Tuesday, June 29, 2010

War Stories: The Search for a Usable Past in the Federal Republic of Germany

by Robert Moeller

Nicely presented hitory, notable for being very critical of the political memory of West Germany. In Moeller’s reading that society--in its leaders, most of its intellectuals and its wider culture--never truly engaged with the wider components and culpability behind the Nazi era, instead choosing to emphasize narrative of German victimhood, German suffering. It’s a dark vision in many ways, about a society whose material success and democratic freedoms were achieved hand in hand with a flat denial of basic realities of German society under the Third Reich and the wide ranging process of collaboration and racism that occurred. Benefits from a clear thesis and effectively structured layout, although is perhaps a bit too mono-focused and doesn’t give as wide a perspective on postwar life as would be useful for contextualizing the extended recollection. Perhaps the strongest and most interesting element is the gender representation, the discussion of the way masculinity was recoded and religitimized in the Federal Republic.

Better than: Gender Relations in German History ed. Elizabeth Harvey
Worse than: Women and the Nazi East by Elizabeth Harvey

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