“Still at War. From Poison Gas to Drones”


International Scientific Symposium of the 22nd Festival of European Culture in Karlsruhe „2014 - 1914. Peace + War“

16 -18 May 2014

Pictures | Videos on YouTube | Introduction Prof. Dr. Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha

From the beginning of human historiography until today, around 3.5 billion people have died in 14,400 wars, according to historian John Baylis. With 40 nations and 70 million people involved in acts of war, World War I marks one of the lowest points in the history of civilization. The terms “La Grande Guerre” and “The Great War”, respectively, show the impact this war has had on both British and French collective memories. However, against the background of World War II, in Germany, the notion of a “great seminal catastrophe” (George F. Kennan) is attributed to World War I to a lesser extent. Nevertheless, in Germany, too, the centennial 2014 triggers a plethora of new and renewed investigations into causes, trajectories, and effects of World War I.

In the symposium “Still at War! From Poison Gas to Drones” the ZAK | Centre for Cultural and General Studies at the KIT draws a line from the historic event to contemporary wars and war topics. It will look into historic and social triggers of war as well as into changes in warfare. In the context of new wars and technologies, the symposium will ask how to define war. With respect to current developments, the tendency towards supra-state asymmetrical warfare and the controversial topic of the deployment of drones will be discussed.
Another focus will be on the issue of participation or non-participation of German troops in so-called peacekeeping operations, e.g. of the UN. Short presentations and a panel discussion will raise the question of Germany’s special responsibility and obligation in these assistance interventions. Taking up on current debates, a panel on ethics in science will address military research at German universities. This panel will introduce the juxtaposing positions on the politically charged matter: the freedom of research as guaranteed by the constitution vs. the demand for so-called civil clauses prohibiting military research at German universities.

An artistic approach complementing the symposium is the dramatic reading from “Farben” (“Colours”) by Mathieu Bertholet. The play tells the story of Clara Haber, who was married to the temporarily Karlsruhe-based chemist Fritz Haber. Clara Haber committed suicide when she learnt that the poison gas invented by her husband was used in the battle of Ypern, thus violating the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907.

The three-day event examines the subject from different perspectives for a broad audience in keynote addresses, discussions and roundtables. The symposium will be accompanied by cultural events intended to contrast the impressions gained and to enrich them through additional aspects seen from an artistic perspective, e.g. a reading performance in the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe.

Most events within the symposium can be attended without an entrance fee. We would be very happy to welcome you!

Presented by:
ZAK | Centre for Cultural and General Studies
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Convenorship: Prof Dr Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha

Dr Christine Mielke

Conference languages: German, English; simultaneous interpreting


Friday, 16 May 2014

Opening reception of the symposium “Still at War. From Poison Gas to Drones”

Bürgersaal at Karlsruhe Town Hall


7.30 p.m.












 No entrance fee

Welcome address

Dr Frank Mentrup
Lord Mayor of Karlsruhe





Prof Dr Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha
Director of the ZAK | Centre for Cultural and General Studies, KIT



Opening keynote lecture


Can Humanity Tame War?
Dr David Rodin
Government and Military Advisor
Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict





Saturday, 17 May 2014

Saal Baden at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Karlsruhe, Lammstraße 13–17

9.30 a.m.

Welcome addresses


Dr Ernst Otto Bräunche
Head of the City Archive of Karlsruhe

Prof Dr Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha
Director of the ZAK | Centre for Cultural and General Studies, KIT


Keynote lectures

(C) Tobias Bohm

Learning in the War – Learning from the War

Prof Dr Herfried Münkler
Social Scientist
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


The Changing Face of War in the Twentieth Century

Prof Dr John Horne
Trinity College Dublin




New Wars and New Techniques

Fatal Logic.
On the Causes of Violence against Civilians in Civil Wars and How to Prevent Them

Prof Dr Gerald Schneider
Chair of International Politics
University of Konstanz


New Military Technologies: Is International Law Keeping Up?

Prof Dr Robin Geiß
Chair of International Law and Security
University of Glasgow


From Gas Attacks to Drone Strikes: The Transformative Power of New Technologies in Warfare

Iain Overton
Director of Policy and Investigations at Action on Armed Violence, London

12.45 p.m. Lunch break
1.30 p.m. Lectures


Forgotten Wars

Forgotten Wars – Repressed Wars:
On the Public Perception of Global Conflicts

Alexander Kitterer
Freelance blogger “Forgotten Wars”


The Horn of Africa between Endless Wars and ‘Compassion Fatigue’

Dr Daniel Rezene Mekonnen
Senior Legal Advisor/Research Professor
International Law and Policy Institute (ILPI)




Panel discussion

A Balancing Act for Germany: Political Action between Ethics of Responsibility and Alliance Commitments

Moderation: Arthur Landwehr,
Chief Editor Radio Südwestrundfunk,

Responsibility, Values, Interests.
Dilemmas of German Foreign Policy

Dr Corinna Hauswedell
Conflict Analysis and Dialogue (CoAD)



A Future without Deployment Abroad?

PD Dr Markus Kaim
Head of Research Division ‘International Security’
Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, German Institute für International and Security Affairs



No entrance fee

The German Armed Forces of the Constitution as a Part of the NATO “Aggression Alliance” – Is this Possible?

Willy Wimmer
Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Defence (retired)

 6.00 p.m.


No entrance fee

A bi-national performance
Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Foyer, Baumeisterstraße 11

Gloire & Glanz



Sunday, 18 May 2014

Morning panel discussion

Saal Baden, Industrie- und Handelskammer Karlsruhe, Lammstr. 13–17


11.00 a.m.

Ethics in Science and Military Research

Moderation: Prof Dr Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha

Dr Elke Luise Barnstedt
Vice President
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Photo (c) Leopoldina

Prof Dr Dr-Ing Gunnar Berg
Commissioner to the Board of the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers (DHV)
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Prof Dr Erhard Denninger
Expert in Constitutional Law
Goethe University Frankfurt
Dr Jürgen Geisler
Coordinator of Defence Research
Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation

Dr Ulrich Pohlmann
Head of Division “Bundeswehr und Gesellschaft”
Department Poltics of Federal Ministry of Defence, Berlin

Dr Dietrich Schulze
Initiative against Military Research in Universities, Karlsruhe
12.30 p.m.


No entrance fee


Poison Gas and Janus-Faced Science. The Example of Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Fritz Haber in World War I

Prof Dr Wolfram H.-P. Thiemann
Professor of Physical Chemistry
University of Bremen




3.00 p.m. Reading performance

“Outer space” venue, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Baumeisterstraße 11

Das Neue Stück 20 – “Farben” (“Colours”) by Mathieu Bertholet

The performance will be held in German.

Admission: 10€ (discounted: 5€)

Tickets available at the box office (phone: +49 721 - 933 333) or via www.staatstheater.karlsruhe.de




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