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Some realities of resilience: a case-study of Wittenberge

James Lewis (Datum International, Marshfield, UK)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 22 February 2013




The aim of this paper is to explore community resilience during the short-term stages of recovery of Wittenberge in 1945, surrender in the final months of the Second World War and the commencement for the town of Soviet administration; with comments on longer-term contexts of continued resilience and recovery to the present day. The paper examines origins and current use of the term “resilience” for comparison with its realities that are identified.


Translated extracts of a chronology of events in Wittenberge during 1945 (Muchow) are the basis of an exploration of social impacts for a town in wartime of exhaustion, defeat, surrender, political change and impoverishment.


Current interpretations of social resilience frequently do not match its reality, largely due to overuse of the word. Resilience is conditioned by circumstances that cannot be assumed, sudden change here being part of the war experience, not a consequence.

Research limitations/implications

Whereas other research (e.g. Hewitt) has considered the social impact of mass bombing during the second World War, this paper takes the example of a single town in an exposed geographical situation which is described.


Whereas Second World War military history continues to be repeatedly re-examined, its social impacts are comparatively understated. This paper offers a rare example in English of the experience of a small town in Germany in 1945.



Lewis, J. (2013), "Some realities of resilience: a case-study of Wittenberge", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 48-62.



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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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