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Ergebnisanzeige "The discursive position of Jews and the Holocaust in the current German Opferdebatte"
RessourcentypCall for Papers
TitelThe discursive position of Jews and the Holocaust in the current German Opferdebatte

for a session to be held at
the annual conference of the German Studies Association, San Diego, CA, 4 October – 7 October, 2007
AND the annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, Toronto, CA, 16 December –18 December, 2007

(Please indicate whether you would like your abstract to be considered for either or both conferences. You may also submit two different abstracts. The sessions at the GSA and the AJS could be identical, partially overlap, or be entirely different with regard to the papers presented.)


Holocaust research has recently been both challenged and enriched by a highly charged and complex debate, taking place not only within academia but also in the German public sphere, on whether and to what extent any Germans could be considered victims of the Third Reich and World War II. The debate was (re)ignited in 1997 when W.G. Sebald discussed Germans as victims of Allied bombings; shortly thereafter, it expanded to consider German POWs and civilians in Soviet captivity, ethnic Germans expelled from Poland and Czechoslovakia, and German women raped by occupation soldiers.
To include Germans, who until recently have been exclusively conceptualized as the Täternation, in the victim discourse is highly problematic, since the discursive position of “victim” is already occupied by those people the Nazis persecuted and murdered. Any discussion of Germans as victims thus needs to be grounded in the premise that virtually all Germans were first perpetrators, followers and bystanders, both collectively and individually, before many of them eventually became victims on an individual level. Whether the suffering of many individual Germans towards the end of the Second World War justifies the collective designation Germans as ‘victims’ – and thus the discursive relation between German wartime casualties and victims of the Nazis – constitutes the core of the current discussion.
While the public debate focuses primarily on the suffering and victimhood of individuals as members of particular groups – bombing victims, expellees, raped women, deportees to the USSR – this session will expand the discussion. Papers will consider how the (re)ignition of this debate in the 1990s was largely due to the fact that fewer and fewer victims of the Holocaust and National Socialism in general are still living and that, within a few more years, none will remain at all. Their physical disappearance seems to have opened up the discursive space of the subject position of ‘victim,’ creating the impression that the absence of these incontrovertible victims allows others to claim the status of ‘victim’ anew. Since the Germans who became individual victims at the end of World War II are also fast disappearing, the debate entails bequeathing victim status to the next generation as well as securing it for the group as a whole.

Papers may draw on a wide range of source materials, such as fictional and non-fictional texts; documentary and feature films; mass media such as newspaper, TV, radio, and the internet; museums; archival documents; speeches by politicians and debates in political bodies (Bundestag, Bundesrat, Landesregierungen); and oral history interviews.

Please send an abstract of approximately 500 words to
Anne Rothe at by January 21, 2007.

Anne Rothe, PhD
Assistant Professor of German
Dept. of German & Slavic Studies
443 Manoogian Hall
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48202
phone: 313-577-6237

Quelle der BeschreibungInformation des Anbieters
VeranstaltungsortSan Diego; Toronto
PersonName: Rothe, Anne [PhD] 
Funktion: Information 
KontaktdatenName/Institution: Wayne State University, Dept. of German & Slavic Studies 
Strasse/Postfach: 443 Manoogian Hall 
Stadt: Detroit, MI 48202 
LandKanada; Vereinigte Staaten von Amerika
SchlüsselbegriffeHistorische Semantik (Wissensgeschichte, Mentalitätsgeschichte, Ideengeschichte); Literatur 1880 - 1945; Literatur nach 1945
Klassifikation17.00.00 20. Jahrhundert (1914-1945); 18.00.00 20. Jahrhundert (1945-1989) > 18.09.00 Stoffe. Motive. Themen
Ediert von  H-Germanistik
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