On German Memory Politics: From the Cold War to New Global Challenges

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Stefanie Schüler-Springorum


This course is available on the MA in Asian and International History (LSE and NUS), MA in Modern History, MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and Asian History, MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

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.

In this class, 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.


20 hours of seminars in the AT. 20 hours of seminars in the WT.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the Autumn and the Winter Terms.

Formative coursework

One essay, 3000 words, due in the Autumn Term.

Indicative reading

  • Hannah Arendt: The Aftermath of Nazi Rule. Report on Germany, in: Commentary, Oct. 1950.
  • Frank Biess: German Angst. Fear and Democracy in the Federal Republic of Germany, Oxford 2020.
  • Rita Chin et al.: After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe, Ann Arbor 2009.
  • Robert Gerwarth and Stephan Malinowski: Hannah Arendt's Ghosts: Reflections on the Disputable Path from Windhoek to Auschwitz, in: Central European History 42, 2009, pp. 279-300.
  • Paul Gilroy: Between Camps. Race, Identity and Nationalism at the End of the Colour Line, London 2000.
  • Emma Kuby: Political Survivors: The Resistance, the Cold War, and the Fight against Concentration Camps after 1945, Cornell 2019.
  • Dirk Moses: The German Catechism: https//geschichtedergegenwart.ch/the-german-catechism/
  • The New Fascism Syllabus:https://newfascismsyllabus.com/category/opinions/the-catechism-debate/
  • Susan Neiman: Learning from the Germans.. Race and the Memory of Evil, New York 2019
  • Esra Ozyurek: Muslim Minorities as Germany's Past Future: Islam Critics, Holocaust Memory and Immigrant Integration, in> Memorz Studies 15 (1), 2019. 
  • David O. Pendas et al.: Beyond the Racial State. Rethinking Nazi Germany, Cambridge 2017.
  • Michael Rothberg: Multidirectional Memory. Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization, Stanford 2009.
  • Nathan Sznaider, Daniel Levy: The Holocaust and Memory in the Global Age, Philadelphia 2005.
  • Jenny Wustenberg: Civil Society and Memory in Postwar Germany, Cambridge 2017.


Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the WT.
Essay (50%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2022/23: Unavailable

Average class size 2022/23: Unavailable

Controlled access 2022/23: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

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Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills