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Constructions of Victimhood

Remembering the Victims of State Socialism in Germany

  • David Clarke

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Cultural Heritage and Conflict book series (PSCHC)

Table of contents

About this book

Introduction

The post-war Federal Republic of Germany faced the task of addressing the plight of the victims of state socialism under the Soviet occupation of eastern Germany and in the German Democratic Republic, many of whom fled to the west. These victims were not passive objects of the West German state’s policy, but organized themselves into associations that fought for recognition of their contribution to the fight against communism. After German unification, the task of commemorating and compensating these victims continued under entirely new political circumstances, yet also in the context of global trends in memory politics and transitional justice that give priority to addressing the fate of victims of non-democratic regimes.

Constructions of Victimhood: Remembering the Victims of State Socialism in Germany draws on the constructivist systems theory of Niklas Luhmann to analyze the role of victims organizations, the political system, and historians and heritage professionals in the struggle over the memory of suffering under state socialism, from the Cold War to the present day. The book argues that the identity and social role of victims has undergone a process of constant renegotiation in this period, offering an innovative theoretical framework for understanding how restorative measures are formulated to address the situation of victims. As such, it offers not only insights into a neglected aspect of post-war German history, but also contributes to the ongoing academic debate about the role of victims in process of transitional justice and the politics of memory.

Keywords

Second World War Federal Republic of Germany Soviet Zone of Occupatoin German Democratic Republic national victimhood state-mandated memory transitional justice post-conflict victimhood memory politics

Authors and affiliations

  • David Clarke
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Modern LanguagesCardiff UniversityCardiffUK

Bibliographic information

  • DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-04804-4
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature 2019
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Literature, Cultural and Media Studies
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-04803-7
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-04804-4
  • Buy this book on publisher's site
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