By Jason Carter

The College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, invites you to a master's thesis defense by student Nolan King on "Coming to Terms with the Past: How Germany has Embraced Vergangenheitsbewältigung Through Holocaust Awareness and Memorialization."

Date: Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Time: noon
Location: Dugan 204

Thesis Committee:

  • Paula Rayman (Committee Chair)
  • Vanessa Gray (Committee Member)
  • Christopher Mauriello (Committee Member)

This thesis methodically examines the decades-long process in which Germany has garnered its reputation as a model for confronting and reconciling with its dark history. Much of this has been attributed to the embodiment of Vergangenheitsbewältigung or, “the process of coming to terms with the past.” Between 1933 and 1945, Nazi Germany and its collaborators perpetrated the deadliest genocide in world history, killing more than 6 million Jews and millions of other victims of marginalized groups. After the conclusion of World War II and the ultimate defeat of Nazi Germany, the country was physically devastated, and most Germans refused to even discuss the Holocaust. As successive generations of young Germans came of age, they began confrontations with their elders that would place Holocaust awareness at the forefront of academics, national politics, and everyday life. Furthermore, it led to unprecedented efforts to memorialize the victims of the Holocaust in meaningful ways, especially after the reunification of Germany. This thesis uses a secondary analysis of existing evidentiary sources to explore ways in which Germany has become a leader in confronting its genocidal past, focusing specifically on Holocaust awareness, memorialization, and the role of Vergangenheitsbewältigung in the process.