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Title: Memory of the Third Reich in Hitler Youth memoirs
Author: Sahrakorpi, Tiia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 2157
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis examines how the Hitler Youth generation represented their pasts in memoirs written in West Germany, post-unification Germany, and North America. Its aim is two-fold: to scrutinise the under-examined source base of memoirs and to demonstrate how representations of childhood, adolescence and maturation are integral to reconstructing memory of the Nazi past. It introduces the term ‘collected memoryscape’ to encapsulate the more nebulous multi-dimensional collective memory. Historical and literary theories nuance the reading of autobiography and memoirs as ego-documents, forming a new methodological basis for historians to consider. The Hitler Youth generation is defined as those individuals born between 1925 and 1933 in Germany, who spent the majority of their formative years under Nazi educational and cultural polices. The study compares published and unpublished memoirs, along with German and English-language memoirs, to examine constructions of personal and historical events. Some traumas, such as rapes, have only just resurfaced publicly - despite their inclusion in private memoirs since the 1940s. On a public level, West Germans underwent Vergangenheitsbewältigung (coming to terms with the past), these memoirs illustrate that, in the post-war period, private and generational memory reinterpretation continued in multitudinous ways. For example, even after the 1995 German Wehrmacht exhibitions, cohort members continued to express a fondness for the Waffen-SS or Wehrmacht in their writings. This thesis dialogically juxtaposes public and personal memory, also exploring how individuals experienced and represented controversial memories of Nazism. Overall, the cohort members employed three main narration methods: they normalised their childhood experiences; they silenced uncomfortable aspects of their past; and they cast themselves as victims as a coping mechanism, in order to achieve closure. This thesis argues for a more nuanced reading of Nazi-related memoirs and makes the case that public memory is not necessarily reflected on a personal level.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available