In the face of the pandemic, the Library of CegeSoma stands its grounds!

This year 2020, that proves to be quite particular... and frankly calamitous with regard to health and economy, has nevertheless brought a significant expansion of our library, albeit a rather qualitative than quantitative one due to budget restrictions.

Among the recent accessions to the library (September-November 2020) we would like to highlight the significantly revised edition of Onverwekt verleden, 1942-1952 by Luc Huyse and Steven Dhondt. This book about the repression of collaboration was first published by Kritak in 1991, and has now – thirty years later – been revised and republished, still by Kritak and under the same title, but with major input from collaborators who were or still are closely linked to our institution: Koen Aerts, Bruno De Wever, Pieter Lagrou. The same Pieter Lagrou also penned another no less important publication about the statistical review of the last world conflict: Les guerres, les morts et le deuil. Bilan chiffré de la Seconde Guerre mondiale (published in Paris by Rohrbasser). This book provides a sound synthesis of the issue and allows us to find out if statistics are indeed an exact science!

In the category ‘studies about the Resistance’, let us pinpoint three recent and very promising works – one about our southern neighbours, by Yagil Limore, Les « Anonymes » de la Résistance en France 1940-1942 : Motivations et engagements de la première heure (Paris, Lharmattan, 2019), and another one with a more international profile, about armed insurrection, by Thierry Grosbois, Résistance contre le nazisme. Maquisards et partisans sur le front occidental et soviétique (Brussels, Editions universitaires européennes, 2020). The third one, somewhat romantically titled Het Schaduwleger/L’Armée de l’ombre, but with the more explicit sub-title Van clandestiniteit naar herinnering/De la clandestinité à la mémoire, was recently published by Gompel&Scavina as a collective work (with papers by Emmanuel Debruyne, Dirk Martin, Laurence Van Ypersele, Robin Libert,…). Three important studies to mention, and that "every honest man" should try to include in his library, at least if he is interested in WWII.

Specialists in issues of identity, particularly those studying nationalistic problems in Belgium from a Flemish angle, may, if they master Goethe’s language, refer to the comprehensive work by Jakob Müller, Die importierte Nation. Deutschland und die Entstehung des flämischen Nationalismus 1914 bis 1945 (Göttingen, 2020): the title is sufficiently self-explanatory and like all German studies on such issues, it is a serious work, with a high level of erudition. Amateurs of social semiotics will certainly appreciate the research published by a “veteran” of CegeSoma, who served when it was still named CREHSGM: Sieg Heil ! Van mythische groet tot verderfelijke ideologie, by Gie Van Den Berghe, a reflection in light of the 21st century about the use of the “Lingua Tertii Imperii” within society. A new and complementary approach to the works of Victor Klemperer so to speak!

Finally, as the commemorations and remembrance of the “Great War” are fading away in time, our library, faithful to its mission, has seen fit to add to its collections Writing the Great War. The Historiography of World War I from 1918 to the Present (Ed. by Christoph Cornelissen and Arndt Weinrich; published by Berghahn in 2020) in order to have a global vision of this topic in the English-speaking world.

We could leave it at that, as the scope of such Newsletters has its limits, but we could not resist the pleasure of presenting to our highly esteemed readers the literary feat of Antonio Scurati of 2018. His work achieved great success beyond Italy and was translated into several languages. In his 850 pages strong “fictional reality” book titled M, Il Figlio Del Secolo he retraces the rise to power of Benito Mussolini, from 1919 to 1922. As the publishing success of this book is undeniable and surely reflects a certain zeitgeist, it seemed advisable to CegeSoma to “exceptionally” acquire the book and make it accessible to its readers, in the same way it had previously added to its collections for other reasons the novel Les Bienveillantes by Jonathan Littel.

Through their respective successes, both books are mirrors of our times, reflecting a fascination for a certain past and fears of a certain future...