Abstract

Historians are dumb witnesses to a culture wrangling with itself about its criminal past if they only narrate the sequence of historical controversies such as those that have dotted the German public landscape since the Holocaust. They need to be alive to the subterranean biblical themes flowing beneath the surface froth of events, linking past and present through the continuity of German political emotions that are necessarily collective and therefore sensitive to anxieties about accusations of collective, inherited sin. This article argues that the guilt/shame couplet so common both in public German and academic discourses about postwar Germany cannot account for the intergenerational transmission of moral pollution signified by Holocaust memory. In order to understand the dynamics of German political emotions, it is more useful to employ an alternative couplet: stigma and sacrifice.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-1994
Print ISSN
0935-560X
Pages
pp. 139-180
Launched on MUSE
2007-09-18
Open Access
No
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