Posted in: Tattle, World

Germans know that toppling a few statues isn’t enough to confront the past | Géraldine Schwarz

Britain should acknowledge that millions were complicit in the crimes of empire, just as Germans like my grandfather enabled nazism

Before the second world war, remembering history served only to glorify nations, to stir up revanchism or to sanctify heroes. Then Germany invented Vergangenheitsbewältigung, the attempt to deal with its Nazi shame by collectively confronting the unspeakable crimes of the Third Reich rather than evading them. This process, which started at the end of the 60s after two decades of collective amnesia, allowed something positive to grow from a negative legacy: Germany’s rehabilitation and reconstruction into one of the strongest democracies in the world.

Germany’s culture of remembrance could inspire countries such as Britain which have trouble understanding that in order to transform the weight of the past into wealth, it must confront history’s shadows – not ignore them.

Back to Top