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Contributions to Theory and Comparative History of Historiography

German and Brazilian Perspectives


Edited By Luiz Estevam de Oliveira Fernandes, Luísa Rauter Pereira and Sérgio da Mata

This book bears witness to the tightening of bonds that has been taking place among the Brazilian and the German historiographical communities in the last years. It presents a wide array of historiographical issues by various scholars: the role played by history writing in modern processes of nation-building, Alexander von Humboldt’s indirect Brazilian experience, the humanistic and methodical legacies of 19 th century German historical thinking, current perspectives in the history of concepts, and the potentials and limits of history as a means for political education.
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History as an Instrument Use and Misuse of German History – An Israeli Perspective


← 194 | 195 → Moshe Zimmermann1

History as an Instrument: Use and Misuse of German History – An Israeli Perspective

Let me start with a personal note. In the year 2005 I, an Israeli historian, became a member of a German inquiry committee of historians to inquire into the role of the German Foreign Ministry (Auswärtiges Amt) in the Third Reich and the role played by previous members of the Nazi Party in the Foreign Ministry of the German Federal Republic (Bundesrepublik Deutschland) as of 1951, when the Ministry was re-activated.2 How did a historian from Israel, from an Asian state founded three years after the Third Reich’s demise, become a member of a committee whose historical object was purely German, or European? The answer, in short, is twofold: First of all, we have learnt the lesson: All national histories have a transnational dimension and happen within a transnational framework, and the history of National-socialism is a most conspicuous case of a phenomenon that transcends national limits. And second: Since German and Jewish histories are so inseparably interwoven, Israeli historians, who do research on German history, especially when it comes to the history of the Holocaust, are automatically considered as “insiders”3. Moreover there is an affinity between the role played by historians in the public debate in Germany and in Israel. In both countries and in both cultural traditions, historians take part not only in professional discussion in professional periodicals about specific historical questions, but also in...

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