Stated Memory – East Germany and The Holocaust

pg 7 – In general it is possible to argue that, despite denial and ever-present resistance , the West Germans indeed developed an important dialogue on the subject.

pg 9 (not sure if a valid point) – East German historians argued that German capitalists brought Hitler to power in order to prevent a communist victory. The communists were therefore commemorated not only as the first, but also as the most important victims of Nazism. Such constructs left no room for the centrality of racism and especially anti-semitism in Nazi ideology.

pg 10 – Chrisop Hein criticizes such attitudes in Passage,  his 1987 play about Walter Benjamin, in which Communists dismiss rumours that Jews are being gassed and indeed wish to suppress such rumours. In general, Marxists have considered anti-semitism a peripheral phenomenon, one caused by the manipulation …[as to] provide a scapegoat for anti-capitalist sentiment.

pg 14 – in late 1978 the East Germans marked the anniversary of 1938 Nazi November progrom with commemorations and publications (Unlike West Germany, however, East Germany did not broadcast the American television series Holocaust )

pg 15 – East german commemorations were designed to emphasize the state as the good Germany at the time when the West Germans were again debating whether to extend the statute of limitation for Nazi crimes.

pg 15 – In the 1980s east Germans also refused to air Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah. a film that among other things demonstrated the continuation of anti-semitism in East Germany’s socialist neighbor Poland.

pg 15 – 16 . After the Wall fell in November 1989, but before unification in October 1990, the new East German government Under Hans Modrow attempted resuscitate a dying state by playing Jewish fear of a united Germany. After forty years of hostility, the GDR  now sought to establish diplomatic relations with Israel For the first time, the East Germans acknowledged that as a successor state to the Third Reich they carried responsibility for Nazi victims. With a gesture that was at best symbolic and at worst cynical, the bankrupt state offered to negotiate reparations. This was final effort to instrumentalize the Holocaust for political purposes.

[from divided, Jeffrety Herf ] : “East Germany was the only communist government in the Soviet bloc which up to 1989 did not have diplomatic relations with the State of Israel.”


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