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The Sins of the FathersGermany, Memory, Method$
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Jeffrey K. Olick

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226386492

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226386522.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use (for details see www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 17 January 2019

Placing Memory in Germany

Placing Memory in Germany

(p.3) Chapter 1 Placing Memory in Germany
The Sins of the Fathers

Jeffrey K. Olick

University of Chicago Press

In this chapter, Olick introduces main concepts and outlines the scope of the book. The chapter begins with a description of the 1988 commemoration of Kristallnacht in West Germany and the subsequent resignation of Philipp Jenninger, president of the Bundestag. Olick uses this instance to introduce the problem of commemoration in Germany and the terminology of the German discourse surrounding it. He touches upon the complex problems of the Nazi past and the dangers of focusing entirely on the Holocaust; then outlines questions of when, why, and how political leaders use the past to further their own agendas. Olick discusses how historical narration can shape national identities, but asserts that modern nations are too complex to be unified by a single historical narrative. He poses additional questions about how to understand the lessons of history. Olick also introduces the idea of collective memory in this chapter and mentions the complexities of collective guilt.

Keywords:   commemoration, The Holocaust, historical narration, national identity, collective memory, collective guilt

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