The collective memories of Nazism that developed in postwar Germany have helped define a new paradigm of memory politics. From Europe to South Africa and from Latin America to Iraq, scholars have studied the German case to learn how to overcome internal division and regain international recognition.
In Pursuit of German Memory: History, Television, and Politics after Auschwitz examines three arenas of German memory politics—professional historiography, national politics, and national public television—that have played key roles in the reinvention of the Nazi past in the last sixty years. Wulf Kansteiner shows that the interpretations of the past proposed by historians, politicians, and television producers reflect political and generational divisions and an extraordinary concern for Germany's image abroad. At the same time, each of these theaters of memory has developed its own dynamics and formats of historical reflection.
Kansteiner’s analysis of the German scene reveals a complex social geography of collective memory. In Pursuit of German Memory underscores the fact that German memories of Nazism, like many other collective memories, combine two seemingly contradictory qualities: They are highly mediated and part of a global exchange of images and story fragments but, at the same time, they can be reproduced only locally, in narrowly circumscribed networks of communication.