From Monuments to Traces: Artifacts of German Memory, 1870-1990

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University of California Press, 2000 - Architecture - 352 pages
Rudy Koshar constructs a powerful framework in which to examine the subject of German collective memory, which for more than a half century has been shaped by the experience of Nazism, World War II, and the Holocaust. Finding the assumptions of many writers and scholars shortsighted, Koshar surveys the evidence of postwar German memory in the context of previous traditions. From Monuments to Traces follows the evolution of German memory landscapes all the way from national unification in 1870-71 through the world wars and political division to reunification in 1990.

The memory landscapes of any society may incorporate monuments, historical buildings, memorials and cemeteries, battlefields, streets, or natural environments that foster shared memories of important events or personalities. They may also be designed to divert public attention from embarrassing or traumatic histories. Koshar argues that in Germany, memory landscapes have taken shape according to four separate paradigms--the national monument, the ruin, the reconstruction, and the trace--which he analyzes in relation to the changing political agendas that have guided them over time. Despite the massive ruptures of Germany's history, we see that significant continuities have served to counterbalance the traumas of the German past.

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Page 13 - Collective cultural identity refers not to a uniformity of elements over generations but to a sense of continuity on the part of successive generations of a given cultural unit of population, to shared memories of earlier events and periods in the history of that unit and to notions entertained by each generation about the collective destiny of that unit and its culture.
Page 10 - ... period of urbanization, cities contained only a small fraction of mankind. The city came as a definite emergent in the paleo-neolithic community: an emergent in the definite sense that Lloyd Morgan and William Morton Wheeler used that concept. In emergent evolution, the introduction of a new factor does not just add to the existing mass, but produces an over-all change, a new configuration, which alters its properties. Potentialities that could not be recognized in the pre-emergent stage, like...
Page 9 - As before, it has a doubly practical function, that of constituting actions themselves, in the form of deliberation and planning, and the more general function of drawing together any temporally extended sequence, whether of action, experience, or even a whole life, when such a sequence has gone astray or lost its coherence.
Page 10 - Framing devices are rarely unilaterally imposed from above, in this author's opinion, but emerge from negotiation and conflict. This book is about a triad, a three-cornered relationship among highly resonant parts of a memory landscape, individuals, and groups that struggle to invest that environment with meaning through the use of framing strategies, and the themes and symbols that are the raw material of the framing devices and meanings themselves.

About the author (2000)

Rudy Koshar, DAAD Professor of German and European Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, is the author of Germany's Transient Pasts (1998) and two other books.

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