Whom to mourn and how? : the Protestant church and the recasting of memory in Germany, 1945-1962 / James Franklin Williamson.
This paper examines the German Protestant Church's influence upon West Germans' memory of the Second World War. Beginning in 1945 and continuing into the 1960s, senior church officials and local pastors shaped the ways people in the western occupation zones and subsequently the Federal Republic could talk about the war and the many military and civilian dead. In contesting when and how to observe an annual commemoration of the dead in the new Germany, Church leaders advocated discontinuing practices from the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich. Simultaneously, pastors recast death to alter the way Germans perceived soldiers' deaths for the nation and civilian casualties of war. Together these interventions contributed to a larger transformation of German society in the wake of aggression, war crimes and genocide.
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