Changing Memory Regimes in Contemporary Germany?

in German Politics and Society

Are collective memories currently changing in the land where the

“past won’t go away?” Long dominated by memory of the Holocaust

and other Nazi-era crimes, Germany recently witnessed the emergence

of another memory based on the same period of history, but

emphasizing German suffering. Most commentators stress the novelty

and catharsis of these discussions of supposedly long-repressed

and unworked-through collective traumas and offer predominantly

psychoanalytic explanations regarding why these memories only

now have surfaced. However, thanks to “presentist” myopia, ideological

blinders, and the theoretical/political effects of Holocaust

memory, much of this discourse is misplaced because these Germancentered

memories are emphatically not new. A reexamination of

the evolution of dominant memories over the postwar period in the

Federal Republic of Germany is necessary in order to understand

and contextualize more fully these current debates and the changes

in dominant memories that may be occurring—tasks this article takes

up by utilizing the memory regime framework.