2004
Volume 122, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

Since a broad public debate on German suffering was initiated in the late 1990’s, the German experience of the allied bombings has often been portrayed as a taboo, or, in W.G. Sebalds words, a ‘family secret’. Recent research, however, has disproved this taboo thesis. In this article the recent volumes edited by Helmut Schnatz, Bill Niven, Dietmar Süß, and Jörg Echternkamp, and the dissertation projects of Jörg Arnold and Malte Thiessen are reviewed. While many of the articles in these edited volumes give interesting case studies and insights, their conclusions on the workings of German memory of the air war remain somewhat fragmented. The works of Arnold on the local memory cultures of Magdeburg and Kassel, and Thiessen’s analysis of Hamburg, which are discussed in this article, provide a more detailed perspective. Arnold and Thiessen offer excellent and thoroughly empirical studies on the importance of the air war for local memory. Moreover, these works make clear the ease with which memory of the allied bombings could be linked to political issues in the present. With this Arnold and Thiessen have deepened our insights into the importance of the bombings for local memory and post-war identity. What remains unclear, however, is to what extent their conclusions can be applied to the national memory discourse of the Federal Republic and the GDR. Arnold’s and Thiessen’s studies do not show whether the allied bombings became as important for national memory as they obviously were for the local communities of Kassel, Magdebrurg, and Hamburg.

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2009-03-01
2021-10-20
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  • Article Type: Research Article
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