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Legacies of Stalingrad: Remembering the Eastern Front in Germany since 1945 [Hardcover]

Christina Morina

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Book Description

19 Sep 2011
Christina Morina's book examines the history of the Eastern Front war and its impact on German politics and society throughout the postwar period. She argues that the memory of the Eastern Front war was one of the most crucial and contested themes in each part of the divided Germany. Although the Holocaust gained the most prominent position in West German memory, official memory in East Germany centered on the war against the USSR. The book analyzes the ways in which these memories emerged in postwar German political culture during and after the Cold War, and how views of these events played a role in contemporary political debates. The analysis pays close attention to the biographies of the protagonists both during the war and after, drawing distinctions between the accepted, public memory of events and individual encounters with the war.

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“All too often, scholars of postwar Germany confuse the part for the whole by generalizing on the basis of its Western half. But as Christina Morina shows in her sensitively written book, it is impossible to understand how postwar Germans selectively remembered the war and their many victims without accounting for the asymmetry and interaction of rival eastern and western memory regimes. Legacies of Stalingrad is a major achievement of research and reconceptualization that historians of contemporary Europe cannot afford to miss.” – A. Dirk Moses, author of German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past (Cambridge 2007)

“The German-Soviet war was the largest and costliest conflict in world history. The experience left an indelible mark on postwar German society, but until now the narrative of that impact has been neglected in favor of the memory of the Holocaust. Christina Morina has succeeded in restoring the place of the Eastern Front in the history of memory in both East and West Germany and has done so with sensitivity and intelligence. This is an important addition to our understanding of how German society came to terms with the world-historical dramas in its recent past” – Richard Overy, author of The Twilight Years: The Paradox of Britain between the Wars (2009)

“A truly outstanding book. Political memories and diverging, selective appropriations of the legacies of Stalingrad are central to understanding the significance of the past in divided Germany after 1945. Morina has treated this fascinating and complex subject with theoretical sophistication and clarity, focusing on both biographical experiences and political circumstances. Essential reading for all who are interested in collective memory and the legacies of war.” – Mary Fulbrook, University College London

"...a timely contribution to the scholarship on the evolution and impact of collective memories in the postwar Germanies." -Eric Langenbacher, H-Memory

"Professor Morina has written a sophisticated study of World War II, and of how that memory shaped public discourse and eventually political policy: 'the public use of history.'" -Ronald Smelser, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Book Description

This book examines the history of the Eastern Front war and its impact on German politics and society throughout the postwar period. Christina Morina argues that the memory of the Eastern Front war was one of the most crucial and contested themes in each part of the divided Germany.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Eastern Front and post-WWII Germany 9 Jan 2013
By T. Kunikov - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had high hopes for this book, but unfortunately the title is somewhat misleading. While 'Stalingrad' plays a role throughout the book, there is little to no analysis of the battle itself or its varied interpretations in the post-war period. Rather, as happens so often in academia today, the war itself is used as a tool through which memory is studied and analyzed throughout the post-war period in both East and West Germany. The concentration, unoriginal as it might seem, is once more on the Wehrmacht and the crimes it committed.

If there is anything 'original' in the content it is the contextualization of the politics that revolved around the memories of the Eastern Front and the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Similar to the history of the Holocaust, which in the decades following the war was infantile compared to the studies we have today, the history of the Eastern Front in Germany (both east and west) was limited and mainly written by generals putting their memories to paper and the memories of Germans themselves from the latter period of the war when Germans could claim 'victimhood' at the hands of the western allies and the Red Army. The Wehrmacht's hands remained clean since in the east the majority of the Wehrmacht was viewed as working class (only those remaining in POW camps in the Soviet Union, after the major amnesty in the beginning of the 1950s, were viewed and charged as criminals - some 23,000) and thus simply a tool of Hitler and his Nazi regime. While in the west the concentration was soon on the Soviet Union and the crimes of the Red Army.

Thus, surprisingly, it was not until the 1980s when real attention began to be paid to the casualties and destruction inflicted on the Soviet Union by the Wehrmacht (Leningrad, Stalingrad, etc.) and only in the 1990s, with the Wehrmacht exhibit, did Germany come face-to-face with the activities of her armed forces during the Second World War. (The lack of knowledge about the former, in part, can be blamed on the Soviet Union itself since during Stalin's leadership the real cost of the war was kept hidden and it wasn't until decades later that the world heard the number 27 million in reference to military and civilian deaths.) These are the topics that make up the majority of this study. Unfortunately, too often it seems that the war itself, and Stalingrad in particular, are far in the background and there is little to no original research or analysis of literature dealing with the war itself (aside from a few pages on the memoirs written by the likes of Manstein, Halder, Guderian, etc.). For hobbyists and those interested in the war itself, I'm afraid you'll find little of interest here. This monograph is built on a foundation of memory studies and utilizes the memory of the Eastern Front in general to view and analyze post-war Germany and her politics.
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