Divided Memory

Divided Memory

Jeffrey Herf
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 560
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  • Book Info
    Divided Memory
    Book Description:

    A significant new look at the legacy of the Nazi regime, this book exposes the workings of past beliefs and political interests on how--and how differently--the two Germanys have recalled the crimes of Nazism, from the anti-Nazi emigration of the 1930s through the establishment of a day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism in 1996.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-41661-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. iii-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. 1 Multiple Restorations and Divided Memory
    (pp. 1-12)

    This is a study of how anti-Nazi German political leaders interpreted the Nazi past during the Nazi era, and then remembered it as they emerged as national political leaders in the postwar occupation, in the two successor German states, and in unified Germany. It focuses on the mixture of belief and interest, ideology and the drive for power which shaped the political memory and public narratives of the Nazi era and the lessons they drew for postwar Germany. Of particular concern are the weight and place of “the Jewish question” and the Holocaust in postwar German political memory, and the...

  5. 2 German Communism’s Master Narratives of Antifascism: Berlin–Moscow–East Berlin, 1928–1945
    (pp. 13-39)

    After 1945, East German Communist official memory of the Nazi era drew on an intact “antifascist” political tradition which originated in the Weimar Republic and continued in emigration during the period of Nazi rule. In this chapter I examine the dominant strand of Communist antifascism in the Weimar Republic, which later survived in exile in Moscow. Communist antifascism fostered a bipolar discourse in which communist dictatorships became part of the democratic world fighting against fascist dictatorship. Those, the Communists argued, who criticized the Soviet Union and the Communist parties were “objectively” supporting fascism.¹ Those who sought to place the persecution...

  6. 3 From Periphery to Center: German Communists and the Jewish Question, Mexico City, 1942–1945
    (pp. 40-68)

    For Communists, as Marx put it in the Theses on Feuerbach, the point was to change the world. The experience of German Communist exiles in Mexico City indicated that the world could also change the Communists. Or at least exile could bring to the fore elements of Communist traditions which had remained in the background in Europe and in Moscow exile. Mexico City was the second leading center of the Communist exile during World War II. Its distance from Moscow, the experience of the Popular Front years in Paris, the beginnings of Jewish persecution in Europe, and the large number...

  7. 4 The Nuremberg Interregnum: Struggles for Recognition in East Berlin, 1945–1949
    (pp. 69-105)

    In East Berlin during the brief Nuremberg interregnum between the end of the war and the crystallization of the Cold War, the Communists debated how to construct the political memory of the Nazi era. To be sure, the Moscow-oriented narrative which placed the Jewish catastrophe on the margins of discussion was both ideologically and politically dominant. Yet in these early days, exiles returning from the West, from Mexico, and from the concentration camps who wanted Jewish matters to play a larger role in East German memory and policy were able to make their voices heard at the top levels of...

  8. 5 Purging “Cosmopolitanism”: The Jewish Question in East Germany, 1949–1956
    (pp. 106-161)

    By 1948 the wartime alliance had collapsed and been replaced by the new, and reversed, fronts of the Cold War. In both East and West, present politics was projected back into the past with the result that wartime solidarities became at best a political embarrassment and at worst grounds for suspicion of disloyalty. In the Soviet bloc the antifascist allies of 1941 to 1945 once again became Western imperialists. Stalin’s own wartime “Western alliance” was now an embarrassing and fleeting chapter, at best a cynical alliance of convenience, and at worst a source of subversive ideas about democracy and human...

  9. 6 Memory and Policy in East Germany from Ulbricht to Honecker
    (pp. 162-200)

    The anticosmopolitan campaign left a wound that never healed and an official memory of Nazism that remained intact until the collapse of the East German regime in 1989. The anticosmopolitan purges were succeeded by the codification, institutionalization, and diffusion of their prejudices and hatreds, and also by their translation into policy. Merker’s and Zucker mann’s assertions concerning the link between the fight against anti-Semitism and the fate of German democracy were soon spectacularly borne out by events. On June 17, 1953, just six months after the publication of “Lessons of the Trial against the Slansky Conspiracy Center,” widespread protests and...

  10. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  11. 7 The Nuremberg Interregnum: Divided Memory in the Western Zones, 1945–1949
    (pp. 201-266)

    The German political leaders who emerged in the Western occupation zones during the Nuremberg interregnum differed from their Communist counterparts in one fundamental way: they all believed in liberal democracy and in the absolute necessity of preventing another German dictatorship. Their option for democracy posed a fundamental and enduring dilemma for the attainment of justice and the establishment of public memory of the Nazi era. Both ideology and the experience of the Nazi era had deepened the Communists’ suspicion of a democracy of Germans. For the democrats in the West, their own ideology and experience of the Nazi era were...

  12. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  13. 8 Atonement, Restitution, and Justice Delayed: West Germany, 1949–1963
    (pp. 267-333)

    During the founding years of the Federal Republic, the democratic left and democratic right held contrasting views of the relationship between democracy and memory. Konrad Adenauer’s implicit argument was that the establishment of a functioning democracy required less memory and justice for the crimes of the Nazi era and more “integration” of those who had gone astray. Kurt Schumacher, on the whole, took the opposite view, namely, that a new democracy must be accompanied by a settling of accounts and bringing the guilty to justice in German courts. Both Adenauer and Schumacher had a bleak view of the German past....

  14. 9 Politics and Memory since the 1960s
    (pp. 334-372)

    The purpose of this chapter and the next is to offer an overview, not a complete history, of the politics of memory in the Federal Republic and then in a unified Germany since the 1960s, and to place the ferment of the decades since then in the historical context of the founding traditions of the two Germanys. Both 1968 and the leftist dissent of the 1960s were a caesura in the history of West German reflection on the Nazi past. But, as the preceding chapters have indicated, the familiar dichotomies employed to distinguish the Adenauer era from West Germany since...

  15. 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 373-394)

    Why did any political memory of the Holocaust and crimes of the Nazi era emerge at all in either German state after 1945? Why did memory divide along political lines, and why was “the Jewish question” suppressed in East Germany while a sympathetic hearing for some postwar Jewish concerns emerged in West Germany? What was the relationship between memory of the Nazi past and postwar dictatorship and democracy? How did indigenous traditions interact with international and external factors to influence political memory of the Nazi past in the two Germanys?

    Three factors account for the emergence and the division of...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 397-502)
  17. Sources
    (pp. 503-506)
  18. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 507-514)
  19. Index
    (pp. 515-527)