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A Dubious Heritage

Questioning Identity in German Autobiographical Novels of the Postwar Generation

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Gretchen Wiesehan

In the 1970s, a number of German and Austrian writers began producing autobiographical fiction about their relationships with parents whose lives were inalterably affected by the Third Reich. Their novels typically attempt to work through guilt arising from their own parents' implication in Nazi crimes. Focusing on works by Handke, Härtling, Schwaiger, Wohmann, and Wolf, this study examines the questions they raise about the individual's relation to family and the state, and about the representation of identity itself.