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German Identity, the Holocaust and the Year 2000

  • Albert H. Friedlander
Chapter

Abstract

Although the Holocaust ended more than fifty years ago, its impact continues to be an enduring trauma in the 21st century. Most of the survivors have passed away, but the second and third generations continue to carry this dark inheritance within their lives. Historians have reflected upon the destruction visited upon the European landscape, and we have come to see that even in America significant changes have taken place within that community. Germany continues to be a puzzle. Immediately after the war, the prevailing attitude saw all Germans as evil, and the occupying forces were forbidden to fraternize. Yet it is not in the nature of soldiers to remain distant from the people around them, and that wall disappeared far quicker than the ‘Wall’ built by the Communists to separate East and West Germany. Later, distinctions began to be made between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Germans, partially through the ‘denazification’ courts and later by the general public. Once business ties were re-established the attitude towards the Germans began to change. Eventually, wealthy German tourists were accepted, even though sly jokes about them continued. But Germany itself had to undergo dramatic changes, which continue to be played out in a country which now holds a commanding position in the European Community.

Keywords

Jewish Community Jewish Life German Identity Memorial Service German Public 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 3.
    Johann Baptist Metz, ‘Gottesgedächtnis im Zeitalter der kulturellen Amnesie’ in Wer diese meine Rede hört und tut sie…, eds. Folker Albrecht and Astrid Greve (Wuppertal, 1997), p.72.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Hans Mommsen, The Legacy of the Holocaust and German National Identity, Leo Baeck Memorial Lecture 42 (Leo Baeck Institute, 1999), pp.4–5.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Albert H. Friedlander, From Darkness towards the Light, Essex Papers in Theology and Society, University of Essex, 1999, p.15.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    Leonore Siegele-Wenschkewitz, ‘Zur Walser-Bubis Kontroverse’ in Hören und Lernen in der Schule des Namens: Mit der Tradition zum Aufbruch: Festschrift für Berthold Klappert, eds. Jochen Denker, Jonas Marquardt and Borgi Winkler-Rohlfing (Neukirchen, 1999), p.327.Google Scholar
  5. 19.
    Bronislaw Geremek, ‘Historiker der erlebten Geschichte’, Börsenblatt 83 (19 October 1999), pp.12ffGoogle Scholar
  6. 21.
    Peter Gay, My German Question: Growing Up in Berlin (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998), who calls it ‘the story of a poisoning and how I dealt with it’.Google Scholar
  7. Ruth Klüger Weiter leben: eine Jugend (München, 1994); her story covers Berlin, Theresienstadt, other camps, and the encounters with Germans.Google Scholar
  8. Evelyn Friedlander, Ich mill nach Hause aber ich war noch nie da: Eine jüdische Frau betrachtet ihr verborgenes Erbe (Freiburg: Herder/Spektrum, 1996) rehards ‘home’ not as England where a ‘second generation’ child is born and raised, but Germany.Google Scholar
  9. 22.
    Bronislaw Geremek, op.cit., p.23. Fritz Stern, ‘Erinnerung und Historie: Dankesrede des Friedenspreisträgers’, Börsenblatt 83 (19 October 1999), pp.18ff.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert H. Friedlander

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