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Klaus Neumann

In 1992, at a conference about the 1938 Reichskristallnacht pogrom,

the mayor of Weimar told this anecdote:

Three weeks ago, I was in Paris. I visited the international architecture

exhibition and afterwards went to a small fish restaurant. Nearly all

the places had been taken, [so] tables were joined, and additional

chairs added. I came to sit next to a man more than seventy years of

age, and told him in broken French that I’m from Weimar. He said, “I

know it; I was imprisoned in Buchenwald.”

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Helmut Peitsch and Joanne Sayner

This article examines two chapters from Martin Sabrow's 2009 edited volume Erinnerungsorte der DDR, one on antifascism and one on Buchenwald. These two case studies exemplify the complexities of the contemporary German memorial landscape. In particular, they thematize the remembrance of the Nazi past in the German Democratic Republic and how this GDR past has, in turn, been tendentiously remembered since unification. By examining the layering of memories in these two chapters, we argue that the theoretical models which often underpin contemporary German memory work, Sabrow's volume included, serve to obscure the role of the state as carrier of official memory. On the basis of this study, we show that concepts dominant in today's Germany promote a unified national narrative. In particular, terms such as the “culture of memory” (Erinnerungskultur) and cultural memory (kulturelles Gedächtnis) downplay conflicting, contentious and diverse memories relating to the GDR past. As such, the article provides a timely note of caution for memory studies and memory work, which increasingly applies these models to wider, non-German contexts.

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Christhard Hoffmann

A few weeks after the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany

in May 1949, American High Commissioner John McCloy addressed

an assembly of representatives from the West German Jewish community.

In a much-discussed speech, he emphasized the central

importance of public recollection of the crimes of the Third Reich for

the political culture of the young republic. In particular, said McCloy,

the relationship of West Germany towards the Jews would be “one of

the real touchstones and the test of Germany’s progress toward the

light. The moment that Germany has forgotten the Buchenwalds and

Auschwitzes, that was the point at which everyone could begin to

despair of any progress in Germany.”

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Cora Sol Goldstein

In December 1945, less than six months after the unconditional defeat of the Third Reich and the military occupation of Germany, two anti-Nazi German intellectuals, Herbert Sandberg and Günther Weisenborn, launched the bimonthly journal, Ulenspiegel: Literatur, Kunst, und Satire (Ulenspiegel: Literature, Art and Satire), in the American sector of Berlin. Sandberg, the art editor, was a graphic artist. He was also a Communist who had spent ten years in Nazi concentration camps—the last seven in Buchenwald. Weisenborn, a Social Democrat and the literary editor, was a playwright, novelist, and literary critic. He had been a member of the rote Kapelle resistance group, was captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo in 1942, and was liberated by the Red Army in 1945.

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Germaine Tillion's Operetta of Resistance at Ravensbrück

Donald Reid

Pierre Vidal-Naquet called the three studies resister Germaine Tillion had published in 1946, 1973, and 1988, on the concentration camp to which she had been sent, her “three Ravensbrücks.”4 Although resistance is important in each, these works focus primarily on the relation of exploitation to extermination in the camps. There is, however, a first, or perhaps a fourth, “Ravensbrück,” which is neither a memoir nor a history like the other three. In it, the state of resistance in which Tillion lived her deportation comes to the fore. Inspired by Jacques Offenbach’s L’Orphée aux Enfers, Tillion wrote Le Verfügbar aux Enfers in late 1944 at Ravenbrück, after having spent a year incarcerated there. Like David Rousset’s frequent reference to Père Ubu in L’Univers concentrationnaire (1946), his essay on Buchenwald, Tillion’s operetta reminds us that the genres we usually call on to present the horrific in the normal world may be lacking when the horrific is the norm.

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Invoking the “Yolocaust”?

German Memory Politics, Cultural Criticism, and Contemporary Popular Arts

Ralph Buchenhorst

-Jewish artist Alan Schechner is the belief that all images exist in social and political contexts and, as such, all images are ideological. Self Portrait at Buchenwald: It's the Real Thing (1991–1993) uses collage techniques to bring together a self

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Eric Jennings, Hanna Diamond, Constance Pâris de Bollardière, and Jessica Lynne Pearson

. The fourth chapter of the book develops the question of the difficult healing of psychological traumas—with an emphasis on the case of the 426 children of Buchenwald who arrived in France in summer 1945. The last chapter concentrates on the issues of

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Jonathan Bach, Heather L. Dichter, Kirkland Alexander Fulk, Alexander Wochnik, Wilko Graf von Hardenberg, and Carol Hager

the Soviet occupation era: continuity with the prewar working class movement and with the antifascist legacy under the Nazis. He follows these themes into the 1950s, when Buchenwald and the new Museum for German History became principal memory sites

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Nicole Hudgins

Martiniquais town of Saint-Pierre. 2 At the end of World War II, photographer Margaret Bourke-White famously admitted that using a camera “was almost a relief” when confronted by the sights of recently liberated Buchenwald. See Bourke-White, Dear Fatherland

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Samuel Salzborn

do with Auschwitz. I was recently in Auschwitz for the first time, when I realized that it was no longer grabbing me, unlike during my visit to Buchenwald. It’s like a frozen horror. When you see all the hair, the brushes, and the suitcases, you