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It was horrible, but we live now

The experience of young German adults in everyday encounters with the Holocaust

Lisa J. Krieg

Keywords: coping with the past; experience of history; German society; Holocaust legacy; Holocaust memory; young German adults

Based on an ethnographic field study in a museum and an evening high school in Cologne, this paper discusses experiences of young German adults in everyday encounters with the Holocaust, which are oft en accompanied by feelings of discomfort. Considering the Holocaust as an uncanny, strange matter contributes to understanding that distance and proximity are key factors in creating uncomfortable encounters. Distance from the Holocaust reduces discomfort, but where distance cannot be created, other strategies have to be put to work. This article underlines the significance of experience in an individual’s personal relation to the past for gaining an improved understanding of Holocaust memorial culture in Germany.

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