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From Monuments to Traces Artifacts of German Memory, 1870-1990

by Rudy Koshar

  • ISBN: 9780520217683
  • ISBN10: 0520217683

From Monuments to Traces Artifacts of German Memory, 1870-1990

by Rudy Koshar

  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of California Pr
  • Publish date: 07/01/2000
  • ISBN: 9780520217683
  • ISBN10: 0520217683
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Description: Rudy Koshar constructs a powerful framework in which to examine the subject of German collective memory, which for more than a half-century has been shaped by the experiences of Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust. Finding the assumptions of many writers and scholars short-sighted, Koshar surveys the evidence of postwar German memory in the context of previous traditions. From Monuments to Traces follows the evolution of German "memory landscapes" all the way from national unification in 1870-71 through the world wars and political division to reunification in 1990.

The memory landscapes of any society may incorporate monuments, historical buildings, memorials and cemeteries, battlefields, streets, or natural environments that foster shared memories of important events or personalities. They may also be designed to divert public attention from embarrassing or traumatic histories. Koshar argues that in Germany, memory landscapes have taken shape according to four separate paradigms -- the national monument, the ruin, the reconstruction, and the trace -- which he analyzes in relation to the changing political agendas that have guided them over time.

The intense scrutiny to which German memory and identity have been subjected at the end of the twentieth century fails to take into account 120 years of public debate over how the built environment can best be used to symbolize the past. Through his synthesis of a wealth of information on the content and practice of collective memory, Koshar shows that despite the massive ruptures of Germany's history, significant continuities have served to counterbalance the traumas of the German past.

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