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Memory and History

Essays in Contemporary History

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Lutz Niethammer

This book brings together eighteen English language essays on the fringes, overlap, and tensions of memory and history that the author has published over the last three decades. It is characteristic that the two longest essays in this volume, and the most recent one, are reflections on the author’s ambiguity vis-à-vis autobiographical Ego-histoire, on his role and experiences as a government advisor during the international negotiations on compensation for Nazi forced labor, and on the contexts of the essays of this book. The author was also instrumental in bringing Oral History to Germany and making it academically respectable. So the second largest part of this book displays some examples of his approaches to German ‘Erfahrungsgeschichte’ West and East, and to their roots in and beyond the Nazi period, being analytical and literary at the same time. The third major group of essays documents some of the author’s interventions into intellectual and conceptual history: with the examples of ‘Collective Identity’ and ‘Posthistoire’ he shows the merits of investigative ‘Geistesgeschichte’ contesting mainstream intellectual assumptions. With the method of Comparative Considerations he tries to specify the situation of German Labor after the ‘Third Reich’, the mythological potential of Soviet Special Camps in Germany after World War II, or the perspectives of the German ‘Sonderweg’ after 1990.

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EGO-HISTOIRE? Living Memory and Historical Practise. A Personal Tale (2001) ....................... 7 1.1 Mastered History? Irritations about the suggested format and authorship of ‘ego histoire’ ........................................................................................... 9 1.2 About the Involuntary in my Historical Practise. Personal Reflections.................................................................................. 13 Diversity and eclecticism / Beyond oeuvre / Hidden agenda? 1.3 Memory and History Conceptual intervention ............................................................................ 36 1.4 In Search of Textures lost From the historian’s laboratory for recollections...................................... 41 Construction and legendary / The composition of narratives / Images and contexts THE COMMUNICATIVE MEMORY............................................................... 55 2.1 Intervening into Memory (2004)............................................................... 57 2.2 Oral History as a Channel of Communication between Workers and Historians (1982)....................................................................................... 63 2.3 Traces of Memory Leading Back into the 1950s (1987) .......................... 77 2.4 Zeroing in on Change. In Search of Popular Experience in Industrial Milieus of the GDR (1988) ..................................................................... 110 2.5 Where Were You on 17 June? A Niche in Memory (1990).................... 169 VARIETIES OF IDENTITY AND MEMORY................................................ 191 3.1 The Infancy of Tarzan. Is Collective Identity indifferent? (2001) ......... 193 3.2 A European Identity? (2002)......................................................................... 3.3 Maurice Halbwachs: Memory and the Feeling of Identity (2000) ......... 226 6 Memory And History A CASE OF COMPENSATION ...................................................................... 243 4.1 From Nazi Forced Labor to „Remembrance, Responsibility, and Furture“ (2007)................................................................................. 245 4.2 How to Address the Injustices of the Nazi Era from an Historical Perspective (1999)................................................................................... 323 4.3 From Wrongs to Rights? (2001) ............................................................. 335 COMPARATIVE REFLEXIONS .................................................................... 351 5.1 Reconstruction and Disintegration: The German Labor Movement between War and Cold War (1979) ........................................................ 353 5.2 The Mythological Potential of the Soviet Special Camps (1945-1950) in Germany...

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