HY4B8 - On German Memory Politics: From the Cold War to New Global Challenges
Professor Stefanie Schüler-Springorum
In this class, we will discuss the development of Germany’s “coming to terms with the past”. The course will reassess a history that has become fixed in a solid narrative to the extent that it forms part of Germany’s identity and its foreign policy. At the same time, this specific form of historical identity – which sometimes borders self-rightousness - has lately come under pressure from a variety of angles: postcolonial approaches which try to situate German history in the broader framework of imperialism and its crimes, the controversial memory of German socialism and of the unification period with its dramatic socio-economic consequences for one part of population and life-threatening ones for other, and last but not least the memory of West and East Germany’s migration histories, their long march into public consciousness and their still virulent marginalisation.
We will thus deal with the global dimension of collective memory and its status in Germany’s post-migrant society against the backdrop of the Holocaust, the recurrence of “end-of-debate” demands on the one hand and the perseverance of German “guilt pride” (N. Frei) on the other.
We will read the relevant texts available in English while the teacher will take care to present important new research which has not yet been translated (for example Axel Schildt’s brilliant account of the 1950s and 1960s). Furthermore, there will be use of social media tools which in recent years have begun to offer new perspectives on hitherto marginalized memories, like the Archiv der Flucht (Archive of Flight/Migration) at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, “De-Zentralbild” (on the memory of migrants in the GDR) at the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung and many other regional, local and grassroot projects.