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German Culture, Politics, and Literature into the Twenty-First Century

German Culture, Politics, and Literature into the Twenty-First Century: Beyond Normalization

Stuart Taberner
Paul Cooke
Volume: 102
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    German Culture, Politics, and Literature into the Twenty-First Century
    Book Description:

    This volume features sixteen thought-provoking essays by renowned international experts on German society, culture, and politics that, together, provide a comprehensive study of Germany's postunification process of "normalization." Essays ranging across a variety of disciplines including politics, foreign policy, economics, literature, architecture, and film examine how since 1990 the often contested concept of normalization has become crucial to Germany's self-understanding. Despite the apparent emergence of a "new" Germany, the essays demonstrate that normalization is still in question, and that perennial concerns -- notably the Nazi past and the legacy of the GDR -- remain central to political and cultural discourses and affect the country's efforts to deal with the new challenges of globalization and the instability and polarization it brings. This is the first major study in English or German of the impact of the normalization debate across the range of cultural, political, economic, intellectual, and historical discourses. CONTRIBUTORS: STEPHEN BROCKMANN, JEREMY LEAMAN, SEBASTIAN HARNISCH AND KERRY LONGHURST, LOTHAR PROBST, SIMON WARD, ANNA SAUNDERS, ANNETTE SEIDEL ARPACI, CHRIS HOMEWOOD, ANDREW PLOWMAN, HELMUT SCHMITZ, KAROLINE VON OPPEN, WILLIAM COLLINS DONAHUE, KATHRIN SCHÖDEL, STUART TABERNER, PAUL COOKE. Stuart Taberner is Professor of Contemporary German Literature, Culture, and Society and Paul Cooke is Senior Lecturer in German Studies, both at the University of Leeds.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-678-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    S. J. T. and P. A. C.
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)
    Stuart Taberner and Paul Cooke

    On May 9 2005, the then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was in Moscow to take part in the Russian state’s day of commemoration for the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The previous year, Schröder had been an invited guest at the sixtieth anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy on June 6; less than two months later, he would be present in Warsaw at a memorial service to mark the German army’s brutal crushing of the Polish capital’s uprising in mid-1944. Noting the significance of the invitations he had received to these three events in...

  5. 1: “Normalization”: Has Helmut Kohl’s Vision Been Realized?
    (pp. 17-30)
    Stephen Brockmann

    In the summer of 1990, as the currency union between West and East Germany was about to occur, Serge Schmemann, then the chief reporter for The New York Times in Germany, conducted an interview with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. This was a dramatic moment in German history. The East German regime had unexpectedly collapsed the previous year, the economic unification of Germany was about to occur, and political unification was little more than three months away. Asked what he wished for his nation at the moment of its greatest economic, political, and intellectual transformation after the Second World War,...

  6. 2: Coping with Disparity: Continuity and Discontinuity in Economic Policy since Unification
    (pp. 31-48)
    Jeremy Leaman

    Fifteen years after unification, Germany remains an abnormal state in which many of the features of abnormality have become firmly entrenched, that is, “normalized.” This is the best approximation to a shorthand characterization of Germany’s political economy in 2005. Whatever features of “normalization”/homogenization/standardization or convergence with an EU or OECD “norm” can be adduced for Germany, there are features of abnormality that persist; these arguably set the Federal Republic apart from comparator states. In this chapter, I examine selective aspects of economic policy, but there is little doubt that these have been and continue to be significantly affected by Germany’s...

  7. 3: Understanding Germany: The Limits of “Normalization” and the Prevalence of Strategic Culture
    (pp. 49-60)
    Sebastian Harnisch and Kerry Longhurst

    The concept of “normalization” continues to have great resonance in discussions of Germany’s post-Cold War development, especially in the field of German foreign and security policy.¹ The notion that Germany’s foreign and security policies have or should become more “normal” also remains a potent theme in official discourse among policy makers in the pursuit of defining Germany’s international role. The purpose of this chapter is to appraise the notion of normalization in the context of developments in Germany’s post-1990 security policy and to consider its limitations and weaknesses in the face of what we call Germany’s prevailing strategic culture — a...

  8. 4: “Normalization” through Europeanization: The Role of the Holocaust
    (pp. 61-74)
    Lothar Probst

    Until the late 1990s it was quite clear to people in Europe that responsibility for the Holocaust was a purely German matter and that this responsibility determined Germany’s status as an “abnormal” nation. The following contribution will explore why and how this attitude has changed in recent years both within Germany and among its European neighbors. First, I will examine the ways in which the two German states tried to come to terms with their past in the period of German division. Second, I will look at the status of the Holocaust in present debates about identity in united Germany....

  9. 5: “Representing Normality”: Architecture in Berlin
    (pp. 75-88)
    Simon Ward

    Writing in a 2004 special issue of the architecture journal DISP devoted to Berlin, Brian Ladd concluded his tour of the “ghosts on display” by suggesting that:

    While there are sound [sic] reasons (economic and aesthetic, if not ideological) for banishing GDR buildings from many sites, the GDR’s legacy has not entirely vanished. There is, likewise, no danger that the Third Reich will be forgotten in Berlin. And it is entirely reasonable to argue that the entire city should not remain as a memorial to the destruction wrought by the twentieth century. Berliners, like the rest of us, may need...

  10. 6: “Normalizing” the Past: East German Culture and Ostalgie
    (pp. 89-104)
    Anna Saunders

    Over thirteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, united Germany became engulfed by a wave of Ostalgie: nostalgia for the former GDR. In the aftermath of Wolfgang Becker’s internationally acclaimed box-office hit Good Bye, Lenin! in 2003, not only were plans for a GDR theme park unveiled, but popular Ostalgie publications swamped bookstores, internet sites such as Ossi Versand and Ossiladen expanded exponentially, and shops scattered throughout Berlin, but also as far afield as Munich and Stuttgart, now offer a wide range of products, from Zetti chocolate bars to T-shirts sporting SED slogans, Ost Rock compilation CDs and...

  11. 7: National Memory’s Schlüsselkinder: Migration, Pedagogy, and German Remembrance Culture
    (pp. 105-120)
    Annette Seidel Arpaci

    In his lecture “Erziehung nach Auschwitz,” broadcast on Hessischer Rundfunk in 1966, Theodor Adorno postulated that political education should be centered on ensuring “daß Auschwitz sich nicht wiederhole.”¹ In pedagogic debates, “Erziehung nach Auschwitz” is regarded as the foundation for post-1968 conceptions of education and socialization in Germany.² Adorno, who had remigrated to Germany in 1949, had obviously not considered that the so-called guest workers, Gastarbeiter, arriving since the late 1950s, were coming to stay. If Adorno had anticipated this development, would his lecture have been written any differently? Or is it more likely that even then it would not...

  12. 8: The Return of “Undead” History: The West German Terrorist as Vampire and the Problem of “Normalizing” the Past in Margarethe von Trotta’s Die bleierne Zeit (1981) and Christian Petzold’s Die innere Sicherheit (2001)
    (pp. 121-136)
    Chris Homewood

    That by the end of the 1990s “normalization” had become the uncontested buzzword of the decade is perhaps surprising, given that its inception was viewed with such suspicion, particularly by many on the left who attributed it to a perceived “desire to play down the centrality of the Nazi past in order to mitigate German guilt and instil national pride,” to quote Stuart Taberner.¹ Nonetheless, by the turn of the millennium Gerhard Schröder’s Red-Green coalition had successfully appropriated the term, promoting a view of “normalization” that sought to reincorporate the Nazi past into the sociopolitical consciousness of the Berlin Republic...

  13. 9: “Normalizing” the “Old” Federal Republic? The FRG between 1949 and 1989 in Recent German Fiction
    (pp. 137-150)
    Andrew Plowman

    In the late 1990s, against the background of the publication of many notable narratives about the former East Germany (GDR) and its postunification transformation,¹ the appearance of a number of texts by young authors from the west signaled that the West German past too had become the object of literary scrutiny. Of course, many writers from the “old,” that is, preunification Federal Republic (FRG) had already had their say on this topic since 1990, including prominent figures of the West German literary scene such as Uwe Timm, F. C. Delius, and Ludwig Harig² and less familiar names including Ralf Rothmann...

  14. 10: Reconciliation between the Generations: The Image of the Ordinary German Soldier in Dieter Wellershoff’s Der Ernstfall and Ulla Hahn’s Unscharfe Bilder
    (pp. 151-166)
    Helmut Schmitz

    The lines cited above, the first set taken from Die Ermittlung, Peter Weiss’s 1965 play about the Auschwitz trials in Frankfurt in the early 1960s, and the second from a 1999 essay by the Austrian-Jewish author Robert Schindel, attempt to give voice to the experience of the victims of Nazism. Each of the quotations also highlights the difficulties inherent in a German wish for “normality.” Weiss, then, warns us that a confrontation with the everyday normality of the victim experience might undercut the very concept of normality, if normality comes to be seen as the destruction of civilization in Auschwitz....

  15. 11: “(un)sägliche Vergleiche”: What Germans Remembered (and Forgot) in Former Yugoslavia in the 1990s
    (pp. 167-180)
    Karoline von Oppen

    When war broke out in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, European commentators quickly reverted to old stereotypes of Balkan barbarism to explain the conflict. While Balkan experts such as Susan L. Woodward have argued that current problems in the region stemmed in part from post-Cold War realignments, popular constructions in the media preferred the more romantic notion of the perpetual Balkan powder keg.¹ Yet this phenomenon of racist stereotyping cannot simply be attributed to the media’s need for simplification, but is also to be found in political and intellectual discourses. The historian Mark Mazower has underlined the way in which...

  16. 12: “Normal” as “Apolitical”: Uwe Timm’s Rot and Thomas Brussig’s Leben bis Männer
    (pp. 181-194)
    William Collins Donahue

    Normalization came to the German literary scene with the alacrity and clarity of a proclamation. In June of 1990, with the almost simultaneous publication of articles by Frank Schirrmacher in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Hajo Steinert in the Zurich Weltwoche, and Ulrich Greiner in Die Zeit (followed somewhat later by Hellmuth Karasek’s article in Der Spiegel) the great Literaturstreit, or what was more popularly known as the Christa Wolf debate, broke onto the scene. In retrospect, one of the chief instigators of the controversy would claim that it was not really about Christa Wolf, over whom so much vitriol had...

  17. 13: “Narrative Normalization” and Günter Grass’s Im Krebsgang
    (pp. 195-208)
    Kathrin Schödel

    Wie normal sind die Normalen?” — this question was raised in a 2004 poster campaign sponsored by the charity Aktion Mensch in response to the highly topical debate on the subject of bioethics.¹ The question draws attention to the use of “normality” as a normative standard: what are the criteria by which it is defined and how reliable are they? Normality is, of course, by no means a self-evident truth. Even if the use of the term “normal” naturalizes that which is called normal, normality is a discursive construct. The distinction between the normal and the non-normal is always blurred and...

  18. 14: From “Normalization” to Globalization. German Fiction into the New Millennium: Christian Kracht, Ingo Schulze, and Feridun Zaimoğlu
    (pp. 209-222)
    Stuart Taberner

    Literary reflections on what a postunification German “normality” might look like are informed by the different “subject positions” of contemporary authors to the extent that they personify the life experiences of various segments of a population shaped by factors such as membership in a certain generation, formative years spent in either East or West Germany, and ethnicity and gender, among others. Onetime 68ers such as Uwe Timm, F. C. Delius, and Peter Schneider, as well as writers of an older generation such as Günter Grass, for instance, continue to debate normality in relation to the Nazi past. Thus texts such...

  19. 15: Abnormal Consensus? The New Internationalism of German Cinema
    (pp. 223-236)
    Paul Cooke

    It is probably premature to concur with Andreas Busche’s notion of a “third wave” of German filmmaking, that is, a moment to rival the creativity of the Weimar period on the one hand, or the New German Cinema of the 1960s and 1970s on the other.¹ Nevertheless, it is fair to say that German cinema is closer now to emulating the success of these earlier times than it has been for years, measurable most obviously in the level of international success contemporary German filmmakers presently enjoy. Of course, it remains the case that the nearest the vast majority of the...

  20. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 237-240)
  21. Index
    (pp. 241-246)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 247-247)