Luxemburgische Zeitgeschichte

CfP: The impact of war experiences in Europe – The conscription of non-German men and women into the Wehrmacht and Reichsarbeitsdienst (1938-1945)

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Warlux project
In connection with the WARLUX research project, this conference focuses on the impact of war experiences on non-German nationals serving in the Nazi German armed forces and labour organisations. It will be held on 26-28 October 2022 at the University of Luxembourg.


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The conscription of these non-German nationals, considered by the Nazis as “deutsche Volkszugehörige” or “Deutschstämmige”,1 violated international law. In politics, society and research, various terms have come into use for the men and women affected by conscription: for example, "Zwangsrekrutierte"/"Ons Jongen" in Luxembourg, "incorporés de force"/"malgré-nous" in France and "Zwangssoldaten" in Belgium. However, these terms describe the mass of people involved. Initial studies and transnational comparisons (QUADFLIEG (2008); STROH/QUADFLIEG (2017); MARŠÁLEK/NEMINÁŘ (2021)2 have focused mainly on the top-down perspective. The conference will shed light on individuals and their biographies, exploring the tense situations in which they found themselves.

The WARLUX project and the planned conference place individuals and their families in the foreground. It was not just the individuals who were called up to the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD), the Kriegshilfsdienst (KHD) and the Wehrmacht who were affected; their families and communities also had to respond to the conscription of their family members. In some occupied regions or countries, the families of deserters and men who went into hiding were resettled and their property confiscated.

In this context, adopting an actor-centred approach by focusing on ego-documents to observe individual experiences is key to understanding the diversity and heterogeneity of the war experiences of these men and women. To this end, papers that address methodologies and the use of ego-documents (letters, diaries and memoirs) to study individuals are especially welcome. We are also particularly interested in research looking at the female perspective within our target group and papers that explore the under-researched group of female conscripts to the RAD/KHD.

The conference invites proposals for papers from a variety of disciplinary and comparative perspectives with the potential to offer substantive new insights into the use of biographical approaches to study the individual war experiences of this affected group in different occupied territories. Proposals from both established and early career scholars are welcome.

The conference will focus on the following areas of investigation but is not necessarily limited to these topics.

Actor-centred approach/ego-documents from conscripts

  • methodologies
  • collections in different institutions and documentation centres
  • crowdsourcing projects
  • analysis of letters and diaries about war experiences


Recruitment of non-Germans

  • legal framework, procedure
  • reasons (military, ideological, political)


Experiences at the front and in labour service (RAD/KHD)

  • working and fighting for the Nazis
  • rewards, promotions
  • desertions, punishments
  •  war crimes
  • acts of resistance
  • female experiences – women in the RAD and KHD


At home/families of conscripts

  • consequences for families – arrests, expropriation, resettlements
  • support and resistance networks
  • loss, mourning


Practical information

Dates: 26-28 October 2022

Place: University of Luxembourg, Belval campus

The main conference language is English. We also accept proposals in German and French. Presentations can be given in English, German or French.


Submission instructions:

Proposals for papers should be submitted to

Submission deadline: 31 March 2022

Decisions on acceptance of papers will be communicated by the end of April 2022.

Proposals should be no more than 500 words in length and should include details of the research questions addressed and the material to be discussed. Please also include a brief biography (max. 100 words) outlining current and past positions and key publications.

For the selected speakers, travel expenses including accommodation in Belval will be reimbursed.

Selected presenters will be asked to pre-circulate a paper (3000 words) (to be submitted by 30/09/2022), in which they present their main research arguments in accordance with the aims of the conference. The paper will be shared with the other presenters.

After the conference, the presenters will be asked to submit the final version of their paper by 15/12/2022 for an edited volume of the conference proceedings, which will be published in the De Gruyter Transnational Contemporary History of Luxembourg series. The chapters will be peer reviewed in a double-blind procedure. The publication date is planned for late 2023.


Organising committee:

Denis Scuto, Nina Janz, Michel R. Pauly, Sarah Maya Vercruysse


Scientific committee:

Christoph Brüll, Ryszard Kaczmarek, Peter Quadflieg, Christoph Rass, Corinne Schroeder, Ismee Tames, Nico Wouters


The conference is part of the WARLUX project at the University of Luxembourg, funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR).



Nina Janz

  • 1. See for example the regulation for conscription in Luxembourg (VBl. CdZ Luxemburg, Verordnung über die Wehrpflicht in Luxemburg), 31 August 1942, p. 253 and the Conferment of German citizenship to Luxembourgers (VBl. CdZ Luxemburg, Verordnung über die Staatsangehörigkeit im Elsaß, in Lothringen und in Luxemburg), 23 August 1942, p. 254.
  • 2. QUADFLIEG, P. M. (2008). "Zwangssoldaten" und "Ons Jongen": Eupen-Malmedy und Luxemburg als Rekrutierungsgebiet der deutschen Wehrmacht im Zweiten Weltkrieg. Aachen, Shaker; STROH, F., & QUADFLIEG, P. M. (2017). L'incorporation de force dans les territoires annexés par le IIIe Reich = Die Zwangsrekrutierung in den vom Dritten Reich annektierten Gebieten: 1939-1945: 1939-1945. Strasbourg, Presses universitaires de Strasbourg; MARŠÁLEK, Z., NEMINÁŘ, J., & JADRNÁ MATĚJKOVÁ, H. (2021). Zwangsrekrutierte in die Wehrmacht: Mobilisation – Widerspruch – Widerstand – Gedächtnis in der schlesischen, tschechischen und slowenischen Perspektive.