"Getting History Right": East and West German Collective Memories of the Holocaust and War
How do individuals, societies, and nations deal with their difficult pasts? "Getting History Right" examines this question in a comparative context by looking at an authoritarian East Germany and a pluralistic, democratic West Germany. Eschewing a narrow focus on elites, this work draws extensively on societal level discussions of the past in popular culture, such as film, television, radio, and newspapers. It examines how societal level discussions of the past shaped individual perceptions and interpretations of the past; and how individual perceptions and struggles over the meaning of the past shaped societal level discussions. These struggles over meaning and "getting history right" are not only shaped by political power, but are also a source ofsymbolic power. To understand political life, scholars must embrace not only material political power, but also the symbolic and cultural roots of power. The research presented here makes extensive use of public opinion data, cinema attendance, and television viewer data, as well as other sources, to look at the multiple meanings that East and West Germans assigned to the Holocaust and World War II across time. Rather than culture merely being an extension of political power, this work argues that culture and the boundaries of the cultural matrix shape the use of political power by different social actors. Getting history right is not only a reflection of political power; it is a source of power itself.
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1 Collective Memory Politics and Culture
2 Victims and Perpetrators The View from the East
3 Victims and Perpetrators The View from the West
4 Collaboration and Resistance Blood and Redemption
5 Division and Unity A Revolutionary People Unites Itself
6 Defeat and Liberation Ending the War
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anti-Semitism antifascist attempt audience Auschwitz Bendlerblock Berlin border broadcast ceremonies Chancellor chapter characters collective guilt collective memory Communist resistance concentration camp coup crimes cultural matrix DEFA democratic Der Tagesspiegel Die Zeit discursive field discussion division documentary East and West East Berlin East German elite exhibit fascism Filbinger film’s Frankfurter Allgemeine German cinema German nation German resistance German society German soldiers German television Germany’s Hitler Holocaust Ibid individual Jewish Jews July 20 Konrad Wolf Kristallnacht Kurt Leni Marion Gräfin Dönhoff military mythology narrative National Socialism National Socialist Nazi past Neues Deutschland newspaper clippings archive November 9 party percent perpetrators persecution perspective political popular portrayal portrayed postwar question regime role Russian shown Soviet Stalingrad story struggle symbolic Tagesspiegel terror theJews theme tion University Press victims viewers viewership Wehrmacht West German films Wolfgang Zeit