Summer Semester 2021

Colonialism and National Socialism

Gillo Pontecorvo’s »The Battle of Algiers« (1966) as a Case Study

Lecturer: PD Dr. Jan Gerber

Time: Tuesday, 1.15–2.45 p.m.

Start: 22 April 2021

Location: digital event, if possible with presence parts

Seminar Language: German

Description: What is the relationship between colonialism and National Socialism? Does colonialism form a part of the prelude to National Socialism or are these two separate developments? And does the memory of National Socialism stand in competition to the memory of the crimes of colonialism? These questions are not new, they were already being discussed in the era of decolonization in the 1950s and 1960s as well as in the framework of the Cold War and thereafter. The Algerian War in particular stretched the limits of political and historical judgment, not least of all because of its close temporal proximity to World War Two, but also because people were fighting on both sides who had only a few years earlier belonged to the resistance against National Socialism. Numerous Algerians who had served in the Free French Forces until 1945 joined the Algerian independence movement after the end of World War Two. On the French side, it was not seldom former members of the Résistance who were responsible for expanding the authority of the military and for the systematic application of torture in the Algerian War.

This seminar will examine this complex constellation through Gillo Pontecorvo’s famous 1966 film »The Battle of Algiers«. Through this icon of anticolonial cinema, the seminar will highlight the specificity of the colonial situation in Algeria in the late 1940s and 1950s, its relationship to the Cold War, and the contrary experiences and memories that arose from the Algerian War.


Literature: will be provided at the beginning of the semester

Mastermodul 03-HIS-0407, Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts: Der Kampf zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur