Has Germany Forgotten the Lessons of the Nazis?Roundup
tags: Nazis, Germany, historical memory, nationalism
Mr. Hockenos is the author, most recently, of “Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, the Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin.”
The reunification of Germany, in 1990, was a moment of exalted pride for the postwar federal republic. After decades of warning that a united country would resurrect the horrors of the 20th century, its neighbors and allies, many of them former battlefield foes, came around to accept and even welcome it. That’s in large part because, during those same decades, West Germany had undertaken a self-administered “Vergangenheitsbewältigung,” a mouthful of a German word that translates as something like “the overcoming of the past,” and refers to the country’s collective effort to grapple with the causes and legacies of the Nazi era.
It was a painful, halting process, but it helped transform Germany from pariah state to the moral leader of continental Europe. In recent years, though, the achievements of the postwar era have come under scrutiny. “Our culture of remembrance is crumbling,” Germany’s foreign minister, Heiko Maas, said recently.
The most damning evidence is the hard-right Alternative for Germany party, which surged into the Bundestag in 2017; in parts of eastern Germany it is the most popular party. The AfD is riding a shocking rise of German anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Forty percent of Germans say it’s right to blame Jews for Israel’s policies in the Middle East. In my neighborhood in Berlin, and others across the country, people wearing Jewish headgear are harassed on the street. And in the aftermath of the refugee crisis of 2015-16, many Germans — including mainstream, middle-class citizens — embraced the far right’s premises. In surveys, ever more say they desire an authoritarianleader and distrust liberal democracy.
comments powered by Disqus
- 1619 Project: New York Times Magazine Publishes Special Edition Dedicated to American Slavery and Its Legacies
- National Security Archive Releases New Briefing Book on Chernobyl through the Eyes of the Soviet Politburo, KGB, and U.S. Intelligence
- Before Trump eyed Greenland: Here’s what happened last time the US bought a large chunk of the Arctic
- Illinois Governor Signs Bill Mandating Public Schools Teach LGBTQ History
- Controversial Monument to Women’s Suffrage Redesigned to Include Sojourner Truth
- Historian Elizabeth Hinton Profiled in Harvard Magazine: Color and Incarceration
- 'Clearly, he did not take part in our curriculum': Historians bash Ken Cuccinelli's revised Statue of Liberty Poem
- The Increasing Popularity of Hotel Historians
- If You Call It History, You’ve Got to Do History’: Historians Chafe at a Video That Omitted Their University’s Whites-Only Origins
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum gets grants to help publish Abraham Lincoln papers