Lasting reconciliation with former enemies after a war is a difficult and often distressful process. Peace is not a top-down practice and the entire civil society must be involved to make it successful.
Public discussion of Second World War crimes in West Germany, Italy and Japan in the post-war period was extremely sparse. By contrast, the Allies believed that they could free Europe and the Far East from 'Nationalism and Militarism' by means of war crimes trials, de-fascistization and denazification.
In fact, Germany and Italy had to wait until the 1960s to create, with the support of media and civil society, a lasting awareness on a shared national narrative of the Second World War. Only by establishing a mutually supportive connection between history and memory it becomes possible to spread new positive values and perspectives in civil society, triggering a virtuous and inclusive reconciliation process.
Civil Society and Reconciliation - Voices from Post-War Japan, Germany and Italy is a presentation of project by Dr Claudia Astarita and Professor Akihiro Ogawa (Asia Institute, The University of Melbourne). There will be a screening of a documentary, remarks by Riccardo Brizzi (University of Bologna) and Laura Fontana (European Holocaust Research Infrastructure, Paris) and a Q&A.
This event is associated with the workshop, Embedding the Apology in the Media: How Civil Society Contributes to Reconciliation, at University of Melbourne on 27 March.