Koepnick published “Culture in the Shadow of Trauma?”

The essay reconstructs some of the plots and patterns postwar German culture developed over the years to cope with the afterlife of its violent past and the fundamentally unsettled site of aesthetic expression after Auschwitz. It also details a number of critical emplotments of postwar German culture pivoting not around the rupture of 1945, but rather around the break of 1989 and around how cultural expressions prepared the ground for the undeniable success story of late twentieth-century Germany, namely its astounding transition from totalitarian rule to democratic civility, from staunch nationalism to international responsibility, from the Nazi’s total mobilization of German society and the near annihilation of Jews and other persecuted minorities to a society second to none in its efforts to contain the catastrophic impact of technology and power on human and natural environments.


The Oxford Handbook of Modern German History. Ed. Helmut Walser Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. 711-729