Tips on literature in English concerning the Second World War
Aleida Assmann (2015): Shadows of Trauma: Memory and the Politics of Postwar Identity
How do people remember? And what do they remember? How can you remember events that you haven’t actually experienced yourself? And how are they remembered by the victims and perpetrators?
These are some of the questions that Aleida Assmann considers in her book, with theoretical explanations and examples from real life. Historical experiences don’t simply exist in their own right; according to Assmann, they are always processed in one way or another.
This is not a book about the Second World War or the Holocaust, but about how these events are remembered, suppressed or forgotten.
Ian Kershaw (2016): To Hell and Back. Europe 1914- 1949
Wars don’t break out; they are made – and the ground is laid for them in advance. That’s why anyone who wants to understand the Second World War needs to look at the period before 1939.
In his book, Ian Kershaw provides a panoramic view covering the years from the end of the First World War to the end of the Second World War and the first few years that followed. The author calls this period “Europe’s epoch of self-destruction.” He discusses the “immeasurable catastrophe” over ten chapters, in which he considers the main elements of the crisis: the ethnic-racist nationalism, the irreconcilable demands for new territorial boundaries, the class conflict during this time and the prolonged crisis of capitalism. Despite the wealth of detail, this book never loses sight of the overall historical developments.
Harald Welzer (2005): Grandpa Wasn’t a Nazi. The Holocaust in German Family Remembrance
Full text available here.
From the preface:
“How does one measure the success of Holocaust education? The research study summarized in this monograph by Prof. Harald Welzer, (former) director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Memory Research at the Institute for Cultural Studies in Essen, suggests that what is learned cognitively is not always absorbed into the heart.
Welzer interviewed forty Western and Eastern German families, both in a family setting and individually, to discover how they interpreted their objective knowledge of the history of the Third Reich in terms of their own family history. He found that the history transmitted through intergenerational conversation was quite different from the textbook history of the Holocaust period.”