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Nation Building in Contemporary Germany. The strange transformation of Hitler’s “word made of stone“


Beckstein, Martin (2013). Nation Building in Contemporary Germany. The strange transformation of Hitler’s “word made of stone“. Nations and Nationalism, 19(4):761-780.

Abstract

This article examines the contending redefinitions of national identity in contemporary Germany's memorial culture, focusing particularly on the ensemble of monuments and parade fields known as the former Nazi Party rally grounds in Nuremberg. In a detailed case study, I analyse the recent conversion of one of the physical remnants of National Socialism – Albert Speer's transformer station – into a fast-food restaurant and interpret this conversion as a novel contribution to the discourse on German nationhood. I argue that the provocative commercial reutilisation of the former Nazi monument gives expression to a renewed self-confidence that Germany has gained from displaying a willingness to face up to its past as perpetrator nation. While the intervention thus deviates from the self-indicting spirit that had been characteristic for Germany's memorial culture after World War II, an ironic note is conspicuous in this act of commemorative politics that indicates a way of dealing with the fascist legacy that is, surprisingly in some respects, superior to more conventional memory strategies.

Abstract

This article examines the contending redefinitions of national identity in contemporary Germany's memorial culture, focusing particularly on the ensemble of monuments and parade fields known as the former Nazi Party rally grounds in Nuremberg. In a detailed case study, I analyse the recent conversion of one of the physical remnants of National Socialism – Albert Speer's transformer station – into a fast-food restaurant and interpret this conversion as a novel contribution to the discourse on German nationhood. I argue that the provocative commercial reutilisation of the former Nazi monument gives expression to a renewed self-confidence that Germany has gained from displaying a willingness to face up to its past as perpetrator nation. While the intervention thus deviates from the self-indicting spirit that had been characteristic for Germany's memorial culture after World War II, an ironic note is conspicuous in this act of commemorative politics that indicates a way of dealing with the fascist legacy that is, surprisingly in some respects, superior to more conventional memory strategies.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology > Center for Ethics
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
170 Ethics
Language:English
Date:30 August 2013
Deposited On:19 Sep 2013 07:09
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:59
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1354-5078
Additional Information:This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Beckstein, M. (2013), Nation-building in contemporary Germany: the strange conversion of Hitler's ‘word made of stone’. Nations and Nationalism, 19: 761–780. doi: 10.1111/nana.12024, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/nana.12024. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/nana.12024
Official URL:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nana.12024/abstract

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