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.2021:.
.Time to Act 

Time to Act 2021 will pursue three themes:

 

(1) The German Elections: Stability amidst Crisis

While last year’s Campus Weeks focused on democratic backsliding in Weimar Germany and the contemporary United States, this year’s focus on the general elections in Germany allows us to highlight some of strengths of the German political system. High voter turnout, respectful competition between political adversaries, and coalition governments are just a few hallmarks of the German system that we would like to discuss with our students. Yet, a palpable sense of crisis – epitomized by the disastrous floods in North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate and the failure of warning systems and climate change protections – loom large over this election. Indeed, according to the most recent “Politbarometer” poll, Germans now rank climate protections together with the pandemic as the most pressing challenges for Germany making 2021 “A Time to Act”.  

For this theme we have reached out to Prof. Dr. Alexander de Juan from the University of Osnabrück for an online talk on climate change and destabilization in Germany and other democratic societies. We also arranged for Dr. Michael Mayer from the Akademie für Politische Bildung to speak over zoom about this upcoming book on democratization and asylum laws in Germany.

We will accompany these talks with a showing of the poster exhibition comparing the German electoral system with the US system in COOR Hall, the building in which the School of Politics and Global Studies is housed. In Spring 2022, the exhibition will move to the German Cultural Center Treffpunkt in Phoenix. 

(2) Futures of Memory for Young Germans

In 2020, we placed special emphasis on the politics of memory in Germany and the US with talks by Prof. Birgit Bauriedl (University of Regensburg) on the memorial site at the former concentration camp of Flossenbürg and a corresponding lecture by Wulf Kansteiner (Aarhus) on representations of the past in different media. 

 

This year, we want to build on this work and explore how the memorial landscape in Germany seeks to address “Futures of Memory” for younger generations. As last witnesses of the Nazi period are passing away, the transmission of “Never Again” to younger generations becomes more important, making this indeed a

“Time to Act”.  Together with the Leibniz Science Campus Regensburg "Europe and America in the Modern World“ and the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum, wewant ASU students to learn from their German peers on how they engage the past at the site of the former concentration camp. 

To this end, Prof. Bauriedl has kindly agreed to record the voices of four graduate and undergraduate students involved in memory projects at Flossenbürg under the title “My” Flossenbürg. These interviews will be embedded by an introduction by Prof. Dr. Jörg Skriebeleit, (Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial and Museum; Co-Director „Zentrum Erinnerungskultur“) and a panel discussion entitled Remembrance and Generation Z: Opportunities and Challenges at the Memorial featuring the following panelists:

 

Panelist 1: Dennis Forster, Project ReMember Flossenbürg (introduction of ReMember; a project for young migrants and refugees in Germany at Flossenbürg)

Panelist 2: Dr. Christa Schikorra, Education Department Flossenbürg (survey of current projects for international youth at Flossenbürg)

Panelist 3: Prof. Dr. Sabine Koller, Slavic and Jewish Studies, UR / Leibniz ScienceCampus (research project / teaching Flossenbürg)

Panelist 4: Dr. Birgit Bauridl, Leibniz ScienceCampus / Regensburg European American Forum (research projects > Flossenbürg and German-American memory performance / teaching Flossenbürg)

Dr. Skriebeleit and the President of Regensburg University, Prof. Dr. Udo Hebel, have also kindly agreed to lead a live discussion with ASU students. As Regensburg and Tempe are sisters cities, Prof. Hebel has been a keen advocate to intensify cooperation between the University of Regensburg and ASU. 

The different parts of this segment will be directly embedded in Dr. Benkert’s HST/WWS 460 World War II Studies and HST454 History of Genocide classes, which feature large sections on memory of the Holocaust. Although all presentations will be in English to ensure a wide audience, Dr. Reves’ German language classes (GER 101, 102, 314) will also participate. The lectures will be advertised to students, faculty and the wider public connected to all three participating schools at ASU. We are also working with the German Honorary Consul in Phoenix, Ms. Carolin Gey, to advertise the talks to members of the German community connected to the German Cultural Center.

Photo Credit | Above: Girwitz

(3) Jewish Life in Germany

We will bring the exhibition Jewish Life in Germany produced by the Leo Baeck Institute in New York to ASU to be first displayed in Durham Hall in Fall 2021. The exhibition will then move to the Arizona Jewish Historical Society located in a beautiful former synagogue from the 1920ies in downtown Phoenix. Later the exhibition will move to the Treffpunkt, the German Cultural Center in Phoenix. 

Photo Credit | Right: Wladyslaw Sojka

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Image by Ansgar Scheffold

 2020: .Building.
.Tomorrow.

In the United States, Germany’s reckoning with its Nazi and Socialist dicatorship is generally met with considerable admiration. Recently, Susan Neiman in Learning from the Germans. Race and Memory of Evil hailed Germany as a role model for how the United States should confront the legacy of

slavery and the Confederacy, whose monuments are falling as we write. Clearly, the United States is presently engulfed in a moment of reckoning with the horrors of the past that inform present injustice and inequality that lends itself to comparison with Germany’s memory work. In contrast to American scholars, European commentators however have been much more guarded, at times celebrating German commemorative efforts and at times criticizing Germany’s refusal to renew reparation efforts to countries such as Poland and Greece. In a similar vein,Germany’s efforts to commemorate its peaceful revolution and unification 30 years ago on October 3rd will also be closely monitored in Germany whose electoral landscape is more divided between East and West than ever. Germany’s partners abroad, particularly those in Eastern Europe celebrating their freedom while also struggling with their own legacy of socialism, will also be closely watching Germany. ASU’s proposal will address these momentous commemorative tasks that will shape Germany’s future in Europe and vis-à-vis the United States by engaging four themes:

          • the 75th anniversary of WWII in transatlantic perspective

          • falling monuments and the politics of memory in Germany and the US

          • democratic backsliding and “the death of democracy”. The Weimar Republic remembered

          • resistance and repression, popular protest and mass mobilization in East Germany in 1989 as compared to the United States

The organizing team at Arizona State University is grateful to the German Embassy to sponsor this lectures series.

          • Christiane Reves, School of International Letters and Cultures

          • Henry Thomson, School of Politics and Global Studies, henry.thomson@asu.edu

          • Volker Benkert, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, vbenkert@asu.edu