Germany's Metamorphosis: Memory and the Holocaust in the Berlin Repulic

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Alison Lewis


I want to focus on two recent debates in Germany from the same inaugural period of Germany’s SPD–Green government, which both have as their focus the contestation of memory in relation to the Holocaust. In both debates the Holocaust serves as a negative myth of origin and a primal phantasmatic scene of guilt and shame around which German national identifications are organised. The first is the Walser–Bubis debate and the second the much more protracted but no less fierce debate about the building of a Holocaust memorial in Berlin, which peaked around the same time. Both debates are important in the German context because they come at the end of a long period of Christian Democratic (CDU) rule and at the beginning of a new SPD era in German politics. They are significant, moreover, because they appear to send contradictory messages about German self- understanding to the international community.

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Author Biography

Alison Lewis, University of Melbourne

ALISON LEWIS is Head of the Department of German and Swedish Studies, University of Melbourne. She is the author of Subverting Patriarchy: Feminism and Fantasy in the Works of Irmtraud Morgner, Berg, Oxford, 1995 and Die Kunst des Verrats: Der Prenzlauer Berg und die Staatssicherkeit, Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg, 2003.