Arbeitsbereich Geschichtsdidaktik / History Education, Universität Hamburg

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Commemoration and Types or Patterns of Historical Meaning-Making (Narrating)

25. November 2019 Andreas Körber Keine Kommentare

(This is a text from last year’s dis­cus­sion with Sté­pha­ne Léves­que and Gabri­el Reich on nar­ra­ti­ve pat­terns’ role in reflec­ting on monu­ment and memo­ri­al poli­cy. I never got round to finis­hing ist. Sor­ry for the delay.)

In their texts and in the ear­lier dis­cus­sion (first on Public Histo­ry Wee­kly: Léves­que, Sté­pha­ne (2018): Remo­ving the Past?, then on Acti­ve Histo­ry CA: A new approach to deba­tes over Mac­do­nald and other monu­ments in Cana­da, Part 1 and Part 2), Léves­que sug­gested a model of dif­fe­rent levels of his­to­ri­cal com­pe­ten­ci­es fol­lowing Jörn Rüsen’s typo­lo­gy of nar­ra­ti­ve patterns.

While I agree that the­re is a lot of plau­si­bi­li­ty in a sequen­ti­al deve­lo­p­ment of the­se types of nar­ra­ting throughout (Wes­tern) histo­ry, and that the gene­tic type is the most com­plex and advan­ced one, I don’t find much plau­si­bi­li­ty in the idea that in the deve­lo­p­ment of stu­dent’ thin­king wit­hin their life­time, the tra­di­tio­nal type should have any prio­ri­ty to the other ones. Ins­tead, I think that stu­dents encoun­ter full-fled­ged nar­ra­ti­ves as well as simp­le state­ments of all types simul­ta­ne­ous­ly from the begin­ning, and will acqui­re them along­side each other — but only gra­du­al­ly learn to reco­gni­ze them for what they are, grasping their logic.

Con­si­der the fol­lowing graph:

© Andre­as Kör­ber 2018

It is to visua­li­ze the idea that incre­a­sing reco­gni­ti­on of chan­ge in his­to­ric time (the x‑axis) first leads to the deve­lo­p­ment of the tra­di­tio­nal type (asking for the ori­gin of the cur­r­ent­ly valid, in cloud 1), then the expe­ri­ence that what has ori­gi­na­ted can also perish again and the­re­fo­re asking for ori­gins is not enough, lead to the deve­lo­p­ment of the exem­pla­ric type, asking for pat­terns and rules behind the chan­ge on the sur­face (cloud 2), and only modern expe­ri­ence of increased/​accelerated chan­ge then led to the deve­lo­p­ment of the gene­tic type, asking for the direction.

Each of the­se pat­terns leads to dif­fe­rent expec­ta­ti­ons for the future. Initi­al­ly (green per­spec­ti­ve), the future may seem qui­te simi­lar from the pre­sent. What is per­cei­ved as having begun, stays valid. Only from the (later) blue per­spec­ti­ve, a pat­tern seems dis­cer­ni­ble, lea­ding to the expec­ta­ti­ons that the future will also yield simi­lar pat­terns of events as are detec­ted in the past. From the (still later) oran­ge per­spec­ti­ve, an (addi­tio­nal?) incre­a­se in their “magni­tu­re” can be per­cei­ved and its con­ti­nua­tion be expec­ted.
The graph also is to show that the rules and pat­terns as well as ide­as of ori­gins have not been ren­de­red obso­le­te by each new type, but are super­im­po­sed or inte­gra­ted into it.

I use this graph in my lec­tu­re. I now have added the small arrows. They are to indi­ca­te the lear­ning-neces­si­ties of a per­son wit­hin a rela­tively short time-span of life or even youth. While in pre-modern times, they only encoun­te­red the then-deve­lo­ped pat­terns (if the model is valid), in moder­ni­ty, they will have to use all pat­terns simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, in order not make sen­se differentially.

The idea of a homo­lo­gy is pro­ble­ma­tic in ano­t­her way, also. It might sug­gest that peop­le in anti­qui­ty (or pre-modern-times) were deve­lo­ped rather like child­ren or youths, not real­ly grown-ups. This idea is not new, but is very pro­ble­ma­tic. As you might be awa­re of, Rudolf Stei­ner, foun­der of anthro­po­so­phy, sug­gested that the “anci­ent” Greek had a men­tal age of about 7‑ye­ars-olds. And the­re was a very influ­en­ti­al Ger­man “didact” of histo­ry in the 19th cen­tu­ry (Fried­rich Kohl­rausch), who com­bi­ned a simi­lar idea of the homo­lo­gi­cal deve­lo­p­ment in the way peop­le con­cei­ved “god” with that of beco­m­ing of age. So only the modern man was real­ly “grown up” (and is was the Ger­mans who did so — very nationalist).

Becau­se of Rüsen’s idea of a “homo­lo­gy” in the sequence of deve­lo­p­ment of nar­ra­ting types bet­ween man­kind (phy­lo­ge­ne­sis) and indi­vi­du­als (onto­ge­ne­sis), Bodo von Bor­ries (and I as assi­stant to him) did a lar­ge-sca­le rese­arch in the ear­ly 1990s, were we pre­sen­ted stu­dents with items of dif­fe­rent typo­lo­gi­cal logic to dilem­ma-situa­tions, like Rüsen hims­elf has used for qua­li­ta­ti­ve rese­arch and for exp­lai­ning the nar­ra­ti­ve types. We did find a pre­do­mi­nan­ce of agree­ment to “tra­di­tio­nal” items with 6th-gra­ders (abt. 11 yrs), but found no line­ar deve­lo­p­ment. In fact, 9th-gra­ders see­med even to regress. All this is publis­hed in Ger­man only, I fear.

I would stron­gly sug­gest to dis­tin­guish bet­ween the his­to­ri­cal deve­lo­p­ment and hier­ar­chy of the­se pat­terns on the one hand and pro­gres­si­on in lear­ning on the other hand, for which I sug­gest the third dimension.

As for Lévesque’s revi­sed table of com­pe­ten­ci­es in a fur­ther com­ment in PHW and his eva­lua­ti­on that Gabri­el Reich is cor­rect in that the gene­tic type pro­vi­des no solu­ti­on to the ques­ti­on of whe­ther to keep or get rid of monu­ments: Do the­se types real­ly lead to spe­ci­fic poli­ti­cal posi­ti­ons — espe­cial­ly if they are always com­bi­ned? Or do they rather cha­rac­te­ri­ze part of their under­ly­ing under­stan­ding? I think the­re are dif­fe­rent posi­ti­ons and solu­ti­ons pos­si­ble by each nar­ra­ti­ve. The value of the dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­on of types of mea­ning making and nar­ra­ti­on is rather ana­ly­ti­cal than prescriptive.

And that is also the pedago­gi­cal value: I think the­se typo­lo­gies (your table and mine) can be used for clas­si­fy­ing and dis­cus­sing state­ments of peop­le in the poli­ti­cal deba­te. It will enhan­ce stu­dents abi­li­ty to reco­gni­ze the logics behind spe­ci­fic poli­ti­cal stan­ces. And it may well show that both sug­ges­ti­ons of kee­ping and of get­ting rid of can be under­pin­ned by dif­fe­rent types of nar­ra­ti­ve, but that would gene­ra­te may­be dif­fe­rent policies:

Take an examp­le from Gabri­el Reich’s patch, again: civil war monu­ments in Richmond.

One could argue for kee­ping the sta­tu­tes on Monu­ment Ave­nue on grounds of pure­ly tra­di­tio­nal thin­king: to mark the ori­gins of the spe­ci­fic sta­te of things. This is both pos­si­ble in par­ti­san ways (only “our” heroes), but also in a more “inclu­si­ve” form, asking for such monu­ment of both sides to be pre­sen­ted, to mark the ori­gin of the coun­tries “divi­si­on”. Equal­ly in tra­di­tio­nal mode (but with dif­fe­rent poli­ti­cal back­ground), one might call for their remo­val. If you hold that the divi­si­on they mark is no lon­ger given, they might be removed.

In exem­pla­ric mode (as I opi­ned ear­lier), one could speak out for the pre­ser­va­ti­on of the monu­ments on the grounds that they exem­pli­fy a cer­tain time and cul­tu­re which we can still con­si­der as “over­co­me”, but one can also argue for their remo­val becau­se they repre­sen­ted out­da­ted or poli­ti­cal­ly non-sup­por­ta­ble rela­ti­ons to the past, and that our time needs to find new ones, not “pro­gres­sed” ones, but such which reflect the “cha­rac­te­ris­tics of our time”.

I do agree that to hold a spe­ci­fi­cal­ly gene­tic view makes it hard to envi­si­on the who­le ques­ti­on as one of kee­ping vs. remo­ving, — but it does­n’t exclu­de it to the full extent.

If peop­le are thin­king pre­do­mi­nant­ly in gene­tic mode, expe­ri­en­cing the coun­try to having over­co­me that divi­si­on, they object to a tra­di­tio­nal logic they per­cei­ved the monu­ments to have. In this case, it would be the ten­si­on bet­ween one’s own gene­tic mode of thin­king and that per­cei­ved in the monu­ments, which would gene­ra­te a poli­ti­cal position.

If the gene­tic per­spec­ti­ve was upon how to impro­ve com­me­mo­ra­ti­on, one might ask for making such com­me­mo­ra­ti­ons “more inclu­si­ve”. This may have been behind erec­ting a monu­ment for Arthur Ashe among the con­fe­de­r­a­te gene­rals — not a very con­sis­tent move, though, given that is merely addi­tively com­bi­nes monu­ments. In fact, it crea­tes a “memo­ri­al land­s­cape” of a rather com­plex nar­ra­ti­ve struc­tu­re, part of which is tra­di­tio­nal (“heroes”) and exem­pla­ry (“each group”), but by doing so enfor­ces a new kind of tra­di­tio­na­li­ty (kee­ping the racial groups apart, assigning each “their own” tra­di­ti­on to hold up). So the inten­ded “pro­gress” by inclu­si­vi­ty (“An ave­nue for all peop­le”) may in fact have crea­ted a mul­ti-tra­di­tio­nal nar­ra­ti­ve. 1

But the­re are other pos­si­ble solu­ti­ons sug­gested by gene­tic thin­king.  The con­cept of past peop­le being “child­ren of their own time” is as gene­tic as it can get, refer­ring to a fun­da­men­tal chan­ge in time, so that morals and actions might be con­si­de­red incom­men­sura­ble across times. This con­cept has been used for exo­nera­ting past peo­p­les views and actions. On this ground, one might call it “useless”. But it isn’t. Gene­tic his­to­ri­cal thin­king ent­ails both — to reco­gni­ze the tem­po­ral chan­ge and moral and poli­ti­cal con­texts for past actions dif­fe­rent from ours, AND to reco­gni­ze that our own con­text is valid, too.

From this point of view, it may under­pin a pre­sent posi­ti­on trans­gres­sing the “keep/remove”-divide, name­ly to find ways of memo­ria­li­zing civil war “heroes” (and/​or “vil­lains” that is) that do NOT inad­vertent­ly invi­te for tra­di­tio­nal or exem­pla­ric heroic rea­ding, but spe­ci­fi­cal­ly marks the distance of time.

It is impe­ra­ti­ve, this thin­king goes, to keep the­se memo­ri­als, but not as heroic marks to the past or as ambi­va­lent mar­kers. One should not just remo­ve them, for that would put into obli­vi­on not only the past, but also the who­le dis­cus­sion and reflec­tions, the une­a­si­ness about its repre­sen­ta­ti­on which spar­ked the dis­cus­sion in the first place. Gene­tic thin­king would not be con­tent to just remo­ve the hero­ism (espe­cial­ly that of the wrong, side) with the effect to have no memo­ry at all, but would call for a memo­ria­liz­a­ti­on which spe­ci­fi­cal­ly marks the chan­ge bet­ween that time and ours today.

Again, take a Ham­burg examp­le. In an ear­lier con­tri­bu­ti­on to this dis­cus­sion I alrea­dy hin­ted to coun­ter-memo­ria­li­sa­ti­on. One of the best examp­les is here in Hamburg-Altona:

Monu­ment and Coun­ter-Monu­ment next to at St. Johan­nis-Church in Ham­burg-Alto­na 2

Next to Altona’s St. Johan­nis Church, a monu­ment had been erec­ted in 1925 for the mem­bers of the 31st Infan­try Regi­ment in WW1, com­mis­sio­ned by sur­vi­vors of that regi­ment. Each of the three sides of the column-like monu­ment made of clin­ker fea­tures an over­si­zed, half-naked figu­re, repre­sen­ting a war­ri­or with some antique weapon.

The inscrip­ti­on below reads “To the fal­len for a gra­te­ful memo­ry, to the living for a remin­der, to the com­ing genera­ti­ons for emu­la­ti­on.” 3. Clear­ly a very tra­di­tio­nal pro­to-nar­ra­ti­ve, both exten­ding the own war­ri­or­s­hip of the sol­di­ers into anti­qui­ty and cal­ling for its emu­la­ti­on, lacking any trans­cen­dence. The for­mu­la was coi­ned by August Böckh for Fried­rich Wil­helm III of Prus­sia, and was used on monu­ments remem­be­ring the “libe­ra­ti­on wars” against Napo­le­on, but also later on tho­se for the “uni­fi­ca­ti­on wars” of 1870/​71. After the los­ses of mil­li­ons in WW1, its usa­ge — espe­cial­ly of the third ele­ment — is remar­kab­le, albeit not all­tog­e­ther uncom­mon 4.


In the mid-1990s, the church’s con­gre­ga­ti­on com­mis­sio­ned a coun­ter-memo­ri­al, crea­ted by Rai­ner Tied­je, con­sis­ting of three acryl-glass-pla­tes, each direct­ly con­fron­ting one of the war­ri­ors, depic­ting “dark, emacia­ted, fear­ful crea­tures”, as the explana­ti­on on the page “denk​mal​ham​burg​.de” sta­tes (thus on http://​denk​mal​ham​burg​.de/​k​r​i​e​g​e​r​d​e​n​k​m​a​l​-​a​n​-​d​e​r​-​s​t​-​j​o​h​a​n​n​i​s​k​i​r​c​he/, my trans­la­ti­on). It con­clu­des “In the cen­ter the hero­ism and the exalta­ti­on, in front of it it the hor­ror of war. A suc­cess­ful mix­tu­re.” (my translation).


Gegen­denk­mal zum 31er Krie­ger­denk­mal (aus: Gedenk­stät­ten in Ham­burg. Weg­wei­ser zu den Stät­ten der Erin­ne­rung an die Jah­re 1933 – 1945. https://​www​.gedenk​sta​et​ten​-in​-ham​burg​.de/​g​e​d​e​n​k​s​t​a​e​t​t​e​n​/​g​e​d​e​n​k​o​r​t​/​g​e​g​e​n​d​e​n​k​m​a​l​-​z​u​m​-​3​1​e​r​-​k​r​i​e​g​e​r​d​e​n​k​m​al/

To me, this coun­ter­me­mo­ri­al is not just a (exem­pla­ric-mode) jux­ta­po­si­ti­on of (trad­tio­nal-mode) hero­ism and hor­ror of war, but the­re is fun­da­ment­al­ly gene­tic part in it: the coun­ter-memo­ri­al does not merely point to timeless hor­rors of the con­se­quen­ces of war­fa­re, but leans on a visu­al voca­bu­la­ry estab­lis­hed in Holo­caust memo­ri­als: The “suf­fe­ring men” who wrig­gles with pain (and fear) on eye-level with the war­ri­ors, look like “musel­men”, the com­ple­te­ly debi­li­ta­ted and immi­se­ra­ted inma­tes of the Nazi con­cen­tra­ti­on camps. In its ico­no­gra­phy, the coun­ter-memo­ri­al belongs to the genera­ti­on of monu­ments which coer­ce the view­er, the public to find and ans­wer, not pro­vi­ding one them­sel­ves, eit­her in being abs­tract or — as here — by visua­li­zing death and disap­pearan­ce in any but heroic form 5. It is this fea­ture, using a visu­al code depen­ding not only abs­tract­ly on hind­sight but on con­cre­te know­ledge about what such hero­ism-pro­pa­gan­da did help to bring about, tog­e­ther with the effec­ti­ve pla­cing which ren­ders impos­si­ble “com­me­mo­ra­ti­on cere­mo­nies, at which the plaques are not noti­ced”, which indi­ca­te to a spe­ci­fic gene­tic thin­king below it, try­ing to trans­gress the thin­king of the time.

Anmer­kun­gen /​ Refe­ren­ces
  1. Cf. https://​onmo​nu​men​ta​ve​.com/​b​l​o​g​/​2​0​1​7​/​1​1​/​2​0​/​a​n​-​a​v​e​n​u​e​-​f​o​r​-​f​o​r​-​a​l​l​-​p​e​o​p​l​e​-​h​o​w​-​a​r​t​h​u​r​-​a​s​h​e​-​c​a​m​e​-​t​o​-​m​o​n​u​m​e​n​t​-​a​v​e​nue []
  2. Pho­to by 1970gemini in der Wiki­pe­dia auf Deutsch, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://​com​mons​.wiki​me​dia​.org/​w​/​i​n​d​e​x​.​p​h​p​?​c​u​r​i​d​=​1​9​5​2​3​318[]
  3. See http://​denk​mal​ham​burg​.de/​k​r​i​e​g​e​r​d​e​n​k​m​a​l​-​a​n​-​d​e​r​-​s​t​-​j​o​h​a​n​n​i​s​k​i​r​c​he/  []
  4. Cf. Kosel­leck, Rein­hart (1996): Krie­ger­denk­mä­ler als Iden­ti­täts­stif­tun­gen der Über­le­ben­den. In: Odo Mar­quard und Karl­heinz Stier­le (Hg.): Iden­ti­tät. 2., unver­änd. Aufl. Mün­chen: Fink (Poe­tik und Her­me­neu­tik, 8), S. 255 – 276; p. 261f []
  5. Cf. Kosel­leck, Rein­hart (1994): Ein­lei­tung. In: Rein­hart Kosel­leck und Micha­el Jeis­mann (Hg.): Der poli­ti­sche Toten­kult. Krie­ger­denk­mä­ler in der Moder­ne. Mün­chen: Fink (Bild und Text), S. 9 – 20, here p. 20 []
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New Draft on Analysing Monuments with Students

27. August 2019 Andreas Körber Keine Kommentare

This is a new draft of a sug­ges­ti­on for ana­ly­sing monu­ments with stu­dents. Plea­se comment.
August 28th: I added some aspects (in the PDF in green).

2019_​08_​Körber How to Read a Monu­ment as Nar­ra­ti­ve in Class_2-lit.pdf

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Andre­as Kör­ber (Ham­burg)
How to Read a Monu­ment as a Nar­ra­ti­ve in Class – a Sug­ges­ti­on [unfi­nis­hed draft]

I.
The fol­lowing sug­ges­ti­ons for addres­sing monu­ments in histo­ry edu­ca­ti­on are based on a con­cep­ti­on of monu­ments as pro­to- or abbre­via­te nar­ra­ti­ves 1 by a pre­sent actor about a cer­tain past and its rele­van­ce. Even though in many dis­cus­sions about the remo­val of monu­ments, peop­le deplo­re the remo­val of their “past”, 2 what is at sta­ke, is not the past its­elf, but a spe­ci­fic and often pri­vi­le­ged com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on of a cer­tain inter­pre­ta­ti­on of some past con­text, per­so­na­ge or event.
As such, they also address someo­ne (most­ly a spe­ci­fic group) – some­ti­mes expli­ci­tly, some­ti­mes impli­ci­tly only. The­se “addres­sees” need, howe­ver, not be iden­ti­cal with tho­se real­ly explo­ring the monu­ment. But the­se (the actu­al “audi­ence”) will also feel addres­sed, and sin­ce they might (will) be diver­se, in qui­te dif­fe­rent ways. This com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ve shift is far from being an excep­ti­on – it might even be the rule in times of chan­ge and of incre­a­sed diver­si­ty of our socie­ties. Con­si­der, e.g., a monu­ment hai­ling some hero of an impe­ri­al war addres­sing its audi­ence with a refe­rence to “our empi­re” visi­ted by an immi­grant Bri­tish citi­zen. This app­lies not only to monu­ments depic­ting a group’s (e.g. nation’s) “own pri­de and pain” but also to cri­ti­cal memo­ri­als addres­sing a group’s actions in the past which are con­si­de­red as pro­ble­ma­tic (to say the least) in retro­spect. Con­si­der, e.g., Germany’s memo­ri­als at for­mer pla­ces of con­cen­tra­ti­on camps. In most cases, they are cal­led “Gedenk­stät­ten” – “sites of remem­bran­ce”. As such, alrea­dy, they (have to) express their nar­ra­ti­ve logic in diver­se from, given that the socie­ty they address is not only socio­lo­gi­cal­ly and cul­tu­ral­ly diver­se but also with respect to the past they refer to. For sur­vi­vors and depen­dants (of both sur­vi­vors and fatal vic­tims), they are (main­ly) a place of com­me­mo­ra­ti­on their own loss and also vic­tim­hood. In many cases the­se pla­ces tell a sto­ry of “we have this place for remem­be­ring what they (the Ger­mans) have done to us”. But even wit­hin this group, the­re are many who are and still con­si­der them­sel­ves Ger­mans. For them, the nar­ra­ti­ve is qui­te dif­fe­rent. And of cour­se the­re is a dif­fe­rence bet­ween mour­ning a loss and remem­be­ring a sur­vi­val or even own resis­tance. An inscrip­ti­on on the 1965 monu­ment at Neu­en­gam­me Con­cen­tra­ti­on Camp Memo­ri­al in Ham­burg, e.g., rea­ding “Euer Lei­den, Euer Kampf und Euer Tod sol­len nicht ver­ge­bens sein” (“Your Suf­fe­ring, Your Fight and Your Death Shall Not be in Vain”) does pro­mi­n­ent­ly address a group of pri­so­ners who actively resis­ted. But what is more, most of the­se pla­ces respec­tively monu­ments the­re are also known as “Mahn­ma­le”, i.e. “monu­ment” in the lite­ral sen­se of “admo­nis­hing” someo­ne. Who can or should be admo­nis­hed the­re? Refer­ring to the Nazi Cri­mes, they can (and have to) do it in two dif­fe­rent ways: Towards sur­vi­ving vic­tims and their depen­dants they may be read as “Never let that be done unto you again” – but addres­sing the Ger­man socie­ty as such they refer to “Remem­ber” (publicly, that is) “what you have done” (both to “others” and to “some of your own”, that is) – “and make sure that this never hap­pens again”. Ger­mans among the vic­tims of NS-cri­mes (Jewish Ger­mans, Com­mu­nists, Social Demo­crats Jehova’s Wit­nes­ses, and many others), then, will spe­ci­fi­cal­ly have to select (not choo­se) how they are addressed.

Meta­pho­ri­cal­ly, monu­ments don’t cea­se to “speak” if addres­sing a dif­fe­rent audi­ence from what was inten­ded or sup­po­sed. Sin­ce all per­cep­ti­on and ana­ly­sis (“de-construction”1) of a nar­ra­ti­ve also requi­res and implies re-con­struc­ti­ve men­tal pro­ces­ses, the resul­ting nar­ra­ti­ves in diver­se publi­ca will dif­fer, par­ti­al­ly by beco­m­ing more com­plex. Con­si­der the 1925 war monu­ment in front of Hamburg-Altona’s Johan­nis Church: It depicts three medi­eval war­ri­ors with bare chest and lea­ning on a long sword.2 The inscrip­ti­on reads: “Den Gefal­le­nen zum dank­ba­ren Gedächt­nis, den Leben­den zur Mah­nung, den kom­men­den Geschlech­tern zur Nach­ei­fe­rung” (“to the fal­len in gra­te­ful memo­ry, to the living as a remin­der, to the com­ing genera­ti­ons for emu­la­ti­on”). Even though the­re surely are some youths on the right-wing of the poli­ti­cal spec­trum to whom this may appeal, both most of them will have to enga­ge in two­fold inter­pre­ta­ti­on: “Eth­nic” will have to dif­fe­ren­tia­te bet­ween their own posi­ti­on and per­spec­ti­ve and that of the youth in the Wei­mar Repu­blic, in order to reco­gni­ze the mes­sa­ge and to make their own sen­se of it, Ger­mans with what is often ter­med as “migra­to­ry back­ground” will have even more aspects to combine.

All the­se con­si­de­ra­ti­ons also hold true for the “speaker’s posi­ti­on” in a memo­ri­al or monument’s nar­ra­ti­ve: Let’s take the examp­le of Ger­man Con­cen­tra­ti­on Camp memo­ri­als again: Who is it, admo­nis­hing the vic­tims not to be vic­ti­mi­zed again, and (more pro­mi­n­ent­ly) the Ger­mans not to beco­me per­pe­tra­tors again? In fact, one can even detect ano­t­her lay­er in such monu­ments. The fact that (bela­ted­ly enough) the Ger­man socie­ty today desi­gna­tes and sup­ports the­se “Gedenk­stät­ten” (or even hosts them insti­tu­tio­nal­ly) can also be con­si­de­red a mes­sa­ge to both the sur­vi­vors, their depen­dants and to the world at lar­ge: “See and that we address this past” – pos­si­b­ly also with a call for sup­port: “By wit­nessing this com­mit­ment of ours to remem­be­ring this past – help us to resist and even fight ten­den­ci­es to aban­don it and to return to a socio-centric way or com­me­mo­ra­ti­on” again. 3 But is it “the Ger­man Socie­ty” spea­king here – or some spe­ci­fic group (e.g. the government, a poli­ti­cal fac­tion, …) spea­king “for” the Ger­man peop­le or in lieu of? Just like the tar­ge­ted audi­ence of a monu­ment sel­dom­ly is just the one real­ly visi­t­ing it (and try­ing to make sen­se of it), the posi­ti­on of “aut­hor­s­hip” needs to be differentiated.
Given all this, the con­ven­tio­nal ques­ti­ons of (1) who erec­ted a monu­ment (2) to (remem­be­ring) whom, (3) for what pur­po­se, (4) with who­se money, and to what effect (e.g. of app­rai­sal, cri­tique), are still necessa­ry, but need to be complemented.
As a result, a monument’s “mes­sa­ge” or “mea­ning” is neit­her fixed nor arbi­tra­ry, but rather a spec­trum of nar­ra­ti­ve rela­ti­ons bet­ween a ran­ge of perceived-“authors” or ”spea­kers” and a simi­lar ran­ge of tar­ge­ted and fac­tu­al addressees.
Fur­ther­mo­re, their inter­re­la­ti­on is of utmost inte­rest and may stron­gly dif­fer: Does (and if so: in what way) the monu­ments mes­sa­ge imply the aut­hor and the addressee(s) to belong to the same group? It it “intran­si­ti­ve” in that it at least see­min­gly expres­ses the fact of “remem­be­ring” (“We both know that we have know­ledge about this past and we express that it is of impor­t­ance to us”), while in fact it ser­ves eit­her as a tran­si­ti­ve remin­der (“I know that you know, but you must not for­get”) or even as a first-time intro­duc­tion of the addres­see into the sub­ject at hand (which will be the mode in most cases of visi­t­ing monu­ments with stu­dents). So whe­re “remem­be­ring” and even “com­me­mo­ra­ti­on” is sug­gested and meant, “tel­ling” is the fac­tu­al mode.
Fur­ther­mo­re, com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve modes are mani­fold. Monu­ments can not only call for neu­tral “remem­be­ring”, but also for reve­ring or con­dem­ning, for fee­lings (pri­de and pain) – and they can appeal for action, e.g. for fol­lowing an examp­le. In cul­tu­ral­ly diver­se socie­ties, the spe­ci­fic lin­gu­is­tic and artis­tic modes of expres­sing may not be clear to all stu­dents, pos­si­b­ly lea­ding to misun­derstan­dings, but pos­si­b­ly also to iden­ti­fy­ing alter­na­ti­ve rea­dings which are worth considering.

II.
Ano­t­her aspect is cru­cial: In (post-)modern, diver­se and hete­ro­ge­ne­ous socie­ties (at least), it will not suf­fice that each indi­vi­du­al is able to think about the past and its repre­sen­ta­ti­ons in the public sphe­re, to con­si­der the messages and to rela­te to them indi­vi­du­al­ly. The com­mon task of orga­ni­zing a peace­ful and demo­cra­tic life tog­e­ther wit­hin socie­ty as well as in respect to for­eign rela­ti­ons requi­res that the indi­vi­du­al mem­bers of socie­ty do not only sport their own his­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness – pos­si­b­ly dif­fe­rent from that of their neigh­bours, they will have to be able to rela­te to the­se other per­cep­ti­ons, con­cep­tua­li­sa­ti­ons, inter­pre­ta­ti­ons and eva­lua­tions of past and histo­ry and to the appeals they hold for them. In plu­ral socie­ties it is not enough to just know histo­ry yourself and to be able to think his­to­ri­cal­ly – its is para­mount to have at least some insight into the his­to­ri­cal thin­king of others and to be able to com­mu­ni­ca­te about it. This also refers to monu­ments. What is nee­ded is not only know­ledge and insight about some pos­si­ble dif­fe­rent inter­pre­ta­ti­ons (as e.g. exem­pli­fied by clas­si­cal or repre­sen­ta­ti­ve ones taken from lite­ra­tu­re), but also an insight into the actu­al (ongo­ing, pos­si­b­ly still unsu­re, blur­red, unfi­nis­hed) inter­pre­ta­ti­ons of others in one’s one rele­vant con­texts. Lear­ning about histo­ry in inclu­si­ve socie­ties, the­re­fo­re, be they diver­se with regard to cul­tu­ral, social or other dif­fe­ren­tia­ti­ons, requi­res a dimen­si­on of mutua­li­ty, of lear­ning not only about histo­ry and the past, but also about the other mem­bers of socie­ty and their rela­ti­ons to it, the mea­nings it holds for them, their ques­ti­ons, their hypo­the­ses, etc. 4

III.
On the back­drop of all the­se con­si­de­ra­ti­ons, the fol­lowing gui­de­li­ne the­re­fo­re does not ven­ture to help stu­dents to per­cei­ve the “true” “mea­ning” of a monu­ment, but rather to fos­ter com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on about what is per­cei­ved as its “mes­sa­ge” and mea­ning by pos­si­b­ly dif­fe­rent peop­le. Some of the­se per­cep­ti­ons will be affir­med by being shared among several and pos­si­b­ly qui­te dif­fe­rent users, while others might be dif­fe­rent. This, howe­ver, does not necessa­ri­ly ren­der them wrong or non­sen­si­cal (which, they might be, howe­ver). Com­pa­ring dif­fe­rent ans­wers might both shar­pen the individual’s per­cep­ti­on and broa­den it to per­cei­ve rele­van­ce and mea­nings of memo­ri­als to peop­le with dif­fe­rent back­ground, inte­rest, cul­tu­re, inte­rest, and so on. The­se forms of rele­van­ce might (often will) dif­fer from that inten­ded by tho­se who erec­ted the monu­ment. What does that mean? Is a monu­ment dys­func­tio­n­al if peop­le feel addres­sed by it in a way dif­fe­ring from that ori­gi­nal­ly inten­ded? Or does it keep rele­van­ce but chan­ge significance?
The­se ques­ti­ons do not replace but com­ple­ment other approa­ches to ana­ly­sing monu­ments. It might be sen­si­ble, though, to not app­ly them after more direct approa­ches, but to use them as a start, resul­ting in more spe­ci­fic (and pos­si­b­ly also more) of ques­ti­ons to explore.
The ques­ti­ons can be used in dif­fe­rent ways. It will be rather tedious to just ans­wer them one by one – espe­cial­ly inclu­ding all bul­let points. The lat­ter are rather meant as sug­ges­ti­ons for for­mu­la­ting an ans­wer to the main ques­ti­ons abo­ve them.
To work indi­vi­du­al­ly is pos­si­ble, but becau­se of the con­cept exp­lai­ned abo­ve, it might be more fruit­ful to app­ly a “Think-Pair-Share” ‑sys­tem and first work inde­pendent­ly, then com­pa­re sug­ges­ti­ons in small groups in a way which does not only look for com­mon solu­ti­ons, but also explo­res and eva­lua­tes dif­fe­ren­ces, and then share both insights and remai­ning or new­ly ari­sen ques­ti­ons with the who­le group.

Task:
I. Respond to the ques­ti­ons 1 – 6, using the bul­let points below as direc­tions and sug­ges­ti­ons. Try e.g. to com­ple­te the given sen­ten­ces, but for­mu­la­te your own ans­wer to the main ques­ti­ons. If you are unsu­re or have addi­tio­nal ide­as, for­mu­la­te your ques­ti­ons (ins­tead)!
II. Com­pa­re your nots with your partner(s). Don’t stan­dar­di­ze them! Ins­tead: For­mu­la­te (a) a new ver­si­on of tho­se aspects which were simi­lar and (b) on your dif­fe­ren­ces! In what way did/​do you dif­fer? Make a sug­ges­ti­on why that might be! Keep your ori­gi­nal notes! They will be valu­able in fur­ther discussions!
III. Report on your fin­dings from II to your class! Com­pa­re with insights and ques­ti­ons of other groups!

=======================

  1. Com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ve Explicitness:
    In how far does the monu­ment (seem to) …
    • … pre­sent or sug­gest a spe­ci­fic per­son or group in a spea­ker posi­ti­on? (e.g. “We, <…> erec­ted this monument”?)
    • … address a spe­ci­fic person/​group or sug­gests to be direc­ted towards a spe­ci­fic group? (“You, <…>…” /​ “to <…>”) 5
    • … address a third-par­ty as some kind of wit­ness as to the fact of remem­be­ring? 6
    • … refer to some third par­ty as invol­ved in the past which is nar­ra­ted? (e.g. “what they have done to us”)
  2. Nar­ra­ti­ve Explicitness:
    In how far does the monu­ment (seem to) …
    • … pre­sup­po­se that the recipient/​addressee has suf­fi­ci­ent know­ledge about the con­text refer­red to?
    • … expli­ci­tly con­struct a spe­ci­fic con­text (expli­ci­tly tell a story),
    • … rely on a cer­tain amount of com­mon know­ledge of spea­ker and addres­see? 7
    • …intro­du­ce actors, con­texts and events?
    • ?
  3. Transitive/​Intransitive communication:
    In how far does the monu­ment (seem to) …
    • … embrace the recipient/​addressee as a mem­ber of the same group (“we”) as the (pur­por­ted) speaker?
    • … address the recipient/​addressee as a mem­ber of a dif­fe­rent group (“you”) as the (pur­por­ted) speaker?
  4. . “Mono-” or “Hete­rogloss” communication:
    In how far does the monu­ment (seem to) …
    • … embrace the recipient/​addressee as undoub­ted­ly having the same perspective/​sharing the eva­lua­ti­on (“monogloss”)? e.g. by being impli­cit about it,
    • … address the recipient/​addressee as not necessa­ri­ly sharing the same per­spec­ti­ve and eva­lua­ti­on (“hete­rogloss”)? e.g. by being expli­cit in state­ment, eva­lua­ti­on, etc.
  5. Com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ve Intent:
    What is the rela­ti­on of authors’/addressee(s)/third-party’s role in the (proto-)narrated sto­ry?, e.g.
    • Gene­ric
      1. “<…> want(s) <…> to <know/​remember/​acknowledge/​accept/​judge> as <…>”
    • Spe­ci­fic:
      • “’We’ <…> want ‘you’ <…> (and others) to know what ‘we’ <…> have achie­ved!” (as e.g. in “Stran­ger, tell the Spartans …”)
      • “’We’ <…>want ‘us’ <…> to not for­get what ‘we’ <…> have achie­ved!” (as e.g. in Monu­ments to Unification)
      • “’We’ <…> want ‘us’ <…> to not for­get what ‘we’ <…> have cau­sed!” (as e.g. in Ger­man Con­cen­tra­ti­on Camp Memorials)
      • “’We’ <…> want ‘you’ <…> to know that ‘we’ <…> sub­mit our­sel­ves to not forgetting/​remembering!”
      • “’We’ <…> want ‘us’ <…> to not for­get what ‘they’ <…> have done to ‘us’ <…>!”
      • “’’We’ <…> want ‘you’ <…> to know that ‘we’ <…> ack­now­ledge what ‘you’ <…> have done to ‘us’ <…>!”
    • In how far does one (or several) of the fol­lowing forms descri­be the com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ve inten­ti­on of the monument? 
      • to inform, e.g. if it intro­du­ces and details the past inci­dents, con­texts etc.;
      • to con­firm, e.g. if it almost taci­tly – without giving details – refers to a past con­text which both aut­hor and addres­see share know­ledge about; inten­ding to secu­re ack­now­led­ge­ment of factuality;
      • to com­me­mo­ra­te, e.g. if it almost taci­tly – without giving details – refers to a past con­text which both aut­hor and addres­see share know­ledge about, inten­ding to express a cer­tain evaluation;
      • to mourn, e.g. if it refers to a past con­text which both aut­hor and addres­see share know­ledge about, inten­ding to express a fee­ling of loss of someone/​something valued);
      • to remind, e.g. if it refers to a past con­text which both aut­hor and addres­see should share know­ledge about, inten­ding to 
        • pre­vent forgetting;
        • secu­re a cer­tain eva­lua­ti­on which is sup­po­sed to have been shared before?
        • appeal, e.g. if it asks (invites?/requests?/summons?) the recipient/​addressee to feel/​identify/​act in a cer­tain way, e.g. by 
          • refer­ring to (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for some­thing, admo­nis­hing the addres­see to eva­lua­te this/​these per­sons in a cer­tain way, but not to fol­low her/​his examp­le, either
          • heroi­zing: pre­sen­ting (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for a spe­cial achie­ve­ment and the­re­fo­re to be revered;
          • giving thanks: pre­sen­ting (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for a spe­cial achie­ve­ment and expres­sing gratitude;
          • con­dem­ning: pre­sen­ting (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for a spe­cial achie­ve­ment and the­re­fo­re to be condemned;
          • to pre­sent examp­les /​ role models, e.g. if it by pres­ents (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for some­thing and addres­ses the recipient/​addressee as pos­si­b­ly being in a simi­lar posi­ti­on and having simi­lar capa­ci­ties, urging her/​him either 
            • to fol­low the examp­le (e.g. of taking action, of resisting);
            • to not fol­low the examp­le (e.g. of going along …);
          • to express gra­ti­tu­de, e.g. if it pres­ents the addres­see and/​or his group as respon­si­ble for some­thing good, expres­sing gratitude;
          • to accu­se, e.g. if it pres­ents the addres­see and/​or his group as respon­si­ble for some­thing bad, expres­sing contempt;
    • other (spe­ci­fy) …
      ======
      Refe­ren­ces
      • “Gemüts­zu­stand eines total besieg­ten Vol­kes”. Höcke-Rede im Wort­laut. Nach dem Tran­skript von Kon­stan­tin Nowotny (2017). In Der Tages­spie­gel, 1/​19/​2017. Avail­ab­le online at https://​www​.tages​spie​gel​.de/​p​o​l​i​t​i​k​/​h​o​e​c​k​e​-​r​e​d​e​-​i​m​-​w​o​r​t​l​a​u​t​-​g​e​m​u​e​t​s​z​u​s​t​a​n​d​-​e​i​n​e​s​-​t​o​t​a​l​-​b​e​s​i​e​g​t​e​n​-​v​o​l​k​e​s​/​1​9​2​7​3​5​1​8​-​a​l​l​.​h​tml, che­cked on 3/​14/​2019.
      • Kör­ber, Andre­as (2014): His­to­ri­cal Thin­king and His­to­ri­cal Com­pe­ten­ci­es as Didac­tic Core Con­cepts. In Hel­le Bje­rg, Andre­as Kör­ber, Clau­dia Lenz, Oli­ver von Wro­chem (Eds.): Tea­ching his­to­ri­cal memo­ries in an inter­cul­tu­ral per­spec­ti­ve. Con­cepts and methods : expe­ri­en­ces and results from the Tea­c­Mem pro­ject. 1st ed. Ber­lin: Metro­pol Ver­lag (Rei­he Neu­en­gam­mer Kol­lo­qui­en, Bd. 4), pp. 69 – 96.
      • Kör­ber, Andre­as (2015): His­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness, his­to­ri­cal com­pe­ten­ci­es – and bey­ond? Some con­cep­tu­al deve­lo­p­ment wit­hin Ger­man histo­ry didac­tics. Avail­ab­le online at http://​www​.pedocs​.de/​v​o​l​l​t​e​x​t​e​/​2​0​1​5​/​1​0​8​1​1​/​p​d​f​/​K​o​e​r​b​e​r​_​2​0​1​5​_​D​e​v​e​l​o​p​m​e​n​t​_​G​e​r​m​a​n​_​H​i​s​t​o​r​y​_​D​i​d​a​c​t​i​c​s​.​pdf.
      • Kör­ber, Andre­as (2019; in print): Inklu­si­ve Geschichts­kul­tur — Bestim­mungs­fak­to­ren und Ansprü­che. In Sebas­ti­an Barsch, Bet­ti­na Degner, Chris­toph Küh­ber­ger, Mar­tin Lücke (Eds.): Hand­buch Diver­si­tät im Geschichts­un­ter­richt. Zugän­ge einer inklu­si­ven Geschichts­di­dak­tik. Frank­furt am Main: Wochen­schau Ver­lag, pp. 250 – 258.
      • Kör­ber, Andre­as (2019; unpubl.): Geschichts­ler­nen in der Migra­ti­ons­ge­sell­schaft. Sich in und durch Kon­tro­ver­sen zeit­lich ori­en­tie­ren ler­nen. deut­lich über­ar­bei­te­ter Vor­trag; unpu­bli­ziert. Geschich­ten in Bewe­gung“. Uni­ver­si­tät Pader­born. Pader­born, 6/​14/​2019.
      • Kör­ber, Andre­as; Schrei­ber, Wal­traud; Schö­ner, Alex­an­der (Eds.) (2007): Kom­pe­ten­zen his­to­ri­schen Den­kens. Ein Struk­tur­mo­dell als Bei­trag zur Kom­pe­tenz­ori­en­tie­rung in der Geschichts­di­dak­tik. Neu­ried: Ars Una Ver­lags-Gesell­schaft (Kom­pe­ten­zen, 2).
      • Léves­que, Sté­pha­ne (2018): Remo­ving the “Past”. Deba­tes Over Offi­cial Sites of Memo­ry. In Public Histo­ry Wee­kly 2018 (29). DOI: 10.1515/phw-2018 – 12570.
      • Rüsen, Jörn; Fröh­lich, Klaus; Horst­köt­ter, Hubert; Schmidt, Hans Gün­ther (1991): Unter­su­chun­gen zum Geschichts­be­wußt­sein von Abitu­ri­en­ten im Ruhr­ge­biet. Empi­ri­sche Befun­de einer quan­ti­ta­ti­ven Pilot­stu­die. In Bodo von Bor­ries (Ed.): Geschichts­be­wusst­sein empi­risch. Pfaf­fen­wei­ler: Cen­tau­rus (Geschichts­di­dak­tik : […], Stu­di­en, Mate­ria­li­en, [N.F.], Bd. 7), pp. 221 – 344.
      • Zio­gas, Ioan­nis (2014): Spar­se Spar­tan Ver­se. Fil­ling Gaps in the Ther­mo­py­lae Epi­gram. In Ramus 43 (2), pp. 115 – 133. DOI: 10.1017/rmu.2014.10.
Anmer­kun­gen /​ Refe­ren­ces
  1. Cf. Rüsen et al. 1991, 230f. Cf. also my com­ment on Léves­que 2018, ibid. []
  2. Cf. Léves­que 2018.[]
  3. That this dan­ger is far from being hypo­the­ti­cal can be seen in the light of a speech by the right-wing (AFD)-politician Björn Höcke in Dres­den on 18 Janu­a­ry 2017, whe­re he cal­led for a “U‑turn” in Ger­man memo­ry cul­tu­re, giving up the poli­tics of “Ver­gan­gen­heits­be­wäl­ti­gung”. In the same speech, he reproa­ched to the Ber­lin Memo­ri­al to the Mur­de­red Jews of Euro­pe (the “Holo­caust-Memo­ri­al”) as a “monu­ment of shame”, which of cour­se it is, but in a dif­fe­rent sen­se: What Höcke meant is a “shame­ful” monu­ment, but for the cur­rent Ger­man memo­ri­al cul­tu­re he atta­cked, to address one’s own (in group’s) “crime and shame” is not­hing shame­ful, but a neces­si­ty. Cf. the docu­men­ta­ti­on of the speech in “Gemüts­zu­stand eines total besieg­ten Vol­kes” 2017 (as of 28.8.2019). Any sen­se of pri­de, howe­ver, based on the deve­lo­p­ment of this “cri­ti­cal” and even “nega­ti­ve” memo­ry cul­tu­re would be at least pro­ble­ma­tic – it would under­mi­ne the mind-set. The ques­ti­on remains of how to address this as an achie­ve­ment without resor­ting to con­cepts of “pri­de”.[]
  4. Cf. on the con­cept of inclu­si­ve histo­ry cul­tu­re: Kör­ber 2019; i. Dr.. Kör­ber 2019.[]
  5. As e.g. in a Ham­burg monu­ment com­me­mo­ra­ting the town’s dead of WW1: “Vier­zig Tau­send Söh­ne der Stadt lie­ßen ihr Leben für Euch” (“For­ty Thousand Sons of [our] Town Gave Their Lives for You”).[]
  6. As e.g. in the ver­se of Simo­n­i­des of Ceos (556 – 468 BCE) on the Spar­tan defen­ders at the Ther­mo­py­lae, which Hero­do­tus (VII, 228) reports to have been erec­ted on the spot: “Oh stran­ger, tell the Lace­da­e­mo­ni­ans that we lie here, obedient to their words.” (transl. by Ioan­nis Zio­gas). The ori­gi­nal did not sur­vi­ve, but in 1955 a modern pla­te was erec­ted bea­ring the Greek text again. For this and dif­fe­rent trans­la­ti­ons of the inscrip­ti­on see the Eng­lish Wiki­pe­dia-arti­cle: https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​B​a​t​t​l​e​_​o​f​_​T​h​e​r​m​o​p​y​l​a​e​#​E​p​i​t​a​p​h​_​o​f​_​S​i​m​o​n​i​des (as of 27/​8/​2019). For a dis­cus­sion of the wor­d­ing see Zio­gas 2014.[]
  7. A monu­ment in Oslo, on the pre­mi­ses of Åkers­hus Slot, near the Nor­we­gi­an muse­um of resis­tance against Ger­man Occup­a­ti­on in WW2 (the Muse­um), e.g. sta­tes „de kjem­pet de falt – de gav oss alt“ (liter­al­ly: „They fought, they fell – they gave us ever­ything“), or rather: „they gave (sacri­fi­ced) ever­ything for us.“ Even though the monu­ment depicts tools and devices which can be used in resis­tance ope­ra­ti­ons, the monu­ment clear­ly requi­res know­ledge of the who­le con­text of Nor­we­gi­an resis­tance. Kör­ber 2014, p. 87.[]
==

Analyzing Monuments using crosstabulations of Historical Thinking Competencies and Types of Narrating

16. Oktober 2018 Andreas Körber Keine Kommentare

This arti­cle is a fol­low-up to the dis­cus­sion on Sté­pha­ne Léves­ques model of his­to­ri­cal com­pe­ten­ci­es as pre­sen­ted in Public Histo­ry Wee­kly, a few days ago, tit­led “Remo­ving the ‘Past’: Deba­tes Over Offi­cial Sites of Memo­ry“1 and my first exten­ded com­ment on this publis­hed here on this blog.

A cross­ta­bu­la­ti­on of com­pe­ten­ci­es and patterns/​logic of sen­se­ma­king as sug­gested by Sté­pha­ne Léves­que2 is inde­ed use­ful for “rea­ding” indi­vi­du­al monu­ments and making sen­se of their “mes­sa­ge”, also. Lévesque’s fil­ling of the table is a bit abs­tract, gene­ral for this, so the fol­lowing would in part be my own understanding.

It also is based on Rüsen’s noti­on that while the dif­fe­rent pat­terns were deve­lo­ped sequen­ti­al­ly over time, to “older” ones are not lost, but still avail­ab­le and inde­ed visi­ble in modern day thin­king, in fact most of the time in com­bi­na­ti­ons. What cha­rac­te­ri­zes modern-time his­to­ri­cal thin­king, then, is the pre­sence and domi­nan­ce of “gene­tic” thin­king, while pre-modern thought would not have this type at its dis­po­sal at all. But then, our examp­les here are all “modern”, so that it may be a ques­ti­on of domi­nan­ce and rela­ti­ve weight.

Take a monu­ment for a civil war general:

  • A spec­ta­tor today may read it as a remin­der to the ori­gin of the cur­rent sta­te of affairs, pos­si­b­ly the “losing of the cau­se” (e.g. both the hono­u­red gene­ral and the spec­ta­tor being sou­the­ners) or to the libe­ra­ti­on of the slaves (both nort­he­ners). In both cases, the monu­ment would be seen as poin­ting to an ori­gin of what is seen as valid today (the very defi­ni­ti­on of Rüsen’s “tra­di­tio­nal” type). This might exp­lain why peop­le adhe­ring to the nort­hern nar­ra­ti­ve would oppo­se to sou­thern monu­ments, and vice ver­sa, not believeing their sto­ry in the first place — and may­be fea­ring that kee­ping the monu­ments would signi­fy that their ver­si­on was to be seen as valid.
  • In an exem­pla­ric mode, howe­ver, both may accept the “other side’s” monu­ments, becau­se what they point at would not be seen as the ori­gin of affairs, but rather a gene­ral rule, e.g. hono­u­ring peop­le “bra­vely figh­t­ing for their respec­ti­ve (!) cau­se”. The logic would be that each socie­ty would honor “their heroes”, who do not so much stand for the spe­ci­fic cau­se but for a gene­ral rule. What hap­pens on the ground in Get­tys­burg, e.g., is some­thing along this line: “Tra­di­tio­nal” com­me­mo­ra­ting attracts most peop­le going the­re, but an exem­pla­ry “cover-nar­ra­ti­ve” allows for com­mon remembrance.

Con­si­der an examp­le from Ham­burg, whe­re I work3: On our “Rat­haus­markt”, the­re is a monu­ment, hono­u­ring Hamburg’s dead from WW1. When it was erec­ted in 1932, it loo­ked as it does today. The inscrip­ti­on on one side reads “FOURTY THOUSAND SONS OF TOWN LEFT/​LOST THEIR LIVES FOR YOU” (in Ger­man: “Vier­zig Tau­send Söh­ne der Stadt lie­ßen ihr Leben für Euch”) while the other side shows reli­ef by Ernst Bar­lach depic­ting a woman (mother) and child (daugh­ter) appar­ent­ly com­for­ting each other in mour­ning (and the­re­fo­re some­what remi­nis­cent of a pie­tà).

Ernst Barlach: Relief (1931; Re-construction) auf dem Mahnmal auf dem Hamburger Rathausmarkt. Foto von Wikimedia Commons (gemeinfrei): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Hamburg_Mahnmal_01_KMJ-adj.jpg

Ernst Bar­lach: Reli­ef (1931; Re-Con­struc­tion of 1948) on Ham­burg Town Hall Squa­re Monu­ment . Pho­to from Wiki­me­dia Com­mons (public domain): https://​upload​.wiki​me​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​p​e​d​i​a​/​c​o​m​m​o​n​s​/​2​/​2​c​/​H​a​m​b​u​r​g​_​M​a​h​n​m​a​l​_​0​1​_​K​M​J​-​a​d​j​.​jpg

In 1938, the reli­ef was exch­an­ged for a “phoe­nix” fly­ing up.4 

Hans-Mar­tin Ruwoldt (1938): Phoe­nix on Ham­burg Town Hall Squa­re Monu­ment. Pho­to by https://​www​.denk​-mal​-gegen​-krieg​.de/​k​r​i​e​g​e​r​d​e​n​k​m​a​e​l​e​r​/​h​a​m​b​u​r​g​-​l​o​-​os/

In 1938, under Nazi rule, the reli­ef was exch­an­ged for a „phoe­nix“. Did it chan­ge the nar­ra­ti­ve and com­me­mo­ra­ti­ve eva­lua­ti­on of the loss of the 40000 Ham­bur­gi­ans? To my view, it most cer­tain­ly did.

The addi­ti­on of the last part “FOR YOU” to the inscrip­ti­on alrea­dy befo­re the initi­al instal­la­ti­on of the monu­ment was a con­ces­si­on to the right par­ties, chan­ging (in Rüsen‘s terms) a more tra­di­tio­nal mes­sa­ge into a more exem­pla­ry one:

While the com­bi­na­ti­on of the initi­al wor­d­ing without the addi­ti­on „FOR YOU“ and the mother-child-reli­ef fit into a deve­lo­p­ment of monu­ment cul­tu­re deve­lo­ped in WW1 which has been iden­ti­fied in retro­spect, name­ly monu­ments which which do no lon­ger pro­vi­de an aut­ho­ri­ta­ti­ve sug­ges­ti­on of the mea­ning of the protagonist‘s death, but rather ques­ti­on this mea­ning.5 It did so becau­se it expres­sed the con­ti­nuous loss, refer­ring to the dead sol­di­ers rather as vic­tims of a grea­ter con­text of war, to be mour­ned, by poin­ting to their their death and loss as the rather tra­gic ori­gins of the com­mon grief.

Adding „FOR YOU“ to the inscrip­ti­on did not ful­ly era­di­ca­te this nega­ti­ve-tra­di­tio­nal nar­ra­ti­ve pat­tern, but added an addi­tio­nal lay­er of dif­fe­rent nar­ra­ti­ve and eva­lua­ti­ve cha­rac­ter both to the deaths, which are ascri­bed a pur­po­se, and to the con­cep­tu­al framing of the dead, which are no lon­ger only vic­tims but also (self-)sacrifices for a com­mon good. Inte­res­tin­g­ly, both con­cepts, that of vic­tim and that of sacri­fice, are pre­sent in the Ger­man term „Opfer“ expli­ci­tly used, but allu­ded to, here.

The exchan­ge of the mour­ning mother/child-reli­ef by a „phoe­nix“ in 1938, then, era­di­ca­ted the thin lay­er of ques­tio­ning the pur­po­se and mea­ning of the loss, the noti­on of „vic­tims“ and ren­de­red the 40,000 Fathers, Bro­thers and „Sons of Town“ heroes – not only self-sacri­fices for the well­being of their respec­ti­ve fami­lies, but role-models to be cele­bra­ted and emu­la­ted.6 In 1948, then, the lost Bar­lach-reli­ef, was res­to­red, alas not by Bar­lach hims­elf, who had mean­while died.

I do have a hard time con­struc­ting a gene­tic under­stan­ding of such a monu­ment, may­be becau­se a modern, gene­tic way of thin­king needs to have been infor­med by the “cri­ti­cal” mode of at least part­ly de-legi­ti­mi­zing the ori­en­ta­ting power of tra­di­tio­nal and exem­pla­ric thinking.

May­be this is the back­ground for modern monu­ments being qui­te dif­fe­rent, eit­her often non-figu­ra­ti­ve — as Peter Eisenman’s Memo­ri­al to the Mur­de­red Jews in Ber­lin, or many works by Jochen Gerz7 — or taking on forms of coun­ter-memo­ria­liz­a­ti­on8, thus set­ting in moti­on a kind of chan­ge, not just re-pre­sent-ing a past, but encou­ra­ging or even enfor­cing cri­ti­cal reflec­tion on it.

It is easier for the Ham­burg monu­ment: Gene­tic thin­king would ques­ti­on whe­ther not only this heroi­fy­ing way of com­me­mo­ra­ting heroes (even if not indi­vi­du­al), but also the con­cre­te form of public ack­now­led­ging of tra­gic loss can be time­ly, after we expe­ri­en­ced ano­t­her war and an inhu­man dic­ta­tor­s­hip and geno­ci­de which was not least based on fee­lings ins­ti­ga­ted by such com­me­mo­ra­ting.9

But the­re is some­thing more to reflec­ting about nar­ra­ti­ves — and espe­cial­ly on how to rela­te to them. As I wro­te abo­ve, Memo­ri­als are nar­ra­ti­ves. Rüsen calls them “nar­ra­ti­ve abbre­via­ti­ons”, poin­ting to them stan­ding for a spe­ci­fic nar­ra­ti­ve, i.e. a spe­ci­fic rela­ti­on bet­ween a past (under memo­ry), the pre­sent (of the aut­hors and erec­tors of the monu­ment as well as the inten­ded public), and with regard to a spe­ci­fic future, con­struc­ted only part­ly in ver­bal nar­ra­ti­ve form, but also with non-ver­bal and sequen­ti­al­ly nar­ra­ti­ve ele­ments (even though in some cases it is only the ver­bal inscrip­ti­ons which real­ly hint to any his­to­ri­cal meaning).

Memo­ri­als are more than only pro­to-nar­ra­ti­ves. Their (often) pro­mi­nent (albeit also often over­loo­ked) posi­tio­ning, their (proto-)narrative struc­tu­re and their own qua­li­ty for las­ting a long time (cf. “monu­men­tum exegi aere peren­ni­us), they do not only con­sti­tu­te a nar­ra­ti­ve rela­ti­on from one tem­po­ral and social posi­ti­on towrds the past and the future, but also are meant to pro­long the sen­se they make and to impo­se it on later genera­ti­ons. Monu­ments are about obli­ga­ting their audi­ence, the spec­ta­tors with a cer­tain nar­ra­ti­ve and inter­pre­ta­ti­on. That qua­li­fies them as parts of what we call “poli­tics of histo­ry”, not only of com­me­mo­ra­ti­on, and what makes them political.

It the­re­fo­re is para­mount to read monu­ments as nar­ra­ti­ves, and not only in the de-con­struc­ti­ve sen­se of “what did tho­se erec­tors make of that past back then”, but also in the re-conct­ruc­ti­ve sen­se of “in how far or how does this nar­ra­ti­ve fit into my/​our rela­ti­on to that past). In other words: Stan­ding befo­re a monu­ment and thin­king about monu­ments, we all need to (and in fact do) think in a com­bi­na­ti­on of under­stan­ding the others’ and deli­be­ra­ting our own nar­ra­ti­ve mea­ning-making.
The­re­fo­re we need to read them as nar­ra­ti­ves first, and beco­me com­pe­tent for it.

Monu­ments often take on the form of addres­sing peop­le. Some­ti­mes — as in the Ham­burg case abo­ve — they address the spec­ta­tor, remin­ding them of some kind of obli­ga­ti­on to com­me­mo­ra­te.10 But who is tal­king to whom? If the sena­te of Ham­burg tal­kes to that to the Ham­burg citi­zens of 1930 – 1932, can/​will we accept that (a) the Ham­burg Sena­te of today still admo­nis­hes us like that, and b) that we Ham­burg citi­zens of today are still addres­sed in the same way?

In other cases, (inscrip­ti­ons in) memo­ri­als might expli­ci­tly address the com­me­mo­ra­ted them­sel­ves, as e.g. in the con­fe­de­r­a­te monu­ment in Yan­cey­vil­le, N.C., who­se plaque reads “To the Sons of Cas­well Coun­ty who ser­ved in the War of 1861 – 1865 in ans­wer to the Call of their Coun­ty”, and con­ti­nues in a “We-Voice”, signed by the Cas­well Chap­ter of the United Daugh­ters of the Con­fe­der­a­cy”. So far so con­ven­tio­nal. This might be rather unpro­ble­ma­tic, sin­ce spea­ker-posi­ti­on and addres­sees are clear­ly mar­ked. One might lea­ve the monu­ment even if one dis­agreed, not having to align with its nar­ra­ti­ve. Only if the pre­sence of such com­me­mo­ra­ting in its­elf is inac­cep­ta­ble, action is immedia­te­ly cal­led for.

But the­re are other monu­ments which seem to talk from a neu­tral posi­ti­on, which in fact is that of the erec­tors, but by not being qua­li­fied, inclu­des the spec­ta­tor into the spea­ker posi­ti­on. The examp­le I have rea­dy at hand, is not from the US and not about war heroes, but again from Ham­burg, this time from Neu­en­gam­me con­cen­tra­ti­on camp memo­ri­al. In 1965, an “inter­na­tio­nal monu­ment” ste­le11 was erec­ted the­re, tog­e­ther with a who­le seri­es of coun­try-spe­ci­fic memo­ri­al pla­tes. The inscrip­ti­on on the monu­ment reads “Your suf­fe­ring, your figh­t­ing and your death shall not be in vain” (my trans­la­ti­on).
This now clear­ly is inte­res­ting in at least two respects: (1) it ascri­bes not only suf­fe­ring and death, but also figh­t­ing to tho­se com­me­mo­ra­ted and ther­eby pos­si­b­ly does not refer to tho­se inma­tes who never had a chan­ce or did not “fight”, who were pure vic­tims, and (2) it speaks from a neu­tral voice which is not mar­ked in time and social, poli­ti­cal or event-rela­ted posi­ti­on. Whoever mourns at that place pos­si­b­ly silent­ly co-signs the statement.

International Monument (1965) at Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial (partial photo; (c) 2006 Andreas Körber)

Inter­na­tio­nal Monu­ment (1965) at Neu­en­gam­me Con­cen­tra­ti­on Camp Memo­ri­al (par­ti­al pho­to; © 2006 Andre­as Körber)

Con­si­der an equal hono­u­ring of con­fe­de­r­a­te gene­rals in, say NC: “Your figh­t­ing shall not have been in vain.” I would spark much more con­tro­ver­sy and con­cers — and right­ly so.

Still ano­t­her examp­le, the first Ham­burg monu­ment for the vic­tims of Natio­nal Socia­lism (from late 1945) on the Cen­tral Ceme­try in Ham­burg-Ohls­dorf, has an inscrip­ti­on “Injus­ti­ce brought Us Death — Living: Reco­gni­ze your Obligation”.

Erstes Hamburger Mahnmal für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus von 11/1945 in Hamburg Ohlsdorf. Foto von NordNordWest/Wikipedia. Lizenz: CC-BY-SA 3.0; (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/legalcode); Original: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mahnmal_Opfer_der_NS-Verfolgung_Ohlsdorf.jpg

Ers­tes Ham­bur­ger Mahn­mal für die Opfer des Natio­nal­so­zia­lis­mus von 11/​1945 in Ham­burg Ohls­dorf. Foto von NordNordWest/​Wikipedia. Lizenz: CC-BY-SA 3.0; (https://​crea​ti​vecom​mons​.org/​l​i​c​e​n​s​e​s​/​b​y​-​s​a​/​3​.​0​/​d​e​/​l​e​g​a​l​c​ode); Ori­gi­nal: http://​com​mons​.wiki​me​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​F​i​l​e​:​M​a​h​n​m​a​l​_​O​p​f​e​r​_​d​e​r​_​N​S​-​V​e​r​f​o​l​g​u​n​g​_​O​h​l​s​d​o​r​f​.​jpg

 

Erstes Hamburger Mahnmal für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus von 11/1945 in Hamburg Ohlsdorf; Detail. Zustand 25.3.2010; Foto (c) Andreas Körber

Ers­tes Ham­bur­ger Mahn­mal für die Opfer des Natio­nal­so­zia­lis­mus von 11/​1945 in Ham­burg Ohls­dorf; Detail. Zustand 25.3.2010; Foto © Andre­as Körber

 

Again, for ana­ly­zing and under­stan­ding, we need to reco­gni­ze. The spea­ker posi­ti­on here, is clear­ly (meta­pho­ri­call) held by the vic­tims to be com­me­mo­ra­ted. But whom do they speak to? Liter­al­ly, it is the “living”. In a very broad under­stan­ding, the monument/​memorial the­re­fo­re addres­ses all humans, qui­te in a way what Rüsen has addres­sed as the hig­hest level of nor­ma­ti­ve plau­si­bi­li­ty: broa­de­ning the per­spec­ti­ve to the level of huma­ni­ty.
This is not very pro­ble­ma­tic, sin­ce the inscrip­ti­on does talk of “duty”, not of “guilt”, it does not con­fla­te the addres­sees with tho­se who inflic­ted the injus­ti­ce upon the vic­tims. But it could have done. In 1945, the mes­sa­ge would be clear­ly not merely uni­ver­sal­ly huma­nistic, but at least also addres­sing the Ger­mans as the socie­ty of the per­pe­tra­tors. It does not con­demn, but calls for reco­gni­zing the “duty” and respon­si­bi­li­ty for com­me­mo­ra­ting and non-repea­ting as well as over­co­m­ing the struc­tures of NS injus­ti­ce, hin­ting at respon­si­bi­li­ty for not pre­ven­ting them or even par­ti­ci­pa­ting in them in the first place.

And today? In how far is the mes­sa­ge the same for today’s socie­ty in Ger­ma­ny? The peop­le living in Ger­ma­ny today do — apart from very few excep­ti­ons — not share any per­so­nal guilt or respon­si­bi­li­ty for what hap­pen­ed. In how far can or should they see them­sel­ves addressed?

Again, the­re is no ques­ti­on as to the very gene­ral, huma­ni­ty-rela­ted address. This is direc­ted at any audi­ence. But would that mean that the­re is no dif­fe­rence bet­ween any other visi­tor to the memo­ri­al and Ger­mans? Has the Nazi injus­ti­ce (and simi­lar­ly the Holo­caust) beco­me a mat­ter of gene­ral, uni­ver­sal histo­ry only? Is the­re no spe­cial belon­ging to and mes­sa­ge for Ger­man histo­ry? All the­se ques­ti­ons can and need to be addres­sed — and espe­cial­ly so, sin­ce a con­si­derable part of Ger­man socie­ty con­sists not only of peop­le born and rai­sed (long) after the “Third Reich”, but also of many who immi­gra­ted from other coun­tries, socie­ties and cul­tures mean­while. Are they sim­ply coun­ted into the per­pe­tra­tors’ socie­ty? — no, I think; but as peop­le living in Ger­ma­ny, they also are adres­sed in a more spe­ci­fic way than any other visi­tor — and they are expec­ted to feel addres­sed, also. While the­re may be (and often inde­ed is) not spe­ci­fic respon­si­bi­li­ty for what the­se memo­ri­als and monu­ments refer to, the­re surely is a spe­ci­fic respon­si­bi­li­ty from or out of this histo­ry — and the­se monu­ments the­re­fo­re ser­ve not only as gene­ral mar­kers to a set past, but also as marks which have spe­ci­fic messages and dif­fe­rent (but com­pa­ti­ble) ones for dif­fe­rent reci­pi­ents. This is what also is a part of what is nee­ded to be reflec­ted and dis­cus­sed with regard to monu­ments in public histo­ry cul­tu­re and what histo­ry edu­ca­ti­on needs to enab­le lear­ners to par­ta­ke in.

In order to make up our minds on monu­ments we have “inheri­ted” not only in poli­ti­cal terms, we need to reflect their spe­ci­fic nar­ra­ti­ve mes­sa­ge in a spec­trum of time-rela­ti­ons. And we need to dif­fe­ren­tia­te our ter­mi­no­lo­gy and enab­le our stu­dents to mas­ter a set of con­cepts rela­ted. We need, e.g., to dis­tin­guish hono­ring forms of com­me­mo­ra­ti­on from remin­ding and admo­nis­hing ones.

In Ger­ma­ny we have (not eas­liy) deve­lo­ped the noti­on of “Mahn­mal”, admo­nis­hing, to be dis­tin­guis­hed from a mere “Denk­mal” (liter­al­ly a “thin­king mark”). But even this dis­tinc­tion is insuf­fi­ci­ent. A Mahn­mal (in fact the lite­ral trans­la­ti­on to “monu­ment”, from Latin “admone­re”) may admo­nish to remem­ber our own suf­fe­ring inflic­ted on us by our­sel­ves, some tra­gic or by others, but also may admo­nish to not for­get what we inflic­ted on others. This is the spe­ci­fic form “nega­ti­ve memo­ry” of Ger­man memo­ri­al culture.

 

The­re­fo­re, there’s a lot more to be reflec­ted in commemorating:

  • Who “talks”? who aut­hors the nar­ra­ti­ve — and is what capa­ci­ty (e.g. in lieuf of “the peop­le”, of a cer­tain group, …)?
  • whom does the monu­ment expli­ci­ty address?
  • what is the rela­ti­on of expli­cit addres­sees and fac­tu­al spectators?
  • in how far is the mes­sa­ge the same for us today as it was envi­sio­ned back then — and pos­si­b­ly rea­li­zed? is it the same for all of us?
  • what kind of mes­sa­ge is perceived?

(cf. Kör­ber 2014)

 

Refe­ren­ces:

  • Has­berg, Wolf­gang (2012): Ana­ly­ti­sche Wege zu bes­se­rem Geschichts­un­ter­richt. His­to­ri­sches Den­ken im Hand­lungs­zu­sam­men­hang Geschichts­un­ter­richt. In: Mey­er-Ham­me, Johan­nes /​ Thü­ne­mann, Hol­ger /​ Züls­dorf-Kers­t­ing, Meik (Hrsg.): Was heißt guter Geschichts­un­ter­richt? Per­spek­ti­ven im Ver­gleich. Schwalbach/​Ts. /​ Wochen­schau, S. 137 – 160, p. 140.
  • Klin­gel, Kers­tin (2006): Eichen­kranz und Dor­nen­kro­ne. Krie­ger­denk­mä­ler in Ham­burg. Ham­burg: Lan­des­zen­tra­le für Poli­ti­sche Bildung.
  • Kör­ber, Andre­as (2014): De-Con­struc­ting Memo­ry Cul­tu­re. In: Tea­ching his­to­ri­cal memo­ries in an inter­cul­tu­ral per­spec­ti­ve. Con­cepts and methods : expe­ri­en­ces and results from the Tea­c­Mem pro­ject. Hrsg. von Hel­le Bje­rg, Andre­as Kör­ber, Clau­dia Lenz u. Oli­ver von Wro­chem. Ber­lin 2014, 145 – 151.
  • Kör­ber, Andre­as (2016): Sinn­bil­dungs­ty­pen als Gra­du­ie­run­gen? Ver­such einer Klä­rung am Bei­spiel der His­to­ri­schen Fra­ge­kom­pe­tenz. In: Kat­ja Leh­mann, Micha­el Wer­ner und Ste­fa­nie Zabold (Hg.): His­to­ri­sches Den­ken jetzt und in Zukunft. Wege zu einem theo­re­tisch fun­dier­ten und evi­denz­ba­sier­ten Umgang mit Geschich­te. Fest­schrift für Wal­traud Schrei­ber zum 60. Geburts­tag. Ber­lin, Müns­ter: Lit Ver­lag (Geschichts­di­dak­tik in Ver­gan­gen­heit und Gegen­wart, 10), S. 27 – 41.
  • Rüsen, Jörn (2017): Evi­dence and Mea­ning. A Theo­ry of His­to­ri­cal Stu­dies. Unter Mit­ar­beit von Dia­ne Kerns und Kat­ie Digan. New York, NY: Berg­hahn Books Incor­po­ra­ted (Making Sen­se of Histo­ry Ser, v.28).
Anmer­kun­gen /​ Refe­ren­ces
  1.   Léves­que, Sté­pha­ne: Remo­ving the “Past”: Deba­tes Over Offi­cial Sites of Memo­ry. In: Public Histo­ry Wee­kly 6 (2018) 29, DOI: dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​5​1​5​/​p​h​w​-​2​018 – 12570. The­re also is a Ger­man and a French ver­si­on. []
  2. Ano­t­her such cross­ta­bu­la­ti­on has been sug­gested (in Ger­man) by Wolf­gang Has­berg (Ana­ly­ti­sche Wege zu bes­se­rem Geschichts­un­ter­richt. His­to­ri­sches Den­ken im Hand­lungs­zu­sam­men­hang Geschichts­un­ter­richt. In: Mey­er-Ham­me, Johan­nes /​ Thü­ne­mann, Hol­ger /​ Züls­dorf-Kers­t­ing, Meik (Hrsg.): Was heißt guter Geschichts­un­ter­richt? Per­spek­ti­ven im Ver­gleich. Schwalbach/​Ts. /​ Wochen­schau, S. 137 – 160, p. 140). For my cri­tique see Kör­ber 2016 (in Ger­man). I also pro­vi­ded a table, inclu­ding the dif­fe­rent niveaus, but restric­ted to “Fra­ge­kom­pe­tenz” (simi­lar to Lévesque’s “inqui­ry com­pe­tence”). []
  3. I used this also in a twit­ter-dis­cus­sion with Kim Wag­ner (@KimAtiWagner) recent­ly. []
  4. For more pic­tures and infor­ma­ti­on see also https://​www​.denk​-mal​-gegen​-krieg​.de/​k​r​i​e​g​e​r​d​e​n​k​m​a​e​l​e​r​/​h​a​m​b​u​r​g​-​l​o​-​os/. []
  5. On this type of monu­ments cf. Kosel­leck, Rein­hart (1994): Ein­lei­tung. In: Rein­hart Kosel­leck und Micha­el Jeis­mann (Hg.): Der poli­ti­sche Toten­kult. Krie­ger­denk­mä­ler in der Moder­ne. Mün­chen: Fink (Bild und Text), S. 9 – 20, here p. 18f. []
  6. Accord­ing to Klin­gel, Kers­tin (2006): Eichen­kranz und Dor­nen­kro­ne. Krie­ger­denk­mä­ler in Ham­burg. Ham­burg: Lan­des­zen­tra­le für Poli­ti­sche Bil­dung, p.71, the mour­ning-reli­ef initi­al­ly was to be repla­ced by “war sym­bols” but all skte­ches han­ded in by artists (inclu­ding a wrath with swords by Ruwoldt) were rejec­ted, so that he was com­mis­sio­ned to crea­te an eagle, which he did, but in a way which far more resem­bled a dove than an eagle. In how far this can be inter­pre­ted as a sub­ver­si­ve rejec­tion of the new mar­ti­al cha­rac­ter and even be eva­lua­ted as an act of defi­an­ce, is high­ly ques­tion­ab­le, sin­ce the sym­bo­lism of the dove as the uni­ver­si­al sym­bol for peace was crea­ted by Picas­so only after World­War II. []
  7. Cf. e.g. his “Invi­si­ble Monu­ment” in Sar­brü­cken: https://​en​.wiki​pe​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​/​P​l​a​t​z​_​d​e​s​_​U​n​s​i​c​h​t​b​a​r​e​n​_​M​a​h​n​m​als. []
  8. Cf. a.o. Wij­sen­beek, Dinah: Denk­mal und Gegen­denk­mal. Über den kri­ti­schen Umgang mit der Ver­gan­gen­heit auf dem Gebiet der bil­den­den Kunst. Mün­chen 2010. []
  9. There’s a lot more to be reflec­ted in com­me­mo­ra­ting: Who talks to whom, here? What do they say and expect? Who is the “you”? Is it ” us” — still today? And if so: in how far is the mes­sa­ge the same for all of us, tho­se with Ham­burg ances­tors of the time, and tho­se without, may­be immi­grants? In how far can this aspect defi­ne our atti­tu­de? Can we for­ce all recent immi­grants into our own “natio­nal” nar­ra­ti­ve (and even more so when it is not WW1, but Holo­caust rela­ted)? But then, how can we not? (cf. also Kör­ber 2014, and see below. []
  10. My mother used to exp­lain the Ger­man word “Denk­mal”, liter­al­ly referr­ring to a “mark(er)” for initia­ting thin­king, as an impe­ra­ti­ve: “Denk mal!”, refer­ring to the other mea­ning of the word “mal” as “for once”, resul­ting in “do think for once!” []
  11. Cf. https://​upload​.wiki​me​dia​.org/​w​i​k​i​p​e​d​i​a​/​c​o​m​m​o​n​s​/​t​h​u​m​b​/​1​/​1​5​/​N​e​u​e​n​g​a​m​m​e​_​m​e​m​o​r​i​a​l​.​j​p​g​/​8​0​0​p​x​-​N​e​u​e​n​g​a​m​m​e​_​m​e​m​o​r​i​a​l​.​jpg, (pho­to by Hao Liu in the public domain) []
==

A new competency-model on monuments using Rüsen’s four types by Stéphane Levesque — and a comment

15. Oktober 2018 Andreas Körber Keine Kommentare

In a recent con­tri­bu­ti­on to Public Histo­ry Wee­kly, tit­led “Remo­ving the ‘Past’: Deba­tes Over Offi­cial Sites of Memo­ry” 1Sté­pha­ne Léves­que from Otta­wa, Cana­da, pre­sen­ted a new model for monu­ment-rela­ted com­pe­ten­ci­es of his­to­ri­cal thin­king, using Jörn Rüsen’s types of his­to­ri­cal narrating.

The gra­phic ver­si­on of the model con­sists of four “com­pe­ten­ces”, visua­li­zed as smal­ler cog­wheels arran­ged around and inter­ac­ting with a cen­tral cog­wheel tit­led with “his­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness”. For each of the four com­pe­ten­ci­es, a short, monu­ment-rela­ted defi­ni­ti­on is given.

Promp­ted by a com­men­ta­ry by Gabri­el Reich of Vir­gi­nia Com­mon­wealth Uni­ver­si­ty, who also works exten­si­ve­ly on monu­ments in memo­ry cul­tu­re, Sté­pha­ne Léves­que added a (more gene­ral) table ver­si­on (a Spa­nish trans­la­ti­on by Eliza­beth Mon­tana­res Var­gas has been pre­sen­ted on face­book, mean­while) in an ans­we­ring com­ment, fur­ther detail­ing the com­pe­ten­ci­es in his model. 2.

As much as I appre­cia­te this new model of com­pe­ten­ci­es in gene­ral, I have also added a few comments to it (and to one point of Gabri­el Reich’s com­ment, which is not in focus, here). The space pro­vi­ded by Public histo­ry wee­kly for com­men­ting is limi­ted and graphs are (at least not easi­ly) allo­wed. I the­re­fo­re use this my own blog for repea­ting my com­ment to Lévesque’s model, and to detail it a bit further.

First of all, I stron­gly sup­port the initia­ti­ve to ana­ly­se monu­ments as an expres­si­on of and fac­tor for his­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness. Inde­ed, we need both a) to ana­ly­se them as experts by using our reper­toire of his­to­rio­gra­phic methods and con­cepts in order to sti­mu­la­te and sup­port infor­med public dis­cus­sion about whe­ther a par­ti­cu­lar monu­ment is still desi­ra­ble (or at least accep­ta­ble) or whe­ther it needs to be chan­ged (and how) or even remo­ved, and b) to deve­lop people’s com­pe­ten­ces to address the­se issu­es them­sel­ves, i.e. to reflect on the natu­re, mea­ning and mes­sa­ge of a monu­ment both at the time of its con­struc­tion and today (e.g. through pre­ser­va­ti­on, main­ten­an­ce, alte­ra­ti­on, com­men­ting or removal).

For this rea­son, I great­ly appre­cia­te Stéphane’s pro­po­sal for a com­pe­ten­cy model, espe­cial­ly the table ver­si­on from the com­men­ta­ry abo­ve. This does not mean that I ful­ly sup­port the con­cre­te model, but it has enri­ched the deba­te. Three comments on this:

(1) I doubt that com­pe­tence as such can be “tra­di­tio­nal”, “exem­pla­ry”, “gene­tic”, “cri­ti­cal” or “gene­tic”. The­se pat­terns, both as I under­stand Rüsen and for mys­elf, cha­rac­te­ri­ze the logic of nar­ra­ti­ves. I would the­re­fo­re rather read the table as “the com­pe­tence to que­ry in the tra­di­tio­nal mode” … “the com­pe­tence to nar­ra­te in cri­ti­cal mode” etc.

(2) This again rai­ses the ques­ti­on of whe­ther the four pat­terns actual­ly con­sti­tu­te a dis­tinc­tion of com­pe­tence niveaus. While I agree that the gene­tic mode of nar­ra­ting histo­ry is the his­to­ri­cal­ly most recent, com­plex and sui­ta­ble for exp­lai­ning chan­ges, I doubt – this time against Rüsen (cf. Kör­ber 2016) – that the typo­lo­gy can descri­be com­pe­tence levels.
The com­pe­tence pro­gres­si­on would need to be defi­ned trans­ver­sal­ly: From (a) a basic level of non-dis­tinc­ti­ve (and thus uncon­scious­ly con­fu­sing) forms and pat­terns, via (b) the abi­li­ty to per­form all the­se forms of ope­ra­ti­ons in the various pat­terns of Stéphane’s table (which would this descri­be a ful­ly deve­lo­ped inter­me­dia­te level), to © an ela­bo­ra­ted level of (addi­tio­nal) abi­li­ty to think about the natu­re of the­se disc­tions, etc.

For this, the model is very use­ful, full of ide­as. It can help to think about what it takes to descri­be monu­ments neit­her as “the past” nor as “sim­ply old”, but to iden­ti­fy and “read” them as nar­ra­ti­ves (or nar­ra­ti­ve abbre­via­ti­ons) from a cer­tain time, who­se cur­rent tre­at­ment adds new nar­ra­ti­ve lay­ers to them, so that their exis­tence (or absence), form, and tre­at­ment of them can always be seen and eva­lua­ted as con­tem­pora­ry state­ments about the respec­ti­ve past. To reco­gni­ze this and to deal with it in a social­ly respon­si­ble way requi­res the­se competences.

As far as Gabri­el Reich’s com­men­ta­ry is con­cer­ned, I only ask whe­ther his cha­rac­te­riz­a­ti­on of an atti­tu­de to the con­fe­de­ra­ti­on monu­ments can real­ly be addres­sed with Rüsen as “exem­pla­ry”, sin­ce this mode is not con­cer­ned with the main­ten­an­ce and sup­port of a con­ven­tio­nal iden­ti­ty, but with the deri­va­ti­on of a super­tem­po­ral rule. I would refer to the examp­le as “tra­di­tio­nal”. An “exem­pla­ry” atti­tu­de towards reten­ti­on would be more likely to be: “At all times, monu­ments of one’s own heroes have hel­ped the losers of war to hold on to their cau­se. Then that must be pos­si­ble for us too.” Or some­thing along that line.

So far the com­ment alrea­dy publis­hed in Public Histo­ry Weekly.

That said, I might add, that I don’t mean that the “gene­tic” way of sen­se­ma­king is not in some way supe­ri­or to the others, and more apt for his­to­ri­cal mea­ning-making, espe­cial­ly in its inte­gra­ti­on of a noti­on of direc­ted chan­ge over time. My scep­ti­cism focu­ses on the idea that today’s people’s (“onto­ge­ne­tic”) com­pe­ten­ci­es of his­to­ri­cal thin­king pro­gres­ses along the same line as the cul­tu­ral (“phy­lo­ge­ne­tic”) deve­lo­po­ment of Rüsen’s pat­terns of sen­se­ma­king throughout the histo­ry of his­to­rio­gra­phy. Today’s youth simul­ta­ne­ous­ly encoun­ter mani­fes­ta­ti­ons of his­to­ri­cal thin­king using all three (rather than four) 3 pat­terns of sen­se­ma­king. While the­re is a kind of “deve­lo­p­ment” of power of his­to­ri­cal mea­ning-making and explana­ti­on from tra­di­tio­nal via exem­pla­ric to gene­tic, I doubt that peop­le and stu­dents have to move from the for­mer to the lat­ter — or do so.

My own idea of deve­lo­p­ment of com­pe­ten­ci­es of his­to­ri­cal thin­king can rather be visua­li­zed as fol­lows (adop­ting Lévesque’s table):

Three niveaus/levels of competencies (schematic), following the FUER-model (cf. Körber 2015). The graph uses the table-version of Stéphane Lévesque's competence-model for historical thinking on monuments (https://public-history-weekly.degruyter.com/6-2018-29/removing-past-official-memory/; courtesy of Stéphane Lévesque by e-mail Oct 15th, 2018). A.K. 2018
Three niveaus/​levels of com­pe­ten­ci­es (sche­ma­tic), fol­lowing the FUER-model (cf. Kör­ber et al. 2007; Kör­ber 2015) 4. The graph uses the table-ver­si­on of Sté­pha­ne Lévesque’s com­pe­tence-model for his­to­ri­cal thin­king on monu­ments (https://​public​-histo​ry​-wee​kly​.degruy​ter​.com/6 – 2018-29/­re­mo­ving-past-offi­cial-memo­ry/; cour­te­sy of Sté­pha­ne Léves­que by e‑mail Oct 15th, 2018). A.K. 2018

 

  1. A “basic” niveau (and pos­si­b­ly ear­ly sta­ge) would be defi­ned by the ina­bi­li­ty of dis­tin­guis­hing dif­fe­rent modes of his­to­ri­cal nar­ra­ting in gene­ral and refer­ring to monu­ments in this spe­ci­fic case. (Young) peop­le on this niveau (at this sta­ge) will rela­te to them. They will ask ques­ti­ons (and thus exer­cise their “inqui­ry com­pe­tence”), think (“his­to­ri­cal thin­king com­pe­tence”), ori­en­ta­te them­sel­ves (“ori­en­ta­ti­on com­pe­tence”), and nar­ra­te (“nar­ra­ti­ve com­pe­tence”). But this basic niveau will not be defi­ned by being “tra­di­tio­nal”, but by an unin­for­med mixing (pos­si­b­ly only half-unders­tood) forms of all three pat­terns. This per­for­mance will be both ins­ta­ble and incon­sis­tent. Half-baked tra­di­tio­nal ques­ti­ons will stand next to unre­flec­ted exem­pla­ry state­ments, and so on. In the graph abo­ve, this is sym­bo­li­zed by the blur­red table below.
  2. The abi­li­ty to app­ly the dif­fe­rent pat­terns in a some­what cla­ri­fied way, to dis­tin­guish them and select one, to iden­ti­fy incon­sis­ten­ci­es in their mixing, etc., then marks the inter­me­di­a­ry niveau, and pos­si­ble a major sta­ge in the deve­lo­p­ment of the­se com­pe­ten­ci­es. On this niveau, at this sta­ge, peop­le will be able to dis­cuss about the mes­sa­ge a monu­ment expres­ses and the mea­ning it has for us today, but they might dis­agree and even quar­rel becau­se they app­ly dif­fe­rent pat­terns of mea­ning-making.
    In a way, Lévesque’s table descri­bes this inter­me­dia­te niveau, the dif­fe­rent forms of his­to­ri­cal inqui­ring, thin­king, ori­en­ta­ting, and nar­ra­ting can take, depen­ding from the gene­ral pat­tern of sen­se­ma­king. The table (the midd­le one in the graph abo­ve) clear­ly points at some­thing, I have also tried to express in my Ger­man arti­cle chal­len­ging Rüsen’s own idea of the dif­fe­rent pat­terns forming dif­fe­rent nivue­aus of com­pe­ten­ci­es 5: Each of the dif­fe­rent ope­ra­ti­ons (inqui­ring, nar­ra­ting, ori­en­ta­ting) will take on a spe­ci­fic stance of nar­ra­ting. It is a dif­fe­rence whe­ther I ask for a tra­di­ti­on or for a rule to be deri­ved from past examp­les, or about a pat­terns of chan­ge across time. The­se ques­ti­ons are infor­med by more gene­ral stan­ces and under­stan­dings of histo­ry (may­be coded in Lévesque’s cen­tral cog­wheel of “his­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness”) and will gene­ra­te dif­fe­rent forms of ori­en­ta­ti­on and nar­ra­ting. This does not mean that the initi­al stance deter­mi­nes the out­co­me of the sto­ry, ren­de­ring his­to­ri­cal thin­king a mat­ter of self-affir­ma­ti­on — not at all. A per­son inqui­ring in tra­di­tio­nal will look for an ori­gin for some­thing valid and might — via his­to­ri­cal thin­king and rese­arch — learn of a qui­te dif­fe­rent ori­gin. The mode of mea­ning-making will still be tra­di­tio­nal, but the con­cre­te histo­ry will have chan­ged. But peop­le might also be for­ced to chan­ge their pat­tern in the pro­cess, e.g. lear­ning of the limits of exem­pla­ry thin­king when gai­ning insight into fun­da­men­tal chan­ge, and thus “pro­gress” in a way from exem­pla­ry to gene­tic sensemaking.
  3. The hig­hest niveau, howe­ver, will be reached not by final­ly arri­ving at the gene­tic forms of thin­king and the respec­ti­ve com­pe­ten­ci­es, but by com­ple­men­ting the abi­li­ty to reco­gni­ze, dis­tin­guish and app­ly the dif­fe­rent for­ma with a trans­gres­sing abi­li­ty to reflect on the natu­re, value and limits of this (and other) typo­lo­gies them­sel­ves. Only on this niveau (at this sta­ge) are peop­le ful­ly at com­mand of their his­to­ri­cal reflec­tion. They can address the limits socie­tal­ly accep­ted con­cepts and ter­mi­no­lo­gy pose and sug­gest new or amen­ded ones, etc. In the graph abo­ve, this is sym­bo­li­zed by the addi­tio­nal focus to the rubrics of Lévesque’s table, mar­ked by the blue rings.
Anmer­kun­gen /​ Refe­ren­ces
  1.   Léves­que, Sté­pha­ne: Remo­ving the “Past”: Deba­tes Over Offi­cial Sites of Memo­ry. In: Public Histo­ry Wee­kly 6 (2018) 29, DOI: dx​.doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​5​1​5​/​p​h​w​-​2​018 – 12570. The­re also is a Ger­man and a French ver­si­on. []
  2. The table can be found under the same address as the ori­gi­nal con­tri­bu­ti­on, down the page []
  3. Rüsen’s “cri­ti­cal” type of nar­ra­ting does not real­ly fit into the typo­lo­gy, pre­sen­ting not a new logic of inter­con­nec­ting tem­po­ral infor­ma­ti­on, but merely de-elgi­ti­mi­zing others. In 1988 alrea­dy, Bodo von Bor­ries com­men­ted on this and pre­sen­ted a gra­phi­cal con­cept of the inter­re­la­ti­on of the dif­fe­rent types, in which a “cri­ti­cal” type was pla­ced bet­ween both the tra­di­tio­nal and the exem­pla­ry and the lat­ter and the gene­tic, thus assigning it the func­tion of a cata­lyst of deve­lo­p­ment (Bor­ries, Bodo von (1988): Geschichts­ler­nen und Geschichts­be­wusst­sein. Empi­ri­sche Erkun­dun­gen zu Erwerb und Gebrauch von His­to­rie. 1. Aufl. Stutt­gart: Klett, p. 61; cf.  Kör­ber, Andre­as (2015): His­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness, his­to­ri­cal com­pe­ten­ci­es – and bey­ond? Some con­cep­tu­al deve­lo­p­ment wit­hin Ger­man histo­ry didac­tics. Online ver­füg­bar unter http://​www​.pedocs​.de/​v​o​l​l​t​e​x​t​e​/​2​0​1​5​/​1​0​8​1​1​/​p​d​f​/​K​o​e​r​b​e​r​_​2​0​1​5​_​D​e​v​e​l​o​p​m​e​n​t​_​G​e​r​m​a​n​_​H​i​s​t​o​r​y​_​D​i​d​a​c​t​i​c​s​.​pdf, p. 14f.). In the new ver­si­on of his “His­to­rik”, Rüsen pres­ents a simi­lar ver­si­on. Cf. Rüsen, Jörn (2013): His­to­rik. Theo­rie der Geschichts­wis­sen­schaft. Köln: Böhlau, p. 260. Eng­lish: Rüsen, Jörn (2017): Evi­dence and Mea­ning. A Theo­ry of His­to­ri­cal Stu­dies. Unter Mit­ar­beit von Dia­ne Kerns und Kat­ie Digan. New York, NY: Berg­hahn Books Incor­po­ra­ted (Making Sen­se of Histo­ry Ser, v.28), p. 198. []
  4.  Schrei­ber, Wal­traud; Kör­ber, Andre­as; Bor­ries, Bodo von; Kram­mer, Rein­hard; Leut­ner-Ram­me, Sibyl­la; Mebus, Syl­via et al. (2007): His­to­ri­sches Den­ken. Ein Kom­pe­tenz-Struk­tur­mo­dell (Basis­bei­trag). In: Andre­as Kör­ber, Wal­traud Schrei­ber und Alex­an­der Schö­ner (Hg.): Kom­pe­ten­zen his­to­ri­schen Den­kens. Ein Struk­tur­mo­dell als Bei­trag zur Kom­pe­tenz­ori­en­tie­rung in der Geschichts­di­dak­tik. Neu­ried: Ars Una Ver­lags-Gesell­schaft (Kom­pe­ten­zen, 2), S. 17 – 53; Kör­ber, Andre­as (2012): Gra­du­ie­rung his­to­ri­scher Kom­pe­ten­zen. In: Miche­le Bar­ri­cel­li und Mar­tin Lücke (Hg.): Hand­buch Pra­xis des Geschichts­un­ter­richts. His­to­ri­sches Ler­nen in der Schu­le, Bd. 1. Schwalbach/​Ts.: Wochen­schau Ver­lag (Wochen­schau Geschich­te), S. 236 – 254.; Kör­ber, Andre­as (2015): His­to­ri­cal con­scious­ness, his­to­ri­cal com­pe­ten­ci­es – and bey­ond? Some con­cep­tu­al deve­lo­p­ment wit­hin Ger­man histo­ry didac­tics. Online ver­füg­bar unter http://​www​.pedocs​.de/​v​o​l​l​t​e​x​t​e​/​2​0​1​5​/​1​0​8​1​1​/​p​d​f​/​K​o​e​r​b​e​r​_​2​0​1​5​_​D​e​v​e​l​o​p​m​e​n​t​_​G​e​r​m​a​n​_​H​i​s​t​o​r​y​_​D​i​d​a​c​t​i​c​s​.​pdf, pp. 39ff []
  5.  Kör­ber, Andre­as (2016): Sinn­bil­dungs­ty­pen als Gra­du­ie­run­gen? Ver­such einer Klä­rung am Bei­spiel der His­to­ri­schen Fra­ge­kom­pe­tenz. In: Kat­ja Leh­mann, Micha­el Wer­ner und Ste­fa­nie Zabold (Hg.): His­to­ri­sches Den­ken jetzt und in Zukunft. Wege zu einem theo­re­tisch fun­dier­ten und evi­denz­ba­sier­ten Umgang mit Geschich­te. Fest­schrift für Wal­traud Schrei­ber zum 60. Geburts­tag. Ber­lin, Müns­ter: Lit Ver­lag (Geschichts­di­dak­tik in Ver­gan­gen­heit und Gegen­wart, 10), S. 27 – 41. []
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