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What Has “Coming to Terms with the Past” Meant in Post-World War II Germany? From History to Memory to the “History of Memory”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2008

Robert G. Moeller
Affiliation:
University of California, Irvine

Abstract

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Type
Review Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Conference Group for Central European History of the American Historical Association 2002

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References

My thanks to Frank Biess, Lynn Mally, Uta Poiger, Ulrike Strasser, and the editor, who offered excellent critical responses to earlier drafts of the article

1. These estimates are based on the population figures in “CIA: The World Factbook 2000- Germany,” http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gm.html.

2. See the thoughtful discussion in Olick, Jeffrey K., “What Does It Mean to Normalize the Past? Official Memory in German Politics since 1989,” Social Science History 22 (1998): 547–71.Google Scholar

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10. A complete list of the firms is available at http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/Holocaust/germancol.html. See also the law regulating compensation at http://www.compensation-for-forced-labour.org/.

11. Frei, Norbert, Vergangenheitspolitik: Die Anfänge der Bundesrepublik und die NS-Vergangenheit (Munich, 1996).Google Scholar

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16. Recent analyses of the Allied reeducation campaign, cited by Marcuse, include Brink, Cornelia, Ikonen der Vernichtung: Öffentlicher Gebrauch von Fotografien aus nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslagern nach 1945 (Berlin, 1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, reviewed in this journal by Crew, David, “Remembering German Pasts: Memory in German History, 1871–1989,” Central European History 33 (2000): 217–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar; also Brink, Cornelia, “Secular Icons: Looking at Photographs from Nazi Concentration Camps,” History and Memory 12 (2000): 135–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar; also Barnouw, Dagmar, Germany 1945: Views of War and Violence (Bloomington, 1996)Google Scholar. Suggestive as well is Zelizer, Barbie, Remembering to Forget: Holocaust Memory through the Camera's Eye (Chicago, 1998).Google Scholar

17. Here Marcuse adds to a growing literature. See, e.g., Reichel, Peter, Politik mit der Erinnerung: Gedächtnisorte im Streit um die nationalsozialistische Vergangenheit (Munich, 1995)Google Scholar; and, locating post-1945 developments in a longer term perspective, Koshar, Rudy, From Monuments to Traces: Artifacts of German Memory, 1870–1990 (Berkeley, 2000).Google Scholar

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20. See, e.g., Nora, Pierre, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de MémoireRepresentations 26 (1989): 724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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22. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Bundestag, the first installment of a new version of this exhibition opened in Berlin in November 1999. The exhibition is scheduled to be completed by spring 2002. See http://www.bundestag.de/info/berlin/fragen/.

23. Alexander, and Mitscherlich, Margarete, Die Unfähigkeit zu trauern: Grundlagen kollektiven Verhaltens (Munich., 1967), 19.Google Scholar See also Berghoff, Hartmut, “Zwischen Verdrängung und Aufarbeitung,” Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht 49 (1998): 96114Google Scholar; and Santner, Eric L., Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany (Ithaca, 1990), 16Google Scholar; and Moses, “The Forty-Fivers,” 97–101.

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26. Much the same point is made in Schwan, Gesine, Politik und Schuld: Die zerstörerische Macht des Schweigens (Frankfurt am Main, 1997)Google Scholar, a book that influences Assmann's analysis in particular. See also Fröhlich, Claudia and Kohlstruck, Michael, ed., Engagierte Demokraten: Vergangenheitspolitik in kritischer Absicht (Münster, 1999).Google Scholar The twenty-two brief essays that make up this book focus on key individuals, who, the editors argue, significantly contributed to a critical confrontation with the past by their commitment to promoting a broad public discussion of the crimes of National Socialism. Short sketches of Martin Niemöller, Eugen Kogon, Wolfgang Staudte, Theodor Adorno, the Mitscherlichs, and many others provide compelling evidence of the general thesis that critical perspectives on the National Socialist past can easily be traced back to the late 1940s and 1950s.

27. I develop this theme at length in War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany (Berkeley, 2001).Google Scholar

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30. The literature on this topic is vast. For a good summary, see Herf, Divided Memory; also Constantin Goschler, , Wiedergutmachung: Westdeutschland und die Verfolgten des Nationalsozialismus (1950–1954) (Munich, 1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Stern, Frank, The Whitewashing of the Yellow Badge: Antisemitism and Philosemitism in Postwar Germany, trans, by Templer, William (Oxford, 1992)Google Scholar; and the useful documentary collection, Jelinek, Yeshayahu A., ed., Zwischen Moral und Realpolitik: Deutsch-israelische Beziehungen, 1945–1965 (Gerlingen, 1997).Google Scholar

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32. See most recently, Herf, Divided Memory, who also places appropriate emphasis on the role of the Social Democratic Party.

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