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Book Reviews 151 recalcitrant reality of enduring disagreement ... over how broadly the lessons of the country's recent horrors should be interpreted" (p. 164). Courts can also help a society work through their shame and subsequent repression ofhorrific events, "stimulating debate about the morality ofthe defendants' conduct and the nature of the institutions they controlled" (p. 175). He contrasts the different situations in postwar Germany and Japan in this regard. Osiel thinks that the "narrative frame" of trials, usually hidden in prosecutorial choices made behind the scenes, can be part of public awareness of the workings of legal memory. Courtrooms are places where one story must become "authoritative," but in the telling of this story, the trial can also "authorize" the telling of other related stories in different settings. In the past decade, there has emerged a tremendous amount of literature examining various battlefields ofmemory. Osiel has added an important and revealing work to this field. Edward T. Linenthal Department of Religious Studies University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys, by Jeffrey Herf. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997. 527 pp. $29.95. Jeffrey Herr's new book explores that fascinating place where the politics of memory converged with the memory ofpolitics in postwar Germany. One ofhis main concerns, then, is to identify the political pressures which shaped official political memory, the strategies for remembering the Nazi past mapped out by political leaders. As elsewhere, Herr's research here is careful, and his argument is at once balanced and critically pointed. Rather than leveling a blanket indictment against postwar German political leaders for their reticence with regard to the Holocaust, Herf asks: "Given the Nazis' broad base ofsupport among the German populace, why did German politicians raise the issue of the Holocaust at all?" Now Herf condemns the politicians' taciturnity as well as their lenient treatment of Nazi criminals as an egregious breach of justice. However, his very formulation of the question bespeaks a refreshing openness in a debate that has, for obvious reasons, been largely shrill and tendentious. For in asking why (West) German politicians did remember, Herfpushes past the standard question of why didn't they remember more often and openly, a question which, again, has yielded many condemnations but few serious attempts to understand. Much of Herf's answer has to do with the interplay of international politics, especially the cold war, and the politics ofnational memory. For example, Herfshows very compellingly how West 152 SHOFAR Winter 1999 Vol. 17, No.2 Germany's alliance with the United States made some acknowledgment of the Holocaust (like restitution payments to Israel) a political exigency. And he also demonstrates how the geo-political situation actively discouraged East Germany from commemorating the Holocaust. East Germany's major "ally," the Soviet Union, had its own difficulties confronting the memory of the Second World War, particularly its alliance with the West, and pursued a policy offorgetting. Herf is not one to leave bold strokes umefined. After elucidating basic trends, he takes pains to point out complexities, countervailing tendencies, exceptions, and microfactors such as individual wills and personalities. Even as he argues that restitution payments to Israel were brought about largely by postwar geo-political matrices, Herf maintains that they were also made possible by Adenauer's deft negotiation of intransigent anti-Israel resistance from within his own party. Herf similarly contends that postwar politicians-especially East German political leaders-failed even to begin to take up the challenge ofremembering while emphasizing that there were important exceptions, like Kurt Schumacher in West Germany and Paul Merker in East Germany. Indeed, an entire chapter of the book is dedicated to Merker's story. Merker, a high ranking communist official who spent the war years among Jewish exiles in Mexico city, was jailed for demanding that the East German government pay restitution to Holocaust survivors living in East Germany. Herfunderlines the cases of Schumacher and Merker to show that notwithstanding the pull of geopolitical forces, politicians still had enough freedom to pursue remembrance if they believed it was important. (Contingency is the historiographic principle that governs Herf's study. As he puts it, "History is the realm of choice...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 151-153
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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