This article discusses the portrayal of German-Polish relations in Robert Thalheim's 2007 film Am Ende kommen Touristen. Situated within present day Oświęcim, Poland—more commonly known as Auschwitz, the historical site of Nazi perpetration—Touristen shifts viewer attention toward contemporary concerns surrounding historical memories of Auschwitz and the present day transnational encounters at the memorial site. This article discusses memory constellations as well as the intercultural and intergenerational issues depicted in the film. By showing how the past still continues to affect contemporary relationships between Germans and Poles, the film calls for continued engagement and dialogue to work through the shared past in the European present. This article furthermore discusses the status of Touristen as a “third wave” Holocaust film that distances itself from cinematic, historical reconstruction on a visual and narrative level by rather focusing attention on the pieces of the past that continue to affect contemporary German-Polish relationships.
This paper seeks to investigate the role played by memory in the Federation of Expellees (Bund der Vertriebenen, BdV) professed attempts to enter into dialogue with Polish society. It also seeks to assess why on occasion mutual recrimination continues to tarnish the wider framework of German-Polish relations and explain the reasons for this phenomenon. The initial focus lies with explaining the continued importance of key, often disputed, elements of the historical encounter between Germans and Poles. To complement this analysis, the latter part of the article considers whether the BdV and its associated organizations have contributed to the wider process of German-Polish reconciliation, or whether the activities of the BdV act as a brake upon full resolution. The paper argues that although in recent years the BdV has attempted to make a positive contribution to German-Polish relations, its chances for success are constrained by its inability to move away from positions that are themselves the product of memory.
Since the end of the Cold War and the reconfiguration of the map of
Europe, scholars across the disciplines have looked anew at the geopolitical
and geocultural dimensions of East Central Europe. Although geographically
at the periphery of Eastern Europe, Germany and its changing discourses
on the East have also become a subject of this reassessment in
recent years. Within this larger context, this special issue explores the
fraught history of German-Polish border regions with a special focus on
contemporary literature and film.1 The contributions examine the representation
of border regions in recent Polish and German literature (Irene
Sywenky, Claudia Winkler), filmic accounts of historical German and Polish
legacies within contemporary European contexts (Randall Halle, Meghan
O’Dea), and the role of collective memory in contemporary German-Polish
relations (Karl Cordell). Bringing together scholars of Polish and German
literature and film, as well as political science, some of the contributions
also ponder the advantages of regional and transnational approaches to
issues that used to be discussed primarily within national parameters.
One of the most important developments in the incipient Berlin Republic's memory regime has been the return of the memory of German suffering from the end and aftermath of World War II. Elite discourses about the bombing of German cities, the mass rape of German women by members of the Red Army, and, above all, the expulsion of Germans from then-Eastern Germany and elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe have gained massive visibility in the last decade. Although many voices have lauded these developments as liberating, many others within Germany and especially in Poland—from where the vast majority of Germans were expelled—have reacted with fear. Yet, do these elite voices resonate with mass publics? Have these arguments had demonstrable effects on public opinion? This paper delves into these questions by looking at survey results from both countries. It finds that there has been a disjuncture between the criticisms of elites and average citizens, but that the barrage of elite criticisms leveled at German expellees and their initiatives now may be affecting mass attitudes in all cases.
This article analyzes contrasting notions of Heimat and Fremde, as explored cinematographically by three contemporary German filmmakers. The spatial aspect of Heimat, traditionally connected to a particular region or even neighborhood denotes the sense of belonging, whereas the temporal aspect—often associated with childhood and youth—carries the sense of longing. In the second half of the twentieth century, the concept has shifted to include identity, reflection and self-reflection, the loss of Heimat, and even multiple Heimaten. The article argues further that the notions of Heimat and Fremde are not mutually exclusive, but interdependent. Peter Lilienthal's film Ein Fremder concludes that in parts of German society the binary opposites of Heimat and Fremde are still intact. On the other hand, Peter Patzak in Adeus und Goodbye shows how Heimat and Fremde are mutually dependent and include a search for identity and individuality. In Michael Gutmann's travelogue-documentary, Familienreise, the protagonists experience aspects of Fremde and Heimatlosigkeit without ever finding Heimat.
Brandt's Ostpolitik, the German-Polish History Textbook Commission, and Conservative Reaction
Prior to the late 1960s, German history textbooks lacked coverage of Poland and depicted Germany's eastern neighbor with negative images. The 1970s and 1980s, however, witnessed positive changes to the contents of German school textbooks—particularly with respect to their descriptions of Poland and German-Polish relations. How and why did Germany promote a more reflective view of history and correct negative descriptions of the Poles in German history textbooks between the 1970s and 1980s? This article addresses this question by focusing on the influence of Brandt's Ostpolitik and on the activities of the German-Polish History Textbook Commission. The article also shows how contemporary conservative reaction was not powerful enough to reverse these positive changes to German history textbooks.
Continuity, Change, and the Role of Leaders
between the countries’ leaders. Some countries have very negative historical ties. German-Polish relations, for example, have rarely been positive in the past; as a popular Polish phrase puts it “as long as the world is the world, Poles and Germans will