. I am interested in how this distinctly Soviet concept can be expanded beyond the Soviet political and ideological practices. In this talk, I will suggest how it can be applied to a study of the presentation, and perception, of work camps in Germany in the Weimar Republic and in the years of National Socialism. The emphasis will be placed on the practices, and significance, of work within the special chronotope of the zone in the inter-war German context. Topics such as defining work, measuring production, structuring work relations and delineating contacts with the outside world will be introduced with reference to the organizing principle of the zone.

Natalia Skradol is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Center for German Studies, European Forum, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and currently Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM.