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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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Social-Liberal Guilt

Social-Liberal Guilt

(p.259) Chapter 11 Social-Liberal Guilt
The Sins of the Fathers

Jeffrey K. Olick

University of Chicago Press

In this chapter, Olick explores the issue of commemorating the end of World War II in West Germany. He describes how Heuss viewed this issue of commemoration as a paradox of history that simultaneously recognized Germany’s salvation and its defeat. Olick points out the rarity of early commemoration speeches and analyses several speeches made by Heinemann and Brandt in 1970 to show how attitudes had evolved to view the day as a celebration of liberation, although undertones of German victimhood persisted. In the rest of the chapter, Olick describes how specific attention to the German past faded away, and politicians began to draw on more general sentiments of peace and brotherhood. He points to a new emphasis on responsibility, causal historical connections, and criticism of the church, especially in the politics of Brandt. Olick also analyses Brandt’s 1973 visit to Israel and his open acceptance of the past and progressive view towards the future. The chapter concludes with a summary of Brandt’s successes during the 1970-1973 period.

Keywords:   commemoration, historical memory, World War II, Willy Brandt, West Germany, WWII

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