Learning from the Germans? History and Memory in German and European Discourses of Integration

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Andrew Beattie


History and memory appear to be increasingly important to discussions of European values and identity, as exemplified by references to ‘bitter experiences’ and ‘divided pasts’ in the draft EU constitution. The article takes recent suggestions that Europe could learn from German experiences of confronting multiple difficult pasts as its starting point, and considers critically what lessons those German experiences might in fact hold for ‘Europe’. It explores similarities and differences in the two integration contexts and their dominant approaches to, and assumptions about history and public memory. Specifically, it considers debates about the east-west division of the Cold War and about the place of communism and nazism in public memory. Contrary to common assumptions, the article argues that German experiences are not necessarily worth of European emulation.

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Contesting Euro Visions Special Issue July 2007 (Peer Reviewed)