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Abstract

In her article "Narrative Silences Between History and Memory in Schumann's Being Present: Growing Up in Hitler's Germany" Anne Rothe analyzes Willy Schumann's 1991 memoir as an instance of a growing sub-genre among autobiographical writing on the Third Reich and the Holocaust, the Hitler Youth Generation memoir. Written in English for US-American college students, the memoir constructs a reactionary counter-memory to Holocaust discourse in order to exculpate ordinary Germans like himself not only from any responsibility for but any association with nazi crimes. In order to do so, Schumann not only largely omits the Holocaust but recasts the perpetrator/victim dichotomy via the political/personal divide into a history/memory dichotomy. Perpetrators are limited to a handful of leading nazis who inhabit the sphere of history together with "their" victims and are cast as the evil Other of decent ordinary Germans like Schumann who inhabit the realm of personal memory. Rothe explores the complex narrative strategies of silencing Schumann employs to convey his central notion of collective German innocence in what at first appears to be a naïve and straight-forward but turns out to be a highly manipulative and revisionist narrative.

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