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When Will We Talk About Hitler?: German Students and the Nazi Past

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Volume 1

Worlds of Memory

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When Will We Talk About Hitler?

German Students and the Nazi Past

Alexandra Oeser
Translated from the French by Katharine Throssell

418 pages, 21 figures, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-286-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (August 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78920-287-8 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $39.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“How do young Germans engage with the Nazi era? … [Oeser] reveals a wide range of views on this solemn history, illuminating educators’ concerns and pedagogical strategies as well as students’ perceptions.” • Le Monde

“Oeser’s book is destined to become a reference point in memory studies in terms of both its methodology and its nuanced conclusions.” • Critique internationale

“A model of social inquiry thanks to its intellectual honesty and its careful analysis of language, the book is also indispensable for understanding contemporary Germany, and the implications of its memory politics, while contributing to the history of education.” • Vingtième siècle: Revue d’histoire


For more than half a century, discourses on the Nazi past have powerfully shaped German social and cultural policy. Specifically, an institutional determination not to forget has expressed a “duty of remembrance” through commemorative activities and educational curricula. But as the horrors of the Third Reich retreat ever further from living memory, what do new generations of Germans actually think about this past? Combining observation, interviews, and archival research, this book provides a rich survey of the perspectives and experiences of German adolescents from diverse backgrounds, revealing the extent to which social, economic, and cultural factors have conditioned how they view representations of Germany’s complex history.

Alexandra Oeser is currently Professor of Sociology at Paris Nanterre University. Her most recent publication is Collectif du 9 août: Quand ils ont fermé l’usine (2017).

Subject: History (General) Educational Studies Anthropology (General) Memory Studies
Area: Germany


List of Figures and Tables
List of Abbreviations


Chapter 1. Education in the Service of Democracy
Chapter 2. Talking about the Nazi Past in Class and Succeeding at School
Chapter 3. Gender, Family and the Nazi Past(s)
Chapter 4. The Nazi Past as an Everyday Resource for Adolescents
Chapter 5. The Social and Cultural Limits to Appropriations of the Nazi Past
Chapter 6. Peer-group Dynamics and Playful Uses of the Past

Conclusion: From Memory to Appropriation(s)

Appendix 1: The German School System
Appendix 2: Structure of Interviews with Students
Appendix 3: Summary Table of Teachers and List of Teachers Interviewed
Appendix 4: List of Students Interviewed


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