The International Research and Documentation Centre for War Crimes Trials (ICWC)
At the ICWC, several academic disciplines, especially law, history and social sciences, work together, in order to research in the field of international criminal law and its application under different perspectives and also to systematically record its historical sources. In doing so, the Centre does not only contribute to the University of Marburg’s academic teaching programme, it also supports the work of international courts and tribunals by providing trial documents and academic analyses. Moreover, the Centre is regularly organizing international conferences to enrich and push forward the international debate amongst practitioners and scholars of international criminal law. For complete information on current news and events please visit the German version of this website!
On 20-21 February 2017, historians from Germany, Australia and India met at the Australian National University to discuss the role and experience of Indians in the vast region east of India during the Second World War and its aftermath.
The workshop was organized and sponsored by the University of Marburg with financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU). Lead centres were Marburg’s International Research and Documentation Centre War Crimes Trials (ICWC) and ANU’s Southeast Asia Institute. Co-conveners of the workshop were Dr Wolfgang Form (ICWC) and Professor Robert Cribb (ANU), with support from Dr Kerstin von Lingen (Heidelberg University) and Professor Sandra Wilson (Murdoch University).
The workshop opened a new phase of collaboration among the ICWC, the Cluster of Excellence Asia and Europe in a Global Context (Heidelberg University) and researchers funded by the Australian Research Council from ANU, Murdoch University and Curtin University. Scholars from Ludwig-Maximilian’s University in Munich/Presidency University in Kolkata and the University of Technology Sydney also contributed presentations. The workshop attracted additional participants from ANU, Monash University, RMIT University, and the Australian Command and Staff College.
In the turbulent years after 1941-42, when the Japanese imperial forces rapidly conquered much of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific, Indians in the region had an unusually large number of roles. They were combatants, deserters, prisoners, labourers, rebels, and prison guards and, after the war, occupation troops, journalists and diplomats, as well as judges, investigators, informants, witnesses, lawyers, and victims in war crimes trials.
The discussion focussed especially on the conflicted loyalties of and difficult pragmatic choices faced by Indians in the region, whether as soldiers or as civilian residents, as the strategic and political situation changed dramatically. It also addressed the ambivalent attitudes of Japanese authorities, indigenous residents, and Allied commands towards Indians.
The wartime and post-war experiences of Indians – whose own identity was being shaped by the tangled processes of decolonization and partition in British India – highlight the complexity and dynamic nature of the Second World War in the Asia-Pacific region and of the conflicts that succeeded it.
Focussing on the contradictions between transitional justice and decolonization, the workshop identified new possibilities for innovative collaboration in research on the specific roles of Indians in this period, especially as judges and victims of war crimes and as nationalist activists. Here, you can find further information (especially the detailed workshop programme).