Representing German Victimhood and Guilt: The Neue Wache and Unified German Memory

in German Politics and Society
View More View Less
  • 1 New York University
Restricted access

Commemorating National Socialism and Communism from the perspective

of 1989 often results in an uneasy conflation of German

guilt and victimhood. When the events of 1933-1989 are presented

as one long authoritarian period, war and tyranny can easily be construed

as external forces that simply befell the German nation.

While memories of national guilt are divisive, memories of victimhood

unify and simplify an otherwise ambiguous past. The 1995

restoration of Berlin’s Neue Wache is emblematic of this conflation

of guilt and victimhood. As the central German memorial to all victims

of war and tyranny, the Neue Wache neither distinguishes

between dictatorships, nor between perpetrator and victim.