Arena of Memories

Almost sixty years after the end of World War II it is possible to piece together a history of the images and ideas that Europe, the USA and Israel formed of the Second World War and the genocide. Nowhere have the memories of the war faded. On the contrary, they are constantly being renewed in ever-changing variations.
The myth of the nation in a state of resistance, which deeply marked the countries immediately after the war, was so convincing that it was taken over by the majority of the population. The fact that there were collaborators and fellow-travellers was repressed and kept quiet. And yet the dialectic of repression and mythologizing - this is the thesis of the exhibition - cannot be separated from the pacification of the societies, which was a prerequisite for a new beginning in Europe.
Memories are in a constant process of realigning themselves. The critical re-appropriation of past events that were previously considered taboo was informed in the West by the paradigm of the genocide of European Jewry. After the political turning point of 1989, the view of the war changed in the countries on the Eastern side of the former Iron Curtain. At first they concentrated primarily on coming to terms with Stalinism and the Soviet Union. In addition, they were now confronted with the question of the victims of the genocide of European Jews, a question which, however, was posed on its own accord by the West in the context of the desired integration of the East with the West.
Altogether, the memory of World War II and the genocide is a central component of a newly developing European public opinion. It can nevertheless not be assumed that the West's categorical imperative to remember will automatically be taken over in the Eastern parts of Europe. The diverging historical constructions vis-à-vis the Second World War will continue to confront each other in a hotly contested "Arena of Memories".
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