Triumph and Trauma Annotated

The following is an annotation from my research paper, “Signs of Trauma on the Buildings of Berlin: Reminding or Re-traumatizing Berliners?”

Giesen, Bernhard, and S. N. Eisenstadt. Triumph and Trauma. London, UNITED KINGDOM: Routledge, 2015.

Bernhard Giesen writes about how post memory of World War II and the Holocaust have created a collective German identity formed from trauma. Giesen writes that “memory marks the center of identity.” Just as the heroics of US soldiers have been internalized into a culture of patriotic “winners,” the trauma of the horrific actions of Germany in the past has been internalized into German citizens, many of whom are 2 generations removed from those events. The Holocaust traumatized German society through “not only from ruin and rape, death and defeat, but also from the sudden loss of self-respect and moral integrity.” After World War II, the individual traumas of rape, death, and dehumanization and the collective trauma of guilt were internalized by German citizens, who chose to hardly speak of their role. Marred buildings and the remainders of war simply reinforce the trauma that is already felt by German citizens. Giesen would argue that the trauma of the Holocaust and World War II is already ingrained in German society, therefore eliminating the necessity to preserve these scarred buildings. As memorials and stumbling stones can be seen throughout Berlin, there is merit to the argument that the Berliner’s are actively remembering their city’s past and would be able to continue doing so without these buildings.

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