Memories of German Wartime Suffering: Russian Migrant Nellja Veremej’s Berlin liegt im Osten in Context

Stuart Taberner


This article returns to a question posed by Andreas Huyssen (and others), namely whether and how minority writers can “migrate into” a German memory culture that is largely shaped by the “ethnic German” memory of German responsibility for the Holocaust. Here, however, the focus is on two “other” ethnic German memories that are arguably repressed in today’s Germany, namely German wartime suffering and the forty-year history of the German Democratic Republic. The article offers a close reading of Russian migrant writer Nellja Veremej’s 2013 novel Berlin liegt im Osten as a highly unusual—even unique—literary engagement with these “non-integrated” German pasts that not only critiques present-day Germany’s memory culture but also challenges what the novel frames as its self-satisfied liberal nationalism. A brief concluding section speculates on how “big history” and growing global consciousnes of the Anthropocene might impact our engagement with twentieth-century German and even world history. (ST)

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