Past Matters 2015

Events in 2015:

Responding to Genocide (11 Mar)

Poverty, Politics and Humanitarianism (18 Mar)

Penguin Lecture: Ring of Steel (16 June)

By commons: Lilly M Lilly M real name: Małgorzata Miłaszewska-Duda [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsResponding to Genocide

11 March 2015, 6:00 PM | Graduate School of Education, Room 4.10, 35 Berkeley Square (Bristol, BS8 1JA)


In Messenger from Poland, Jan Karski, a secret agent for the Polish government-in-exile, tells how he witnessed the Holocaust whilst it was taking place. After personally reporting what was happening to American President Roosevelt and Britain’s Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, Karski was shocked to realise that the on-going extermination of European Jews was, and would remain, ‘a side issue’. More than seventy years later genocides still take place. Can genocide ever be taken as a side issue? If not when should intervention take place?

After the film screening, the film’s director Martin Smith, University of Bristol historian Joanna Michlic and political scientist Torsten Michel led a discussion about the lessons that have and have not been learnt.

Speakers: Martin SmithJoanna MichlicTorsten Michel


Ken_Loach_ImageKen Loach’s Banned ‘Save the Children Fund Film’: Poverty, Politics and Humanitarianism

18 March 2015, 6:00 PM | Lecture Theatre, Priory Road Complex (Bristol, BS8 1TZ)


This previously banned film, directed by Ken Loach, is a documentary about the work of Save the Children, a British-based charity working for children around the world. Shot in 1969 in the UK, Kenya and Uganda, the film was originally commissioned by Save the Children to mark the Charity’s fiftieth anniversary. The film that explores the politics of poverty, class and charities and the relationship between them. Highly critical of humanitarian aid, Loach’s film was promptly withdrawn by Save the Children, and remained inaccessible to the public until 2011. We were delighted to present its third-ever screening.

After the screening Dr. Emily Baughan (History) led a Q&A session with Juliano Fiori, Humanitarian Affairs Adviser from Save the Children and Dr. Tom Scott-Smith (Politics)

Speakers: Dr. Emily Baughan, Juliano Fiori, Dr. Tom Scott-Smith


Penguin Lecture: Ring of Steel – Alexander WatsonRing of Steel

16 June 2015, 6.00 PM  | Room 1.20/1.21, 35 Berkeley Square, Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, BS8 1JA

Dr Alexander Watson from Goldsmiths, University of London, gave this Penguin Lecture on the book Ring of Steel.

This book is a new, never-before told history of the German and East-central European peoples at war: their suffering and psychology, their experience and their fears; leading to a fresh view of Europe’s bloody twentieth century. It is a newly researched and entirely revised view of the invasions, atrocities, rise of race hatreds and ambitious plans of conquest and annexation on these eastern borderlands that will change how future accounts of WWI will be written.