War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany


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Think piece on: M. It is incurable. It cannot be understood!

War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic

At the same time, past mistakes are readily buried and glossed over. This is an all too basic human inclination. It gets even more complex when it involves collective memories pitted against other group counter-memories on which high stakes ride —for example, claims to geographical regions or conceding atrocious behavior especially when it involves the massive slaughter visited upon European Jews during World War II. Needless to say, the truth is elusive as such counter-pasts and uneasy memories are plied to make them comfortable, palatable and useable.

This then, is what these three essays deal with —that is, the reconstruction, modification, instrumentalization, manipulation, ritualization or exploitation of various memories of the Second World War. The Berg and Moeller articles are closely related as they both deal, respectively, with the difficult process in Austria and Germany, of coming to terms with World War II experiences. In the Berg article, Austrians of the war generation, especially operating within the opfermythos or opferdoktrin encouraged in the Moscow Declaration of , see themselves as victims of the Hitler regime as opposed to being co-perpetrators of war crimes.

Yet, while this is the dominant narrative after the end of the war, Berg argues that a cultural shift starts to take place first in gedenkjahr but, more so, the fiftieth war anniversary in The source of this unsparing confrontation with the past is attributed to a younger generation that did not participate in the war. As the first seed in an honest process to deal with the past, however, it exhibited double standards since it focused more on post restitution of social democratic property.

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Remembering Ambivalent Pasts - African Perspectives

He argues that social-cultural processes that catalyze transitions from accepted communicative memory to forms of cultural memory capable of challenging communicated assumptions are not exactly, tractable p. Which is true as that is a long-drawn process that needs time. As such, while the opfermythos or opferdoktrin are somewhat rigidly entrenched in Austrian World War II memory, they are not entirely beyond informed revision.

While the opfermythos has not been entirely jettisoned, following various studies, a form of cultural memory —since the vicious Gedenkjahr debates- has been embraced that actively encourages critical examination of the past p.

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But perhaps the most important point that he makes, which is not entirely unique, however, is the manner in which focus on German suffering at the end of the Third Reich was done without assessing responsibility for its origins. What emerges then is an abbreviated story of National Socialism in which all Germans were ultimately victims of a war that Hitler started but everyone lost pp.

It is this contested memory —featuring the juxtaposition of Nazi crimes and the holocaust with German victimization- that Moeller takes issue with. It begins with the manner in which in the s citizens of the Federal Republic avoided all memories of the years of Nazi rule or their unwillingness to confront German accountability for the National Socialist past —the work of the Mitscherlichs was the first to challenge this state of affairs prodding Germans to own up this uncomfortable past.

Moeller observes that the challenge posed by the Mitscherlichs for Germans to pay the high psychic costs did not mean that a selective recall translated to collective amnesia pp.

War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany

In essence, the Mitscherlins were attempting to counter various group narratives of victimhood that had been sanctioned by the West German state at the end of the war —for example, the 11, accounts of expellees in the Theodor Schieder project pp. This eight-volume work documents the expulsion of Germans from East-Central Europe and elaborates the experiences of Germans as they fled before the Red Army leaving their homes in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and parts of eastern Germany that became Poland p. This constitutes a massive historiographical obstacle standing in the way of critical self-scrutiny with regard to World War II.

In the case of West Germany, the source of critical histories was the mountain of evidence of German atrocities generated by the Nuremberg Tribunal.


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The leading exponent of German accountability was the project undertaken by the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, which drew on this documentation and other sources. Moeller regrets, however, that no attempt was made to elicit first hand narratives to be a record of Jewish voices similar to the descriptions of expellees in the Schieder project. Moeller notes that in the s and s, West Germans insisted on providing a more complex account of the National Socialist regime and the war.

At this time, he says, the past in which Germans were victims receded, displaced by a history of the Third Reich in which Nazi atrocities took center stage.

Robert G. Moeller

Moeller is the first historian of modern German women to use social policy as a lens to focus on society's conceptions of gender difference and "woman's place. The Western notion of the aggressive, sexually dominant male and the passive female. Readers needn't expect, however, to find easy agreement on what those insights are.

The concept "diaspora" itself has proved controversial; ga. The architect of a unique kind of existential theology, and an important influence upon such philos.

Title: What difference does a husband make? In this study of unwed, divorced, widowed, and married women at work and at home across three political regimes, Elizabeth Heineman traces the transitions from early National Socialism through the war and on to the consoli. Moeller powerfully conveys the complicated story of how West Germans recast the recent past after the Second World War.

He rejects earlier characterizations of a postwar West Germany dominated by attitudes of "forgetting" or silence about the Nazi past. He instead demonstrates the "selecti.


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Bezalel Bar-Kochva attempts to overcome this stalemate in his finely detailed and convincingly argued study that proves the forgery of the book and suggests not only a source for the text, but also a social, politica. Alan Dowty takes on that question in a book that is admirable for its cl. The three surviving Hebrew accounts of the crusaders' devastating assaults on Rhineland J.

He also forces us to rethink conventional interpretations of the period, which feature terms like "assimilation" and "acculturation.

War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany
War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany
War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany
War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany
War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany

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