Germany's Memory Mainstream

Germany's Memory Mainstream
11 September 2020, 2.00pm - 5.00pm
Conference / Symposium

James Young’s much-cited dictum that, when it comes to Germany’s memory of dictatorship, the debate is the most valuable outcome, has encouraged research to focus on the disagreements and controversies generated by memorials and museums across Germany. This symposium asks what can be gained if we switch the focus from controversy and struggle to their less spectacular outcomes: the routine activity of institutionalized memory in Germany and the work of the professional cadres who run and support it. 

Event Organiser: Chloe Paver (Exeter)

Keynote Speakers:

David Clarke (Cardiff):  ‘Looking for the Mainstream in Memorial Museums for the Victims of State Socialism’

Bill Niven (Nottingham Trent): ‘Insulating Holocaust Memory: Germany’s Problems with Comparison and the Mbembe Debate'

Other Speakers:

Anja Ballis (Munich): ‘Guides at a Memorial Site and Holocaust Museum in Germany - A “Profession” under Construction’

Jakub Gortat (Lodz): ‘The Permanent Exhibition in the Documentation Center of the Austrian Resistance and its Role in Austria’s Coming to Terms with the Nazi past’

Dora Osborne (St Andrews):  ‘Stolpersteine in the Memory Mainstream’

Chloe Paver (Exeter): ‘Preaching to the Converted? Standard and Non-Standard Memory Discourses in Sermons and Speeches about a Church Exhibition’

Information about the Speakers:

Anja Ballis holds the Chair of German Language Studies at the LMU Munich and is a contact professor of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation; she teaches cultural and language studies at the LMU. The focus of her research has been on Holocaust education, teaching with digital media and textbook research. For her empirical researches she focuses on the methodology of grounded theory.

David Clarke is Professor of Modern German Studies at Cardiff University. His work primarily concerns itself with the politics of memory in Germany and Europe, with a particular focus on issues relating to victimhood. He has published work on questions of memory in literature, film and museums, and also has an interest in cultural diplomacy and the role of heritage in soft power. He is the author of Constructions of Victimhood: Remembering the Victims of State Socialism in Germany (Palgrave, 2019).

Jakub Gortat is Assistant Professor at the University of Lodz, Institute of German Philology, Department of German Studies. His academic interests fall into the area of the German and Austrian politics of memory, the intersections of film, history and politics in Germany and Austria. His latest publications are: ‘Between idealization of a martyr and critic of a society: Analysis of Axel Corti’s Der Fall Jägerstätter (1971)’ in the Journal of Religion and Film, October 2019; ‘A Rift in Friendship: The Prussian State Library between the GDR and Poland’, in German Studies Review 42.2 (2019) and ‘Deutsche Opfer des Kalten Krieges und des DDR-Regimes auf dem kleinen Bildschirm. Analyse der neusten Erzähltrends in den Filmen der UFA Fiction’, in Oxford German Studies, 47.4 (2018).

Bill Niven is Professor of Contemporary German History at Nottingham Trent University. He has published extensively on German memory issues, ranging broadly across political debate, literature, film, and the work of memorial sites. He is the author of Facing the Nazi Past: United Germany and the Legacy of the Third Reich(Routledge, 2001), The Buchenwald Child: Truth, Fiction, and Propaganda (Camden House, 2009), and Hitler and Film: The Führer’s Hidden Passion (Yale UP, 2018), and editor of a number of volumes on German memory. As a founding member of the academic advisory board of the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, he has worked with the Centre to produce a digital edition, ‘Legacies of the Holocaust’ (

Dora Osborne is Senior Lecturer in German at the University of St Andrews. Her most recent research looks at the relationship between memory and the archive in Germany since 1990. She has published widely on Holocaust memory culture in Germany, including on memorials. 

Chloe Paver is Associate Professor of German at the University of Exeter. Her work centres on museums and exhibitions that deal with the National Socialist past and its legacies. She is the author of Exhibiting the Nazi Past: Museum Objects between the Material and the Immaterial (Palgrave, 2018), which argues for the centrality of material culture to memory of 1933-45, even in the digital age. She has published numerous other articles on aspects of exhibition practice and is currently working on a contribution to a volume on violence in the museum.


This event will be held online through Zoom. Participation is free, but advance registration is required. Registered participants will be sent a link about a week prior to the event which will enable them to access the event. 

Download guidance on participating in an online event [PDF]
All timings stated are in British Summer Time (BST)


Kremena Velinova
020 7664 4884