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Memory Regimes in Contemporary Germany

Paper prepared for ECPR Joint Sessions, Edinburgh 2003 Workshop 16: Politics and Memory

Eric Langenbacher

Department of Government/Center for German and European Studies Georgetown University Washington, DC, USA


Memory Regimes in Contemporary Germany I. Introduction Collective memory has become one of the foremost intellectual concerns in recent years, illuminating numerous analyses of diverse countries. No country, however, has been affected (or studied) as much as postwar Germany, the quintessential example of country with a “past that won’t go away.” Indeed, almost all authors writing about that case emphasize the importance of memory for a proper comprehension of its cultural and political life (e.g., Brady 1999, Merkl 1999). Despite this substantial attention, the current corpus of literature has produced neither a full understanding of the dynamics and impact of memory in general, nor a proper portrait of the evolution of and political influence of memory in Germany. Three shortcomings exist. Theoretically, most authors rely on psychological, or more specifically, psychoanalytic notions like trauma, repression, mourning and workingthrough, applied to both individuals and collectivities. Today, however, these concepts are over-utilized and extremely stretched. 1 Apart from unexamined or too hurriedly dismissed problems intrinsic to the approach, like the questionable application of precepts developed at and for an individual mind onto a collectivity, these frameworks do not address several core issues that are essential to understand the evolution and political impact of memory. The two biggest lacunae are an under-theorization of the dynamics of discursive competition and the actors that represent memories in public discussions and debates, and, a failure to disentangle and specify the distinctive components of memory. Methodologically, almost all analyses employ various types of qualitative data and interpretive methods, largely abjuring the use of quantitative alternatives.2 This is due, on

Particularly problematic works include Dominick La Capra. Revisiting the Historians' Debate: Mourning and Genocide. History and Memory, 1997; Eric L. Santner. Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory and Film in Postwar Germany. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1990; Caroline Wied mer. The Claims of Memory: Representations of the Holocaust in Contemporary Germany and France. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999. For a summary of the problems of these approaches, see Tillmann Moser. Die Unfähigkeit zu trauern: Hält die Diagnose einer Überprüfung stand? Zur psychischen Verarbeitung des Holocausts
in der Bundesrepublik. Psyche 46 (5) 1992, pp. 389-405. 2 Notable exceptions include Bodo von Borries. Das Geschichtsbewußtsein Jugendlicher: Eine

repräsentative Untersuchung über Vergangenheitsdeutungen, Gegenwartswahrnehmungen und Zukunftserwartungen von Schülerinnen und Schülern in Ost- und Westdeutschland. Weinheim: Juventa Verlag, 1995; Hermann Kurthen. Antisemitism and Xenophobia in United Germany: How the Burden of the Past affects the Present. In Antisemitism and Xenphobia in Germany after Unification, edited by H. Kurthen, W. Bergmann and R. Erb. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997; Elisabeth Noelle -Neumann,


the one hand, to the great resonance memory has received in the more humanistic disciplines, and, on the other, to the lack of serious attention among social scientists towards memory and, more generally, towards cultural phenomena. Not surprisingly, the ability to speak about or generalize for a country as a whole has been circumscribed, even if ambitious, system-wide statements are constantly proffered. Thus, a quantitative “corrective” is rather useful and necessary today. 3 Empirically, the German case has been misunderstood and insufficiently analyzed. Above all, there has been a rather exclusive focus on one memory (of Nazi German crimes, epitomized by the Holocaust), its repression over much of the postwar period and the eventual (if only partially successful) process of working-through. 4 The following table summarizes the dominant view: Table 1: Dominant Narrative of the Holocaust-centered Memory
Period 1. Repression 2.Nascent Breakthrough 3.Increasing Visibility 4.Fragile Prominence Dates 1949(45)-early 1960s Early 1960s-1979 1979-1990 Characteristics Silence, inability to mourn/second guilt, lingering pathologies, path-dependent deficits Isolated but increasingly frequent flare-ups, slow increase in salience, heroic 68er generational efforts Greater incidence and prominence of public controversies, mediatization, societal extensiveness, real public debate, yet persistence of problematic positions Greatly increased salience, larger public-political prominence and societal extensiveness, continuous debate and discourse, yet not without problems


Authors have neglected more positive evidence regarding the working through of this memory in the earlier postwar years, other memories, either of different generative events or alternative interpretations of the Nazi period, and the competition for dominance
Demoskopische Geschichtsstunde: vom Wartesaal der Geschichte. Osnabruck: Fromm, 1991; Felix Phillip Lutz. Das Geschichtsbewußtsein der Deutschen: Grundlagen der politischen Kultur in Ost und West. Köln: Böhlau, 2000; J. Pennebaker, D. Paez and B. Rime, ed. Collective Memory of Political Events: Social Psychological Perspectives. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1997. 3 Of course, quantitative forms of data and statistical analyses also have limitations, mainly regarding the degree to which nuances of opinion can be captured. Thus, an ideal methodological strategy for issues of memory would be one of “triangulation,” combining and complementing qualitative and quantitative methods. This is exactly the strategy employed in the larger project on which this paper is based, where the statistical analysis of the survey is combined with various discourse analyses and numerous intensive interviews. Space constraints do not allow for a full examination of these data in this paper. 4 Canonical works include: Theodor Adorno. What does Coming to Terms with the Past Mean? In. Bitburg in Moral and Historical Perspective. G. Hartman, ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.; Alexander and Margarethe Mitscherlich. The Inability to Mourn: Principles of Collective Behavior. New York: Grove Press, 1975.; Ralf Giordano. Die zweite Schuld oder Von der Last Deutscher zu sein. Hamburg: Junius Verlag, 1987. For an overview of this dominant perspective see: Andrei S. Markovits and Beth Simone Noveck. West Germany. In The World Reacts to the Holocaust, edited by D. S. Wyman. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.

Jane among representatives of these memories. which are also hypotheses to be tested through the German case. Moreover. Holocaust-Mahnmal und neuere deutsche Geschichtspolitik . In the end. Berlin: Verlag Das Arabische Buch.e. several other preliminary distinctions are useful. Germans and the Burden of History. . Memory Regimes 1.. is what we actually know or retrieve from the past. New York: Random House. Beyond these assumptions. Following Pierre Nora (1989) there is a further distinction between history and memory. The concept of the “past” captures everything that actually happened before the present but is a hypothetical category. Components of Memory Regime s The basic assumption and point of departure is that political culture and values affect “real” political outcomes and that memory is both a constitutive component of a political culture and an important attitudinal influence. Umkämpftes Vergessen: Walser-Debatte. Memory is an intensification of history. the paper simultaneously furthers the understanding of memory in Germany today and supports the more general conclusion that memory is a crucial influence on political life. II. in contrast. After the Wall: Germany. deeper narrativistic framing. myth lies beyond memory (Olick and 5 See Micha Brumlik. due to the predominant use of qualitative forms of data. New York: Simon and Schuster. History.. value dimensions and lessons. 2000. The framework also generates several more specific research questions. coupled with a thin layer of interpretation and value-based judgment. et. 1995. Mark Fisher. consisting of some facts about the past coupled with “thick” interpretive eleme nts: selection. The Politics of Memory: Looking for Germany in the New Germany. History encapsulates the recorded “facts” of the past. i. few. 5 This paper directly addresses these shortcomings. This distinction is important because not everything that actually happened in the past is recorded and passed down. the historical narrative. Completing this scheme. oral or visual formats. unreliable or overly pessimistic statements regarding the actual impact of memory on the political values of average Germans exist. It introduces a new conceptual framework that identifies the analytically distinctive elements of memory regimes and incorporates dynamics of competition and power. It is communicated to us in written. which are tested through the statistical analysis of an original representative survey commissioned in August 2000. 1996. This “thin” interpretive element concerns what the writer of history decides to include in the historical account (selection bias) and how that account is framed.

often non-existent. Collective memories are widely shared interpretations of specific historical events that contain a strong affective dimension. For example. In a sense. one remembers in order to belong and this memory has the character of a duty” (1995. Although these elements are distinct. the “thick” interpretive aspect is crucial. Although myth may have some factual referent or cause in the past. the narrative explaining how the generative events arose greatly influences the supportive ethical discourses that justify retaining the memory in the present and implies certain lessons. this empirical link is extremely tenuous. affect and emotion are especially characteristic and . The diachronic dimension encapsulates two master historical narratives concerning the causes of the events that generated the memories and the history of the memory from that point to the present or the narrative of coming to terms with the past. they are also intimately interconnected and essential supports for the others. providing “a sense of togetherness. It is history made relevant and resonant with individuals: value-laden.4 Levy 1997). Authors also note cognitive. If memory starts to become an evocative political force. which together comprise a memory regime: Table 2: Components of a Memory Regime Synchronic Dimension Collective Memories Lessons/Value Connections Supportive Ethical and Moral Discourse Diachronic Dimension Master Historical Narrative of Causes of Generative Events Master Historical Narrative of the Memory from Generative Events to the Present At any point in time the synchronic dimension contains the specific collective memories.” It is. It is almost pure interpretation or “belief. rather difficult to achieve mythical status. value connections and supportive ethical/moral discourses. a variety of other components arises and accompanies it. orientational and. of course. emotionalized and politicized history. asserted lessons. identity forming functions (Lutz 2000). for collective memories. Regarding the first synchronic dimension. In all of this. especially. memory is a way of packaging and operationalizing shared history and becomes the means by which history becomes an influential conditioning or causal force within a political culture. whereas memory is a more attainable goal. 52). Jan Assmann writes that memory is normative.

Moreover. greatly determines the over-arching memory: “collective memory is essentially a reconstruction of the past . which. These are supplemental arguments and justifications for the memories and the lessons contained in the memory regime. 376). boundaries as to what can be made out of a past. which in turn.5 distinguish memories from other political attitudes and values where the degree of emotional investment can be much lower.. contemporary actors always interpret and distort history fro m their own tendentious perspective to produce memories. Yet. being neither an auto nomous part of the political culture nor an independent variable. there are limits to presentist interpretations of history. it adapts the images of ancient facts to the beliefs and spiritual needs of the present” (Schwartz 1982. consequently. collective memories greatly determine many values in the present through the second synchronic element. History through collective memory influences present values. using arguments from current values in other political cultural domains. as well as some of the most vigorous debates. processes in which actors link memories to preferred values and attitudes. This thick interpretive characteristic further implies that the perspective of the present. current values in other domains. say much more about the present than the past. and not (just) apply today’s standards. a better conceptualization of the relationship is one of recursive interplay between history and the present. prescriptions and proscriptions (Olick and Levy 1997) influence or suggest particular political values. They are perhaps the least distinctive overall component. Hence. from the connected historical explanations and narratives or from more general moral and ethical precepts. The third component of the synchronic dimension is supportive ethical and moral discourses. this is where much of the action of a memory regime surfaces—where the value connections and moralizing take place. Good historical research always strives to “get into the minds” of historical actors and “empathetically understand” their motivations. But this overstates the case and implies that memory is dependent on other contemporary values or structures. For example. reinforce and re-package memory within the limits of the historical record. These lessons. These processes of historical verification check “presentist” interpretive excess. life-world and behaviors. Nevertheless. Value conversion and especially connection (Rochon 1998) are especially operative.. As a result. many in Germany argue that memory of the .

Schuman and Scott characterize such events as those that “rip the larger existential fabric of our being. Turning to the diachronic dimension. usually collectively defining cases of shared trauma like World Wa r II or the terrorist attacks on September 11. If this narrative is one of previous failure . such as a war or a revolution. success or failure of the memory over the course of time since the generative events. its view of itself. As a recent review of social-psychological studies concludes: “collective memories are most likely to be formed and maintained about events that represent significant long-term changes to people’s lives” (Pennebaker and Banasik 1997. the meanings embedded in these memories are highly accessible because they are based on widely experienced historical events. tribulations. 17). Others stress that memory of the Holocaust implies the necessity of democracy and tolerance.6 Holocaust must be sustained because the genocide was a violation of basic civilizational or ethical norms against and thus leave an indelible impression” (1989. “progressive” and desirable values. This delimited focus.. a concept (the state) or a group (women). For example. The second diachronic component is a narrative of what happened to the collective memory between the time of the generative events and the present. Memories of discrete events are a kind of shorthand and trigger for a more detailed historical narrative.e. i. Salient memories emerge from these kinds of highly influential. This first master narrative explaining the generative events on which the memory is based is the first component of the diachronic dimension. memories are also always based on and imply a particular (master) historical narrative that encompasses a grander sweep of history. Although the interpretation embedded in such a narrative is thin compared to that of a memory. or better the view of the elite representatives of the memory regarding the trials. This is the history of the memory. Somewhat paradoxically. but discrete events. very different memory regimes result from “intentionalist” explanations of the Holocaust that emphasizes deep political cultural causes versus “functionalist” accounts of bureaucratic dynamics and contingent events.image greatly influences the other elements of the current memory regime. existential importance and emotional content are major reasons for their comprehensibility and accessibility to all members of a political culture. 2001. there is substantial variation in how authors construct this narrative with divergent implications for the present. rather than large swaths of time. 361). This kind of self.

. among other factors. producing a variety of “memory publics. however. It is political 6 Of course. means that multiple memories. Determining the composition and proportions of such groups must be central empirical concerns. especially the extreme group emphasis and the relative absence of the individual. A more general variant of communicative memory is the generation or cohort. These may be different interpretations of a specific event or different generative events. a tactic in the competition for cultural dominance. socialization and entropy are central.” differentiated by variables such as education. and are recounted to us through others . Types of Memories and Actors Collective memories are inter-subjective or shared interpretations of commonly experienced historical events. Markovits and Reich talk about “memory clusters” in a country’s memory map (1997. For these reasons. an intensification of the generational memory attempting to transcend the generation to gain broader influence. colleagues and families. generation. which is determined through close face-toface interaction. forgetfulness.. those who consciously forget a particular memory and those who accept different memories. Halbwachs’ thoughts were path breaking. circulate. in the context of memory. Later: “a person remembers only by situating himself within the viewpoint of one or several groups and one of several currents of collective thought” (33). as well as a motivating force for the representatives of the memory. stressing the social aspect of human memory and intimating the competition that may arise from various group identifications and loyalties. 6 Orientational variability. where notions of commonly experienced crucial periods. in reality we are never alone” (1992. 7 Pluralism also manifests itself in various types of shared memories. looking at the importance of affective groups. at the level of interpersonal networks of friends. Next is collective memory. Halbwachs. like multiple values. 23).. Assmann and Frevert (1999) note first the communicative memory. However. He writes: “Our memories remain collective.” Moreover. each individual has memories of what s/he experienced. This is an argument for the necessity of the memory in the present. 7 Non-attitudes. 2. highlighting the essential diversity and pluralism of any political culture determined by diverse socio -economic and geographic circumstances. are also potential issues.. region of residence or partisan identification. memories hang together with an array of other political values and demographic factors. But there are also limitations.7 of the memory to become widely resonant then the relevant actors may change or radicalize their views of the causes of the event or the derived lessons. . 34) and Young (1993) even advocates replacing the collective memory term with “collected memory. in contrast to the distinction between memory and forgetting that permeates much of the literature distinctions should be made between those for whom no collective memories resonate (classical non-attitudes). made strong but problematic assertions that only social memories exist because personal memories are nothing without the communal dimension. the seminal theorist of collective memory.

this therapeutic function is only operative when the historical referent is some sort of traumatic event. Numerous authors note that a post-traumatic period of silence.. Whereas the collective memory reaches this stabilization through a radical reduction of content. a “hypermediated cultural construction” of a vicarious past to capture this type (Sicher 2000. pointing to a further therapeutic function of memory (Hirsch 1995.8 However. high symbolic intensity and strong psychic affect. many affected individuals will verbalize and share their suffering and loss. Allen 1995). Obviously. no working-through without the recognition and valuation that a collective memory provides. acknowledgment. a development that many see as central to processes of individual coping and collective healing. especially after a traumatic episode. repression or latency is a common individual and collective reaction to a traumatizing historical episode (Fogelman 1988. recognition and empathy of a trauma that a victim experienced. This last cultural variant is the first that is explicitly divorced from individual experiences of some sort. Young. 30). concretization. necessary simplifications the more ambitious and general the claim for dominance. Kritz 1995. based on discourse and verbalization. the cultural memory supports itself on external media and institutions (Assmann and Frevert. In order to transport experiences and knowledge over the generations. given the lingering and often permanent effects 8 A collective dimension is vital to provide the forum necessary for verbalization. or . Finally there is the cultural memory. Booth 2001). and thereby to build up long-term memory. becoming highly abstract. 49). institut ionalized and canonized. memory meets myth: Figure 1: Types of Memories I--------------------------I------------------------I-------------------------I------------------------I Communicative Generational Collective Cultural Myth Memory Memory Memory Memory Low Degree of Generality and Acceptance High This typology also helps to answer the question as to when shared memories begin. These conceptualizations also point to the possibility that some variants can be passed on to posterity once the individuals who experienced the generative historical events pass away. rehabilitation and justice. which is the most general level “directed towards a mythical past and strongly ritualized” (Kirsch 1999.. Others prefer terms like “postmemory” (Hirsch 1997). In such contexts collective memory. On the end of the spectrum of hypothetical memory regimes. cannot exist. It is needed: . Ricoeur 1998. There can be no healing.8 and instrumentalized. Eventually. 2000).

in turn. even if affected individuals limit their verbalized memories to the communicative arena. in its name (1993. Three subsets of the more general elite. this function arises often. others can contribute to the generational. many victims may feel uncomfortable speaking beyond the communicative level of the more intimate group. Often more widely shared memories. applied to political debates of all kinds. journalists. artists. religious and social leaders. others can represent their voices from the very outset of the post-traumatic period. their more specialized arenas and their resulting discourses are especially important. For a society’s memory cannot exist outside of those people who do the remembering—even if such memory happens to be at society’s bidding. it is only insofar as their institutions and rituals organize. 179). teachers and intellectuals.S. American Jews and international organizations provided representation and helped to forge memory from the outset of the postwar period (Maislinger 1990. The most important of these proxies or representatives of memory belong to the elite and are responsible for the majority of visible action and wider influence. This is the perspective and domain of the intellectual observer of the memory regime and the textual products conform to the standards and methodol gy of academic scholarship. and socializing agents are politicians. collective and cultural variants. yet others. many Holocaust survivors were silent until the 1960s.. An academic/ intellectual variant conceives of memory more as a theoretical construct. Given the frequency of such experiences worldwide and the tendency for countries to dwell on such. even if affected individuals are in the latency stage and unable to directly shape discourses of shared memories. which are central for issues negative experience that approaches but does not reach traumatic status. xi) The privileged interpreters of memory regimes. Shafir 1999). For example. Two implications follow. First. which limits the memory’s potential resonance in the larger political culture. like the U. This is the view and arena of the classical politically engaged “critical community” (Rochon). need to be represented by proxies or successor generations. “memory editors” (Irwin-Zarecki 1994. Second. Young writes: If societies remember. various types of memory circulate simultaneously.” which are. i. shape. Memories o are also a public-political interpretation of the past that imply various “lessons. a description and explanation of the historical events and of the reactions to them.9 of the traumatic past.e. such as the collective variant. and Israeli governments. . even inspire their constituents’ memories.

such as the nature of the generative event (civil strife versus an international conflagration). interpret and represent. 2). the large degree of embedded emotion. Memories are quintessential ground for the morally motivated and engaged vanguard that is characteristic of the “critical community” concept. At the aggregate level. whether the victims or their descendants live outside of the country (and have achieved voice) and the degree of permeability that the political culture displays. given that often many intellectual practitioners intervene extensively in the public-political sphere and because normative concerns derived from public-political engagement greatly influence such authors’ academic work. “critical” actors often use and need the discursive ammunition produced by more academic work. Moreover. which is true in general. the public transcript of memory. given the existential gravity of the generative events. although these two arenas are distinct. These two groups produce slightly different versions of the memory. Whatever their composition. actors often intervene in a third. it is often difficult to disentangle precisely the two types. Thus. Conversely. for example. Such influences characterize even more the purer intellectual arena. elite actors are the ones that hammer out and validate the politically acceptable memory regime. . as well as how they assert the various lessons and connected values that ought to flow from the memory greatly affect average citizens (Zaller 1992). given the extensive internationalization of intellectual and academic work. However.10 of memory. elite interpreters respond to the memories and opinions from below. Wolfrum 1999. the memories and interpretations of which these actors aggregate. The political variant. there are many cases where international actors participate extensively. either from individuals or from particularly aware and interested groups. and particularly in the German case. for example. therapy and interpretation and the centrality of leadership in affecting the values of mass publics. where the “public transcript” (Scott 1990) of the memory regime becomes the most visible and influential. all of these forces and elite actors converge most visibly in this arena. in constructing master historical narratives. How these leaders interpret and package meaning. the public or media realm (Kirsch 1999. Although most memory regimes and their elites are overwhelmingly national. does not contain the explicit methodological and strong theoretical components of the intellectual version. overlapping domain. even if many residues are visible. Various factors determine such participation.

1998. forms the concepts and interprets the past wins the future in a land deprived of history” (Mushaben. Competition and Dominance Precisely because memories are cultural constructs and shared interpretations with potential influence on political values and outcomes. The following typology of value regimes and power situations also models different memory regimes: Figure 2: Heuristic Continuum of Value Regime Power9 ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* ********* Heterogeneity Competitive non-dominance Low Degree of Power High Plurality Dominance Hegemony Unanimity * * * * * * * * ****** ****** ****** ***** ***** ***** ***** ****** ****** ****** ****** ** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** An assessment of power and dominance results from looking at how many memories circulate. A lthough every country has salient collective memories and memory regimes.” mass one (Scott).11 There may be a disjunction between the public transcript or elite discourse and a “hidden. but also among mass publics. observed: “whoever fills the memory. in some cases memory may be an 9 In this heuristic model stars represent individuals holding values and boxes represents competing values. Connerton observes: “For it is surely the case that control of a society’s memory largely conditions the hierarchy of power . a major figure in the German Historians’ Debate. this power is premised on a congenial context. 3. power and competition are central. 4). Acceptance among the more general elite and better-educated classes matters immensely. our images of the past commonly serve to legitimate a present social order” (1989. which is the test of the success of the elite actors. Importantly. 3). Power stems from the degree of dominance that representatives of a memory achieve in a political culture.. Participants in various debates certainly acknowledge this. how widely people hold a specific memory and the depth of attachment. 1.. . Stürmer. Such a disjunction is one potential source for change if some members of the elite shift conceptions to correspond better to popular discourses.

In any case. there has been substantial debate in Germany as to what the overriding lesson from the memory of the Holocaust is: nie wieder Krieg (never again war). Here the clash is more generally about memory versus forgetting. nie wieder Auschwitz (never again Auschwitz). Competition may be between divergent interpretations of one period or between memories based on different periods.” Like any value-based conflict. These are “low memory” political cultures in contrast to “high memory” ones where memory is a frequent and influential force on political life. where much of the action revolves around arguing for the salience of one event versus another. their identities often are invested in them. In addition. Countries can be mapped on two continuous dimensions of macro context and memory regime power: Figure 3: Heuristic Map of Political Cultures and Memory Regimes High Memory Context Heterogeneity Unanimity Low Memory Context Given a high or even medium memory context. Moreover. or.12 un-influential force on political values and an unimportant component of a political culture. memorials and “texts. according to current CDU leader Merkl. the goal of memory representatives is to achieve the maximum breadth of acceptance and depth of attachment among the elite more generally a nd mass publics. nie wieder Sonderwege (never again unilateralism). in lower memory contexts. “critical” elites may act to change the context in order to make memory a more resonant and salient concern. the competition is vigorous because the actors believe intensely in what they are representing. the potential power involved motivates elite representatives of various memories to compete in pursuit of maximizing the dominance of their preferred memory. It also means achieving policy objectives and institutionalization in school curricula. and compromise is problematic. Indeed. there can be competition over each of the components of a memo ry regime and change in one may affect the others. actors use both positive . For example.

Changing Memory Regimes in Postwar Germany An application of the memory regime framework.e. in contrast to other inherited attitudes. there are also important forces of conservation. making them taboo. given the on-going saga of history. most authors assign the greatest weight to processes of generational change (Platt and Dabag 1995. for example. leads to a substantially different and more comprehensive perspective of the evolution of postwar German memory. actors can make them resonate longer and more deeply. the importance of the generative historical events and the potential power that victory entails. Rethinking the German Case 1. Supportive public discourse that maintains exposure to the memory. for elites to constantly (re) enter discursive struggles. De-legitimizing and demonizing the opposing memory and its representatives. in particular the precept of competing memories.. purportedly in order to relativize the memory of the Nazi regime. even though most Germans recognize the nastiness of communism. some conservatives tried to push the more recent memory of the East German dictatorship. may be especially prone to losing relevance. they believe . A particular memory is always more poignant if individuals personally experienced the generative events and may lose relevance for younger cohorts with no such experiences. can sustain a particular memory’s dominance for some time.13 and negative tactics and arguments. so they can remain relevant long after the generation of witnesses pass away. There is an in-built potential for exogenous change through more recent and accessible events and the shared memories based on them. In the years after Unification in 1990. Normative commitment. occur frequently. Because memories are on the more emotional side of the ideational spectrum (increasing their accessibility). III. Sanctification and institutionalization are arguably more easily achieved than for other values. coupled with pedagogical measures. Today. In fact. Other sources of dynamism include generational change based on altered socio -economic structures and different socialization processes. i. Recall also that dominant memories are based typically on highly traumatic or foundational events. Struggles over memory may be the most vigorous. existential importance and power are reasons for perpetual dynamism. Mushaben 1998). However. zero-sum and uncompromising of all political cultural conflicts because of the higher degree of emotion involved. Memories. given the importance of memorials.

Central and Eastern Europe and the mass rape of German women by members of the Red Army. already declining in the 1970s. 10 However. Peter Schneider.” The Economist. was thoroughly defeated and supplanted by representatives of the Holocaust-centered memory in the prominent elite. November 23. The Long Good-bye: German Culture Wars in the Nineties. .level discursive clashes (like the Historians’ Debate) of the mid 1980s and defended vociferously ever since by the victors of those discursive competitions. Christopher Rhoads. 2001. much less difficult to comprehend.” The Wall Street Journal. 2002. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Sebald (2003) and a flurry of media attention. Michael Geyer. spurred by the work of authors like Grass (2002). “In Their Side of World War II. In The Power of Intellectuals in Contemporary Germany. This re-thinking of the dynamics of postwar memory makes the new discussions about this memory of German suffering in 2002-2003. resonated broadly with the population (Heinemann 2001. Geyer. Nawratil 1999. Friedrich (2002). edited by M. Neumann 2000). 11 These discussions are not novel.14 that Nazism was simply much nastier. 11 See “Another taboo broken. as many authors and commentators have asserted. who successfully defended its dominance by convincing most Germans of the greater severity and importance of their preferred memory. 2003. Naumann 1998.” The New York Times . In the earlier postwar decades this latter memory. January 18. The more crucial point is that the proffered memory of communism was thoroughly defeated by representatives of the Holocaust centered memory. Other studies show that this memory. there was an earlier and more important victory for advocates of the Holocaust-centered memory over the memory of German suffering during World War Two and its aftermath. the Germans Also Suffered. the ethnic cleansing of about 14 million Germans from then-Eastern Germany. “Behind Iraq Stance in Germany: Flood of War Memories. A modified periodization of the evolution of postwar memory follows: 10 This memory was also advocated by many Eastern German victims of the Stasi making for strange — bedfellows. 2003. February 25. but are rather the re-emergence of nevercompletely defeated memories. based on the experiences of aerial bombardment of cities and civilians. Moeller 2001.

14-25. What memories exist. almost dominant. internationalization Past=Holocaust achieves dominance. mediatization. greater though limited diffusion of processes through society Rise to prominence of Holocaust conception of the past. for a total “n” of 2000. who subscribes to the Holocaust-centered memory regime and who to the German-centered one and what divergent attitudinal effects result? More generally. 26-40 and 41-60. plural memories 3. resulting in a data set with a total of 2. Preliminary Considerations Still missing is a quantitative analysis of the nature and impact of memory on the political values of Germans today. using a weighting corresponding to the actual proportion of these cohorts in the total 14-60 population of the Federal Republic (based on 1998 official data). continuous public debate Return of German-centered memories. the public opinion firm FORSA (Berlin) implemented the survey between August 10th and 14 th . I formulated and implemented an original survey of German citizens between the ages of 14 and 60 in 1999-2000. Renewed Competition Dates 1945-late 60s Late 50s late 70s Late 70s 1990 Characteristics Concentration on self. too early to draw firm conclusions 1990-2002 2002- 2. The reason for not including the oldest (60+) cohort who experienced the Nazi period. extensive diffusion. The middle group was over-sampled with 1000 respondents. Dominance of Holocaust-centered memory 5. These factors are dually 12 After extensive question formulation and pre-testing efforts conducted over the course of field research in 1999-2000. generational interventions. how dominant are they and for whom? Specifically. which also tests the utility of the memory regime framework and. though resis ted—creating public-political debates. constant discourse. does memory exert an independent impact on the political values of contemporary Germans? In order to answer these questions. Five hundred respondents were tapped in the first and last groups.15 Table 3: Revised Chronology of Memory Regimes in Postwar Germany Regime/Phase 1. establishment of conditions for subsequent extension of processes Beginnings of extension of working through to Nazi victims.Introduction of new memory/ Competing. I then pooled the three samples. which is quickly occurring as this oldest group passes away. The Contemporary Nature and Impact of Memory A.746 data points. even more generally. as well as the expected relationships. older conception of the past withers.12 A brief word regarding the most important demographic influences on or correlates of memory is necessary. The survey representatively sampled the three age groups discussed above. Germans-as-perpetrators downplayed. including several focus groups and trial administrations to high school classes. notable for the empathy extended and the resonance amongst leftists. the impact of memory in a political culture. is that I am concerned with the transmission and future of memory. . Dominance of German-centered memory 2. wide diffusio n in society. divorced from actual experiences. inner-directed working through of German suffering. Battle for Dominance/ Rise of Holocaust-centered memory 4. 2000.

Education and income are variables that capture class position and thus gr eater proximity to and receptivity towards the elite and its dominant messages. so that an increase in income indicates a change from the lower to the next higher bracket. Given its importance in the past and the possibility that support for collective memories may be a product of partisanship rather than an autonomous attitudinal influence. I identify three cohorts from “successor” generations. whereas the Left came to advocate the Holocaustcentered one.500 bracket to the 3. as well as entering the calculations of the possible influence of memories on political values as control variables. this background factor may be the one of the most powerful predictors. Even among members of “successor” generations the pattern may still hold because older citizens still had less formal instruction concerning the Third Reich than younger ones. higher levels of income or higher status occupations (both related to higher levels of education) should also result in greater acceptance of the socially desirable opinions as well as a greater impact of memory on these political values. younger respondents came of age after the Holocaust-centered interpretation supplanted previously dominant memories. may be closer to the dominant memory regime than younger . The third and oldest group is the 68er generation (41-60).g. Thus. 14 Conversely. The centrality of Unification in 1990 characterizes the middle Wende generatio n (26-40). socialized after Unification. e. younger citizens may support the newer memory regime to a greater degree than older ones and it may exert a greater influence on the political thinking of this group. I expect that leftists more frequently and more deeply hold the Holocaust-centered memory and conservatives accept it to a lesser extent and confine the Nazi past’s impact to fewer political domains. Previous studies found that older individuals typically accepted the Holocaust-centered memory regime less than younger ones. leading to greater acceptance of the elite validated memory and political values. This enables more certain and valid conclusions regarding the impact of memory through a comparison with the other factors. 14 13 In the survey. greater education should lead to a higher likelihood that memory will influence more political values and opinions and will more often arise as an attitudinal influence. ranging from under DM 1000 to DM 7. Of course. The youngest is the millennial generation (14-25 years old). Generation: Previous studies strongly suggest that generational differences may also play a prominent explanatory role.500-under 4.. even if the younger members of this cohort did not come of age until the 1970s. Similarly.500 one.500 and more. largely explaining which types of respondents support various memories in the first set of analyses. Moreover. Mass-Elite Differences: It is likely that higher education leads to greater exposure to elite messages (through the mass media and “quality press”). Thus. conservatives tended to downplay or minimize the impact of this past. In addition. Based on data from 2000 and using the ages 15-30 as the critical socialization years. even if passively absorbed. whereas leftists embraced this influence more readily. the 68er generation distinguished itself by its radicalism and heightened sensitivity towards issues of memory and. 13 Partisan Identification: In previous decades conservatives tended to represent the German-centered memory regime. the old student rebels. the oldest cohort (60+ in 2000) was not included the survey. there were 9 income brackets based on monthly income (in Marks).500-under 3. from the 2. as a consequence. Moreover.16 important.

125) versus 5. which respondents. Western Germans may accept the dominant memory regime (a Western creation) more than Easterners. Nevertheless. . given evidence for the shrinking of this divide and the centrality of Nazism in the historical socialization of the GDR. It is currently difficult to specify expected relationships. even though the questionnaire included the contemporary period (hardly historical).17 East-West Residency: Since Unification authors observed substantial attitudinal differences between the populations of the two parts of the country. For the Holocaust-centered memory.Semitism and a greater acceptance of pacifism and human rights. and. General Assessments and Salience of Historical Periods One of the first tasks of representatives of a particular memory is to convince their audiences that the memory’s generative events ought to be the most influential for the present. or for whom East German anti-fascist socialization may determine historical interpretations today. B. As for the salience of historical periods. thus. I re-coded and transformed many of the raw data for the statistical analysis. 15 Affiliation also captures North-South differences (North=Protestant. Corresponding to greater rejection of xenophobia and anti. Forty percent think it is partially negative and partially positive and a further 35% think it was more positive than negative. I used SPSS for all calculations except for the logit and multinomial logit models reported later.goers are more tolerant towards ethnic minorities. Germans today do not unequivocally condemn the past as completely negative. having thought less about the past and whose reality is more distant from that period. 16 Based on the relative strengths of statistical software programs. Religious affiliation and church attendance could explain some variance. may resist these interpretations and be farther away from the elite-validated view. for whom the communist dictatorship may be the more salient period. 15 given evidence that frequent church. women may be closer to the elite. Other Factors: Several other factors play an explanatory role in related studies. this means that Germans must accept the overall salience of the Nazi period and assess this past negatively. Only 14% think that it is predominantly negative. a plurality chose the Third Reich (34%). 16 The oldest cohort (41-60) has an even more positive view (38% more positive than negative) than the youngest (1425) group (30%) and conservatives are slightly more positive than leftists are. South=Catholic).validated memory regime than men. may more greatly support other “progressive” views. Investigating and Explaining Tenets of the Memory Regime i. Eleven percent of CDU supporters assess the past “very positively” (confirmed by a significant correlatio n of r = . for which I used the STATA program. another historically important cleavage that periodically exerts strong explanatory power today (von Borries 1995). Please see the author for more details.4% of SPD and Green sympathizers. Younger respondents. I expect that Westerners accept the Holocaust-centered memory regime to a greater extent than Easterners.

revealing a simultaneous personal distancing but support for “impersonal” collective impact. 17 This statistic indicates if observed differences in descriptive statistics are real (significant) or strong (size of coefficient).070.114) are more likely to choose it.115) tend not to choose this period. Assessing the past more negatively (17%).05 level or better. Sixty-two percent of the sample (with few cohort or partisan differences. the sizes of the coefficients were small—the correlation between the choice of the Nazi period and CDU partisans was r = -. whereas students (r =. but Greens r = . seeing it as an unprecedented relapse (13%) and advocating the continuation of debates (23%) all increased the probability of being selected.103) and people with only a Hauptschulabschluß (high school degree. clear evidence for the intrusion of more recent history and for a recency effect. a large majority still thinks this past is influential for present politics. The next most frequent response was the Federal Republic from 1949 to 1990 (24%). Twenty percent of the 41-60 group and only 13% of the 14-25 one thought it was personally very important.18 29% selected.106. There were few other significant or strong correlations for any of the other historical periods. These results indicate fascinating attitudinal contradictions. I use predicted probabilities. r =. but with richer respondents more often thinking it is collectively influential) thought the Nazi past was very or rather important for the country. The expected generational relationship also surfaces: almost 40% of the youngest group chose the Third Reich versus under 30% for the oldest cohort. Although almost all of the partisanship variables were significantly correlated in expected directions. To interpret the coefficients. In contrast. I used Pearson’s r and report only those statistically significant at the p = . An alternative interpretation is that two-thirds of the sample chose periods other than Nazism. 18 Another way to tap the issue of salience is to ask respondents to assess the importance of the Nazi past for both contemporary Germany and for their personal political worldviews. Looking at several correlations.161) and those with the Abitur (university entrance exam. SPD r = . whereas those with a Volksschule education were less likely to (12%) choose it. 17 other expected relationships appear. only 40% thought the past was important for their own political worldviews. This recurs in other questions. thinking it is more important for the country’s present (19%). which is also the case for other factors like gender and religiosity. 18 I also ran logit regressions on these responses. r = -. Partisanship appears as a weak predictor. this statistic deals with probabilities. Being a type of maximum likelihood estimation.053. Workers (r = -. . transformed into dichotomous variables. For those choosing the Third Reich as the most salient period both income (15%) and younger age (29%) increased the probability of choosing this period. Despite evidence that the Nazi period is not unequivocally salient and more recent periods are gaining resonance.

Nevertheless there are various interpretations of this epoch. . With which of the following three statements do you most closely agree? (in %) Total Sample The Hitler regime was an unprecedented relapse into barbarism and criminality. Despite the chronological coincidence many people believe that the nature of suffering of different groups differed substantially.6 Table 5: Competing Memories (2) The Nazi period was a terrible time.4 experienced suffering.9 bystanders. doing little for or against the regime.0 The Holocaust centered memory does not predominate in the first alternative. but 39. shows twice the number of respondents choosing the latter option. They 59. Above all. shows interesting relationships. representing the Holocaust-centered memory rather than the German-suffering position. Memories and Supportive Discourses Two different question formulations get to the heart of competing memo ries: Table 4: Competing Memories (1) Many Germans consider the Third Reich to be one of. A more detailed breakdown of the response distributions for the second question.8 cannot be compared. in %) Total Sample Suffering and death are suffering and death. expulsion and murder is considered different than what Germans themselves experienced through dictatorial repression. 29. All were victims of the dictatorial and 31.0 No answer 1. Cohort differences are weak.3 No answer 2. 19 The second question. a kind of safe.2 criminal Nazi regime and are comparable. The vast majority of Germans were neither victims nor perpetrators. passively standing by. however. “middle” position. with a plurality choosing the more neutral “bystander” interpretation. Other (specify) 2. the suffering that Jewish victims experienced through discrimination. None of the above 2. if not the most important period of German history. 19 There were no significant relationships between any of the other variables and the “bystander” response option. Many people suffered. pointing to the questionable inclusion of this category. A basic difference exists between the experiences of Jews and Germans. Countless Germans were victims of the Nazi regime and many Germans 23. crosstabulated with the demographic variables of greatest interest.5 Don’t Know 3.6 Many Germans supported the Nazis and were involved with their crimes.19 ii. bombing and expulsion. pain and loss.7 Don’t Know 4. Which of the following statements do you agree with? (forced choice. education and income differences appear to be strong differentiating factors. but partisanship on the extremes (note the slight difference between SPD and CDU sympathizers).

8 38.5 39.9 61.102). those who choose the “German victim” option tend to think the past is less important for the present (r = .4 65. these respondents also advocate a continuation of debates about the past.6 70.9 35. were insignificant correlates. the partisanship variables were highly significant and the directions in the expected ways.9 53.8 29.8 31.5 34. rather than a “final line” (r = . and other expected demographic predictors.6 77.2 51.9 23.9 22.2 35.6 29.105). CSU r = -. Green r = . religiosity or East-West residency.4 59.8 60.3 61.109) and to advocate a final line being drawn over the past (r = . to not see a basic difference between the experiences of Germans and Jews (r = -. Conversely.2 30.2 Basic Difference 59.1 30.8 Total 14-25 26-40 41-60 PDS Green SPD FDP CDU CSU Hauptschule Abitur Arbeiter Student East West Male Female 2500-3500 DM 5500-6500 DM 7500 + DM Correlations show that those who answered that Nazism was an unprecedented relapse into barbarism were wealthier (r = .2 59.8 63.3 62.157).213).2 73.114).045. although fewer significant results pertained. but the sizes of the coefficients were rather small (CDU r = -.072. Moreover. Again.1 49. The same partisanship pattern exists as for the other response option.136). .099).4 20.1 53. This group is less educated.102).6 61.7 14.3 29.20 Table 6: Descriptive Statistics for Competing Memories (2) (in %) Suffering Comparable 31. with those having a Hauptschulabschluß less likely to choose this option (r = .080. SPD r = .1 36.3 57. think the past is rather important for Germany (r = -.113) and believe that there is basic difference between the experiences of Germans and Jews (r = .1 31.2 65.8 32.8 67. to not choose the Third Reich as the most salient period (r = -.0 31. such as gender.2 30.5 48.

3 36.1 50. This variable also turns out to be the strongest and most consistently influential historical predictor in many of the subsequent statistical analyses and thus deserves detailed attention.21 One of the most crucial supportive ethical and moral discourses of the Holocaust memory regime regards the disdain of closure and the necessity of continuing discussion about the Nazi past and Holocaust. One hears quite different positions.8 50. captured in a version of a question regarding the desirability of drawing a “final line” over the past.4 Total 14-25 26-40 41-60 PDS Green SPD FDP CDU CSU Hauptschule Abitur Arbeiter Student East West Male Female 2500-3500 DM 5500-6500 DM 7500 + DM Overall.7 40. 3. The additional gap between the youngest and oldest cohorts in terms of advocating a continuation of debates is perhaps evidence for an Überdruß (excess) effect.9% gave no answer.3 43.6 43.4 45.4 50.9 26.0 38.9 51.1 31.1 40. On the other side are those who believe that drawing a final line over the past is timely and appropriate.2 37.8 56.9 62.7 46.8 47.5 35.9 53. Partisanship. which critical actors also assert as a kind of lesson.4 21.2 59.8 23.6% were indifferent.0 54. occupation and income show very 20 For the total sample. there has been quite a lot of discussion about the Nazi past and its impact on the present.1 46.4 67. It is highly important to study whether respondents think these memories should continue to be influential in the present.3 41.5 Final Line over Past 51.0 55.2 52.0 56.2 37. 2. education. .5 49.8 61.6 73. Table 7: Descriptive Statistics for Drawing a Final Line over the Past For many years.8 47.5 27. On the one side are those who think that continued debate is highly important. Which position do you agree with? (in %)20 Continued Debate 41.4% didn’t know and 1.8 46.3 47. the 10-point difference between the two positions mirrors the results from most surveys over the last 25 ye ars.0 69. in order to concentrate on the present and future.3 38.

no other historical variable was as significantly or strongly correlated with more variables.22 polarized relationships.000 .092 -.041 -.025 .130 . This is a selection of significant correlations.000 . the directions of the relationship are in expected directions.038 . I expect that the background factors largely explain memories.044 .007 .063 14-25 26-40 41-60 PDS Green SPD FDP CDU CSU Hauptschule Abitur Arbeiter Student East/West (East=1) Gender (male =1) Income .034 .089 -.146 Final Line significance coefficient .022 -.000 -. this would be evidence that history and memory constitute an autonomous part of a political culture. Table 8 Demographic Correlates for Attitudes towards Final Line over the Past21 Continued Debates significance coefficient .053 .042 . 21 Empty cells denote insignificant correlations. If so.002 .087 .099 iii. both demographic variables and the other historical questions.003 -. I ran logit regression models. with leftists.000 .106 -.054 .000 . better-educated respondents with higher status occupations and higher income supporting continued debates.005 . Conservatives.102 . Event though the sizes of the coefficients are small.072 -.000 . lower status occupations and lower incomes support a final line.051 .002 . . After converting the responses on the memory and final line questions into dummy variables. drive these memories and opinions regarding the final line over the past.055 -.111 .000 . Correlations support these differences.091 .043 -.000 .063 . those with less education. Indeed.058 -.007 .002 -.000 .095 -.059 .121 .000 .017 . Explaining the Memories and Support for the Final Line Several more sophisticated statistics can determine what factors.046 .000 .000 .000 .003 .039 . but it is also interesting to see if the other historical questions exert influences independent of the demographic factors.118 -.

. As these results indicate.295 .140 0.067 5. the historical variables also play important and independent explanatory roles.223 Interpreted Coefficients 0. whereas those with a Volksschule education exhibited a 20% greater probability.010 .048 .000 . More right-wing people are less likely and wealthier respondents are more likely to choose this interpretation.296 1. Those with only a Volks. who are 51% more likely to choose this interpretation. . even though many of the posited background characteristics are influential in the expected directions. an increase in income leads to a 20% lower probability of thinking suffering is comparable.012 .23 Table 9: Logit Regression on Nazism as Unprecedented Relapse into Barbarism Independent Variables Third Reich as most salient period Continued debates about the Past are necessary Income Highest educational level: Volkschule (high school) Partisan Identification (left to right) Constant Coefficients . An increase in income leads to a 14% greater likelihood of choosing the relapse into barbarism answer and moving from the left to right on the partisan identification scale produces a 12% lower probability of selecting this option.120 P>z .071 . confirming expectations. Even more robust results arise from the logit regression on the response option “Germans were also victims. and the option “suffering and death are comparab le. Likewise for the second formulation.” Those with the Abitur were 20% less likely to choose it.050 .143 -0. so that those choosing the Third Reich as the most salient epoch exhibit a 14% greater likelihood of choosing the relapse response.or Hauptschule education exhibit a 13% lower probability of choosing this memory. Moderate effects are also apparent from the other historical variables.034 .” those who thought that Nazism was an unprecedented relapse into barbarism exhibited a 24% lower likelihood and those advocating continued debates led to a 31% lower probability of selecting it. Finally.125 -0.508 0. Advocating a continuation of debates (22% lower probability) and choosing the Third Reich as the most salient period (30% lower) had quite large effects in the expected inverse directions..621 By far the greatest statistical effect is from those advocating the continuation of debates about the Nazi past.

062 . higher income (12%) and having the Abitur (10%) both lead to a greater probability of advocating continued debates. whereas ha ving only a Volksschule education (11%).111) were less likely.553 . a more right wing partisan identification (17%) and being younger (27%) lead to a lower likelihood.165 P>z . thinking that suffering was comparab le leads to a 30% lower likelihood of advocating continued debates. the influences of the demographic variables were all in the expected directions but the sizes of the effects on the probabilities are much lower than for the other historical variables included.000 .092 41. .062 .060 -.000 . whereas workers (r = -. thinking Nazism was an unprecedented relapse into barbarism (another large 44%) all lead to a greater probability of advocating continued debates.331 and personally r = .643 .033 .146) and those having studied at the university (r = . Thus.113 -0.653 0.000 .441 -0. choosing the Third Reich as the most salient historical period (22%).269 0.326).033 Interpreted Coefficients 0. taking the response option “support for a continuation of debates about the Nazi past” as the dependent variable: 22 Table 10: Logit Regression on Support for Continued Debates about the Nazi Past Independent Variables Assessment of the Past (positive to negative) Third Reich as most salient period Importance of Past for Germany (high to low) Nazism as unprecedented relapse into barbarism Suffering and death are comparable Income Age Highest educational level: Abitur (university entrance) Highest educational level: Volkschule (high school) Partisan Identification (left to right) Constant Coefficients .221 -0.000 .467 -.268 -.000 .300 0. Those advocating a continuation of debates assigned a greater importance to history in the present (nationally r = -.337 and personally r = .165) were more likely to take this position.217 .000 . Students (r = . 22 There were also very strong correlations regarding this question. On the other hand.000 In this rather robust model.24 Turning to the “final line” question.966 -. on the one hand. ascribing more importance to that period for the present (at a rather impressive 65%).021 .121) and those with Hauptschulabschluß ( r =-.104 -0.314).120 -0.006 .284 -.193 0. Conversely. Advocates of the “final line” ascribed less importance to the Nazi past ( nationally r= .

two questions ask about the connection between the Nazi past and general value orientations. These analyses show that there is a very clear nexus of inter-related demographic variables. However. For domestic and constitutional structures. I look at attitudes towards the 5% electoral threshold. age and partisanship continued to play important explanatory roles and the results largely support the hypothesized relationships. legal bans on Nazi symbols and the use of referendums. I choose three domains: foreign policy. B. domestic constitutional structures and more general political values. historical factors and memories. Choosing the Third Reich as the most salient period and thinking it was a relapse lead to a 18% and 40% lower probability of choosing the “final line” response. Finally.25 Another logit regression on the second response category (supporting a “final line”) shows similar relationships. For foreign policy. especially evident regarding the “final line” question. The tenets and perspectives of the Holocaust-centered memory regime clearly hang together in the expected ways for both those who accept and those who resist it. the historical variables are even stronger predictors. These results indicate a large degree of autonomy for historical and memory factors in mass belief and political cultural systems. Younger respondents (23%). As before. income. such as the importance of freedom and democracy or whether Germany continues to have a special responsibility towards victims of Nazism: . ma ny of the demographic background variables were either not significant predictors or exerted influences only as large as other historical variables. Current Political Attitudes and Values The first task is to look at current political attitudes and values and to select several (most likely) political domains where effects of the past plausibly arise. The Impact of the Past on Contemporary Political Values i. Education. Believing that the period is less important for the present country (at a quite large 61%) and that suffering was comparable (at 31%) result in a greater likelihood of selecting this response. there are two formulations that look at the role of different and possibly competing le ssons arising from the past (furtherance of human rights and a just war against a dictatorial regime) and one taps support for the movement towards European unity. those with a Volksschule education (12%) and more right wing individuals (17%) exhibit a greater likelihood of choosing this response.

0 no answer 1.6 1. Because of the Nazi past. there have been no referendums up to now.9 3.2 9.5 2. Because of Germany’s Nazi past.9 15.6 26. This law was created so that radical parties could not enter Parliament. Sometimes freedom loving democracies have to fight dictatorships that abuse human rights.1 agree somewhat 12.7 agree moderately 5.0 21. Nazi symbols.8 19.6 2.6 4.3 2. That is still today an important argument why Germany should continue to pursue European integration.0 7. The 5% law is therefore unnecessary today.5 20. a movement towards European integration was established. because leading politicians thought that only this would hinder extremist positions. 76.7 3. democracy and peace are especially important values. At the federal level.3 7.5 agree little 0. what do you think about the following statements? agree comp letely 1.6 2. At the federal level.6 36. 3. 6.6 19. Since the establishment of the FRG and former GDR. 8. Today that is no longer a danger and referendums should be accepted.7 6.1 9.6 2. such as the Hitler salute have been banned.9 2.2 6. Today’s Germany no longer needs such bans.2 20.9 41.1 1. 7.8 20. where 1 indicates complete agreement and 5 disagreement.9 agree not at all 0.8 49.7 6.5 65. 2. today’s Germans have a special responsibility towards the victims.1 2.6 5. Freedom is a more important value than pacifism. Today Germany is a stable democracy. peace and freedom.8 42. Germany should pursue a foreign policy that furthers human rights. in order to anchor Germany internationally.1 69.0 7.0 12.0 . among other reasons.8 2.1 13. freedom.2 9.9 2.9 1.6 2.0 19. 5. 4.6 2.26 Table 11: On a scale of 1-5.5 24.9 27. After WWII.9 don’t know 2.9 3.4 6. parties need 5% of the votes in order to gain seats in Parliament.8 3.

. majorities are for the retention of restrictions such as the 5% electoral threshold.9 1.4 78.4 1.7 11.0 0.5 92.6 0.8 0.9 2.6 3. Here. Except for the greater use of referendums. the mean is 30.0 0.8 14.27 Large.6 12.4 and both the median and mode were 21. .6 1.6 5.6 0.7 1. majorities agree with the “progressive” or elite-sanctioned views. I coded a just war against a dictatorial regime “progressive.3 5.4 0.8 13.4 agree little 0. 56% and 85% agree completely or somewhat.2 7.4 12.8 82.8 8.3 74.1 1.4 12.5 moderately agree 5.4 78.2 12.3 4.4.4 0.3 3.1 5. the mean was 20. The questions regarding whether Germany continues to have a special obligation to the victims of Nazism and whether freedom and democracy are important values.9 13.8 5.1 5.3 80.7 18. out of a possible score of 40. For the index used in later calculations.4 90.2 12.1 0.” as well as supporting restrictions on referendums and advocating the continuation of a ban on Nazi symbols.6 somewhat agree 12.3 75.6 88.e.0 81. 23 Almost 90% agree completely or somewhat that a human rights-based foreign policy should be pursued and 68% support building “Europe” (although the “just war” question is not as unequivocal).5 0.9 3.6 84.6 2.9 0.0 0. i. when the responses for all eight questions are aggregated.2 0.5 8.2 78.9 83. which is supported by most.9 1.5 Determining the “progressive” response option was straightforward for most questions.0 1. Few demographic differences arise with two exceptions: Table 12: Advocacy of Human Rights-Based Foreign Policy (in %) Total 14-25 26-40 41-60 PDS Green SPD FDP CDU CSU Hauptschule Abitur Arbeiter Student East West Male Female 2500-3500 DM 5500-6500 DM 7500 + DM 23 completely agree 76.6 83. but.0 9.8 0.9 89.3 0.6 13.6 1.6 Agree not at all 0. are particularly clear as the impact of the Nazi past is already included in the question.0 74. for some I made plausible judgments.6 1.1 67. those value connections posited by the (critical) elite.0 1.8 1.0 82.7 14.2 7.3 1. the median is 31 and the mode is 32.9 1.7 15.5 4.6 5.0 5.2 1.5 78.4 2.9 6.7 1. out of a possible score of 25. indicating complete agreement with “progressive” views.7 82. In fact.1 1. sometimes massive.0 3.4 9.9 5.1 0.3 8.6 0.6 14.

6 moderately agree 19.1 5.28 Table 13: Building Europe Still Important Total 14-25 26-40 41-60 PDS Green SPD FDP CDU CSU Hauptschule Abitur Arbeiter Student East West Male Female 2500-3500 DM 5500-6500 DM 7500 + DM completely agree 41.3 49.1 18. there is a 15-point gap between the youngest and the oldest groups (with the middle one almost exactly half way between) strongly agreeing.3 288.0 6.1 3.8 28.4 somewhat agree 26.4 agree not at all 2. an almost 20 point gap between the highest pro.9 2.0 16.4 5.0 4.1 19.3 38.6 22.3 2.2 14.6 22.7 3.3 5. there is a 20 point gap between youngest two groups and oldest. whereas there is only a 5-point gap between CDU and SPD voters.1 21.and 17point differences in the last two general value questions.0 3.9 3.6 33. with the middle cohort closer to the youngest in terms of special responsibility to victims and closer to the older on the importance of freedom and democracy (but few other differences). as well as some partisan effects.9 20. Similarly there are 13.2 26.3 57.4 2.4 24.8 4.0 3.3 3. Initial correlational analysis showed that attitudes .5 3.4 41. Thus.4 22.5 1.7 24.9 2.2 2.4 26.2 6.4 43.8 20.2 48.8 4. Testing the Impact of Memory I carried out several sets of analyses to look at the potential causal influences of the memories on current political attitudes.6 3.2 28.4 3.8 34.4 22.validated positions.Europe and the lowest rather anti-Europe income brackets.3 39.2 agree little 3.2 2.9 44.0 47.2 24.6 28.5 20.0 9. Regarding human rights-oriented foreign policy.2 2. it appears that the older cohort is significantly closer to elite.5 35.4 22.4 18.4 17.9 19.6 52.4 32.1 3.4 2.5 44.1 18.3 4.6 24. but only a 4 point one between CDU and SPD sympathizers. but an 11-point gap between the lowest and highest income brackets.8 44.1 20.2 53.5 1.1 53.7 45.0 4.9 14.1 29.0 29.6 33.2 1. with the older respondents more strongly agreeing.1 38. In the building Europe question.0 3.8 42.4 18.6 29.5 29.0 3.7 44.4 50.3 6.7 1.1 2.6 2.0 30. ii.3 It appears that income and age differences are the most important here.5 0.

Building Europe (6) was correlated with people seeing history more positively (r = -.119) supported the furtherance of human rights. 26 I used principal component analysis with the varimax roation method and Kaiser normalizations. the 5% electoral threshold and on continuing the ban on Nazi symbols.100) and advocating the continuation of debates (r = -. The 5% threshold and ban on Nazi symbols comprised the second factor and the third was simply the referendum question. .289). The strongest. regarding human rights in foreign policy. the situation may be more complicated. few correlations or statistically significant regressors of any kind emerged for these questions. in particular those regarding domestic constitutional structures.274). For second factor. However.708 for the responsibility question. those assigning a greater importance of the past for the present country (r = . nor partisan identification were correlated or significant predictors. The factor scores for the first factor were . Further statistical analyses using these questions as dependent variables (multinomial logistic regressions) confirmed these initial findings. and supporting peaceful values (r = . assigning a greater importance to history in the present country (r = . the values were . . those seeing a basic difference between German and Jewish suffering (r = -. For example. The exceptions for which few significant correlations arose are the questions regarding the tradeoff between pacifism and just wars. with the memory and historical variables remaining statistically insignificant.110). peaceful values (r= . which converged in 6 iterations. those advocating the building of Europe (r =.726 for the ban on Nazi symbols. “final line.108).” r = . the “Europe” question and the “freedom and democracy” general value question.489 for democracy as an important value and .334) and the continuation of debates (r = -.161.107). Moreover. Furthermore.194).104) and having studied at the university (r = -.158) supported the European project.325). . nor education. pointing to the existence of three factors.860 for the referendum question. Large proportions and even majorities support the socially desirable views informed by the Holocaust-centered memory regime. Various regressions on these other factors proved to be extremely weak. The third factor produced a score of .25 A factor analysis substantiated these findings. .29 in many of the political domains are related to each other and to various background variables. also contained the two foreign policy questions.803 for the 5% threshold and . as well as accepting responsibility towards victims (r= . as did those with higher income ( r = -. loading on the “continued responsibility towards victims of Nazism” question. neither age. I constructed an index from the five political value questions that comprised the first factor presented above with higher scores 24 These findings may disconfirm the expectations that memory affects attitudes in these overlooked political domains. High school students and those with a Hauptschulabschluß did not.426 for the just war question. 25 For example.560 for human rights foreign policy. 26 Testing explicitly for impact of memory. perhaps due to the lack of variation in the dependent variables (the indices).683 for building Europe. 24 The remaining political value questions exhibited numerous and strong correlations with each other and with demographic and historical variables.105). responsibility towards victims (r = .

061 . I present only the interpreted results.131 -.125 .186 .5659 when question 2 (the just war) was eliminated.074 -. Regarding the demographic controls. 28 This a powerful statistic with high validity and reliabilty for large databases. The score increased to . the findings from several of which I report below. 27 Using this index as the dependent variable. but I decided to leave it.072 . as well as the historical and memory variables of greatest theoretical interest. the negative coefficient for age indicates that older people are closer to elite validated positions (partisanship was so insignificant that it was eliminated from later models). 29 Again. in order to have greater variation on the dependent variable.122 -. Another possible statistical .008 .000 .I ran various models that included a full range of demographic controls. The model presented here is the most parsimonious one. The basic multivariate linear regression model is: Y= α + ßX1 + .112 .“ elite-validated attitudes. 28 Table 14: Linear Regression on Current Political Value Index Beta (Standardized) Importance of Nazi Past for Present Country Importance of Nazi Past for Personal Worldview Sex (Male=1) Age Income Suffering is Comparable Continuation of Debates about the Nazi Past Housewife/husband Highest educational attainment: Abitur Adjusted R²= . these models achieve the maximum and parsimonious explanatory power.236 The findings are clear: the historical variables perform as well as often as the demographic ones. ßXn + e.051 -. but the German-centered memory variable does (approaching statistical significance). As another test of the influence of memory. the full sets of results are available upon request. 30 27 Reliability analysis obtained an adequate Cronbach alpha score of .049 Significance . containing only the most significant regressors and the highest possible R²... This technique simultaneously estimates binary logits for all comparisons among outcome categories. The strongest and most significant effect on values comes from those who advocate a continuation of debates.110 . I ran multinomial logit models29 for each of the individual value questions. Those who think that the Nazi past is important for the present country also hold more “progressive” attitudes.146 .30 indicating greater support for “progressive.085 . I ran a multivariate linear regression model.222 .000 . Income and education do not play big explanatory roles.092 .5144. that allows for the inclusion of many independent variables and that is appropriate for this kind of dependent variable.

” the demographic control variables exert a rather marked influence: • Younger people tend to disagree more than older respondents do. Thus younger people are less likely to advocate a foreign policy based on the furtherance of human rights. The number of parameters is exceptionally large and it will take only a small number of independent variables (in contrast to conventional linear regression models). forcing parsimony.” However. the historical variables exert influence. even though the interpretation is less clear than with binary logit models: the effect of a one standard deviation increase in the independent variable on the outcome category being chosen in relation to the baseline (1=strongly agree) category.31 Regarding the furtherance of human rights in foreign policy: • Age is significant and the interpreted coefficient shows a rather large positive effect in each category. For the young. which produce broadly similar results. • • • For the question on building “Europe. exerts rather large effects in the expected direction: greater income (meaning moving from a lower to a higher monthly income bracket) leads to greater probability of agreeing more strongly with a human rights-oriented foreign policy. here too. I again use predicted probabilities to interpret the coefficients. • Those who think that the Third Reich was an unprecedented relapse express a greater probability of strongly agreeing with the European project. holding all other independent variables constant. 30 This is an appropriate and unbiased statistic for ordinal dependent variables with only a few response options. whereas believing suffering was comparable leads to greater disagreement. leads to a greater likelihood of disagreeing. . Younger respondents exhibit a 53% greater probability of only agreeing somewhat (category 2) versus agreeing completely (category 1). there is a 54% greater probability of only somewhat versus completely agreeing. Thinking Nazism was an unprecedented relapse to barbarism leads to a 14% lower likelihood of agreeing somewhat versus strongly whereas believing suffering was comparable leads to a 29% higher probability of agreeing only moderately (category 3) with the human rights-based foreign policy. Ascribing less importance to the Nazi period leads to a 20% greater probability of only moderately agreeing and a 35% greater probability of agreeing not at all with “Europe. for several response options. Higher income leads to a greater acceptance of “Europe. with a 38% greater probability of agreeing moderately and a 82% greater probability of strongly disagreeing versus strongly agreeing. and also safer. Ascribing less importance to the Nazi past in the present country.” technique is ordered probit. This statistic calculates the effect of the independent variable on the probability of whatever category being chosen in relation to the baseline (1) category. I chose to report the multinomial logit results because they are a little more intuitive. in a sense. even if the low number of predictors the models can accommodate constrains efficiency. Income.

• These analyses reveal strong substantiation tha t memory is an important influence on the political values and attitudes of contemporary Germans. Almost two-thirds chose more recent periods. Greater income leads to a 42% lower probability of agreeing little versus strongly agreeing. despite the inclusion of multiple control variables. that memory is an important influence on current political values. A quarter to a third of respondents chose the German-centered memory in the two formulations (that . versus strongly agreeing. versus the strongly agreeing baseline category. In many cases the memory variables perform as well or better than the demographic factors. support for “Europe” and general value questions. There is also evidence for the existence of competing memories. however. C. Moreover. almost all of the relationships (with the exception of age) are in directions expected by the representatives of the dominant memory regime: greater acceptance of the Holocaust-centered memory leads to more “progressive” values. Summary The most important findings from this quantitative analysis are the following: 1. which. This shows that more recent historical periods are starting to intrude on the shared memories of contemporary generations. moderately (21%) agreeing and somewhat disagreeing (58%) in relation to strongly agreeing. included the current period (the unified country from 1990). On the other hand. Believing that Nazism was an unprecedented relapse into barbarism prompts respondents to agree more strongly with this value. 2. the major theoretical contention of this paper. somewhat disagreeing (71%) and strongly disagreeing (62%). the memory and historical variables exerted autonomous influences. democracy and peace are especially important values because of the Nazi past: • Again. In almost all of the statistical calculations using the foreign policy. younger respondents tend to disagree that because of the past. In sum. It leads to rather large decreases in the probability of somewhat (26%). has been substantiated. Finally. The Nazi period is the most salient period for a plurality (about 35%) of Germans today. democracy and peace are especially important values for contemporary Germany.32 Finally. ascribing less importance to the past led to a greater probability of somewhat agreeing (17%). for the question on whether freedom. freedom. believing that suffering is comparable led to an 18% greater likelihood of agreeing only somewhat and a 31% greater probability of agreeing not at all.

the SPD. especially the Holocaust-centered one. as the coefficients demonstrated. with two-thirds of the sample believing that there was a basic difference between the experiences of Germans and Jews during the Third Reich. Many of the historical and memory questions. Nevertheless. are not superficially but rather intensely held. most importantly is the issue of the impact of the various memories and other historical variables on the political values and attitudes in the political domains. or better. gender and religiosity played similarly weak roles. In fact. Although CDU voters do not fully accept this memory regime. 31 6. Here the evidence is unequivocal: these factors greatly influence the political thinking of contemporary generations of Germans especially in the realms of foreign policy and general political worldviews. 31 Space constraints do not allow for a full presentation of these data. 4. better-educated respondents with higher incomes and higher status occupations were closer to elite-validated or “progressive” views and vice versa. and as the strong causal role many of these questions played in subsequent statistical calculations reveals. Other factors like East-West residence. These memories.33 Germans were also victims of Nazism and that the suffering of Germans was comparable to other groups). More leftist. the direction of the relationship was as expected. It bears repeating that the partisanship variable was a surprisingly weak explanatory factor. It appears that the effects of partisanship have weakened and are washed out by elite-mass and generational differences. income and education turned out to be the most important background factors in the various statistical analyses. as is that with the other catchall party. 3. Finally and perhaps. as the questions ascribing importance to the past for the present country attest. these effects were often as strong if not stronger than the most important demographic predictors. there is also support for the partial dominance of the Holocaust-centered memory. the distance is slight. especially the “final line” question. were consistently statistically significant and exhibited substantial effects. age/generation. in almost every case. these “non-relationships. Any real differences are on the extremes—with Green and PDS sympathizers closer to the “progressive” views. As for demographic variables. This is clear evidence that the mass-elite difference is salient regarding acceptance of the current memory regime and that generation is still a powerful differentiating force.” . Indeed.

Moreover. This last point is key. For example. it is paradoxical that so few people chose the Holocaust-centered memory in the first formulation (Nazism was an unprecedented relapse into barbarism) and that. richer and older. because of the Nazi past. above all. worked through or . that memory strongly and independently influences current political value orientations. Actually.. mixed evidence emerges from the quantitative analysis. The tenets of multiple and competing memories proved valid. the final line question was greatly divided. Above all. yet rather big majorities chose the “progressive” elite sanctioned responses in the political value question battery. Moreover. yet large majorities believe it plays a substantial role in the politics of their country and a sizable plurality thinks so for their personal political worldviews. When explicitly asked about values because of the past (in the questions concerning special responsibility towards victims and the importance of freedom and democracy) or when the role of the past was only implicit. representatives of the dominant discourse are either correct or have been extremely successful in arguing their position: those who accept the dominant discourse and memories are also much more “progressive” in their political value orientations. producing a much more detailed and complex picture of the evolution of memory regimes over the postwar period and the degree of dominance of the current memory regime in Germany. in the second formulation. Some respondents may support progressive values independently of any collective memories they may share.34 III. but only for a (large) minority of the population. There are various resolutions to this paradox. only a small plurality chose the Third Reich as the most salient period. i. The Holocaust-centered memory appears influential. even 30% thought suffering was comparable. They also tend to be better educated. big majorities accepted the “progressive” view. Conclusions This empirical analysis of the German case strongly supports the various theoretical contentions outlined previously.e. even though big majorities in other questions supported the continuation of many (educational) efforts and advocated special responsibility towards victims. Others may support alternative memories or an advocacy of a “final line” because they have already reflected on. it does not appear to be as clearly and unequivocally dominant as many observers conclude.

Nevertheless. This is to say that many respondents may have switched interpretations of the Nazi past sometime between the earlier and later questions of the survey. they support the continuation of the ban on Nazi symbols. that the (far) right has monopolized representation and interpretation of the German-centered memories which need to be re-appropriated and connected to more progressive values and ends. Finally. both in furthering understanding of the German case and making the case for the more general importance of memory as an influence on political values and culture. The continued support for this memory goes a long way to explain the resonance that the renewed discussions of these memories elicited in 2002-2003. not because they want to repress or evade it. These findings also incidentally support the contentions of the predominately leftist leaders of these discussions. In sum. Germans have been convinced by elite representatives of the Holocaustcentered memory regime to support and internalize it to a very large degree. . instead of having the Germans -as-bystanders/German victim interpretations of the Nazi period in mind when. It should be applied to an array of other countries.35 internalized the Holocaust centered memory. Finally. producing similar advances in knowledge. they may actually have been thinking of the Holocaust-centered memory. this dominance faces some threat from the older memory of German suffering. this analysis supports the utility of the memory regime framework. for example. a finding t hat was substantiated by the more qualitative forms of data not reported here.

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