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#17: Creating a New Europe .pdf

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University of Toronto St. George
Doris Bergen

CREATING A NEW EUROPE INTELLECTUAL AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE POSTWAR DECADES INTRODUCTION •It is easy to think that Europe had lost its place of leadership in the world •Culture built on the rubble, reminds us of the resilience, creativity, and enduring prestige of European culture •The sphere of culture is also an important site for dealing with the destructiveness of the War •The combination of forgetting and remembering in Europe allowed for a certain type of stability to emerge — putting the past out of view in economic and political spheres was very important for allowing Europe to move forward •In a cultural sphere, the crimes of WW2 were kept in view B REATHLESS •Directed by Jean-Luc Godard •Released in 1961 •Expression of an existential meaninglessness — the main character is shot not because he adheres to a specific belief, but because he sees no point in giving up the gun F ORGETTING AND R EMEMBERING •It is useful to think of this theme of forgetting and remembering when thinking about postwar culture in a kind of division of labor between politics and culture — also related in very crucial ways The Cold War facilitated a combination of forgetting (putting behind the misery, • suffering, and violence of WW2) and remembering the WW2 •The split between American and Soviet Blocs created new divisions through the WW2 alliance, but it also made possible new kinds of connections •Theses new relationships might have been created through gritted teeth, but those involved understood the pragmatic worth of a new alliance •1948 — the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) was created •Became the vehicle through which Marshall Plan funds flowed from the United States to Europe •1950 — the European Coal and Steel Community was created (ECSC) •Jean Monnet was crucial to this community •Originally an economic relationship that became the basis for the European Union Originally had 6 members — Italy, France, West Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, • and the Netherlands •The Germans and Italians, wartime enemies, were included with 4 countries that were on the opposite during the war •A key economic relationship among former enemies CREATING A NEW EUROPE INTELLECTUAL AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE POSTWAR DECADES • Economic stability was essential for a vibrant cultural life and stability It is quite remarkable how former enemies transformed into friends • • Both sides of the Cold War were able to lose the new configurations to their own ends • West Germany — one of the advisors to the chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, was the very legal expert who had written the Nuremberg laws • East Germany — in an attempt to win new party members to the East German Communist Party, one of the slogans that was used was that “the communist party is the big party for the little party members” • Meaning someone who had been a little Nazi member, would be welcome to join the communist party They dynamic was that both sides were eager to put the past behind them in crucial • ways, eager to concentrate on building a material world — yet the past remained present in the cultural sphere S OVIET CASE • In the USSR after WW2, the war took on enormous mythological significance — usually referred to as the Great Patriotic War • It was the sacrifice of the war (the enormously high price paid in the blood of civilians and soldiers) that became the foundation for the claims to legitimacy of the postwar Soviet state • The idea that the Soviets defeated the fascist menace, the anti-Hitlerite forces — essential to their claim of legitimacy • Private ways in which the mythological impact of the war was clear • Special privileges for war veterans — with the housing shortage after the war, veterans had special access to apartments; allowed to the front of lines to get food • Massive building of monuments in many cities • Outside the USSR with the communist bloc, it is also to keep in mind the enormous prestige of communism, as having been the force that defeated Hitler • Communist culture neighbours who engaged in some of the earliest and most exclusive accounts dealing with the crimes of the war • “The Murderers are Among Us” — film made by East Germans that exposed many of the crimes of the Third Reich • The Soviet glorification of WW2 provided a reason for remembering many of the aspects of the war, but also required certain aspects of the war to be forgotten — namely the things that the Soviet Union had done wrong • The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was hard to cast the USSR as the only loyal and consistent enemy of Nazi Germany, when between 1939 and 1941 they had a pact in which they would share in the division of Poland — the pact had to be pushed aside • The Katyn Forest Massacre — blamed on the Germans • The Warsaw Insurrection CREATING A NEW EUROPE INTELLECTUAL AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS IN THE POSTWAR DECADES • It was a selective view of the past, but even it opened up some spaces for the reality of the war • Treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany — the official Soviet version of the war was a life and death struggle between communism (the workers) and fascism (an extreme form of capitalism) • There was no room for the particular killing of Jews • At the site of Babi Yar an enormous monument had built in honour of the Jews killed — however, it was labeled “to the Soviet martyrs,” victims of Hitlerite fascism • After the war, the USSR saw a wave of anti-Semitism Under official communist policy, anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudices were • supposed to wither away — the idea that prejudices were expression of capitalism • However, after the war accusations that Soviet Jews were disloyal, plotting against the Soviet state had become widespread • 1953 — Stalin charged a group of doctors (6 of the 9 were Jewish) with
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