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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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Beyond Bitburg

Beyond Bitburg

(p.371) Chapter 16 Beyond Bitburg
The Sins of the Fathers

Jeffrey K. Olick

University of Chicago Press

In this chapter, Olick explains Kohl’s general program of value renewal through cultural policy and historical orientation, characterized by an emphasis on the notion of regional identity. He also identifies the controversial support of Gorbachev in 1987 by the Free Democrats. Olick proceeds by analysing and summarizing Philipp Jenninger’s 1988 speech on the fiftieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, which was poorly received in the Bundestag and led to Jenninger’s resignation. According to Olick, Jenninger’s speech was misinterpreted as a defense of anti-Semitism despite its true message and its powerful critique of German postwar attitudes. To illustrate how Jenninger’s speech was truly different from other German political and historical rhetoric, Olick compares the speech with another one in which Kohl employs a rhetorical frame that acknowledged everyone’s historical suffering and argued for putting it all behind as history.

Keywords:   Philipp Jenninger, anti-Semitism, West Germany, Helmut Kohl, commemoration

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