Colloque - Doing Justice in Wartime

Periods of wars and foreign domination are of crucial importance in the history of justice. They have led to important shifts in the expectations, practices and actors involved in the field of justice.

Although different aspects of the impact of armed conflict on justice have been studied, the dominant approach of most of this work is top-down and highly institutional. As a result of this bias, the actual actors involved in the justice sector and their practices and expectations in war settings have been largely neglected so far. Drawing from current trends in criminology and the social history of justice, this international conference adopts a grassroots perspective. It focuses on the impact of war on the complex interactions between its different actors (individuals and social groups on the one hand, 'the justice system' [police, judiciary and penitentiary professionals] on the other hand). The conference aims to highlight the emergence of new expectations of justice resulting from the war. It also tackles justice practices, strategies to cope with the changing circumstances, new forms of negotiation, interaction and relationships between populations and the formal justice system in this particular context, and the impact of this renegotiation in the long run.

With two wars and two experiences of occupation, in addition to serving as a colonial power during the two World Wars, Belgium will serve as the focus of the conference.


Day 1 (Thursday, 3 December 2015)

• 8h30-9h: Welcome


• 9h-9h15: Introduction: Xavier Rousseaux (UCLouvain - CHDJ) & Rudi Van Doorslaer (CegeSoma)


• 9h15-10h30: Keynote lecture: Clive Emsley (Open University), Crime and Criminalisation in Wartime, 1914-1945


• 10h30-11h: Coffee break


• 11h-12h30: Panel 1 The Insiders' Perspective: Professionals of Justice

Discussant: Liora Israël (EHESS)

Jan Julia Zurné (CegeSoma/UGent), Maintaining Order in Occupied Belgium? The Brussels’ Public Prosecutor’s Office and Political Violence 1940-1950

Jonas Campion (Lille3-Irhis/UCL), Policing Occupied Countries : Gendarmes and Populations Facing Security Needs (1940 – 1944, Hainaut/ Nord-Pas-de-Calais)

Bérengère Piret (FUSL), ‘Taming One of the Most Dramatic Uprisings of Congolese History’ Using Justice to Restore Colonial Sovereignty During World War II


• 12h30-13h45: Lunch


• 13h45-15h: Panel 2 The Outsiders' Perspective: Expectations of Justice. Discussant: Griet Vermeesch (VUB)

Mélanie Bost (CegeSoma/Royal Military Academy), 'Judges, lawyers, ‘Vultures’ and ‘Butchers’. Actors and Stakes of the Rental Crisis in the Occupied Capital (Brussels, 1914-1918)

Gertjan Leenders (UGent), Denunciation to the Enemy in Belgium During the First World War: The Use of Witnesses and the Problematisation of Denunciation in Post-war Judicial Investigations Against Denouncers


• 15h-15h20: Coffee break


• 15h20-16h35: Panel 3 Dynamics of Internment. Discussant: Benoit Majerus (University of Luxembourg) Florent Verfaille (CegeSoma/UGent), The Belgian ‘Traitors’ of the First World War Portrayed by the Penitentiary Anthropological Service

Dimitri Roden (Breendonk Memorial), The German Military Chaplaincy and Capital Punishment in Occupied Belgium (1940-1944): Otto Gramann’s Exceptional Reports on the Execution of Belgian Resistance Fighters and Hostages



Day 2 (Friday 4 December)

• 8h30-9h: Welcome • 9h-10h15: Panel 4 Justice & (At-)Risk Groups. Discussant: Dirk Luyten (CegeSoma)

Aurore François (UCLouvain), Juvenile Delinquency, War and the Food Crisis : a Judicial Response to Delinquent Subsistence Strategies (Belgium, 1914-1918)

Christoph Brüll (ULG) & Lawrence Van Haecke (Royal Military Academy), The Belgian Judicial Actors and the Establishment of the Repression and the Civic Purge in the East Cantons


• 10h15-10h30: Coffee break


• 10h45-12h00: Panel 5 Police, Justice and Forced Labor. Discussant: Gael Eismann (Université de Caen)


Julia Albert, Herbert Reinke & Michael Wildt (Humboldt Universität Berlin), Wartime ‘Dangerous Classes’ or the use of the Wartime Metropolis by Foreigners. Foreigners, the Police and Criminal Justice in Berlin during the Second World War

Pascaline le Polain (FUSL), Between Resistance and Adaptation. Legislating and Enforcing Agricultural Forced Labour in Belgian Congo (1940-1945)


• 12h00-13h: Round Table Doing Justice in Wartime in a Long-term Perspective. Moderator : Xavier Rousseaux (UCLouvain – CHDJ)

Jenneke Christiaens (VUB)

Dirk Heirbaut (UGent)

Informations pratiques

3-4 Décembre 2015

CegeSoma, Square de l'Aviation n°29

1070 Bruxelles

Inscription gratuite mais obligatoire avant le 30 novembre

Contact :

Écrire commentaire

Commentaires: 0

Centre de recherches en histoire du droit, des institutions et de la société