“And who has once seen the pain…”: New German youth literature on National Socialism, World War II and the Holocaust in the Context of the postmemorial turn

Britta Jung

    Research output: ThesisThesis fully internal (DIV)

    4391 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    The ‘Third Reich’ has been one of the most traumatic experiences of the 20th century. It comes therefore as no surprise that memory discourses of the ‘Third Reich’ have been constantly renegotiated within ever changing political, social, and cultural contexts from 1945 to the present. Over time, the memory of the ‘Third Reich’ has been suppressed, historicised and, more recently, popculturalised. Yet, there is no denying that the historical trauma of the ‘Third Reich’, which – in its totality – defies any kind of meaningful interpretation, serves as a founding myth and is an essential part of German and European identities, as well as Western images of identity. The gradual vanishing of the generation of contemporary witnesses, however, means that the ‘era of the witness’ (Wieviorka) is coming slowly to its end. The idea of a historical truth, which has been so far safeguarded by contemporary witnesses and, in particular by survivors, is increasingly being relativised: ‘memory’ becomes ‘postmemory’ (Hirsch), a memory solely communicated through symbols and media images by which younger generations relate to their familial, generational, and national past.

    At the very centre of this study is the question how postmemory negotiates and renegotiates the ‘Third Reich’, and how it manifests itself culturally, in particular in the narratives of contemporary German youth literature. The main argument of this study is that the above changes constitute a transnationalisation of German collective memory in a wider European, and even global context. National narratives are reformulated in the framework of transnational perspectives, which keeps the past cognitively and emotionally accessible for the younger generations. These younger generations find themselves increasingly removed from the historical event, and their reality is shaped by transnational experiences and perspectives.
    Translated title of the contribution“And who has once seen the pain…”: New German youth literature on National Socialism, World War II and the Holocaust in the Context of the postmemorial turn
    Original languageGerman
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • Esser, Raingard, Supervisor
    • Egger, S. (Sabine), Supervisor, External person
    • Erll, A. (Astrid), Co-supervisor, External person
    • Wende, W., Co-supervisor, External person
    Award date30-Nov-2015
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Publisher
    Print ISBNs978-90-367-8383-5
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-8382-8
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

    Cite this