Guilt, Suffering, and Memory

Guilt, Suffering, and Memory

Germany Remembers Its Dead of World War II
Gilad Margalit, translated by Haim Watzman
Distribution: Virgin Islands (U.S.), Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda,
Publication date: 01/11/2010
Format: Paperback 32 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22133-9
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Winner of the Bahat prize sponsored by the University of Haifa Press

Germany’s changing historical memory of World War II and its aftermath, as reflected in the official and public remembrance of the German war dead, exposes an unresolved tension between a discourse of guilt and a discourse of national suffering and victimization. In Germany, under the auspices of the Allied occupation, remembrance honored the victims of the Nazis and those who had fought against the regime. After the partition of Germany, a new culture emerged, memorializing the civilian dead and fallen German soldiers. Despite the fierce ideological rivalry between East and West Germany, however, certain similarities existed. The political leaderships who shaped these cultures ceased to confront their citizens with the question of guilt and instead depicted the German people as victims. In Guilt, Suffering, and Memory—whose Israeli edition was awarded the Jacob Bahat Prize for best original book—Gilad Margalit discusses the official remembrance ceremonies for the German war dead, the memorials erected to commemorate them, the public discussions of these disparate cultures, and their treatment in postwar German literature and film.

Author Bio

Gilad Margalit is Senior Lecturer in the Department of General History at the University of Haifa, Israel and Deputy Director of the Haifa Center for German and European Studies. He is author of Die Nachkriegsdeutschen und "ihre Zigeuner": Die Behandlung der Sinti und Roma im Schatten von Auschwitz and Germany and Its Gypsies: A Post-Auschwitz Ordeal.

Haim Watzman is a Jerusalem-based writer, journalist, and translator.


“Margalit focuses his criticism on 'reconciliation' narratives—where the Holocaust was remembered alongside German suffering—as a means of eliding the differences between Jewish victims of Nazism and those Germans who died in battle or as a result of bombing and expulsion.”
 — William Niven, Nottingham Trent University

“[Provides] extensive coverage of the evolving treatment of this wide-ranging subject. March 2015”
 — German History

“This is an ambitious and thought-provoking book. It presents a comprehensive overview of the ways Germans have remembered WorldWar II since 1945 and a forceful critique of what Margalit contends is the central narrative that has structured this memory work.Sept 2012”
 — Central European History

“Gilad Margalit’s comprehensive exploration of how Germany viewed its own wartime dead provides new evidence about German attitudes and stresses Germans’ primary focus on their own suffering and their repeated failure to come to terms with the past appropriately.”
 — Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“[This book] make[s] important, original contributions. . . . Margalit's monograph is a useful and frequently insightful contribution. ”
 — American Historical Review

“Gilad Margalit's new book offers a comprehensive, forcefully argued, and insightful analysis of German memories of the Second World War after 1945. ”
 — Jewish History

“Margalit bases his arguments on an impressive amount of original archival research, as well as analyses of relevant fiction, memorials, public debates, and the pivotal secondary literature. March 2012 ”
 — Jenny Wustenberg , H-Soz-u-Kult, H-Net Reviews

“This well-translated book will be invaluable to scholars and students of German history and memory studies and is accessible to nonspecialists. Summing Up: Essential.October 2010, Vol. 48 No. 2”
 — Choice

“A . . . perspective on the consequences of empire building comes from Israeli historian Gilad Margalit's meticulously documented Guilt, Suffering, and Memory.July/August 2010”
 — ForeWord

“. . . this finely calibrated study . . . .4/21/10”
 — Arnold Ages, National Jewish Post & Opinion (Kentucky Edition)

“. . . this marvellous book . . . .4/21/10”
 — Arnold Ages, Indiana Jewish Post & Opinion

“. . . the best book of the year . . . .4/21/10”
 — Arnold Ages, University of Waterloo

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Table of Contents

1. Coping with Guilt: The Germans and the Nazi Past
2. Remembering National Suffering in World War II
3. German Memory and Remembrance of the Dead from 1945 to the 1960s
4. Memorial Days in West Germany and Their Metamorphosis, 1945-1946
5. The Bombing of Germany’s Cities and German Memory Politics, 1945-1989
6. Flight and Expulsion in German Political Culture and Memory since 1945
7. The Resurgence of the German Sense of Victimization since Reunification

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