Von der Aufklärung zur Affirmation?

Die Krise der Erinnerungskultur

  • Martin Sabrow Universität Potsdam

Abstract

In Germany, a culture of remembrance first began to emerge haltingly in the 1960s before establishing itself in a remarkable show of solidarity between scholarship, politics, and the public culture of history. This culture of remembrance aims at a critical engagement with Germany’s calamitous history. Through its relentless demand to come to terms with the past, a fundamental consensus has emerged in Germany’s culture of history in the past decades that was most recently declared to be a „part of our national self-understanding“ by the current federal government in its coalition agreement. However, the signs are increasing that this paradigm of a resolute and critical re-examination of a suppressed and silenced history is losing its validity. The rise of right-wing populism in Germany and the significantly diminished acceptance of democracy in eastern Germany raise the question of whether the belief in a secure democratic culture of remembrance has not in fact led the country astray; whether the process of coming to terms with the past in Germany has not failed in its aim to secure the future of democracy through an engagement with the collapsed dictatorships of the past. This lecture investigates the causes of this new uncertainty. It traces the creeping shift from critical self-reflection to affirmative self-vindication that has increasingly characterised Germany’s understanding of its calamitous past since the 1990s. It thereby elucidates possible alternatives to the ever clearer crisis experienced by Germany’s culture of remembrance.

Published
2019-12-09