Memory Wars: World War II at 75 and Beyond

The National WWII Museum is hosting a first-of-its-kind international conference to discuss the shifting landscapes of popular memories of this world-altering conflict. 

September 9-11, 2021

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The National WWII Museum is hosting a first-of-its-kind international conference to discuss the shifting landscapes of popular memories of this world-altering conflict. Memory Wars: World War II at 75 and Beyond is an all-virtual event that will bring together experts from around the globe to explore a wide range of provocative questions and issues on September 9–11, 2021.

Memory Wars will explore World War II’s place in public memory through a global prism, examining how museums, filmmakers, media, memorials, and historians (both academic and public) help shape memories of the conflict.

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Program Schedule
(Subject To Change)

All Times Central

Day One: Thursday, September 9, 2021


3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Conference Opening Remarks

  •  Stephen J. Watson, President & CEO, The National WWII Museum

3:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
“Did Hollywood Really Go to War? Myth and Meaning in WWII Film”

This discussion will look at the role that movies have played in generating, shaping, and altering popular memory of World War II, as well as how some productions go to great lengths to ensure the highest historical accuracy and proximity to reality.

  • Chair: Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD, President & CEO Emeritus, The National WWII Museum
  • Nicholas J. Cull, PhD, Professor, University of Southern California and Past President, the International Association for Media and History 
  • Kirk Saduski, Executive, Playtone

Audience Q&A

4:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Break

4:45 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
EA/Respawn “Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond” – Behind the Scenes

Peter Hirschmann, Respawn Game Director, will discuss the latest instalment in the “Medal of Honor” videogame series.  Providing behind the scenes insights and clips and going into the lengths their team went to providing a realism to their work, Hirschmann and Zampella will discuss their battlefield tours and veteran interviews that helped them in their process. The session will also include a screening of the 2021 Academy Award winning documentary (short) “Collette.”


Day Two: Friday, September 10, 2021


8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
“Never Again? The Holocaust in Public Memory and Discourse”

This session will discuss how the Holocaust is remembered today, by whom and for whom. How will its lasting relevance be maintained in public memory?

  • Chair: Leora Auslander, PhD, Professor, University of Chicago 
  • Sara J. Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Ronald Leopold, Executive Director, Anne Frank House
  • Dariusz Stola, PhD, Director, POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews 

Audience Q&A

9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Break

9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
“Was It Really Such a Good War? The Myth and Reality of America’s War”

Was World War II really a “good war”? In this roundtable session, historians will debate America’s various contested memories of World War II, from the still-popular view of the “good war” to other alternative memories presented at home and abroad. How was the notion of the “good war” shaped during the war and afterwards?Was World War II really a “good war”? In this roundtable session, historians will debate America’s various contested memories of World War II, from the still-popular view of the “good war” to other alternative memories presented at home and abroad. How was the notion of the “good war” shaped during the war and afterwards?

  • Chair: Rob Citino, PhD
  • Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD, President & CEO Emeritus, The National WWII Museum 
  • Tom Brokaw, Author of The Greatest Generation
  • Keith Lowe, Author, Prisoners of History

Audience Q&A

11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Break

11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Screening of “Price For Peace”

The Museum’s own documentary, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Stephen Ambrose.  The film, which chronicles the events of the Pacific Theater in World War II, from Pearl Harbor through the occupation of Japan, consists of interviews with both American and Japanese veterans

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Break

1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
“How Video Games Shape Our View of World War II”

With the advance of video games in the 21st century, this roundtable session will discuss how World War II is portrayed in games, while also providing a new media for history. 

  • Chair: Jason Steinhauer, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Research Institute and author of History, Disrupted
  • Robert Whitaker, PhD, Professor, Collin College, Creator and Host of History Respawned
  • Peter Hirschmann, Game Director, Respawn Entertainment
  • Nicholas Moran, “The Chieftain,” Historian, Wargaming.net

Audience Q&A

3:00 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Break

3:15 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
“How Important Are Museums? Narrative and National Memory of the War”

Museums can be places for education, reflection, and memory. This session will explore how museums construct their exhibits around narratives of World War II.

  • Chair: Patrick Gallagher, President, Gallagher & Associates
  • Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD, President & CEO Emeritus, The National WWII Museum
  • Dr. Brendan Nelson AO, President Boeing Australia, New Zealand & South Pacific, Director Emeritus Australian War Memory
  • Jörg Echternkamp, PhD, Research Director, Center for Military History and Social Sciences (ZMSBw), Potsdam

Audience Q&A

4:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Break

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
“Representations of World War II in Popular Culture”

From popular films to sports, literature, and art, World War II left its enduring mark on American popular culture. In this conversation, cultural historian Randy Roberts discusses how the war remained present in daily life long after the fighting ended.

  • Chair: Brigadier General (Ret.) Ty Seidule, PhD, Professor Emeritus of History, United States Military Academy at West Point 
  • Randy Roberts, PhD, 150th Anniversary Professor and Distinguished Professor of History, Purdue University

Audience Q&A 


Day Three: Saturday, September 11, 2021


8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
“Is There Life Between Hitler and Stalin? Mass Murder and Memory in Eastern Europe”

World War II ravaged the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and the latter then suffered Soviet occupation for the next 50 years. This panel will compare and contrast the complex, often irreconcilable ways in which Eastern Europe and Russia remember the war.

  • Chair: Alexandra Richie, DPhil, Professor, Collegium Civitas
  • Omer Bartov, PhD, John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History, Brown University
  • Pawel Sawicki, Press Officer and Guide, AuschwitzBirkenau Memorial and Museum

Audience Q&A

9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Break

9:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
“These Honored Dead: How Should We Remember Our Fallen?”

This session will explore how various countries—the United States, the UK/Commonwealth, and Germany— memorialize World War II in cemeteries, historic sites, and museums.

  • Chair: Kate Clarke Lemay, PhD, Historian, National Portrait Gallery
  • Brigadier General John Sloan Brown, USA (Ret.), Historian, American Battle Monuments Commission
  • Jörg Echternkamp, PhD, Research Director, Center for Military History and Social Sciences (ZMSBw), Potsdam
  • George Hay, Official Historian, Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  • General Dirk Backen, Secretary General, Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge

Audience Q&A

11:15 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Break

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
“War and Memory in China”

The world’s most populous nation’s experiences of the “long war” from 1931-1949 have often been overlooked in the west. In this conversation, Rana Mitter explains how China experienced this terrible conflict and remembered it afterwards.

  • Chair: Rob Citino, PhD, Senior Historian, The National WWII Museum
  • Rana Mitter, PhD, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China, St. Cross College – University of Oxford

Audience Q&A

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Break

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
“Living in the Shadow of Auschwitz: How Do Germans Remember?”

Since the end of World War II, how have Germans chosen to remember the horrors of that conflict? This session will discuss how Germans remember, or forget, World War II, and how the war is portrayed in their museums and memorials.

  • Chair: Marc Pachter, Historian, Smithsonian Institution
  • Günter J. Bischof, PhD, University Research & Marshall Plan Professor of History, Director, Center Austria, University of New Orleans
  • Susan Neiman, PhD, Director, Einstein Forum

Audience Q&A

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Break

2:45 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
“E Pluribus? Perspectives on Gender, Race, and Memory from World War II to the Present”

How do various communities within the United States remember World War II? This session discusses the complex legacies of the conflict for women, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans; all of whom developed their own narratives of the conflict.

  • Chair: John Morrow Jr, PhD, Franklin Professor of History, University of Georgia
  • Christine Sato-Yamazaki, Executive Director, National Veterans Network 
  • Beth Bailey, PhD, Foundation Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas
  • Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez, PhD, Professor, The University of Texas at Austin, Founder of Voces Oral History Center

Audience Q&A

4:15 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Break 

4:30 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.
Conference Closing Session
“Days of Infamy: December 7th and September 11th in American History and Memory” – Conversation with Carol Gluck, PhD, Columbia University

Two events and dates stand out most in American memory for disaster and devastation, Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the attacks of 9/11. 20 years after the more recent attack, this conversation will discuss how these two events were reacted to, how they are remembered and both the differences and similarities between the two.

  • Introducer: James Grossman, PhD, Executive Director, American Historical Association
  • Interviewer: Robert M. Citino, PhD, Senior Historian, The National WWII Museum
  • Carol Gluck, PhD, Professor, Columbia University Audience Q&A
  • Commentator – Tom Brokaw, Author of The Greatest Generation

Audience Q&A

5:45 p.m.
Conference Closing Remarks

  • Stephen Watson, President & CEO, The National WWII Museum

*Speakers, Sessions and Timings subject to change.

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