„Und wer den Schmerz einmal gesehen hat…”: Neue deutsche Jugendliteratur zum Nationalsozialismus, Zweiten Weltkrieg und Holocaust im Kontext des postmemorialen Wandels
Jung, Britta C.
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Personal and collective memories of violence and warfare are part of broader discursive processes that are subject to constant reinterpretations and remediations from the perspective of the present. Engaging with the ‘postmemorial turn’, this thesis examines representations of the ‘Third Reich’ in contemporary German youth literature. Youth literature has been unduly neglected in German memory debates even though its contemporary readership exemplifies the postmemorial turn. Investigating the specific dynamics of postmemory in a broad corpus of texts and in dialogue with the broader socio-cultural context of Germany today, the thesis analyses how individual authors renegotiate the place of the ‘Third Reich’ in German cultural memory from a transnational perspective. The analysis of specifically postmemorial techniques of representation is filtered through four thematic lines of enquiry: firstly, persecution and deportation; secondly, German everyday life and National Socialist education; thirdly (aerial) warfare and German flight; and finally generational conflict and the search for traces of the past. It demonstrates how youth literature as a distinctive system constitutes its own discursive rules within a complex, polyphonic adult memory culture. However, through underlying pedagogical principles, youth literature also projects the self-perception and values of adult culture. The thesis consists of three main parts: an overview of dominant memory discourses in Germany from 1945 to the present is complemented by the theoretical elaboration of key analytical concepts, such as postmemory, multi-directional memory and the transnational turn in memory studies. Based on this, the thesis then builds a corpus of texts classified as youth literature, highlighting the variety of postmemorial styles, approaches and themes after 1990. Finally, it provides in-depth analyses of eight exemplary novels which demonstrate that youth literature is a rich but under-researched field for the exploration of the shift towards a memory culture that requires both affective and cognitive responses to the past.
KeywordsGerman memory culture