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Lecture 16

CENS 202 Lecture Notes - Lecture 16: Bernhard Schlink

Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies
Course Code
CENS 202

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CENS 202, 003
Lecture 16: Bernhard Schlink
Collective Guilt (in Germany after 1945)
Once you claim everyone guilty, in a way no one is
Highly effective whitewash of all those who had actually done something
Haa’s Washig Ritual <-> Michael’s voitig: washing away the vomit = cleaning up
as a symbolic image for German post-war society (hiding the disease)
What ould hae ee Shlik’s otiatio to opose the relatioship etee Haa ad
There is no mastering the past, only living consciously with present day
Can justice be always applied to a past crimes?
o Consider different law systems at different times
What is law?
o Is there a universal code to treat others?
o A universal law is essential when a dictatorial regime gets out of hand, something
to judge from outside the original institutions
Hanna Ardent: Only children obey, adults if they obey an organization, are making a
choice to support the system
Hannas Illiteracy:
o Her illiteracy may not be enough to justify her actions
o She was sleeping with a high school student
o She’s ade a coscious decisio to joi the guard
o Eventually condemned herself by covering up her illiteracy
The problem of Historization: fictionalizing the holocaust
The reader envelops both Hanna and the readers as a mental fog
Hanna in the church:
o We feel sympathy
o Is this scene to evoke the feeling that God has forgiven, reconciled her
Guilt About The Past Lecture
Casts shadow on later generations
No one can step in for the victim to offer forgiveness- this is presumptuous
Asking for forgiveness requires the perpetrator to acknowledge their act, affirm their own
End of Session.
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