National Identity and Recovering Memories in Contemporary Germany: The Reception of Victor Klemperer’s Diaries

in German Politics and Society

The overwhelming critical response in Germany to the publication of

Victor Klemperer’s journals, particularly those spanning the years

from 1933 to 1945, has been a veritable sensation. Hundreds of

reviews, mostly appreciations, have appeared. Klemperer’s journals

have also turned into big business. On October 12, 1999, the German

television channel ARD began broadcasting a thirteen-episode series

on the diaries in the most expensive, made-for-television program of

its kind in Germany. Additionally, the English-language rights to the

journals were sold to Random House for a record $550,000, more

than has ever been paid for translation rights of any German book in

history. The selling of Klemperer’s journals may have led to a distorted

evaluation of their author’s position and importance.

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