Construction of National Identity Through Communication


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We focus primarily on the communication issues within Germany and we identify how the country’s biggest and most historical event, the Holocaust, is communicated today. Our main focal points in Germany’s communication system will be national education and media.

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Construction of National Identity Through Communication

  1. 1. Construction of National Identity Through CommunicationGermany: The Holocaust Today
  2. 2. 10% 50% 65% 67%
  3. 3. Memory and LearningOur goals:● evaluate the effectivenessof Post-Holocaust communicationin Germany, focusing onmedia and education● provide recommendationsfor reconstructing the nationalimage
  4. 4. Background and History of Post- Holocaust Communication in Germany● “Conspiracy of Silence”● “Coming to terms” with one’s past (“Can the past be ‘come to terms with?’” and “Should it be come to terms with?” Is it arguably more reasonable for a new democracy to leave the past alone?”)● Broadcast of TV series “Holocaust” in 1979 stirred public debate globally● “Remembering and forgetting” and “learning from the past.”
  5. 5. Background of Post-Holocaust Education● The subject of the Holocaust included into the educational system for the first time● Results and Challenges in the education and communication
  6. 6. Goals of Education"The very first demand on education is thatthere not be another Auschwitz.” - Theodor W.AdornoEducation is Intended to Center on:● human-rights● tolerance● democratic values
  7. 7. Instead...Education in the Classroom is: ● Sterile/Statistical ● Lacking in Pathos ● Paints Jews as Victims/Other
  8. 8. Ethics in Education“How do I cultivate freedom through coercion?”-Immanuel Kant● Teachers Cannot Impose Morality● German Culture Contradicts Aims of Education
  9. 9. NS-Traumatik From Empathy to Trauma● Over-Moralization Leads to Guilt, Trauma● Holocaust Fatigue● "I would ban the study of Nazism from the history curriculum totally." - Lord Baker
  10. 10. Waisbord and National Identity “Nationalists believed that culture, ratherthan economics or politics, keeps societies together.” - Silvio Waisbord● Germans seek National Identity Separate from Holocaust● Understanding Jewish Identity is Key to Increasing Empathy
  11. 11. Case StudiesStates mobilize masses through education and communication (Karim, 2004) Learning from history is the main concept to: -Construct history -Rebuild the state -Respect human rights
  12. 12. Case Study 1● Students watched videos involving eyewitnesses of the Holocaust● Student reactions were not considered● Teacher under-moralized – did not foster dialogueIneffective
  13. 13. Case Study 2● Students read part of Hitler’s Mein Kampf● Students could not express opinion● Teacher over-moralized● Students lost interest in the topicIneffective
  14. 14. Case Study 3● Students saw slideshows on the concentration camps● Students were allowed to express their opinions● Teacher responded to under-moralizationwithout over-moralization Moderately effective
  15. 15. Case Study 4● Documentary films were introduced to the classroom● Wide discussion and debate among students that even touched the unresolved problems● Teacher and students played equal roles Effective
  16. 16. Role of the Media“The power of the media lies in making national feelings normal on an everyday basis” (Waisbord, 2004) A nations identity is highly influenced by thereflection of a nation’s image in the international media products (Baer)
  17. 17. Art Spiegelman’s comic bookMaus: A Survivor’s Tale Roberto Benigni’s tragic-comic Holocaust fable, Life is BeautifulHollywood-style dramatizationof the Jewish genocideSchindler’s List
  18. 18. Documentary films produced by the Shoah Foundation Survivors of the Holocaust (1996) The Lost Children of Berlin (1997) Academy Award-winning film The Last Days (1998)
  19. 19. Conclusion Implications and recommendations for reconstructing a nations image (compare: genocide of Armenians by Turks or repressions in Soviet Union under Stalin)● Mass communication can influence the public mind and building of consent if power relationships are managed well by other power components, such as education institutions (Castells)● Incorporate media products into education and provide basis for open discussion, include concept of personal and national identity: educators should focus more on Jewish identity/culture, not victimization
  20. 20. Recommendations (Continued)● Address the national genocide discussions in the overall context of “crimes against humanity” (discuss the persecution of Jews and the Holocaust itself as a genocide among others)● Allow (not censor) comic genres even for grave subjects: creates cathartic effect (e.g. Art Spiegelman’s comic book Maus: A Survivor’s Tale)● National NGOs and diasporas (minorities) should take a more active role in reconstructing national identity: providing media with the balanced information Comprom ise between Memorial and M oving Forward