National Identity After National Socialism: German Receptions of the Holocaust Cantata, Jüdische Chronik (1960/1961)

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Book Chapter

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Music, Politics, and Violence


The tracing of collective memory in postwar Germany has proven difficult for scholars of all disciplines due to the division of the state into the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Historian Jeffrey Herf argues that the writing of new postwar historiographies created a binary division of political memory along the East-West axis and “requires [scholars] to place [official memories] in the historical context of the ideologies and experiences . . . of the Cold War.” Regarding the Jewish Question, the task becomes even more arduous in that the Holocaust did not occupy congruent positions in the constructed narratives of either state. Instead, it became of the principal issues upon which the two Germanys based their ideological differentiation. As a result, the Holocaust functions not as a binational issue but a contested one. During the Cold War, the FRG struggled to find the proper rhetoric for its public atonement, while the GDR argued for its own postwar victim status and avoided political mention of the Holocaust.


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