IGES Book Panel with Paul Betts - Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe after World War II

Online event - Zoom
Wednesday 3 March 2021 (14:00-15:30)

Speaker: Paul Betts (Oxford)

Commentators: Tom Brodie, Corey Ross (Birmingham)

In 1945, Europe lay in ruins. Some fifty million people were dead, and millions more languished in physical and moral disarray. The devastation of World War II was unprecedented in character as well as in scale. Unlike the First World War, the second blurred the line between soldier and civilian, inflicting untold horrors on people from all walks of life. A continent that had previously considered itself the very measure of civilization for the world had turned into its barbaric opposite. 

Reconstruction, then, was a matter of turning Europe’s “civilizing mission” inward. In this magisterial work, Oxford historian Paul Betts describes how this effort found expression in humanitarian relief work, the prosecution of war crimes against humanity, a resurgent Catholic Church, peace campaigns, expanded welfare policies, renewed global engagement and numerous efforts to salvage damaged cultural traditions. 

At this panel, Paul Betts will speak about his reasons for writing his book Ruin and Renewal: Civilising Europe after World War II, followed by commentaries by Birmingham historians Corey Ross and Thomas Brodie.