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Catalog Archive / Spring 2023

Redeeming Objects
A West German Mythology

George L. Mosse Series in the History of European Culture, Sexuality, and Ideas
Steven E. Aschheim, Skye Doney, Mary Louise Roberts, and David J. Sorkin, Series Editors

“Scholz explores the afterlife of Nazism as a repurposing and remythologizing process. Scholars have yet to learn how to account for the ‘affective legacies’ of the Third Reich, or even to realize that they existed. Scholz’s analysis of the postwar fabric of Nazi myth showcases a subject and an approach that could be of great consequence for contemporary German and, more generally, post-totalitarian scholarship.”
—Michael Geyer, University of Chicago

VW Beetles, laundry detergent, the functional simplicity of Bauhaus—tracing the reinvention of products rooted in Nazi culture

Redeeming Objects traces the afterlives of things. Out of the rubble of World War II and the Holocaust, the Federal Republic of Germany emerged, and with it a foundational myth of the “economic miracle.” In this narrative, a new mass consumer society based on the production, export, and consumption of goods would redeem West Germany from its Nazi past and drive its rebirth as a truly modern nation. Turning this narrative on its head, Natalie Scholz shows that West Germany’s consumerist ideology took shape through the reinvention of commodities previously tied to Nazism into symbols of Germany’s modernity, economic supremacy, and international prestige.

Postwar advertising, film, and print culture sought to divest mass-produced goods—such as the Volkswagen and modern interiors—of their fascist legacies. But Scholz demonstrates that postwar representations were saturated with unacknowledged references to the Nazi past and older German colonial fantasies. Drawing on a vast array of popular and highbrow publications and films, Redeeming Objects adds a new perspective to debates about postwar reconstruction, memory, and consumerism.

 

Natalie Scholz is a professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Amsterdam.

 

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Table of Contents

Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction: A West German Mythology and the Ghosts of the Past
Chapter 1. Stranded Objects: The Political beneath the Rubble
Chapter 2. Miraculous Objects: The Volkswagen as Imperial Debris
Chapter 3. Timeless Objects: Good Modernity and its Other
Chapter 4. Expanding Objects: At Home in Globalizing Germany
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

 


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September 2023
312 pp. 6 x 9
84 b/w illus.

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Cloth $79.95 S
ISBN 9780299344306
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