As recently as 2015, travellers to Turin and eight other south and west European cities (Milan, Genoa, Florence and Rome, Paris and Marseille, Valencia as well as Lisbon) could take advantage of a special offer: a city tour provided by migrant residents. This initiative, co-funded by the European Union, aimed to allow visitors to experience the city “through different eyes.” The tourists took on the role of migrants whereas the latter functioned as locals. Thus, different forms of mobility – such as migration and travel – and their appendant overlaps and effects could be explored conjointly.
But the question arises: Can we indeed trace the historical experiences of heterogeneous migrants through such participatory tourist practices? Can we apply the public enactments and shared personal experiences of guided tours likewise to forms of mobility such as escape, which are associated with existential threat and which have been controversially discussed and managed, for instance since 2015? What can historians contribute in view of recent disputes in Europe and elsewhere, particularly given the necessity of balancing different historical experiences, interpretations and memories?
Following a frequently used refugee route
In some regions, refugee movements form part of public commemorative culture. Among numerous other memories, histories of flight and escape are thus immediately visible there. As part of a curricular excursion, we travelled to such a region, namely the French-Spanish Pyrenees, along with students of the Justus Liebig University Giessen in the summer term of 2019. Our focus was a 15 km trail that cuts through the mountains. This trail follows the refugee route taken by Walter Benjamin in his attempted escape from French Banyuls-sur-Mer to Portbou in Spain. Continue reading →
Rare edition of the 1944 edition of “Bomber’s Baedeker” has been digitalised. The volumes from the Leibniz Institute of European History are now available through Gutenberg Capture, the online portal of the University Library at Mainz.
In 1943 the British Ministry of Economic Warfare published a “Guide to the Economic Importance of German Towns and Cities” listing bombing targets in Germany. An enlarged second edition came out in 1944. One of the very few copies is held by the library of the Leibniz Institute of European History. It has now been made available online as the original can no longer be used for reasons of preservation.
Bomber’s Baedeker lists German cities with an evaluation of their importance for the German war economy, the available infrastructure und transport facilities. The first edition focused on cities witth 15,000 or more inhabitants; the second edition included locations with less than 1,000 inhabitants if they appeared important for the war economy. Targets were asigned “priorities”.
A seminar on the digital copy and its potential for digital history will be held at the Leibniz Institute of European History on 15 October 2019 at 4 p.m.