Monday, 5 June 2017 - 10:00am to Tuesday, 6 June 2017 - 4:00pm

Now in its 70th year, Cumberland Lodge is revisiting its founding vision to be a place that combats hatred and social division by promoting constructive dialogue. Over the course of two days, this anniversary conference will seek to analyse and understand issues of extremism, and offer insights into how to combat and undermine it.

  • What are the resonances and dissimilarities between far right movements in the 1930s and populist movements today?
  • Do divisive ideologies still hold appeal and, if so, why?  
  • And what can be done to undermine extremism? 

'Extremism: A Warning from History' will bring together key stakeholders to address these questions, including education professionals, academic researchers from a range of disciplines, those in a position to influence policy and public opinion, and representatives of the younger generation who are facing a world increasingly defined by divisions and animosity.

Convened under the Chatham House rule, it will explore some of the controversies surrounding the historical analysis of 1930s extremism, and it will seek to understand the causes of extremism by examining it from a variety of perspectives: economic, social, psychological and, ultimately, ideological.

A warning from history

Cumberland Lodge is an educational foundation with a vision of more peaceful, tolerant and inclusive societies. That vision emerged in 1947 through the work of our founder, Amy Buller, and her efforts to understand how Nazism captured the minds of a generation of young people in Germany.

First published in 1943, Buller's groundbreaking book, Darkness over Germany, delivered a stark warning from history of how a man with little political experience rose up as a voice of the people, a voice for the disenfranchised who were suffering the injustices of social inequality and unemployment. 

The hate and support grew until every problem the nation had was the fault of others, and then the nationalism became militarised and the hate led to a devastating war and genocide. All this came from an anger at the failures of politicians and a burning desire for change.

Darkness over Germany is being republished in English this April for the first time in since 1945, as Darkness over Germany: A Warning from History, with an afterword by our Principakl, Edmund Newell.

Amy Buller sought to understand the vulnerabilities that allowed hatred to take root, and to use that understanding to protect future generations from extremism. She promoted open and challenging discussion as a means of demonstrating that divisions and disagreements do not have to lead to hatred.

The realisation of her vision at Cumberland Lodge, in the aftermath of World War II, offered a new way to safeguard against extremism. Now, in our 70th anniversary year, 'Extremism: A Warning from History' will revisit what extremism is and how it arises, and focus on the steps we can take to build more resilient societies.


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