Evolution and Normalization: Historical Consciousness in Germany

in German Politics and Society

German political culture has been undergoing gradual but significant changes since unification. Military engagements in combat missions, the introduction of a professional army, and a remarkable loss of recent historical knowledge mostly within the younger generations are hallmarks of the new millennium. Extensive education about the Holocaust is still prevalent and there is a strong continuity of attitudes and orientations toward the Nazi era and the Holocaust reaching back to the 1980s. Nevertheless, a lack of knowledge about history-not only the World War II period, but also about East and West Germany-in the age group of people under thirty is staggering. The fading away of the generation of victims who are the last ones to tell the story of persecution during the Holocaust and a parallel rise of new actors and technologies, present challenges to the educational system and the current political culture of Germany.