The Blockade in the Era of the Two World Wars

17-18 June 2022 | NTNU


In both world wars, blockades constituted a key means of warfare, which impacted profoundly on the living conditions of European and non-European populations, on world trade, on major strategic decisions (like unrestricted submarine warfare), on neutrality, on technology and science, on war economies and resource management, and on overall policy decisions. The experience of blockade in the First World War in particular informed trade and economic policies, military preparations, diplomatic negotiations, international law, and mentalities for the next three decades. Blockade became a defining feature of modern warfare itself.

This 2-day conference debates the developments, effects and legacies of blockade in 20th-century warfare, principally the two world wars. The conference brings together scholars working on a wide variety of topics and employing different methodological approaches to showcase and debate current research trends. It focuses on questions of economic, diplomatic, legal, and military history as well as social and cultural history. The intention of this conference is to review the current state of scholarship and stake out the ground for new research. In all, it interrogates the significance of the blockades for the era of the two world wars, paying special attention to how the 'first blockade' affected and shaped the 'second blockade'. 


Jonas Scherner (NTNU)/Elisabeth Piller (Universität Freiburg) - Welcome

Alan Kramer (Trinity College Dublin) - Blockade in War & Peace: A Research Agenda

Hew Strachan (University of St Andrews) - Grand Strategy and Blockade, 1914-1945

Panel 1: Britain and the Blockade in the Era of the First World War 

Gabriela Frei (Universität der Bundeswehr, München) - Blockade by Other Means or How to Deal with Neutrals? From the Boer War to the First World War

Avram Lytton (University of Calgary) - Blockade: From the Maritime to the Continental

Panel 2: Global Blockade and the First World War

Samuël Kruizinga (Universiteit van Amsterdam) - The Relief of Blockaded Belgium. The Commission for Relief in Belgium and the Allied Blockade of the Central Powers, 1914-1919

Heather Jones (University College London) - The Mediterranean blockade in the First World War.

Teresa Nunes (Universidade de Lisboa) - Portugal and the Great War Blockade: From Neutrality to Belligerence

Panel 3: Responding to the First Blockade

Marcel Boldorf (Université Lumiere Lyon) - The Legend of "Aushungerung." Germany under the Allied Blockade in World War I

Phillip Dehne (St. Joseph's College, NY) - After the Great War: Economic Warfare and the Promise of Peace in Paris 1919

Boyd van Dijk/Nicholas Mulder (University of Melbourne/Cornell University) - Why Did Starvation Not Become the Paradigmatic War Crime in International Law?

Panel 4: From the First to the Second World War, Part I (Strategic Raw Materials)

Jonas Scherner (NTNU) - Germany and Strategic Raw Materials in the Era of the Two World Wars

Alexander Donges (Universität Mannheim) - Strategic War Planning in the German Iron and Steel Industry, 1919-1945 (digital)

Simon Renner (NTNU) - Learning from the Blockade: British Plans for Economic Pressure on Germany in the late 1930s

Bastian Linneweh (Universität Göttingen) - Commodities of Global Conflict: Rubber Between the Blockades 

Panel 5: From the First to Second World War, Part II

Clotilde Druelle (Université de Limoges) - The Legacy of WWI Blockade in France during Interwar Period

Matthew Seligmann (Brunel University) - Competing Narratives on Economic Warfare - The Unlikely Origin of Archibald Bell's Unwanted History of the Blockade of Germany

Nick Mulder (Cornell University) - Efficacy and Infamy: The Politics of the Great War Blockade in the History of Sanctions

Elisabeth Piller (Universität Freiburg) - Saving Europe. Blockade, the Two World Wars and the Making of Humanitarian Diplomacy 

Panel 6: Blockade, the Second World War and Beyond

António Duarte (Institute of National Defence, Lisbon) - Portuguese Neutrality and the British Blockade during the Second World War

Hazal Papuççular (Istanbul Kultur University) - The Blockade in the Aegean during WWII: A Narrative from Turkey

Sheldon Garon (Princeton University) - Blockade as Transnational Strategy: The Perspective from Japan.

Nikita Lomagin (European University at St Petersburg) - Innovations for Survival: the Case of the Siege of Leningrad

Mark Bailey (Australian Defence Force Academy) - Historical Blockade and Current Defence Planning - A View from the Pacific

Closing Discussion: The Blockade in the Era of the Two World Wars

Picture: Chlorination Works, Robinson Gold Mine Co. (1893)