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On Commemoration

Global Reflections upon Remembering War

Edited By Catherine Gilbert, Kate McLoughlin and Niall Munro

How, in the twenty-first century, can we do commemoration better? In particular, how can commemoration contribute to post-war reconciliation and reconstruction? In this book, a global roster of distinguished writers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, military veterans and scholars debate these questions and ponder the future of commemoration. They include the world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tony Horwitz, the award-winning novelists Aminatta Forna and Rachel Seiffert, and the human rights lawyer and Gifford Baillie Prize-winner Philippe Sands. Polemics and reflections together with poetry and creative prose movingly illuminate a subject that speaks to our common humanity.

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Reconciliation and a Responsibility to the Past (Cornelia Kulawik with Kate McLoughlin)

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cornelia kulawik with kate mcloughlin

Pfarrerin Dr Cornelia Kulawik, Pastor of Evangelische Kirchengemeinde in Berlin-Dahlem and formerly Pastor of Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche, talks with Kate McLoughlin about Germany’s coming to terms with the Second World War, the importance of education in commemoration, and the church as a site for reconciliation.

kate mcloughlin: I’d like to start with a German word, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which means ‘coming to terms with the past’. Germany has thought very deeply about commemoration since the Second World War. What would you say have been the main lines of thought?

cornelia kulawik: I think there has been a development over the decades in how we commemorate the Second World War and in particular how children encounter commemoration. For example, in the 1950s or 1960s, thinking about the war meant a deep reflection upon the guilt and also upon the structures in the family which made it possible to be involved with the Schutzstaffel (SS) perpetrators. But by the 1970s, when I was a child, and in the 1980s, it was much more common to speak about the past. In school, the Nazi period took up a lot of space in history lessons, perhaps too big a space, because today some people ask what the effect of this might have been on understanding other periods in German history. But I personally think it is still very important, particularly now, to think about how such events were possible and resulted in such a disaster...

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