[UCP Books]: The Sins of the Fathers

Sins of the Fathers is the definitive book on official Nazi era memories in (West) Germany. I have little doubt that it will become a landmark in the discipline, indeed a must read for everyone concerned with memory and politics.”—Andreas Glaeser


The Sins of the Fathers is a tour de force of interdisciplinary scholarship, blending historical erudition and sociological keenness.”—Barry Schwartz. University of Georgia

The Sins of the Fathers

Germany, Memory, Method
Jeffrey K. Olick


Publication date: December 12, 2016 978-0-226-38649-2
International publication date: December 12, 2016 $50.00/£35.00

National identity and political legitimacy always involve a delicate balance between remembering and forgetting. All nations have elements in their past that they would prefer to pass over—the catalog of failures, injustices, and horrors committed in the name of nations, if fully acknowledged, could create significant problems for a country trying to move on and take action in the present. Yet denial and forgetting carry costs as well.

Nowhere has this precarious balance been more potent, or important, than in the Federal Republic of Germany, where the devastation and atrocities of two world wars have weighed heavily in virtually every moment and aspect of political life. The Sins of the Fathers confronts that difficulty head-on, exploring the variety of ways that Germany’s leaders since 1949 have attempted to meet this challenge, with a particular focus on how those approaches have changed over time. Jeffrey K. Olick asserts that other nations are looking to Germany as an example of how a society can confront a dark past—casting Germany as our model of difficult collective memory.


Jeffrey K. Olick is professor of sociology and history at the University of Virginia. He is the author of The Politics of Regret: On Collective Memory and Historical Responsibility and In the House of the Hangman: The Agonies of German Defeat, 1943–49, the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.


Please contact Ashley Pierce at (773) 702-0279 or apierce@uchicago.edu for more information.


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