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Cultural Sociology

http://cus.sagepub.com/ Wounds That Never Heal: On Anselm Kiefer and the Moral Innocence of the West German Student Movements and the West German New Left
Abby Peterson Cultural Sociology 2012 6: 367 originally published online 2 May 2012 DOI: 10.1177/1749975512445427 The online version of this article can be found at: http://cus.sagepub.com/content/6/3/367

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CUS6310.1177/1749975512445427PetersonCultural Sociology

Article

Wounds That Never Heal: On Anselm Kiefer and the Moral Innocence of the West German Student Movements and the West German New Left
Abby Peterson
University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Cultural Sociology 6(3) 367385 The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permission: sagepub. co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1749975512445427 cus.sagepub.com

Abstract
The West German student movements, the student generation of Anselm Kiefer, were a part of the West German awakening as to their collective guilt for the atrocities committed in the Second World War the Germans-as-perpetrators debate. They entered this debate with a proclamation of innocence, which Anselm Kiefer did not share. In this article I use the empirical lens of biography and the artistic performances of moral self-incrimination in order to understand the collective moral dilemmas posited by the West German students proclamation of innocence, their position to maintain a moral high ground in their struggle. Kiefer provoked the German Left by recovering the horror of the Holocaust that the Germans in the post-war period (the 1968 students included) mostly wanted just to go away. Movement artist scholars not only challenge the wider society with their truth-claims, they challenge the movement itself, extending the cognitive boundaries for what can be acknowledged at a given moment in the movements history.

Keywords
Anselm Kiefer, Germans-as-perpetrators, Holocaust, moral innocence, West German student movements, social movements, morality, sociology of art, guilt, cultural trauma, collective memory

Introduction
Anselm Kiefer (born 8th March 1945 in Donaueschingen) is the most internationally celebrated post-war German painter and sculptor. His early career found its impetus within the alternative cultural spaces opened by the West German student movements of the 1960s, the student generation of Anselm Kiefer.1 The student movements of the
Corresponding author: Abby Peterson, Department of Sociology, University of Gothenburg, S-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden Email: abby.peterson@sociology.gu.se

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1960s and later the New Left were very much part of the West German awakening as to their collective guilt for the atrocities committed in the Second World War the Germansas-perpetrators debate. After the suppression of German guilt during the immediate postwar period, the 1960s saw a re-awakening of the question of German guilt in what became known as the Germans-as-perpetrators position, which was assumed by the second generation in their confrontation with their parents generation. The Germans as victims, the stance taken by their parents during the 1950s, was pushed into the background. Instead, the West German student movements actively engaged with the cultural trauma (Alexander et al., 2004; Eyerman, 2002)2 unleashed by the Second World War and were at pains to address the topic of German perpetration. They entered this debate as to the representation of guilt for these atrocities, summarized with the iconic intensity of Auschwitz, with a proclamation of innocence. Theirs was a sense of moral innocence, which Anselm Kiefer did not share. In this article I will use the empirical lens of biography and the artistic performances of moral self-incrimination in order to interrogate the collective moral dilemmas posited by the West German students proclamation of innocence. A wide body of social movement literature highlights the cultural spaces opened for movement intellectuals, those I call in this article movement scholars, along the lines of Dieter Henrichs (1985) notion of the artist scholar, that is, authors, musicians and artists. In short, according to these theorists, social movements provide the cultural context for critical scholars. Furthermore, these theorists draw attention to the role scholars play in expressing the collective identity of social movements as truth-bearers for the movement (e.g. Eyerman, 2002; Eyerman and Jamison, 1992, 1998; Frascina, 1999; Kaplan, 1992). For these theorists, the work and lives of movement scholars provide the key for understanding the collective identity of the movement. In this article I take a somewhat different analytical strategy and use the life and work of one movement scholar artist, who was neither ascribed the role of movement truth-bearer nor bore the collective truth-claims of the movement, in order to shed light upon the German student movements collective memory work, their re-working of the German cultural trauma. As analytical devices, individual biography and artistic performances, it is argued, can effectively reveal the cognitive borders of a wider social movements collective self-reflective processes (cf. Peterson, 1994). Anselm Kiefer in his work, and through his reflections upon his work (gleaned from interview materials), was making truth-claims regarding German guilt which were at odds with the prevailing truth-claims of the wider West German student movements. Anselm Kiefers art deals directly and uncompromisingly with memory, and de facto with guilt and responsibility. Kiefer could have responded to Adornos dictum, After Auschwitz, no poetry, with silence, with canvases devoid of images, but he did not choose this route. The direction he chose for his work (as did his great inspiration Paul Celan) pivots around the utter moral inadequacy of art in the face of memories of Auschwitz. According to Simon Schama (2005: 248), Kiefers fixation with the German past both set him sharply aside from the self-consciousness a-historical obliviousness of avant-garde modernism of the nineteen-fifties and sixties, and made him so suspicious a provocateur for so long in his own homeland of Germany.

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The West German Student Movements


The West German student movements3 were part of the international wave of student unrest which swept across the globe. Student protests rocked nations as diverse as the United States, Sweden, France, Poland, Argentina and the Philippines. First, what characterized the student movements in Europe and North America were their initial struggles with the issue of university reform, which ultimately led student movements beyond their early concentration upon courses and student participation in university governing bodies to include a leftist critique of their respective national governments in general. Second, whether appealing to pacifism, humanitarianism or international revolutionary solidarity, for student protesters throughout Europe and North America the Vietnam War was without question the most emotive issue of the 1960s. What distinguished the West German student movements from their international counterparts was the legacy of the Third Reich. The issues that underlined student protests in West Germany were the lessons of the Nazi past, the meaning of democracy in West Germany, and the overriding question of German guilt. According to Thomas (2003: 49), the Nazi past was perhaps the key issue informing attitudes to university reform in the 1960s by prompting a fundamental reassessment of the very nature of West German universities. The classical Humboltian model of higher education, which premiered research for its own sake, a contemplative approach, and a purely academic debate as the foundations of academic life, had proved itself vulnerable to the Nazi cooptation of German universities in the pre-war era. The students demanded another model of higher education which emphasized a critical political participation and which called for academic engagement with political and social issues. The introduction of a critical political tradition, the students argued, would make universities better equipped to ward off Nazi tendencies which they argued still permeated the universities during the post-war period and thus to defend democracy from the threat of totalitarianism again gripping the country. In regards to the anti-Vietnam protests in West Germany, Thomas (2003: 69) argues that while pacifism was prominent in the early protests, the far left gradually came to set the tone for the campaign. The Left used the war as the ultimate proof of the moral bankruptcy of capitalist powers, while the support given the Americans by the government of the Bundesrepublik was presented as yet more evidence that West Germany was still a fascist state (von Dirke, 1997: 35; Schmidtke, 1999/2000: 87; Schmitt-Beck, 1992; Allerbeck, 1973; Fuhrmann et al., 1989). In short, the Nazi theme ran through the two issues university reform and the Vietnam War which the West German student movements shared with their international counterparts. Throughout the 1960s proposals for new Notstandsgesetze (emergency laws) prompted protests and engaged the fears for democracy among West Germans from all walks of life, not only among students (Koopmans, 1993: 649). The proposed emergency laws, put forth by the conservative CDU, would allow the government to suspend civil liberties either locally or nationally in the event of a national disaster, invasion, or general strike. This proposal not surprisingly raised the spectre of the Nazi period: Hitler had gained power in 1933 by invoking the dictatorial powers provided for by emergency laws in times of crisis. The German Trade Union Federation led the opposition to the constitutional amendment required for their passing. Parliamentary opposition to the emergency laws was led by the SPD. From about 1965 student groups began to take a significant role in the opposition and student

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groups organized a congress in 1966 under the title Democracy Facing the Emergency. From this time forward opposition to the emergency laws became a central preoccupation for the student movements and focused the specific questions that involved the countrys Nazi past, that is, questions about the future of democracy in West Germany, combined with the related concerns that the laws would mean a return to fascist totalitarianism abetted by a rabid press opposition to dissent (e.g. the Springer Easter Campaign in 1968) and an authoritarian use of police violence against protest (e.g. the massive protests after the fatal shooting of Benno Ohnesorg in 1967; see below) (von Dirke, 1997: 34). In 1966 the formation of the Grand Coalition between the CDU/CSU, the SPD, and the FDP roused student protests. With the creation of this government, parliamentary opposition was incorporated in the apparatus of government and protest became the only way for people to make their voices heard. Furthermore, student protesters felt that the Grand Coalition paved the way for a passing of the emergency laws with no parliamentary opposition to keep check on their implementation. In addition, appointment of former highranking Nazis in the new government did not allay student suspicions that West Germany was on the brink of a new Nazi take-over, albeit in new clothes. Franz-Josef Strau, the newly appointed Finance Minister, together with the new Chancellor Kurt-Georg Kiesinger, personified the perceived threat of a Nazi revival.4 The Nazi legacy became increasingly a rallying point for student unrest in West Germany (Merritt, 1969; Schmidtke, 1999/2000). Prior to 1967, the student protest movements in West Germany were still rather marginal, involving only a few hundred students and largely confined to Berlin. However, one singular event caused the protest to spread to West Germany and launched the student protest movements as mass movements in the country. During a march to protest the state visit of the Shah of Iran, the police heavy-handedly repressed the protesters with excessively violent measures and a policeman shot and killed a 26-year-old student, Benno Ohnesorg. His death created uproar at universities across the country and marked the beginning of a larger and more widespread student protest (Schmidtke, 1999/2000: 84). However, this mass movement of student unrest was soon to see its demise in the years around 1970. The German student movements became split between a political wing, itself embroiled in factional struggles between interpretations of Marxism and the question of violent strategies, and an anti-authoritarian counterculture. The 1970s witnessed the descent into terrorism, one of the historical legacies of the 1960s, together with the emergence of the Womens Movement and the formation of the Brgerinitiativen (Brgerinitiativen is a term for the flora of citizen alternatives to questions regarding city planning, environmental problems, human rights and freedoms and included a wide range of social experiments in everyday living. In a sense the Brgerinitiativen encompassed the practices of the emerging new social movements in West Germany during the 1970s) (Thomas, 2003). Kiefer explains his relationship to the political wing in the following words: Whoever approaches history through books alone ends up making mistakes. During Maos Cultural Revolution, about which I remained highly sceptical, unlike my fellow students at University, who declared themselves Maoists (Celant, 2007: 405). He further accounts for his break with the West German student movements, more specifically its link with the RAF (Rode Armee Fraktion or the Red Army Fraction, which also was referred to as the Baader-Meinhof League, was the most active

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left-wing terrorist organisation in West Germany during the 1970s), in the following words:
The 70s in Germany represented the RAF conflict. I demonstrated when Holger Meins died [1974]. Whats more, I drew a clear line when it began with Hans Martin Schleyer. Some of my fellow students were happy when Schleyer died. This cold shutting-off of all feelings was so brutal that I had to distance myself. (Celant, 2007: 413)5

The West German Counterculture and the Role of Movement Scholars


The West German student movements were not only propelled by these political issues, the student protests were also accompanied by the construction of a vital counterculture. Vogt and Brockmann (1993) have argued that the West German student movements were essentially a cultural revolution which made decisive contributions toward opening up West German life, and which led to a deepened democratization of West German society. The authors quote historian Christian Meier regarding this achievement of the student movements:
After long years of denial, the long pent-up need for discussion and intellectual influence began to be satisfied in the 1960s. At that time there was a growing need for reorientation. The new democracy needed not just to be carried out formally, but also to develop new ways of thinking, living, and cooperating Significantly, a relatively large part of West German society gradually became conscious of the horrendous crimes which Germany had committed between 1933 and 1945. A healthy insecurity created a new climate of questioning and openness for intellectual debates. There was a new sense of public responsibility. In spite of and because of the student unrest, what followed was a higher level of liberality, democracy, and political culture. (Vogt and Brockmann, 1993: 8)

We can summarize by saying that with the West German student movements the German guilt question was solidly placed on the political and cultural agenda, not least through the emergence of alternative cultural industries periodicals, publishers, art galleries, theatres, cultural festivals, performance happenings, music scenes, bookstores, etc. which opened new spaces for critical reflection and discourses. And within these new spaces for critical discourse and the vibrant counterculture which emerged with the West German student movements, new opportunities materialized for a new generation of movement scholars writers, artists, musicians. Social movements in general are breeding grounds for new forms of artistic, musical, and literary experimentation (Eyerman and Jamison, 1998; Kaplan, 1992). With the emergence of alternative cultural spaces, movement scholars, whether they are writers, musicians or artists, find new audiences of readers, listeners and viewers at which to direct their cultural and political challenges. Art as a cognitive praxis of social movements contributes to the ideas that movements offer their challenges to the existing social and cultural order. First, movement scholars can in one sense be seen to embody the movement by expressing its truthclaims as truth-bearers within the context of the movement itself (Eyerman and Jamison, 1998: 22). So while there are many examples of movement scholars who

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were satisfied to bring their challenges as truth-bearers within their specific movement contexts (e.g. singer-songwriter Phil Ochs in the American peace movement or artist Monica Sj in a European feminist movement context), others were to leave this role given them by their movement context, for example, Bob Dylan, who preferred the more traditional role of performing artist. Anselm Kiefer, while he was entrenched within the counterculture of the West German student movements, was never ascribed the role of movement truth-bearer, nor did he appear to seek such a role. However, he was an artist scholar within this political-cultural context and as such he was actively engaged in the reflective processes of interrogating the memories of the specifically German cultural trauma, particularly the question of German guilt, which was so central for the cultural agenda of the German student movements or New Left. Second, movement scholars are often understood as both embodying the movement and leading the movement. While I agree that some movement scholars can be seen as embodying the movement (as long as they accept the role of truth-bearer), they more seldom lead the movement. It is not uncommon, I have argued (Peterson, 1994), that movement scholars are at odds with the wider movement, expressing their challenges or alternative truth-claims at the outermost fringes of its context. Movement scholars not only challenge the wider society with their truth-claims, they challenge the movement itself, extending the cognitive boundaries for what can be acknowledged at a given moment in the movements history (Peterson, 1994). In short, movement scholars are often uncomfortable figures for their social movement publics. Anselm Kiefer became, I argue, a thorn in the side of the German student movements with his obstinate denial of moral innocence for German responsibility for the atrocities committed during the Second World War.

The Anti-authoritarian Revolt against the Vter and the Vterstaat


According to von Dirke (1997: 36), distrust is indeed the key word describing the younger generations relationship to their elders who ran the Federal Republic. Students rigorously challenged their grandparents and parents amnesia regarding Germanys Nazi past and the horrors of the Holocaust. When in the 1960s the NPD, a successor to Hitlers NSDAP, emerged again, was not declared unconstitutional and was voted into several state legislatures, for example in Baden-Wrtemberg in 1968 with 10 per cent of the popular vote, this added to the younger generations anxieties that fascist mentalities had survived beyond 1945. The West German student movements focused their anti-authoritarian struggles against the Nazi legacy embodied in their fathers generation. The question, Daddy, what did you do in the war? is one that opens old wounds and divides families (Merritt, 1969: 528). The generational conflict, evident in student unrest throughout Europe and North America, acquired a specific immediacy in West Germany with the male-dominated student movements interrogation of the Vterstaat (Schmidtke, 1999/2000: 79; Feuer, 1969; Jaeger, 1977; Jaskot, 2005: 477). In short, the West German student movements can best be characterized as engaged in a conflict with yesterdays perpetrators their parents generation. Saltzman (1999: 49) argues that the antiauthoritarian revolt of 1968 a revolt quite pointedly addressed to the generation responsible for Nazism witnessed a dramatic confrontation

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between sons and fathers, bringing this charged oedipal dynamic to the social and cultural fore. Furthermore, Saltzman argues, this conventional while highly charged oedipal dynamic was only mirrored and amplified in the visual arts, with the so-called return to figuration as it took shape in German neo-expressionism the almost exclusively male aesthetic project within which Anselm Kiefer was an influential, although controversial, part. Susan Neiman (1992: 28) writes that the current renaissance in German painting is due to the post-war preoccupation with the Nazi era. A conflict between fathers and sons, which can only be resolved through art. The impetus for the work of Anselm Kiefer can be firmly placed within this engagement with Germanys Nazi past and the horrors of the Holocaust. Saltzman (1999: 50) contends that it is the work of Anselm Kiefer that most embodies this post-war exploration of the past:
It is Kiefer more than any other post-war German painter who grapples not only with the aesthetic question of what it means to paint but with the ontological question of what it means to paint as a German, and to live as a German, in post-war, post-Holocaust Germany.

Kiefer, reflecting upon the German cultural trauma and the irrevocable tear in the fabric of German collective memory, states:
Nobody lives in a vacuum. There exists a collective memory that goes much further than that of the individual. To know yourself you have to know your nation, your history. It was perfectly normal that at the outset of my artistic career I should have asked about what had been done in the past. And sometimes provocatively ironically in fact. I felt as if my memory was blocked. Even for the revolutionaries of May 1968, the past was not a major concern. Very few Germans actually studied it, especially in the media, which only began to look at history after 1974 or 1975, when the first articles and programmes about Nazism appeared. Before that, people were mainly building houses. I therefore felt a need to reawaken memories, not to change politics, but to change myself. (Celant, 2007: 294)

An overblown notion of the transformative and curative powers of Art does not find resonance in the work of Kiefer. Quite the contrary. Schama (2005: 249) claims that Kiefer, with his auto-destructive art, utilizing for example straw and dirt, is creatively at his strongest when he is wanting to proclaim the moral inadequacy of art in the face of shattering calamity. Taking on Paul Celans most desperately felt theses the possibility or impossibility of art, more specifically German art in the world after Auschwitz (Schama, 2005: 249) Kiefer claims that art cannot soothe and heal, art can only confront and remember the horrors. Responding to the question whether the Holocaust is still an absolute evil to him, Kiefer says:
Yes for me it is There have been other genocides. But for me the German one is the worst, its the greatest absurdity, and it has affected me directly. At night, when I was little, I often thought that the officers of the Gestapo were coming to my home to take me away. And then just the idea that masses of human beings were burned Something never seen before; combined, among other things, with the development of technology, which made everything possible the most shocking thing in Germany was the efficiency and matter-of-factness of it all. Unfortunately, however, I dont believe in an upward trend in history, towards paradise Auschwitz, unfortunately, does not preclude other Auschwitzes. (Celant, 2007: 407)

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Kiefer does not offer us hope for the future, he only offers remembering. His work is an attack on Hegelian and Marxian teleology itself: the inexorable unfolding of an historical will or Schicksal (destiny) (Schama, 2005: 255). Kiefer claims, we see train tracks somewhere and think of Auschwitz. That will remain so (Celant, 2007: 183). Schamas interpretation of that statement is that train tracks represent a wound or a gash on the body of Western culture that refuses to heal. Rather, it is a scar that has gone necrotic and cannot heal (Schama, 2005: 255).

Besetsungen (occupations)
During the period 19689, Anselm Kiefer in Heroic Symbols made a photographic record of himself parodying the Sieg Heil and dressed in gear that suggested a SS uniform, occupying places around Europe both monumental, such as the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and the Coliseum in Rome, and territorial, such as the photograph of himself standing on the seashore emulating Caspar David Friedrichs romantic icon, The Wanderer Over the Misty Sea. Here he was indeed playing or more correctly performing a guarded taboo. The Sieg Heil gesture in itself was illegal in his own country, West Germany. Questioned as to the value this photographic montage of forbidden performances had in 1968, Kiefer replied:
Learning history through my body as well as acting as a lightning rod: they attracted attention and stimulated debate. I had presented those works at my examination, so I had discussed them with my professors at the Karlsruhe Academy, and in a violent way They were all opposed It was particularly difficult for me all the teachers found my works unacceptable. (Celant, 2007: 405; emphasis in original)

Schama (2005: 254) describes this work, Kiefers occupations of Europe, as his vocational vacations (occupation/occupations). In the series he exposes the infantile quality of the gesture and ironizes it by stripping away the crowd identity from which its iconic sense of the sinister flowed Kiefer is a solitary and rather pathetic little figure in all of the photographs, dwarfed by his surroundings. There are no jubilant masses, marching soldiers, or any other emblems of power we are accustomed to seeing in old newsreels from this era. According to Schama, an occupation of one is, by definition, self-disarming. Kiefer does not identify with the gesture of Nazi occupation he ridicules it, satirizes it (Huyssen, 1995: 215; Santner, 1992: 23). During the same period, between 1968 and 1969, Kiefer created another series of work entitled For Genet. In this work Kiefer invokes the figure of Jean Genet, posing either in a simple white nightdress or in a dark, embroidered dress and, as in Heroic Symbols, performing the Nazi salute, but this time not in the landscapes of Europe but in a dimly lit bedroom. Here he is assuming a subject position that thoroughly destabilized the masculine subjectivity of the Nazi by introducing homosexuality, the repressed subtext of the fascist unconscious (Saltzman, 1999: 61). In 1975 pieces from both Heroic Symbols and For Genet were assembled in a book project, which was published in the Cologne art journal Interfunktionen, then edited, paradoxically, by the art historian Benjamin Buchloh, who was later to become one of Kiefers most fervent critics. The

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book project, entitled Besetsungen (Occupations), unleashed an unprecedented critique within the German New Left, and Interfunktionen was subjected to a boycott. Kiefer himself explains that his posturing impersonations were an evocation. A provocation. Of something that was seemingly no longer there (Celant, 2007: 472). Kiefer wanted to remind people that the currents of National Socialism were still there in the cultural and political topography of Europe and particularly in his own country, West Germany. Kiefer continues by saying:
It was an occupation with something that had been swept under the rug. It would have been anachronistic if National Socialism had come to an end. But it wasnt over it continued to thrive. Today it is still latent Forgetting is quick to come. Such a thing must not be forgotten. National Socialism simply cannot be forgotten. Something so profoundly ignoble and evil to have taken such measures cannot be forgotten. When Im alone in my office at night and the doorbell suddenly rings, I always think of the Gestapo. It is monstrous to imagine that at any time in the night someone can come into your room and take you away. Of course, I didnt experience it firsthand; I have only experienced it so-to-speak. After that it cant be forgotten. (Celant, 2007: 472)

Kiefer, initially with this work and throughout the 1970s with paintings that occupied the equally guarded and forbidden zones of icons and spaces of German national history and myth, continued to challenge the West German Left. His work, at best, aroused his generations dreams and nightmares, and imbued associations of war and Angst with the feeling of a real though bygone experience (Trommler, 1989: 730). However, even among his admirers some doubts were cast as to whether irony and satire were the appropriate mode for dealing with fascist terror (Huyssen, 1995: 215). While the West German student movements were rigorously engaged with their agenda of Vergangenheitsbewligung, the coping and coming-to-terms with the past, Kiefer was coming to terms with the past in a different way. He was violating the taboos laid down by a proper coping with the past and, in doing so, he was challenging in the 1970s the West German student movements and later the extra-parliamentary oppositions and the New Lefts programme of Vergangenheitsbewligung. According to Huyssen (1995: 214), Kiefers work does not challenge the repressions of those who refuse to face the terror of the past; rather it challenges the repressions of those who do remember and who do accept the burden of fascism on German national identity.

The Lefts Rejection of Kiefer


Throughout the 1970s and later in the 1980s, Kiefers work invoked an impassioned condemnation by conservative art critics as well as those from the West German New Left.6 The aesthetic valuation of Kiefers art, his reflections upon West Germanys cultural trauma, found little support (Harrington, 2004). Perhaps the unrelenting condemnation from the conservative art establishment was to be expected, but as the reception of Kiefers early work witnesses, he was pushing the cognitive borders of the countercultures memory work beyond what was deemed tolerable. West German New Left cultural critics were eager border guards attempting to place in

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disrepute the truth-claims posited in the early work of Kiefer. So while one would have thought that the West German Left with its roots in the 1960s West German student movements whose defiant confrontation with the past and continued engagement with the project of Vergangenheitsbewltigung would have embraced, at least in principle, the historical memory work of Kiefer, this was emphatically not the case. Saltzman (1999: 103) contends that Kiefer was almost universally reviled in Germany for nearly two decades. What were the reasons for this rejection? I will suggest the following reasons. First, as art critics have pointed out, the turn towards Marxist orthodoxy within the West German student movements from the mid 1960s to their demise around 1970 came to define the aesthetic ideology of the West German left. High art was condemned per se, and expressionism, the stylistic camp in which Kiefers work was inaccurately situated, was in particular damned. Expressionism in Germany was deeply tinged by its historical uses and abuses under Nazism. Instead the New Left, together with the art establishment in West Germany in the late 1960s and the 1970s, joined forces in their support for a critical practice of realism free from association with either Nazi or East German propaganda and that possessed a certain critical capacity (Saltzman, 1999: 103). What had begun as an embracement of Pop Art turned to an embracement of critical realism. Artists such as Kiefer were distained in these circles and written off as expressionistic, elite, and high-art in short, Kiefer was neither a truth-bearer for the West German student movements nor later for the West German New Left. West German art critics dismissed Kiefers work as an aesthetic regression, and more damnably as a flirtation with political authoritarianism. The influential West German art critic Benjamin Buchloh reduced his work to painting polit-kitsch (Saltzman, 2005: 35). Second, Kiefer was challenging the West German student movements and the New Left by invoking in his work the strongly guarded taboos surrounding the iconic spaces and symbols of Nazi Germany. Keifers aesthetic project can be situated within what was called during the 1970s Neue Subjektivitt, which was in turn locked in a battle of claim and counter-claim regarding the political status of the New Subjectivity, which came to its head in 1969 in a so-called proletarische Wende that separated culture and politics (Plowman, 1998). The West German student movements political wing saw New Subjectivitys preoccupation with the self as a retreat from political radicalism; the anti-authoritarian cultural wing, which became resigned as a subculture experimenting in lifestyles, saw culture and an interrogation of self as inherently political. Given this split it is not surprising that the former rejected Kiefers work. Kiefer himself explains: I wanted to deal with large issues in my art, but that didnt keep me from studying my own history as a German (Celant, 2007: 397). Kiefer has explained how he first became aware of his history in a bodily sense:
My first close contact with history came through listening to a record, when I was still at school, at the age of 17. The record had been brought out by the Americans for the purposes of re-education. It contained the original speeches of Hitler, Gring, Goebbels. I was deeply shocked by them, in particular those of Hitler everything affected me: the brutality, the

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cunning way he exploited history That was my direct contact with history. In Germany we say that language geht under die haut, literally gets under your skin. It touches you personally. Records like that touch you directly, the skin before the ideas. (Celant, 2007: 4045)

Kiefer has further talked about his interrogation of self and his historical inquiry as to what it means to be a German as an existential necessity. He was asked if his treatment of Germanys past was a biographical necessity and he responded:
It was an existential necessity. I wanted to know who I am. What made me who I am. At the time I didnt know it. What made me who I am was in fact this still active history, although it wasnt visibly present. I sensed something hidden. With my senses, not with my head Then as a student I did this action and once again occupied the European countries as a person who enters with the Hitler salute. (Celant, 2007: 472)

As for the political content of his work, Kiefer explains: my work is political in many senses, but I never got directly involved in politics, because I had never agreed with any of the political systems Ive encountered (Celant, 2007: 446). Given his interrogation of self, which he found an existential necessity, and his denouncement of authoritarian politics, it is not surprising that the political wing of the student movements rejected his work. What is surprising is that the antiauthoritarian cultural wing was equally dismissive. Kiefer, with his revisiting of abhorrent nationalist iconography, was opening old wounds. In his own words: I was seen as someone who dirtied his own nest (Celant, 2007: 408). Furthermore, according to Schama (2005: 256), for the avant-gardes in West Germany at that time he was denounced for his rescue of discredited figurative techniques. Painting, especially landscape painting, it has been agreed, was dead along with the old Germany. To put things rather bluntly, Kiefer was going places in his work that West German culture in the 1970s, whether it was the conservative right preferring dense obliviousness to the Nazi past or the left who nevertheless were embroiled in remembering the past, did not want to go. And as Huyssen (1995: 213) has pointed out, any artist attempting to deal with the major icons of Nazism will understandably cause public concern. And this is fortunately so, according to Huyssen, in a country which has all too often been tempted to re-legitimize the Third Reich or, less condemningly, has been tempted to downplay its responsibility for its horrors. In response to a question regarding Occupations, whether he felt like he was doing something dangerous, Kiefer responded: Of course it was dangerous Whoever brings something suppressed to the surface cant know precisely how it will turn out (Celant, 2007: 472). Lisa Saltzman (1999: 111) writes:
That the German art critics responded to Kiefers work with a level of vigilance verging on the hysterical, denouncing its unrepentant Germanness at every turn, suggests the degree to which post-war German identity was formed, not simply in and against the legacy of fascism but in and against the presumptive gaze of the international community.

Saltzman is suggesting that it was shame that Germans felt, faced not so much with the work of Kiefer but with his subsequent fame; that he was exporting a reminder of their

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German past that they did not want aired on an international scene. Somewhat along the same lines Andreas Huyssen (1995) argues that the left-liberal German cultural milieu was above all in direct opposition to how Kiefer went about dealing with the past. His work destabilized their consensus of Vergangenheitsbewltigung:
To them [left-liberal cultural critics], Kiefers deliberate strategy of opening the Pandoras box of fascist and nationalist imagery amounted to a kind of original sin of the post-Auschwitz era It was not Germanys unconscious repression of guilt that his work tried to blow open. It was rather the deliberate and conscious repression of fascist image worlds on which the left-liberal consensus of Vergangenheitsbewltigung was built. (Huyssen, 1995: 236)

While I agree with Huyssen that Kiefers imagery caused the West German counterculture to reel and profoundly rocked the boat regarding its programme of Vergangenheitsbewltigung a proper coping with the past I strongly disagree that this was the sole reason behind the Lefts rejection of Kiefer. More profoundly, Kiefer took issue with how West Germans, and even West Germans on the left, dealt with the guilt issue. This brings me to my final point.

The German Guilt Question


While the student movements and their antecedents within the 1970s cultural landscape were uncomfortable with Anselm Kiefer and his historical artistic inquiries that were breaking entrenched taboos, I will argue that what most placed him at odds with his peers in the West German student movements and later the New Left was how he dealt with the guilt question Germans-as-perpetrators. In the generational struggle that underlined the West German student movements, youth were distancing themselves from the crimes of the Third Reich, placing sole responsibility upon their parents and grandparents generations. This proclamation of innocence availed the West German student movements with their moral high ground in their anti-authoritarian struggle. Anselm Kiefer, most provocatively for the student movements, did not retreat as a German from responsibility for the horrors of the Holocaust and the crimes of the Third Reich. Kiefer describes the West German student movements engagement with the memory of the Nazi past and his own part in this collective memory work: I didnt do anything but what was being done at that time: remembering. In Germany the student movements were movements of memory. Not just memory, obviously: at the same time it was the period when we were asking questions of our fathers (Celant, 2007: 408). However, Kiefers mode of remembering was radically different from that of the West German student movements. Kiefer did not stop with asking questions of his fathers generation he implicated himself as a German in the calamity of the Third Reich and the cultural trauma it resulted in. In response to a query as to what extent his work tackles the problem of German guilt generally, and his own guilt as a German specifically, Kiefer stated: Its there. Its a fact, the guilt. I cannot free myself from my predecessors (Celant, 2007: 401). In a quote from an interview cited by Huyssen (1995: 234), Keifer explains more fully what he meant by his predecessors: Our memory is not just formed when we are being born; it comes from far away, has stored basic experiences and attitudes that have

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gathered in thousands of years. Kiefer regarded himself as part of the weave of culture that had brought about the apocalypse of the Holocaust. He was irrevocably a part of that cultural heritage which had borne up the Third Reich and as such he could not disengage himself from it. Instead, he sought to engage with it, revisiting its cultural icons, even those most shrouded with taboos. As early as 1945, directly after the war, German philosopher Karl Jaspers in a series of lectures raised the uncomfortable question that was haunting many Germans: were they guilty for these atrocities? These lectures were collected in a book, The Question of German Guilt, and published in 1947. His purpose was to heal Germans and Germany and he defied them to confront their feelings of guilt and to turn inward and uncompromisingly assess their degree of responsibility.7 Anselm Kiefer, working though the German guilt question over 20 years later, radically extended Jaspers scheme of guilt distinctions and, I argue, confronted his contemporaries with a fifth form of guilt, extending beyond Jaspers controversial fourth form of guilt metaphysical guilt, which is the responsibility felt by the survivors. Kiefer added to this list of forms of guilt and their accompanied degrees of responsibility with what can be designated as cultural collective guilt, which makes every subsequent member of a society responsible in an existential sense for the wrongdoings of his/her predecessors. This is the complicity of sharing a common historical legacy and cultural heritage, which for Kiefer was the sorrow of being a German. Weigel (2002) quotes Heinrich Heine, who has poignantly described the relationship between generations as the historical dialectics of guilt or debts (Schuld und Schulden):
Every generation is a continuation of the previous one and is responsible for its deeds. Scripture says: the forefathers ate unripe grapes, and their grandchildren got painfully numb teeth from it. There is solidarity amongst generations that follow each other. (Weigel, 2002: 267)

Kiefers insistence upon what I call a cultural collective guilt for the horrors of the Third Reich shared by all Germans profoundly tackled head-on the West German student movements refusal to shoulder the burden of guilt of the Germans-as-perpetrators and their denial of historical responsibility. The West German student movements utopianism their belief that education and the critical unveiling of the past, the programme of Vergangenheitsbewligung, would allow people to finally found a true society, its utopian truth-claims had, according to Biro (2003), run aground over the course of the 1970s. The student movements Neue Subjektivitt that advocated that coming to terms with the past as simply a question of confronting ones personal history was profoundly questioned by Kiefer. As Kiefer has emphasized, it was not his own personal history with which he had to come to terms. Rather, it was his countrys history he had to confront in order to come to terms with the overriding German guilt question. He challenged his contemporaries to grapple with the fundamental predicament inherent in Holocaust memory it is a wound that can never heal. Kuspit (2002) contends that Kiefer is not mourning for the Jews, but using the Jews to mourn for Germany. That mourning must go on forever, for the Jews are a dead bone stuck in the throat of a melancholy Germany. Hence, Kiefers sorrow for Germany and its rich cultural heritage forever tainted by the horrors of the Holocaust.

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Kiefer stated the case for his part in the collective guilt of Germans in the following words: At least theoretically, I count among the perpetrators, because today I simply cannot know what I would have done then. Anything is possible with people. Thus my dismay (Celant, 2007: 183). In another interview Kiefer has further explained:
I was often asked, Are you fascist or anti-fascist? To which I answered that I could not call myself anti-fascist. Firstly, out of respect for those who were and who gave their lives for it. Secondly, because it is too cheap for me. I already know where it led. But I cant presume that were I living during the Third Reich I would have really known where it was leading. (Celant, 2007: 472)

As Huyssen (1995: 210) contends, Kiefers work is emphatically about memory, not about forgetting, and if flight is one of its organizing pictorial metaphors, it is not, I would argue, a flight from responsibility as a German, steeped in a German cultural heritage, for the horrors brought on by the Third Reich a form of cultural collective guilt. This was in stark contrast with the West German student movements attempt to step outside of German history (Hell, 2003: 12). The question of German guilt haunted the West German student movements confrontation with their parents generation. The question of guilt was placed by the second generation of sons firmly on the shoulders of the perpetrator-fathers (Tter-Vter). This had the precarious effect that the children described themselves as victims and thus assumed the role of historical victims during the 1960s and 1970s. This role positioning as innocent victims precluded their interrogation of their historical heritage and subsequently their willingness to come to terms with their descent from a collective of perpetrators. They were caught in a tension between their fear of guilt and their desire to recognize their past. They resolved this tension by positioning themselves genealogically as an innocent second generation to the guilty parent generation (Weigel, 2002: 268; Hell, 2003: 16). They assumed a childlike innocence disturbingly like that assumed by what Sigrid Weigel (2002) calls the concealed first generation. This generation, the Hitler Youth generation, what she calls an invisible first generation located between the so-called first generation of the perpetrator-fathers and the so-called second generation of 1968, claimed an epistemological privilege a kind of knowledge without guilt. German author and critic Peter Rhmkorf, a member of what became known as Gruppe 47, called the Hitler Youth generation a generation without a blemish but not without experience old enough to have lived through the period consciously, but young enough not to be guilty (Hell, 2003: 16).8 It was this group, according to Hell (2003) and Weigel (2002), which embodied the moral and political conscience of post-war West Germany.9 Weigel (2002: 273) writes:
Before 1945, during the Third Reich, only children, but at the end of the war, men the earlier Hitler Youth Generation is not only excluded from discussion of guilt but represents the political and cultural elite in the Federal Republic of Germany whose roots in the Nazi era are negated due to their age at the time. This generation came to see itself still as the innocent child.

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This generation of intellectuals, personified in Gruppe 47, about half a generation older than those involved in the student movements, established themselves as spokesmen for the youth. And the desire for a childlike innocence found resonance within the second generation of sons, the 1960s student protesters. The Hitler Youth Generation imagined itself as a generation born from an immaculate birth made possible by catastrophe: A new, youthful and fresh, virginal Athenian spirit, as Athena once sprang from Jupiters head, issued from destruction pushed to the extreme.10 In the programmatic writings, which established Gruppe 47 as a cultural and moral force in post-war West Germany, the deeds of the heroic young soldiers were sharply demarcated from the crimes of the Holocaust. The warriors of Stalingrad, El Alamein, and Cassino, whose enemies even accorded them every honour, are innocent of the crimes of Dachau and Buchenwald.11 These were the cultural currents which underpinned the emergence of the German student movements. The promise of innocence was found attractive by a new student generation eager to forge a rebirth and new beginnings for West Germany.

Conclusion
Social movement theorists have studied movement intellectualswhat I have designated as artist scholarsas embodying the movement: movement intellectuals provide the key for understanding the collective identity construction of the movement (Eyerman, 2002; Eyerman and Jamison, 1998; Frascina, 1999; Kaplan, 1992). For these theorists the lives and work of movement intellectuals/artist scholars express the harmony of the movement. My argument is that social movements are seldom harmonious, but rather fraught with discord. By examining the life and work of a movement artist scholar who was at odds with the movement it is possible to lay bare the contradictions and dilemmas faced by any social movement at a given time in the movements history. Kiefer, as artist scholar deeply entrenched within the counterculture, provoked the West German left by recovering the thingsthe megalomania of Nazism and the horror of the Holocaustthat the Germans in the post-war period (the West German student movements included) most wanted just to go away. His art brought to light their own sense of collective guilt, or more adequately, their lack of collective guilt, and thereby, of their responsibility for the calamities brought down on the heads of millions of victims of Germans-as-perpetrators. His fixation with memory and the question of cultural collective guilt placed Kiefer at odds with the West German student movements which attributed guilt solely to the older generation (gener(aliz)ation of guilt). Subsequently they, the children, positioned themselves on the safe side of the generation gap. National guilt or a sense of collective moral responsibility did not exist for the students of 1968. The student movements placed guilt for the Holocaust upon the collective shoulders of their parents. They remained the untouched children innocent and un-responsible for the crimes of their parents.

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Furthermore, and most importantly, their strategy of innocence awarded them a moral high ground in the struggle to rebuild and invigorate a new democratic West Germany. Truth-claims by movement scholars are not seldom out of step with the truth-claims of the movement. Kiefers artistic performances of moral self-incrimination came at a time when West German society was in dire need of the democratic impetus which the West German New Left struggled to incorporate. Their movement truth-claims were awarded credence as they were decreed from the self-proclaimed Olympian heights of moral innocence for the horrors of the Holocaust. Their self-proclaimed moral innocence was the compelling leverage the moral authority they wielded in the power struggle over a new democratic West Germany. Hence Anselm Kiefer was remembering and reworking the German cultural trauma in ways that were, at that time, counterproductive for the collective identity of the New Left and the role the movement envisioned for itself. Acknowledgements
I wish to thank Robert Fine and Micael Bjrk for their helpful comments on an earlier draft and the Cultural Sociology editors and anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticism and patience.

Notes
In 1966 Kiefer left law and Romance language studies at the University of Freiburg to study at art academies in Freiburg and Karlsruhe, and in 1970 he studied under the tutelage of Joseph Beuys at the Dsseldorf Kunstakademie. He has been intermittently described as working within Neo-expressionism, which has been linked with a style called New Symbolism. To view a selection of Kiefers work see www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/kiefer/. 2. Alexander (Alexander et al., 2004: 3) speaks of a cultural trauma when members of a collective feel they have been subjected to a horrendous event that leaves indelible marks upon their group consciousness, marking their memories for ever, and changing their future identity in fundamental and irrevocable ways. 3. While most has been written about the West German student movement in Berlin, which did indeed take the initiative in student protest and which influenced student protest throughout West Germany, student protests centred in the various universities across the country retained their own distinctive profiles regarding organizational commitments, choice of strategies, and choice of issues that were emphasized in their struggles. Hence, the emphasis in this paper upon the plurality of student protest and the use of student movements as a more apt description of West German student protest. 4. Kiesinger, a former Nazi party member, had been the head of the international radio propaganda section acting under Goebbels from the Foreign Ministry. 5. Anselm Kiefer has always been reluctant to give interviews. However, in the catalogue for the 2007 retrospective of his work at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, all of his existing interviews have been collected. All of the citations in this text have been taken from this catalogue: Anselm Kiefer (2007) Germano Celant (ed.), Guggenheim Bilbao: Skira. While the interview materials are unquestionably re-constructions of his self-understanding as an artist, just as all interviews are narratives of self, they are employed to counterpose his memory work with that of the West German counterculture. Holger Meins was arrested together with Andreas Baader and Jan Carl Raspe in 1972 and died 1974 hunger-striking in protest to prison conditions. His death launched protest marches across Europe. Hanns-Martin Schleyer, then President of the West German Employers Association, was kidnapped by the RAF in 1977 and later murdered. A former Nazi party member and SS officer, Schleyer embodied much of what the German New Left was struggling against. 1.

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6. The critique against Kiefer was widespread well into the 1980s, and it was only after his phenomenally rapid rise to fame in the international art world that some of his former detractors began to temper their critique. What is perhaps most disturbing about this later critique is that West German art critics were accusing Americans [i.e. Jewish art collectors] for playing a role in cultivating his success. Even his popularity in Israel (Kiefer was the first West German artist invited to display his work in Israel) was regarded as disturbingly significant for his international success. His most rabid conservative critics, who provide evidence of the still manifest traces of anti-Semitism left in the country, regarded Kiefer as more or less part of a Jewish conspiracy to set the tune for post-war German culture (cf. Saltzman, 1999; Huyssen, 1995). 7. Jaspers (2001: 25ff) outlined a fourfold schema: Criminal guilt belongs only to those who violated the law, which importantly takes in natural law and international law and not the law in force during the Third Reich, and who have been convicted by a court. Political guilt includes the entire citizenry in a modern state, and political guilt must be borne for the deeds of its government. So whether one supported or opposed the Third Reich, the entire German citizenry was forced to bear the consequences that the victorious powers have imposed upon them for the crimes of its government. Moral guilt embraces the personal responsibility one bears for ones own deeds even for following orders. It demands an utterly honest assessment of ones own conscience, which in turn requires that ones responsibility be faced. And lastly, and perhaps most interesting for our further discussion, Jaspers introduced a highly controversial category: Metaphysical guilt is the responsibility that survivors often feel. Based upon a deep sense of human solidarity, an individual German may feel a kind of co-responsibility for having done nothing to prevent the deeds done, even if acting would have been futile and would have probably cost him/her their lives. 8. Gruppe 47 included, among lesser known authors, Gnter Grass, Hans Magnus Enzenberger, Martin Walser, Walter Jens, and Peter Weiss. 9. What is perhaps most disturbing about this group of cultural elites was their denunciation of the testimonies of Jewish survivors, most notably their persistent critique of the poetry of Paul Celan during the 1950s and 1960s. Weigel (2002: 275) finds this critique understandable in that any testimony from survivors must be seen as dubious to this generation because it reminds them of a tradition in which the genealogy, however disturbed or interrupted, is presented as a memory that crosses and links generations. 10. Alfred Anderschs programmatic article published in the August 1946 issue of the journal Der Ruf. Unabhngige Bltter fr die junge Generation; Weigel, 2002: 274. 11. Der Ruf. Unabhngige Bltter fr die junge Generation; Weigel, 2002: 275.

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