Holocaust Angst: The Federal Republic of Germany and American Holocaust Memory since the 1970s

Holocaust Angst: The Federal Republic of Germany and American Holocaust Memory since the 1970s 1092 The Journal of American History March 2018 Holocaust Angst:  The Federal Republic of Ger - reveal a keen desire to demonstrate West G - er many and American Holocaust Memory since many’s commitment to reconciliation. A - ddi the 1970s. By Jacob S. Eder. (Oxford: Oxford tionally, Eder examines how Kohl attempted University Press, 2016. xx, 296 pp. $35.00.) (but ultimately failed) to influence the content of the ushmm. He wanted the museum to in - Holocaust memory in the United State-s un clude a section dedicated to Germany’s com - derwent a significant change in the 1970s as mitment to democracy after 1945. Kohl also interest among survivors to tell their stories launched initiatives to found new academic in - grew and the public was increasingly eager stitutions (the German Historical Institute in to listen. This rise of interest in Holocaus -t re Washington, D.C., and three new centers of membrance in the United States triggered a excellence at Harvard University, Georgetown series of reactions by German diplomats and University, and the University of California, politicians who began to worry that t-he im Berkeley) that Eder links to the concerns over age of West Germany (and later, Germany) West Germany’s image in the United States. in the United States faced a new challenge. Finally, Eder demonstrates that in the pe - The television series Holocaust (1978), Presi - riod after 1990, German Holocaust memory dent Ronald Reagan’s 1985 visit to Bitburg, was transformed yet again with a new wave of Steven Spielberg’s filmS chindler’s List (1993), memorials in Germany that did not deny -Ger the construction of the U.S. Holocau-st Me many’s role, but rather engaged its past. To this morial Museum (ushmm, opened in 1993 ), end, Eder concludes that “in contrast -to, in and, finally, publication of Daniel Jonah deed despite, his government’s former politics Goldhagen’s controverH sia itl le r’s Willing Ex- of history, Kohl had in the end helped bring ecutioners (1996) all played roles in feeding about an utter transformation, one that made Germany’s ongoing “Holocaust angst.” the Holocaust the ‘core’ of Germany’s self- Jacob S. Eder’s excellent monograph Holo- concept as a nation” (p. 196). caust Angst seeks to unravel the intricate web Eder has produced a wonderful, detailed of initiatives by the West German government analysis of the transnational nature of memory in response to these fears. At the heart of these politics and how Holocaust memory became responses was an emphasis on cultivating a increasingly internationalized over the past new historical narrative about German history four decades. and a desire to claim that West Germany was a completely different nation than the Nazi r - e Jon Berndt Olsen gime, while also demonstrating respect for the University of Massachusetts Amherst victims of German aggression. Although many Amherst, Massachusetts of these fears predated Helmut Kohl’s tenure doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax551 as chancellor (1982–1998), Eder argues that it was Kohl in particular who placed a ne-w em Nuclear Threats, Nuclear Fear and the Cold phasis on the politics of history within his ad - War of the 1980s. Ed. by Eckart Conze, M- ar ministration and gave it an international di - tin Klimke, and Jeremy Varon. (New York: mension. While much has been written about Cambridge University Press, 2016. xvi, 370 Germany’s famous “historians debate,” less has pp. $120.00.) been written about how the politics of history influenced West Germany’s foreign policy - de Through the 1980s, intellectuals and activists cisions. warned that the nuclear policies of th- e super While Kohl plays a prominent role in Eder’s powers, especially the decision by the North analysis, what makes Holocaust Angst stand out Atlantic Treaty Organization to modernize is the vast network of actors involved in the coordinated effort to shape American memo - intermediate-range missiles in Europe, t- hreat ened to bring the world closer to Armageddon. ry culture—diplomats, politicians, nonprofit Despite increasingly dire warnings, however, groups, think tanks, and charitable founda - tions. Many of the initiatives launched in this the world did not end. Indeed, by late 1987, process focused on educational exchanges and President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/104/4/1092/4932728 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Journal of American History Oxford University Press

Holocaust Angst: The Federal Republic of Germany and American Holocaust Memory since the 1970s

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Oxford University Press
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© The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Organization of American Historians. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.
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0021-8723
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1945-2314
D.O.I.
10.1093/jahist/jax551
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Abstract

1092 The Journal of American History March 2018 Holocaust Angst:  The Federal Republic of Ger - reveal a keen desire to demonstrate West G - er many and American Holocaust Memory since many’s commitment to reconciliation. A - ddi the 1970s. By Jacob S. Eder. (Oxford: Oxford tionally, Eder examines how Kohl attempted University Press, 2016. xx, 296 pp. $35.00.) (but ultimately failed) to influence the content of the ushmm. He wanted the museum to in - Holocaust memory in the United State-s un clude a section dedicated to Germany’s com - derwent a significant change in the 1970s as mitment to democracy after 1945. Kohl also interest among survivors to tell their stories launched initiatives to found new academic in - grew and the public was increasingly eager stitutions (the German Historical Institute in to listen. This rise of interest in Holocaus -t re Washington, D.C., and three new centers of membrance in the United States triggered a excellence at Harvard University, Georgetown series of reactions by German diplomats and University, and the University of California, politicians who began to worry that t-he im Berkeley) that Eder links to the concerns over age of West Germany (and later, Germany) West Germany’s image in the United States. in the United States faced a new challenge. Finally, Eder demonstrates that in the pe - The television series Holocaust (1978), Presi - riod after 1990, German Holocaust memory dent Ronald Reagan’s 1985 visit to Bitburg, was transformed yet again with a new wave of Steven Spielberg’s filmS chindler’s List (1993), memorials in Germany that did not deny -Ger the construction of the U.S. Holocau-st Me many’s role, but rather engaged its past. To this morial Museum (ushmm, opened in 1993 ), end, Eder concludes that “in contrast -to, in and, finally, publication of Daniel Jonah deed despite, his government’s former politics Goldhagen’s controverH sia itl le r’s Willing Ex- of history, Kohl had in the end helped bring ecutioners (1996) all played roles in feeding about an utter transformation, one that made Germany’s ongoing “Holocaust angst.” the Holocaust the ‘core’ of Germany’s self- Jacob S. Eder’s excellent monograph Holo- concept as a nation” (p. 196). caust Angst seeks to unravel the intricate web Eder has produced a wonderful, detailed of initiatives by the West German government analysis of the transnational nature of memory in response to these fears. At the heart of these politics and how Holocaust memory became responses was an emphasis on cultivating a increasingly internationalized over the past new historical narrative about German history four decades. and a desire to claim that West Germany was a completely different nation than the Nazi r - e Jon Berndt Olsen gime, while also demonstrating respect for the University of Massachusetts Amherst victims of German aggression. Although many Amherst, Massachusetts of these fears predated Helmut Kohl’s tenure doi: 10.1093/jahist/jax551 as chancellor (1982–1998), Eder argues that it was Kohl in particular who placed a ne-w em Nuclear Threats, Nuclear Fear and the Cold phasis on the politics of history within his ad - War of the 1980s. Ed. by Eckart Conze, M- ar ministration and gave it an international di - tin Klimke, and Jeremy Varon. (New York: mension. While much has been written about Cambridge University Press, 2016. xvi, 370 Germany’s famous “historians debate,” less has pp. $120.00.) been written about how the politics of history influenced West Germany’s foreign policy - de Through the 1980s, intellectuals and activists cisions. warned that the nuclear policies of th- e super While Kohl plays a prominent role in Eder’s powers, especially the decision by the North analysis, what makes Holocaust Angst stand out Atlantic Treaty Organization to modernize is the vast network of actors involved in the coordinated effort to shape American memo - intermediate-range missiles in Europe, t- hreat ened to bring the world closer to Armageddon. ry culture—diplomats, politicians, nonprofit Despite increasingly dire warnings, however, groups, think tanks, and charitable founda - tions. Many of the initiatives launched in this the world did not end. Indeed, by late 1987, process focused on educational exchanges and President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jah/article-abstract/104/4/1092/4932728 by Ed 'DeepDyve' Gillespie user on 16 March 2018

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The Journal of American HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2018

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