Bridge on the River Kwai German History

Bridge on the River Kwai German History - German History...

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German History Vol. 26, No. 2, pp. 219–250 © The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the German History Society. All rights reserved. doi:10.1093/gerhis/ghn004 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Revisited: Combat Cinema, American Culture and the German Past* Anne-Marie Scholz The relationship between US popular culture and the politics of memory in 1950s West Germany has been little studied. Those who have focused on US popular culture in 1950s West Germany, such as Ute Poiger and Heide Fehrenbach, have not looked at questions of the politics of memory. 1 In turn, historians of memory culture and visual culture in West Germany have focused almost exclusively on the impact of its German forms. 2 Debates about the fifties reflect questions about the role of German political and visual culture: did it contribute to the task of active Vergangenheitsbewältigung , that is, the process of acknowledging and confronting the legacy of the German war and German war crimes, or did it in fact suppress such issues? Concepts such as Peter Reichel’s ± ‘± erfundene Erinnerung ± ’± ,± Robert± Moeller’s± ± ‘±selective± memory± ’± ,± or± Habbo± Knoch’s± ± ‘± Erinnerungskultur or ‘ memory culture attempt to show the complexity of the ways questions of memory manifested themselves in visual form. 3 Many scholars now agree that memory was actively constituted in the 1950s rather than passively denied or * I would like to thank Robert Moeller, Leila Zenderland and the anonymous reviewers and editors at German History for their helpful suggestions and excellent criticism. I would also like to thank the members of my Habilitation commit- tee at the University of Bremen: Sabine Broeck, Dirk Hoerder, Norbert Schaffeld, Logie Barrow, Cecile Sandten, and Kathleen Starck as well as Bernd Engler at the University of Tübingen and Lary May at the University of Minnesota, for their support of this work as a part of my postdoctoral dissertation. Thanks also to Wolfgang Theis at the Stiftung Deutsche Kinemathek, Berlin for the fine selection of photographs. 1 Uta G. Poiger, Jazz, Rock and Rebels: Cold War Politics and American Culture in a Divided Germany (Berkeley, 2000); Heide Fehrenbach and Uta Poiger (eds), Transactions, Transgressions, Transformations: American Culture in Western Europe and Japan (New York, 2000). 2 Wolfgang Becker und Norbert Schöll, In Jenen Tagen … Wie der deutsche Nachkriegsfilm die Vergangenheit be- wältigte (Opladen, 1995); Christoph Classen, Bilder der Vergangenheit: Die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus im Fernsehen der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1955 – 1965 (Cologne, Weimar and Vienna, 1999); Helmut Dubiel, Niemand ist frei von der Geschichte: Die nationalsozialistische Herrschaft in den Debatten des Deutschen Bundestages (Munich, 1999); Norbert Frei, 1945 und Wir: Das Dritte Reich im Bewußtsein der Deutschen (Munich, 2005); Michael Geyer, ‘ Cold War Angst: The Case of West German Opposition to Rearmament and Nuclear Weapons ’ , in Hanna Schissler (ed.), The Miracle Years: A Cultural History of West Germany, 1949 – 1968
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Bridge on the River Kwai German History - German History...

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