The Sins Of The Fathers: Germany, Memory, Method

Hardcover | November 24, 2016

byJeffrey K. Olick

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National identity and political legitimacy always involve a delicate balance between remembering and forgetting. All nations have elements in their past that they would prefer to pass over—the catalog of failures, injustices, and horrors committed in the name of nations, if fully acknowledged, could create significant problems for a country trying to move on and take action in the present. Yet denial and forgetting carry costs as well.

Nowhere has this precarious balance been more potent, or important, than in the Federal Republic of Germany, where the devastation and atrocities of two world wars have weighed heavily in virtually every moment and aspect of political life. The Sins of the Fathers confronts that difficulty head-on, exploring the variety of ways that Germany’s leaders since 1949 have attempted to meet this challenge, with a particular focus on how those approaches have changed over time. Jeffrey K. Olick asserts that other nations are looking to Germany as an example of how a society can confront a dark past—casting Germany as our model of difficult collective memory.

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National identity and political legitimacy always involve a delicate balance between remembering and forgetting. All nations have elements in their past that they would prefer to pass over—the catalog of failures, injustices, and horrors committed in the name of nations, if fully acknowledged, could create significant problems for a co...

Jeffrey K. Olick is professor of sociology and history at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Politics of Regret: On Collective Memory and Historical Responsibility and In the House of the Hangman: The Agonies of German Defeat, 1943–49, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.

other books by Jeffrey K. Olick

States of Memory: Continuities, Conflicts, and Transformations in National Retrospection
States of Memory: Continuities, Conflicts, and Transfor...

Kobo ebook|Jun 30 2003

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:496 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.5 inPublished:November 24, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022638649X

ISBN - 13:9780226386492

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“For a generation, memory of German crimes during the Second World War has functioned as Europe’s ethical constitution, and nowhere is this status more evident than in Germany. In The Sins of the Fathers, sociologist Olick produces the most empirically extensive and methodologically sophisticated discussion yet written about this society’s tortured wrestling with the question of inherited, collective guilt. It is sure to become a classic.”