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.