Narratives of Trauma

Discourses of German Wartime Suffering in National and International Perspective


Over the last decade German culture has been engaged in a re-examination of the traumatic events of the Second World War and their post-war legacy in the public and private sphere. This shift in German memory culture from a focus on responsibility for the Holocaust to a focus on wartime suffering has attracted a lot of critical attention over the past decade, in both Cultural and Literary Studies and History. This volume brings together British, German, Dutch and American scholars from the fields of Cultural Studies, History and Sociology to address the national and international significance of discourses of ‘German wartime suffering’ in post-war and contemporary Germany. The focus of this interdisciplinary volume is both on the historical roots of the ‘Germans as victims’ narratives and the forms of their continuing existence in contemporary public memory and culture. The first three sections of this volume explore the conditions of German victim discourses in a variety of media and public arenas from historiography, sociology, literature and film to monuments, civil defence bunkers and local public memory. The final section sets the contemporary re-articulation of German wartime suffering in an international context with respect to its reception and its reflection in both Western and Eastern Europe and Israel.
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Table of contents

Helmut Schmitz and Annette Seidel-Arpacı: Introduction
History and Historiography
Suzanne Brown-Fleming: ‘Killing Us in a Slow Way Instead of Doing it with Gas’: The German Catholic Discourse of ‘Suffering’, 1946-59
Bas von Benda-Beckmann: Imperialist Air War. East German academic Research and Memory Politics reflected in the Work of Olaf Groehler
Public Memory and Mourning
Nicholas J. Steneck: Hitler’s Legacy in Concrete and Steel: Memory and Civil Defence Bunkers in West Germany, 1950-65
Christian Groh: Expressions of Memory in Pforzheim, a City hit by Air War
Jeffrey Luppes: ‘ Den Toten der ostdeutschen Heimat’: Local Expellee Monuments and the Construction of Post-war Narratives
Michael Heinlein: Das Trauma der deutschen Kriegskinder zwischen nationaler und europäischer Erinnerung: Kritische Anmerkungen zum gegenwärtigen Wandel der Erinnerungskultur
Visual and Literary Representation
Cathy S. Gelbin: Double Visions: Queer Feminity and Holocaust Film
Helmut Schmitz: Foundational Traumas: On a Figure of Thought in Recent German Literature on Wartime Suffering
International Perspectives
Bill Niven: German Victimhood Discourse in Comparative Perspective
Krijn Thijs: Holland and the German Point of View: On the Dutch Reactions to German Victimhood
Annette Seidel-Arpacı: The Miracle Workers: ‘German Suffering’, Israeli Masculinity, and the Feminised/Queered Nation as Redemptive in Eytan Fox’s Walk On Water
List of Contributors