Journal Article

‘Is he still alive, or long since dead?’: Loss, Absence and Remembrance in Nuremberg, 1945–1956

Neil Gregor

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 21, issue 2, pages 183-203
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1191/0266355403gh280oa
‘Is he still alive, or long since dead?’: Loss, Absence and Remembrance in Nuremberg, 1945–1956

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This article uses the search for the ‘missing’ Wehrmacht soldiers in the 1950s as a prism through which to explore the ways in which we might insert the notion of trauma into our understanding of West Germany's status as a postwar society. In seeking to point out the connections between the ways in which ‘ordinary Germans’ suffered during and after the war on the one hand, and the inability of post-war West German society to ‘confront’ the crimes of the past on the other, it argues that the traumatizing impact of war has to be considered alongside the ideological and political necessities of the Cold War and reconstruction if we are to understand why West German society failed to place the Holocaust at the centre of its memorial culture in the immediate post-war years. Moreover, in pointing to the Lutheran church as a key site of memorial politics in the post-war era, it argues for the integration of a study of religious narratives, mentalities and discourses into an understanding of the evolution of the commemorative practices of the 1950s which has hitherto been shaped by an excessively one-sided focus on secular sites and narratives.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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