A Nation of Victims?

Representations of German Wartime Suffering from 1945 to the Present

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Editor: Helmut Schmitz
The re-emergence of the issue of wartime suffering to the fore of German public discourse represents the greatest shift in German memory culture since the Historikerstreit of the 1980s. The (international) attention and debates triggered by, for example, W.G. Sebald’s Luftkrieg und Literatur, Günter Grass’s Im Krebsgang, Jörg Friedrich’s Der Brand testify to a change in focus away from the victims of National Socialism to the traumatic experience of the ‘perpetrator collective’ and its legacies. The volume brings together German, English and Israeli literary and film scholars and historians addressing issues surrounding the representation of German wartime suffering from the immediate post-war period to the present in literature, film and public commemorative discourse. Split into four sections, the volume discusses the representation of Germans as victims in post-war literature and film, the current memory politics of the Bund der Vertriebenen, the public commemoration of the air raids on Hamburg and Dresden and their representation in film, photography, historiography and literature, the impact and reception of W.G. Sebald’s Luftkrieg und Literatur, the representation of flight and expulsion in contemporary writing, the problem of empathy in representations of Germans as victims and the representation of suffering and National Socialism in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film Der Untergang.
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Review Quotes

"Der Band ist ein wichtiger Beitrag zu den Debatten um die deutsche Erinnerungskultur des 20. Jahrhunderts und liefert hierzu gut fundiertes analytisches Materials." – in: Monatshefte 100/4 (2008)
"This volume represents a useful addition to the growing corpus of secondary literature on German ‘suffering’." – in: MLR 104/1 (2009)

Table of contents

Introduction Helmut SCHMITZ: The Return of Wartime Suffering in Contemporary German Memory Culture, Literature and Film
1. The Post-War Period
Gregor STREIM: Germans in the Lager. Reports and Narratives about Imprisonment in Post-War Allied Internment Camps
Hans-Joachim HAHN: ‘Die, von denen man erzählt hat, dass sie die kleinen Kinder schlachten.’ Deutsche Leiderfahrung und Bilder von Juden in der deutschen Kultur nach 1945. Zu einigen Texten Wolfgang Weyrauchs
Helen WOLFENDEN: The Representation of Wehrmacht Soldiers as Victims in Post-War German Film: Hunde, wollt ihr ewig leben? and Der Arzt von Stalingrad
2. Political Issues
Samuel SALZBORN: The German Myth of a Victim Nation: (Re-)presenting Germans as Victims in the New Debate on their Flight and Expulsion from Eastern Europe
Bill NIVEN: Implicit Equations in Constructions of German Suffering
3. Memory and Representation of Air Raids
Gilad MARGALIT: Dresden and Hamburg - Official Memory and Commemoration of the Victims of Allied Air Raids in the two Germanies
Heinz-Peter PREUßER: Regarding and Imagining. Contrived Immediacy of the Allied Bombing Campaign in Photography, Novel and Historiography
Annette Seidel ARPACI: Lost in Translations? The Discourse of ‘German Suffering’ and W. G. Sebald’s Luftkrieg und Literatur
4. Representations of Suffering in Contemporary Literature and Film
Odile JANSEN: Wahrheit und Erinnerung. Die Spuren des Jahres 1945 in Texten von Christa Wolf
Helmut SCHMITZ: Historicism, Sentimentality and the Problem of Empathy: Uwe Timm’s Am Beispiel meines Bruders in the Context of Recent Representations of German Suffering.
Stuart TABERNER: Literary Representations in Contemporary German Fiction of the Expulsions of Germans from the East in 1945
Paul COOKE: Der Untergang (2004) Victims, Perpetrators and the Continuing Fascination of Fascism
Index of Contributors

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