Grey Zones of Memory?

  • Richard Crownshaw
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies book series (PMMS)


In the last chapter we saw how Sebald’s Luftkrieg und Literatur deployed certain postmemorial strategies in order to reconstruct and remember the trauma of the Allied bombing of German cities without displacing or subsuming the position of Nazi Germany’s victims. In doing so, Sebald placed a conception of victimhood in tense co-presence with that of German perpetration. Not only recognising the actual imbrication of memories of the war and the Holocaust, Sebald’s postmemorial strategies, I argued, could not remember bombing outside of the context of the perpetration as a means of distancing that context. This chapter further elaborates on the relationship between victim and the perpetrator identity in strategies of cultural remembrance. It does so by considering a series of well known case studies from testimonial literature (Primo Levi and Tadeusz Borowski), recent memory theory (Marianne Hirsch), philosophy (Jürgen Habermas and Gillian Rose), historiography (Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Ernst Nolte and Andreas Hillgruber) and film (Steven Spielberg). These case studies will be used to explore the ethical and political ramifications of various approaches to relating to and identifying and empathising with the perpetrator in Holocaust representation and cultural memory, asking in particular what happens to the figure of the victim in those approaches. The assessment of these schemes of identification will inform an interpretive framework to be exercised in the next chapter in a scrutiny of the novels of Bernhard Schlink, namely Der Vorleser (1995, published as The Reader, 1996) and Die Heimkehr (2006, published as The Homecoming, 2008).


Grey Zone Mass Murder Cultural Memory Free Indirect Discourse Collective Guilt 
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Copyright information

© Richard Crownshaw 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Crownshaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English and Comparative Literature, GoldsmithsUniversity of LondonUK

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