By Erich Maria Remarque

Paul Baumer enlisted together with his classmates within the German military of global battle I. younger, enthusiastic, they turn into squaddies. yet regardless of what they've got discovered, they holiday into items less than the 1st bombardment within the trenches. And as terrible warfare plods on 12 months after 12 months, Paul holds speedy to a unmarried vow: to struggle opposed to the rules of hate that meaninglessly pits younger males of an analogous iteration yet various uniforms opposed to every one other--if merely he can pop out of the battle alive.

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Historicizing war and genocide means squarely facing the history of a disastrous miscarriage of civility as well as of the faltering and desperate defense of decency. It requires an exploration both of the destruction of bonds of human solidarity that hold societies together and of the good life in search of a public culture and constitution to sustain it. It finds people and institutions straddling the divide, succumbing to hatred and prejudice, haughtily denying that it ever existed, and 53 David Calleo, The German Problem Reconsidered: Germany and World Politics, 1870 to the Present (Cambridge, UK, 1979).

Becoming National: A Reader (New York, 1996). , 1992); and Michael Jeismann, Das Vaterland der Feinde. Studien zum nationalen Feindbegriff und Selbstversta¨ndnis in Deutschland und Frankreich, 1792–1918 (Stuttgart, 1992). 70 Aleida Assmann, Arbeit am nationalen Geda¨chtnis. Eine kurze Geschichte der deutschen Bildungsidee (Frankfurt/Main, 1993). 71 The German process of nationalization was carried forward by competing mass-movements that sought to impose a minority vision upon the entire society.

84 Private conversations with people over fifty years old are replete with recollections from World War II or the immediate postwar era, telling tales of survival through catastrophe but largely evading the question of responsibility. Occasionally these stories do touch upon agency, but they offer incidents of imprisonment and persecution, scraps with the Gestapo, or stints in a penal division—altogether not as unusual an occurrence as one might think. Survivors of the Holocaust or former slave-laborers have become omnipresent on television but are rarely encountered in everyday situations as neighbors.

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