The War in the Empty Air: Victims, Perpetrators, and Postwar Germans

The War in the Empty Air: Victims, Perpetrators, and Postwar Germans

by Dagmar Barnouw


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The War in the Empty Air: Victims, Perpetrators, and Postwar Germans by Dagmar Barnouw

"This book will provoke intellectually, ideologically, and emotionally loaded responses in the U.S., Germany, and Israel. Barnouw’s critique of the ‘enduringly narrow post-Holocaust perspective on German guilt and the ensuing fixation on German remorse’ questions taboos that the political and cultural elites in those three countries would rather leave alone.... [Barnouw] makes us understand why the maintenance of a privileged memory of the Nazi period and World War II may not survive much longer." —Manfred Henningsen, University of Hawai’i

In Germany, the reemergence of memories of wartime suffering is being met with intense public debate. In the United States, the recent translation and publication of Crabwalk by Günter Grass and The Natural History of Destruction by W. G. Sebald offer evidence that these submerged memories are surfacing.

Taking account of these developments, Barnouw examines this debate about the validity and importance of German memories of war and the events that have occasioned it. Steering her path between the notions of "victim" and "perpetrator," Barnouw seeks a place where acknowledgment of both the horror of Auschwitz and the suffering of the non-Jewish Germans can, together, create a more complete historical remembrance for postwar generations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780253346513
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Publication date: 09/28/2005
Pages: 303
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Dagmar Barnouw was Professor of German and Comparative Literature, University of Southern California, until her sudden death in May 2008. Her books include Weimar Intellectuals and the Threat of Modernity (IUP, 1988) and Naipaul's Strangers (IUP, 2003), among other books of cultural criticism.

Table of Contents

Preface: The Loss of History in Postwar German Memory

1. Historical Memory and the Uses of Remorse
2. "Their Monstrous Past": German Wartime Fictions
3. Censored Memories: "Are the Germans Victims or Perpetrators?"
4. The War in the Empty Air: A Moral History of Destruction
5. No End to "Auschwitz": Historical or Redemptive Memory
6. This Side of Good and Evil: A German Story


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