Germany : facing the Nazi past today

Laurien, I. (2009-07-16)

CITATION: Laurien, I. 2009. Germany: facing the Nazi past today. Literator, 30(3):93-114, doi:10.4102/lit.v30i3.89.

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This article gives an overview of the changing debate on National Socialism and the question of guilt in German society. Memory had a different meaning in different generations, shaping distinct phases of dealing with the past, from silence and avoidance to sceptical debate, from painful “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” to a general memory of suffering. In present-day Germany, memory as collective personal memory has faded away. At the same time, literature has lost its role as a main medium to mass media like cinema and television. Furthermore, memory has become fragmented. Large groups of members of the German society, like immigrants, see the past from a different perspective altogether. Although the remembrance of the time of National Socialism is still a distinctive part of Germany’s political culture, it has become more generalised, with “Holocaust memory” as a globalised symbol for a fundamental “break” in Western culture.

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