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Towards a European memory? German and Dutch remembrance politics 1945 – 1965

Tobias Temming
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Tobias Temming
Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Open Panel

Abstract

National remembrance politics constitute a key factor to the formation not only of national remembrance cultures, but also to apparent cultural elements of common European commemoration. This insight has stimulated a rising number of debates in recent years if these elements indicate the emergence of a common European remembrance culture. However, comparative studies which focus on the nature and on communication processes that shape such developments almost exclusively focus on the European remembrance of the Holocaust. The underlying thesis of my research is that that “national” remembrance politics concerning the commemoration of anti-fascist resistance were as early as in the 50s and 60s, already apt and even partly intended, not only to contribute to an national self-image and social coherence, but also towards a European integration and transnational forms of remembrance. Thus they acted as relevant formative agents for the creation of a European public sphere. As such, the remembrance of resistance as national ‘lieu de memoire’ is of crucial importance to the collective memory of many European countries until today. To shed light on the correlations between national politics of remembrance and the European public sphere, this research project examines the western German and Dutch remembrance politics since 1945 in a comparative perspective. Besides salient differences, both countries share similar experiences. Both are traumatized by defeat, by occupation and above all, by collaboration. The contexts of this analysis are the public negotiating processes leading to a “collective memory” of resistance in both countries. Negotiating processes refer in this context to the communicative exchange to the discursive shaping of national identities, as well as to cultural and political transfers in between both countries.