Facing the Past

Facing up to and learning to live with past wrongs are processes that every country should undertake in atoning for national atrocities. Germany is now considered a role model. But is Germany’s way of dealing with its past truly exemplary? Even if it is, is Germany’s model of Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung one other countries should follow? What other compelling models exist?

Work in progress:

Susan Neiman is preparing a book on German Vergangenheits- aufarbeitung and its possible application in other countries. The study, which will appear in 2018 with Penguin; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and Hanser-Berlin under the title Learning from the Germans, focuses on three exemplary national crimes using first-person interviews with families of the victims and perpetrators.

Mischa Gabowitsch is editing a volume critically investigating how German experiences of atonement have come to be seen as models for other countries. Developing the theme of the 2011 conference he organized, Translating Atonement, the book will appear in 2017 under the title Replicating Atonement. Two more edited volumes, drawing on projects he recently co-directed studying 9 May commemorations in post-socialist countries, will appear soon: Pamiatnik i prazdnik and Kriegsgedenken als Event. Der 9. Mai 2015 im postsozialistischen Europa (with Cordula Gdaniec and Ekaterina Makhotina). In addition, Mischa Gabowitsch is working on a study of Soviet war memorials in Europe.


Related events:
Conferences and workshops:
Dead Soldiers Fighting: War Monuments and Memorials Beyond Memory and Representation (Berlin Colloquium, 2013)
Translating Atonement: Can Countries Learn from Each Other? (2011)
Open Wounds: Reflections on Nazism, Communism, and the 20th Century (2005; co-organized with Tony Judt and the Remarque Institute at NYU)
Paradigm Potsdam? Paths to Democracy in the 21st Century (2005; co-organized with the Stiftung Preußische Schlösser und Gärten Berlin-Brandenburg)
Der 9. Mai: Formen des Gedenkens an das Kriegsende [“The 9th of May: forms of commemoration at the war’s end”] (2015; at the German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst)


Selected publications:
Mischa Gabowitsch, Cordula Gdaniec, Ekaterina Makhotina (Hg.), Kriegsgedenken als Event: Der 9. Mai 2015 im postsozialistischen Europa. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, forthcoming
Mischa Gabowitsch, Russia’s Arlington? The Federal Military Memorial Cemetery near Moscow, in: Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society 2/2016
Mikhail Gabovich: Pamiatnik i prazdnik: etnografiia Dnia Pobedy, in: Neprikosnovenny zapas, 101, 2015
Mischa Gabowitsch: Virtuelle Erinnerungsstätten. Supplement to Mittelweg 36, 3, 2015
Susan Neiman: Forgetting Hiroshima, Remembering Auschwitz: Tales of Two Exhibits, in: Thesis Eleven, I, 2015
Susan Neiman: History and Guilt, in: Aeon Magazine, 12.8.2013