How has Germany absorbed the heritage of National Socialism? What became of the Nazi buildings in Munich and Berlin? Have they been destroyed, rebuilt or abandoned? What is the significance of the present state of the concentration camps of Buchenwald, Dachau, and Ravensbrück? Does their condition signify an active desire to commemorate the past, or rather of a wish to make it commonplace? Peter Reichel draws on examples from one city after another, and sometimes in one neighbourhood after another, to highlight the hesitations and the contradictions of a nation confronted with a past that will not, or should not, go away.
All authoritative regimes look to dominate and effectively use art, culture, and the media. Each tool of popular influence is merged together to create and enforce a mythology. But no regime ever went as far as Nazism, no doubt because the Nazis were the first to understand mass culture. Peter Reichel unveils the unrivaled skill with which they knew how to create a world of illusions that allowed them to drag the Germans to disaster. Peter Reichel is a professor at the Institute of Political Science in Hamburg.