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Virtual: 'Masters or Victims of the Chemical World?: The Question of Complicity in a Chemically-Minded Third Reich' - UNC Global

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Virtual: ‘Masters or Victims of the Chemical World?: The Question of Complicity in a Chemically-Minded Third Reich’

January 29, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Join the North Carolina German Studies and Workshop Series for a discussion on gas masks in the Third Reich.

The presentation will examine the ways in which the gas mask served as a technological site of discipline, conformity and complicity in the envisioned air and gas protection community of the Third Reich. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis used the gas mask as a material tool in the creation of a compliant and chemically-minded German subject. With masks donned, German civilians now appeared as technologically augmented soldiers in the Nazis’ envisioned struggle for national survival. Indeed, in the eyes of the Nazis, the mask created a physically homogenized society that could survive, if not thrive, in a modernity defined by its toxic environment. Exploring the role of gas mask technology in the creation of a national community predicated on violent exclusions and bodily discipline, this presentation will argue that the average German civilian under the gas mask maintained a complex subjectivity that regularly shifted between perpetrator, bystander and victim of the Nazi regime.

PETER B. THOMPSON is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His broad research interests lie at the intersection of German cultural history and the history of science and technology at the turn of the twentieth century.

Welcome: Lisa Lindsay, chair of Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill

Introduction of the Prize Winner: James Chappel, Duke University, Department of History

Moderation: Karen Hagemann, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill History, Department of History, and Center for European Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill

The Zoom URL for each NCGS seminar will be communicated two weeks before the event via the NCGS listserv.

If you are not on this listserv please contact the NCGS organizers Max H. Lazar, ( and Michael Skalski, (mskalski@live.unc.eduand ask them to be added this listserv or request the URL for the specific event.