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Susanne Vees-Gulani
Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH 44106-4901)
The Myth of Dresden: Origins and Manifestations of the German Victim Discourse

The book project explores the eastern German city of Dresden's symbolic role for German history and memory. I argue that Dresden's exceptional status is not just the result of its destruction in 1945, but is connected to the city's history of tourism which went hand in hand with a visual encoding of the cityscape in paintings, etchings and postcards. They showcased Dresden's architecture and beauty. These pictures serve as mental counter images to the photographs of Dresden after its destruction, allowing for a discourse of German suffering as well as an opportunity for propagandistic rhetoric. I study how this discourse has influenced rebuilding decisions after 1945 to the present. The public debates surrounding the constructions suggest the future role envisioned for Dresden. A look at the city's role in current literature and film gives further clues about German identity across the generations. It reveals a democratization of memory of the war, allowing for multiple narratives.

Project fields:
European History

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2010 – 6/30/2011