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The past becomes the present: German national identity and memory since reunification

Barnard, MJ 2008, The past becomes the present: German national identity and memory since reunification , PhD thesis, Salford : University of Salford.

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Abstract

History and national consciousness are central to the creation and sustaining of national identity. Although much has been written on German national identity, there has been little examination of how the 60th anniversary of the Allied air campaign or expulsion of ethnic Germans are remembered from the perspective of the Germans as victims. Reflecting the changing status of the National Socialist past as it continues to affect the present, this thesis argues there were significant disparities between official and popular perceptions of national identity and memory. Presenting a focussed examination of current developments in German society and politics from a German perspective, this thesis examines why many in Germany have rejected a national identity based on a constitutional patriotism and collective atonement. Debates conducted by prominent intellectuals, journalists and academics in leading newspapers and magazines have been compared to statements from Ministers and official reports in order to ascertain the extent to which elite conceptions of national identity find resonance within Germany. Providing fresh evidence from periodicals, archive publications, eyewitness testimonies and books, this informative and arguably compelling thesis makes a significant and original contribution on how German history and identity are now being perceived and represented in Germany. Competing perceptions of the past and present warrant urgent recognition because so long as a disparate national identity and culture of remembrance continues there can be no effective reconciliation with either the German elite or with others. A greater understanding and recognition of the themes addressed however could not only encourage greater toleration, but also perhaps dispel the increasing sense of bitterness concerning recent aspects of the country's past.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Keiger, J (Supervisor)
Schools: Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences
Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for European Security
Colleges and Schools > College of Arts & Social Sciences > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2012 13:34
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2015 23:22
URI: http://usir.eprints.org/id/eprint/26564

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