Saturday, 1 February 2014

Report from LSHG conference on World War One

Socialist Historians conference on World War One agrees research campaign agenda

The London Socialist Historians Group, has said that a conference on socialist perspectives on World War One held at the Institute of Historical Research on 25th January and attended by around 50 academics and activists has agreed a campaign agenda based on research into little explored areas of the war.

The conference heard details of new research on opposition to the First World War in France, Greece and Italy and the battle between pro and anti-war forces in the British labour movement during the War.

The research campaign agenda discussed at the conference included:
1] to participate in and encourage local research into the roots and links of conscientious objectors to the War
2] to promote the re-publication of some classic and long out of print texts on opposition to the War in Britain such as  Ken Weller’s Don’t Be A Soldier and William Allison and John Fairley’s The Monocled Mutineer [which became a TV series]
3] to back efforts to get official papers on the 1917 Mutiny at Etaples released before the current date of 2017 so that they can be researched during the centenary period.
4] to encourage more historical research on relatively little explored aspects of the First World War at home such as the importance of women’s work and action around the dilution of labour
5] to understand more about those trade unionists and socialists who voluntarily signed up as soldiers from August 1914 until the sharp drop in volunteers a year or so later that led to conscription
6] to support campaigns which raise the historical profile of opposition to the War such as that to replace Lord Kitchener on the planned commemorative coinage.

LSHG Convenor Dr Keith Flett said when we came to put together the conference we discovered a reality that Mr Gove is possibly already well aware of. Namely that most of the research and published work into opposition to the First World War was done in the late 1960s and 1970s by people who had often been born during or just after the Second World War and were no doubt concerned about the Vietnam War at the time. There has been very little done for a generation so there is a considerable volume of research work to be done

Edited to add: Ian Birchall's paper from the conference, 'The CGT in 1914' is now online

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