chapter  2
30 Pages

Memoirs

Self-anaesthesia, cultural forgetting
WithBenedict Anderson

This chapter examines cultural forgetting in the first few years of post-war German society. Amnesia is maintained when the things that originally triggered the memory loss are not touched on. Attempting to overcome amnesia means recalling actions and experiences to prompt remembering. The silence that permeated German society in the aftermath of World War II was twofold. First, silence concerning the atrocities committed during the Nazi regime’s mass murder of Jews and mass destruction in Eastern Europe and Russia in a war that cost 60 million lives. The second silence, connected to the first, left a nation without the ‘right’ to tell of the suffering, death and destruction experienced during the Allied air war on Germany. Exploring the cultural, racial and political aspects of Operation Desert Storm in Kuwait in 1991 and the beating of the African-American Rodney King by police the same year, the American ethnologist Allen Feldman suggests that their mediated reportage resulted in a sustained cultural anaesthesia.