Original Research

Germany: facing the Nazi past today

I. Laurien
Literator | Vol 30, No 3 | a89 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v30i3.89 | © 2009 I. Laurien | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 16 July 2009 | Published: 16 July 2009

About the author(s)

I. Laurien, Department of Modern Foreign Languages/German, University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

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This article gives an overview of the changing debate on National Socialism and the question of guilt in German society. Memory had a different meaning in different generations, shaping distinct phases of dealing with the past, from silence and avoidance to sceptical debate, from painful “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” to a general memory of suffering.
In present-day Germany, memory as collective personal memory has faded away. At the same time, literature has lost its role as a main medium to mass media like cinema and television. Furthermore, memory has become fragmented. Large groups of members of the German society, like immigrants, see the past from a different perspective altogether. Although the remembrance of the time of National Socialism is still a distinctive part of Germany’s political culture, it has become more generalised, with “Holocaust memory” as a globalised symbol for a fundamental “break” in Western culture.


German Post-War Literature And National Socialism; Germany After 1945 Overview; Memory And The Media In Post-War Germany History; History Of Mentalities; Holocaust Memory; Post-War Generations


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