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World War II Re-explored

Some New Millenium Studies in the History of the Global Conflict

Edited By Jarosław Suchoples, Stephanie James and Barbara Törnquist-Plewa

This volume is a collection of thirty papers written by authors from around the world. The writers focus on topics related to their own research interests. As a result, readers obtain a worldwide perspective on World War II from academics working on nearly every continent, proving that World War II was, probably, the first ever truly global experience for humanity. Present are many and different perspectives on the war. Eighty years after the end of World War II, these academics share their knowledge and reflections about a gruesome, but still not very remote time. In the new millennium, their studies should remind readers that the ‘end of history’ has been an impossible illusion and warn that peace and stability in international relations are not a given.

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The Second World War in the New Millennium: National Memory Cultures and Universalist Narratives in Europe – Contrary or Complementary?

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Abstract: The chapter deals with memories of National Socialism, the Second World War, the Holocaust and Stalinist extermination policies in Europe after 1945. It demonstrates that a common European memory culture has not evolved, even after the end of the Cold War. On the contrary, Europeans still remember mass violence in diverse and even contradictory ways. All in all, memories have remained contested and fractured, both within and between nation-states. This finding complies with an approach that takes spatial, temporal and generational differences into account. Studies of memory cultures in Europe should also conceive remembering as an open-ended and multi-layered process. In general, the turn towards more cosmopolitan or even universalistic memories of mass atrocities in the twentieth century has rather reframed than replaced national memory cultures in Europe.

Keywords: memory culture, Second World War, Europe, Holocaust, occupation

Introduction

This chapter deals with memories of National Socialism, the Second World War, the Holocaust and Stalinist extermination policies in Europe after 1945. As will be argued, a common European memory culture has not evolved, even since the end of the Cold War. Although the trend to more universalistic narratives which has been infused by the norms of human rights is conspicuous, at least in Western and Central Europe, Europeans still remember mass violence in diverse and even contradictory ways. In east European countries, Soviet rule and terror (especially the GULag) have largely overlaid remembrances of Nazi occupation, collaboration and resistance. Altogether, memories of...

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