Commemoration and Types or Patterns of Historical Meaning-Making (Narrating)

(This is a text from last year’s dis­cus­sion with Stéphane Lévesque and Gabriel Reich on nar­ra­tive pat­terns’ role in reflect­ing on mon­u­ment and memo­r­i­al pol­i­cy. I nev­er got round to fin­ish­ing ist. Sor­ry for the delay.)

In their texts and in the ear­li­er dis­cus­sion (first on Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly: Lévesque, Stéphane (2018): Remov­ing the Past?, then on Active His­to­ry CA: A new approach to debates over Mac­don­ald and oth­er mon­u­ments in Cana­da, Part 1 and Part 2), Lévesque sug­gest­ed a mod­el of dif­fer­ent lev­els of his­tor­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies fol­low­ing Jörn Rüsen’s typol­o­gy of nar­ra­tive pat­terns.

While I agree that there is a lot of plau­si­bil­i­ty in a sequen­tial devel­op­ment of these types of nar­rat­ing through­out (West­ern) his­to­ry, and that the genet­ic type is the most com­plex and advanced one, I don’t find much plau­si­bil­i­ty in the idea that in the devel­op­ment of stu­dent’ think­ing with­in their life­time, the tra­di­tion­al type should have any pri­or­i­ty to the oth­er ones. Instead, I think that stu­dents encounter full-fledged nar­ra­tives as well as sim­ple state­ments of all types simul­ta­ne­ous­ly from the begin­ning, and will acquire them along­side each oth­er — but only grad­u­al­ly learn to rec­og­nize them for what they are, grasp­ing their log­ic.

Con­sid­er the fol­low­ing graph:

© Andreas Kör­ber 2018

It is to visu­al­ize the idea that increas­ing recog­ni­tion of change in his­toric time (the x‑axis) first leads to the devel­op­ment of the tra­di­tion­al type (ask­ing for the ori­gin of the cur­rent­ly valid, in cloud 1), then the expe­ri­ence that what has orig­i­nat­ed can also per­ish again and there­fore ask­ing for ori­gins is not enough, lead to the devel­op­ment of the exem­plar­ic type, ask­ing for pat­terns and rules behind the change on the sur­face (cloud 2), and only mod­ern expe­ri­ence of increased/accelerated change then led to the devel­op­ment of the genet­ic type, ask­ing for the direc­tion.

Each of these pat­terns leads to dif­fer­ent expec­ta­tions for the future. Ini­tial­ly (green per­spec­tive), the future may seem quite sim­i­lar from the present. What is per­ceived as hav­ing begun, stays valid. Only from the (lat­er) blue per­spec­tive, a pat­tern seems dis­cernible, lead­ing to the expec­ta­tions that the future will also yield sim­i­lar pat­terns of events as are detect­ed in the past. From the (still lat­er) orange per­spec­tive, an (addi­tion­al?) increase in their “mag­ni­ture” can be per­ceived and its con­tin­u­a­tion be expect­ed.
The graph also is to show that the rules and pat­terns as well as ideas of ori­gins have not been ren­dered obso­lete by each new type, but are super­im­posed or inte­grat­ed into it.

I use this graph in my lec­ture. I now have added the small arrows. They are to indi­cate the learn­ing-neces­si­ties of a per­son with­in a rel­a­tive­ly short time-span of life or even youth. While in pre-mod­ern times, they only encoun­tered the then-devel­oped pat­terns (if the mod­el is valid), in moder­ni­ty, they will have to use all pat­terns simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, in order not make sense dif­fer­en­tial­ly.

The idea of a homol­o­gy is prob­lem­at­ic in anoth­er way, also. It might sug­gest that peo­ple in antiq­ui­ty (or pre-mod­ern-times) were devel­oped rather like chil­dren or youths, not real­ly grown-ups. This idea is not new, but is very prob­lem­at­ic. As you might be aware of, Rudolf Stein­er, founder of anthro­pos­o­phy, sug­gest­ed that the “ancient” Greek had a men­tal age of about 7‑years-olds. And there was a very influ­en­tial Ger­man “didact” of his­to­ry in the 19th cen­tu­ry (Friedrich Kohlrausch), who com­bined a sim­i­lar idea of the homo­log­i­cal devel­op­ment in the way peo­ple con­ceived “god” with that of becom­ing of age. So only the mod­ern man was real­ly “grown up” (and is was the Ger­mans who did so — very nation­al­ist).

Because of Rüsen’s idea of a “homol­o­gy” in the sequence of devel­op­ment of nar­rat­ing types between mankind (phy­lo­ge­n­e­sis) and indi­vid­u­als (onto­ge­n­e­sis), Bodo von Bor­ries (and I as assis­tant to him) did a large-scale research in the ear­ly 1990s, were we pre­sent­ed stu­dents with items of dif­fer­ent typo­log­i­cal log­ic to dilem­ma-sit­u­a­tions, like Rüsen him­self has used for qual­i­ta­tive research and for explain­ing the nar­ra­tive types. We did find a pre­dom­i­nance of agree­ment to “tra­di­tion­al” items with 6th-graders (abt. 11 yrs), but found no lin­ear devel­op­ment. In fact, 9th-graders seemed even to regress. All this is pub­lished in Ger­man only, I fear.

I would strong­ly sug­gest to dis­tin­guish between the his­tor­i­cal devel­op­ment and hier­ar­chy of these pat­terns on the one hand and pro­gres­sion in learn­ing on the oth­er hand, for which I sug­gest the third dimen­sion.

As for Lévesque’s revised table of com­pe­ten­cies in a fur­ther com­ment in PHW and his eval­u­a­tion that Gabriel Reich is cor­rect in that the genet­ic type pro­vides no solu­tion to the ques­tion of whether to keep or get rid of mon­u­ments: Do these types real­ly lead to spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal posi­tions — espe­cial­ly if they are always com­bined? Or do they rather char­ac­ter­ize part of their under­ly­ing under­stand­ing? I think there are dif­fer­ent posi­tions and solu­tions pos­si­ble by each nar­ra­tive. The val­ue of the dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion of types of mean­ing mak­ing and nar­ra­tion is rather ana­lyt­i­cal than pre­scrip­tive.

And that is also the ped­a­gog­i­cal val­ue: I think these typolo­gies (your table and mine) can be used for clas­si­fy­ing and dis­cussing state­ments of peo­ple in the polit­i­cal debate. It will enhance stu­dents abil­i­ty to rec­og­nize the log­ics behind spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal stances. And it may well show that both sug­ges­tions of keep­ing and of get­ting rid of can be under­pinned by dif­fer­ent types of nar­ra­tive, but that would gen­er­ate maybe dif­fer­ent poli­cies:

Take an exam­ple from Gabriel Reich’s patch, again: civ­il war mon­u­ments in Rich­mond.

One could argue for keep­ing the statutes on Mon­u­ment Avenue on grounds of pure­ly tra­di­tion­al think­ing: to mark the ori­gins of the spe­cif­ic state of things. This is both pos­si­ble in par­ti­san ways (only “our” heroes), but also in a more “inclu­sive” form, ask­ing for such mon­u­ment of both sides to be pre­sent­ed, to mark the ori­gin of the coun­tries “divi­sion”. Equal­ly in tra­di­tion­al mode (but with dif­fer­ent polit­i­cal back­ground), one might call for their removal. If you hold that the divi­sion they mark is no longer giv­en, they might be removed.

In exem­plar­ic mode (as I opined ear­li­er), one could speak out for the preser­va­tion of the mon­u­ments on the grounds that they exem­pli­fy a cer­tain time and cul­ture which we can still con­sid­er as “over­come”, but one can also argue for their removal because they rep­re­sent­ed out­dat­ed or polit­i­cal­ly non-sup­port­able rela­tions to the past, and that our time needs to find new ones, not “pro­gressed” ones, but such which reflect the “char­ac­ter­is­tics of our time”.

I do agree that to hold a specif­i­cal­ly genet­ic view makes it hard to envi­sion the whole ques­tion as one of keep­ing vs. remov­ing, — but it does­n’t exclude it to the full extent.

If peo­ple are think­ing pre­dom­i­nant­ly in genet­ic mode, expe­ri­enc­ing the coun­try to hav­ing over­come that divi­sion, they object to a tra­di­tion­al log­ic they per­ceived the mon­u­ments to have. In this case, it would be the ten­sion between one’s own genet­ic mode of think­ing and that per­ceived in the mon­u­ments, which would gen­er­ate a polit­i­cal posi­tion.

If the genet­ic per­spec­tive was upon how to improve com­mem­o­ra­tion, one might ask for mak­ing such com­mem­o­ra­tions “more inclu­sive”. This may have been behind erect­ing a mon­u­ment for Arthur Ashe among the con­fed­er­ate gen­er­als — not a very con­sis­tent move, though, giv­en that is mere­ly addi­tive­ly com­bines mon­u­ments. In fact, it cre­ates a “memo­r­i­al land­scape” of a rather com­plex nar­ra­tive struc­ture, part of which is tra­di­tion­al (“heroes”) and exem­plary (“each group”), but by doing so enforces a new kind of tra­di­tion­al­i­ty (keep­ing the racial groups apart, assign­ing each “their own” tra­di­tion to hold up). So the intend­ed “progress” by inclu­siv­i­ty (“An avenue for all peo­ple”) may in fact have cre­at­ed a mul­ti-tra­di­tion­al nar­ra­tive.1

But there are oth­er pos­si­ble solu­tions sug­gest­ed by genet­ic think­ing.  The con­cept of past peo­ple being “chil­dren of their own time” is as genet­ic as it can get, refer­ring to a fun­da­men­tal change in time, so that morals and actions might be con­sid­ered incom­men­su­rable across times. This con­cept has been used for exon­er­at­ing past peo­ples views and actions. On this ground, one might call it “use­less”. But it isn’t. Genet­ic his­tor­i­cal think­ing entails both — to rec­og­nize the tem­po­ral change and moral and polit­i­cal con­texts for past actions dif­fer­ent from ours, AND to rec­og­nize that our own con­text is valid, too.

From this point of view, it may under­pin a present posi­tion trans­gress­ing the “keep/remove”-divide, name­ly to find ways of memo­ri­al­iz­ing civ­il war “heroes” (and/or “vil­lains” that is) that do NOT inad­ver­tent­ly invite for tra­di­tion­al or exem­plar­ic hero­ic read­ing, but specif­i­cal­ly marks the dis­tance of time.

It is imper­a­tive, this think­ing goes, to keep these memo­ri­als, but not as hero­ic marks to the past or as ambiva­lent mark­ers. One should not just remove them, for that would put into obliv­ion not only the past, but also the whole dis­cus­sion and reflec­tions, the uneasi­ness about its rep­re­sen­ta­tion which sparked the dis­cus­sion in the first place. Genet­ic think­ing would not be con­tent to just remove the hero­ism (espe­cial­ly that of the wrong, side) with the effect to have no mem­o­ry at all, but would call for a memo­ri­al­iza­tion which specif­i­cal­ly marks the change between that time and ours today.

Again, take a Ham­burg exam­ple. In an ear­li­er con­tri­bu­tion to this dis­cus­sion I already hint­ed to counter-memo­ri­al­i­sa­tion. One of the best exam­ples is here in Ham­burg-Altona:

Mon­u­ment and Counter-Mon­u­ment next to at St. Johan­nis-Church in Ham­burg-Altona2

Next to Altona’s St. Johan­nis Church, a mon­u­ment had been erect­ed in 1925 for the mem­bers of the 31st Infantry Reg­i­ment in WW1, com­mis­sioned by sur­vivors of that reg­i­ment. Each of the three sides of the col­umn-like mon­u­ment made of clink­er fea­tures an over­sized, half-naked fig­ure, rep­re­sent­ing a war­rior with some antique weapon.

The inscrip­tion below reads “To the fall­en for a grate­ful mem­o­ry, to the liv­ing for a reminder, to the com­ing gen­er­a­tions for emu­la­tion.“3. Clear­ly a very tra­di­tion­al pro­to-nar­ra­tive, both extend­ing the own war­rior­ship of the sol­diers into antiq­ui­ty and call­ing for its emu­la­tion, lack­ing any tran­scen­dence. The for­mu­la was coined by August Böckh for Friedrich Wil­helm III of Prus­sia, and was used on mon­u­ments remem­ber­ing the “lib­er­a­tion wars” against Napoleon, but also lat­er on those for the “uni­fi­ca­tion wars” of 1870/71. After the loss­es of mil­lions in WW1, its usage — espe­cial­ly of the third ele­ment — is remark­able, albeit not all­to­geth­er uncom­mon4.


In the mid-1990s, the church’s con­gre­ga­tion com­mis­sioned a counter-memo­r­i­al, cre­at­ed by Rain­er Tied­je, con­sist­ing of three acryl-glass-plates, each direct­ly con­fronting one of the war­riors, depict­ing “dark, ema­ci­at­ed, fear­ful crea­tures”, as the expla­na­tion on the page “denkmalhamburg.de” states (thus on http://denkmalhamburg.de/kriegerdenkmal-an-der-st-johanniskirche/, my trans­la­tion). It con­cludes “In the cen­ter the hero­ism and the exal­ta­tion, in front of it it the hor­ror of war. A suc­cess­ful mix­ture.” (my trans­la­tion).


Gegen­denkmal zum 31er Kriegerdenkmal (aus: Gedenkstät­ten in Ham­burg. Weg­weis­er zu den Stät­ten der Erin­nerung an die Jahre 1933–1945. https://www.gedenkstaetten-in-hamburg.de/gedenkstaetten/gedenkort/gegendenkmal-zum-31er-kriegerdenkmal/

To me, this coun­ter­memo­r­i­al is not just a (exem­plar­ic-mode) jux­ta­po­si­tion of (trad­tion­al-mode) hero­ism and hor­ror of war, but there is fun­da­men­tal­ly genet­ic part in it: the counter-memo­r­i­al does not mere­ly point to time­less hor­rors of the con­se­quences of war­fare, but leans on a visu­al vocab­u­lary estab­lished in Holo­caust memo­ri­als: The “suf­fer­ing men” who wrig­gles with pain (and fear) on eye-lev­el with the war­riors, look like “musel­men”, the com­plete­ly debil­i­tat­ed and immis­er­at­ed inmates of the Nazi con­cen­tra­tion camps. In its iconog­ra­phy, the counter-memo­r­i­al belongs to the gen­er­a­tion of mon­u­ments which coerce the view­er, the pub­lic to find and answer, not pro­vid­ing one them­selves, either in being abstract or — as here — by visu­al­iz­ing death and dis­ap­pear­ance in any but hero­ic form5. It is this fea­ture, using a visu­al code depend­ing not only abstract­ly on hind­sight but on con­crete knowl­edge about what such hero­ism-pro­pa­gan­da did help to bring about, togeth­er with the effec­tive plac­ing which ren­ders impos­si­ble “com­mem­o­ra­tion cer­e­monies, at which the plaques are not noticed”, which indi­cate to a spe­cif­ic genet­ic think­ing below it, try­ing to trans­gress the think­ing of the time.

  1. Cf. https://onmonumentave.com/blog/2017/11/20/an-avenue-for-for-all-people-how-arthur-ashe-came-to-monument-avenue []
  2. Pho­to by 1970gemini in der Wikipedia auf Deutsch, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19523318 []
  3. See http://denkmalhamburg.de/kriegerdenkmal-an-der-st-johanniskirche/  []
  4. Cf. Kosel­leck, Rein­hart (1996): Kriegerdenkmäler als Iden­titätss­tiftun­gen der Über­leben­den. In: Odo Mar­quard und Karl­heinz Stier­le (Hg.): Iden­tität. 2., unveränd. Aufl. München: Fink (Poet­ik und Hermeneu­tik, 8), S. 255–276; p. 261f []
  5. Cf. Kosel­leck, Rein­hart (1994): Ein­leitung. In: Rein­hart Kosel­leck und Michael Jeis­mann (Hg.): Der poli­tis­che Totenkult. Kriegerdenkmäler in der Mod­erne. München: Fink (Bild und Text), S. 9–20, here p. 20 []

New Draft on Analysing Monuments with Students

Kör­ber, Andreas (2019): How to Read a Mon­u­ment as a Nar­ra­tive in Class – a Sug­ges­tion. [unfin­ished draft]. In His­torisch denken ler­nen [Blog des AB Geschichts­di­dak­tik; Uni­ver­sität Ham­burg], 8/27/2019. Avail­able online at https://historischdenkenlernen.userblogs.uni-hamburg.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2019_08_K%C3%B6rber-How-to-Read-a-Monument-as-Narrative-in-Class_1b-lit.pdf.

This is a new draft of a sug­ges­tion for analysing mon­u­ments with stu­dents. Please com­ment.
August 28th: I added some aspects (in the PDF in green).

2019_08_Körber How to Read a Mon­u­ment as Nar­ra­tive in Class_2-lit.pdf

==
Andreas Kör­ber (Ham­burg)
How to Read a Mon­u­ment as a Nar­ra­tive in Class – a Sug­ges­tion [unfin­ished draft]

I.
The fol­low­ing sug­ges­tions for address­ing mon­u­ments in his­to­ry edu­ca­tion are based on a con­cep­tion of mon­u­ments as pro­to- or abbre­vi­ate nar­ra­tives1 by a present actor about a cer­tain past and its rel­e­vance. Even though in many dis­cus­sions about the removal of mon­u­ments, peo­ple deplore the removal of their “past”,2 what is at stake, is not the past itself, but a spe­cif­ic and often priv­i­leged com­mu­ni­ca­tion of a cer­tain inter­pre­ta­tion of some past con­text, per­son­age or event.
As such, they also address some­one (most­ly a spe­cif­ic group) – some­times explic­it­ly, some­times implic­it­ly only. These “addressees” need, how­ev­er, not be iden­ti­cal with those real­ly explor­ing the mon­u­ment. But these (the actu­al “audi­ence”) will also feel addressed, and since they might (will) be diverse, in quite dif­fer­ent ways. This com­mu­nica­tive shift is far from being an excep­tion – it might even be the rule in times of change and of increased diver­si­ty of our soci­eties. Con­sid­er, e.g., a mon­u­ment hail­ing some hero of an impe­r­i­al war address­ing its audi­ence with a ref­er­ence to “our empire” vis­it­ed by an immi­grant British cit­i­zen. This applies not only to mon­u­ments depict­ing a group’s (e.g. nation’s) “own pride and pain” but also to crit­i­cal memo­ri­als address­ing a group’s actions in the past which are con­sid­ered as prob­lem­at­ic (to say the least) in ret­ro­spect. Con­sid­er, e.g., Germany’s memo­ri­als at for­mer places of con­cen­tra­tion camps. In most cas­es, they are called “Gedenkstät­ten” – “sites of remem­brance”. As such, already, they (have to) express their nar­ra­tive log­ic in diverse from, giv­en that the soci­ety they address is not only soci­o­log­i­cal­ly and cul­tur­al­ly diverse but also with respect to the past they refer to. For sur­vivors and depen­dants (of both sur­vivors and fatal vic­tims), they are (main­ly) a place of com­mem­o­ra­tion their own loss and also vic­tim­hood. In many cas­es these places tell a sto­ry of “we have this place for remem­ber­ing what they (the Ger­mans) have done to us”. But even with­in this group, there are many who are and still con­sid­er them­selves Ger­mans. For them, the nar­ra­tive is quite dif­fer­ent. And of course there is a dif­fer­ence between mourn­ing a loss and remem­ber­ing a sur­vival or even own resis­tance. An inscrip­tion on the 1965 mon­u­ment at Neuengamme Con­cen­tra­tion Camp Memo­r­i­al in Ham­burg, e.g., read­ing “Euer Lei­den, Euer Kampf und Euer Tod sollen nicht vergebens sein” (“Your Suf­fer­ing, Your Fight and Your Death Shall Not be in Vain”) does promi­nent­ly address a group of pris­on­ers who active­ly resist­ed. But what is more, most of these places respec­tive­ly mon­u­ments there are also known as “Mah­n­male”, i.e. “mon­u­ment” in the lit­er­al sense of “admon­ish­ing” some­one. Who can or should be admon­ished there? Refer­ring to the Nazi Crimes, they can (and have to) do it in two dif­fer­ent ways: Towards sur­viv­ing vic­tims and their depen­dants they may be read as “Nev­er let that be done unto you again” – but address­ing the Ger­man soci­ety as such they refer to “Remem­ber” (pub­licly, that is) “what you have done” (both to “oth­ers” and to “some of your own”, that is) – “and make sure that this nev­er hap­pens again”. Ger­mans among the vic­tims of NS-crimes (Jew­ish Ger­mans, Com­mu­nists, Social Democ­rats Jehova’s Wit­ness­es, and many oth­ers), then, will specif­i­cal­ly have to select (not choose) how they are addressed.

Metaphor­i­cal­ly, mon­u­ments don’t cease to “speak” if address­ing a dif­fer­ent audi­ence from what was intend­ed or sup­posed. Since all per­cep­tion and analy­sis (“de-construction”1) of a nar­ra­tive also requires and implies re-con­struc­tive men­tal process­es, the result­ing nar­ra­tives in diverse pub­li­ca will dif­fer, par­tial­ly by becom­ing more com­plex. Con­sid­er the 1925 war mon­u­ment in front of Hamburg-Altona’s Johan­nis Church: It depicts three medieval war­riors with bare chest and lean­ing on a long sword.2 The inscrip­tion reads: “Den Gefal­l­enen zum dankbaren Gedächt­nis, den Leben­den zur Mah­nung, den kom­menden Geschlechtern zur Nacheifer­ung” (“to the fall­en in grate­ful mem­o­ry, to the liv­ing as a reminder, to the com­ing gen­er­a­tions for emu­la­tion”). Even though there sure­ly are some youths on the right-wing of the polit­i­cal spec­trum to whom this may appeal, both most of them will have to engage in twofold inter­pre­ta­tion: “Eth­nic” will have to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between their own posi­tion and per­spec­tive and that of the youth in the Weimar Repub­lic, in order to rec­og­nize the mes­sage and to make their own sense of it, Ger­mans with what is often termed as “migra­to­ry back­ground” will have even more aspects to com­bine.

All these con­sid­er­a­tions also hold true for the “speaker’s posi­tion” in a memo­r­i­al or monument’s nar­ra­tive: Let’s take the exam­ple of Ger­man Con­cen­tra­tion Camp memo­ri­als again: Who is it, admon­ish­ing the vic­tims not to be vic­tim­ized again, and (more promi­nent­ly) the Ger­mans not to become per­pe­tra­tors again? In fact, one can even detect anoth­er lay­er in such mon­u­ments. The fact that (belat­ed­ly enough) the Ger­man soci­ety today des­ig­nates and sup­ports these “Gedenkstät­ten” (or even hosts them insti­tu­tion­al­ly) can also be con­sid­ered a mes­sage to both the sur­vivors, their depen­dants and to the world at large: “See and that we address this past” – pos­si­bly also with a call for sup­port: “By wit­ness­ing this com­mit­ment of ours to remem­ber­ing this past – help us to resist and even fight ten­den­cies to aban­don it and to return to a socio-cen­tric way or com­mem­o­ra­tion” again.3 But is it “the Ger­man Soci­ety” speak­ing here – or some spe­cif­ic group (e.g. the gov­ern­ment, a polit­i­cal fac­tion, …) speak­ing “for” the Ger­man peo­ple or in lieu of? Just like the tar­get­ed audi­ence of a mon­u­ment sel­dom­ly is just the one real­ly vis­it­ing it (and try­ing to make sense of it), the posi­tion of “author­ship” needs to be dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed.
Giv­en all this, the con­ven­tion­al ques­tions of (1) who erect­ed a mon­u­ment (2) to (remem­ber­ing) whom, (3) for what pur­pose, (4) with whose mon­ey, and to what effect (e.g. of appraisal, cri­tique), are still nec­es­sary, but need to be com­ple­ment­ed.
As a result, a monument’s “mes­sage” or “mean­ing” is nei­ther fixed nor arbi­trary, but rather a spec­trum of nar­ra­tive rela­tions between a range of perceived-“authors” or ”speak­ers” and a sim­i­lar range of tar­get­ed and fac­tu­al addressees.
Fur­ther­more, their inter­re­la­tion is of utmost inter­est and may strong­ly dif­fer: Does (and if so: in what way) the mon­u­ments mes­sage imply the author and the addressee(s) to belong to the same group? It it “intran­si­tive” in that it at least seem­ing­ly express­es the fact of “remem­ber­ing” (“We both know that we have knowl­edge about this past and we express that it is of impor­tance to us”), while in fact it serves either as a tran­si­tive reminder (“I know that you know, but you must not for­get”) or even as a first-time intro­duc­tion of the addressee into the sub­ject at hand (which will be the mode in most cas­es of vis­it­ing mon­u­ments with stu­dents). So where “remem­ber­ing” and even “com­mem­o­ra­tion” is sug­gest­ed and meant, “telling” is the fac­tu­al mode.
Fur­ther­more, com­mem­o­ra­tive modes are man­i­fold. Mon­u­ments can not only call for neu­tral “remem­ber­ing”, but also for rever­ing or con­demn­ing, for feel­ings (pride and pain) – and they can appeal for action, e.g. for fol­low­ing an exam­ple. In cul­tur­al­ly diverse soci­eties, the spe­cif­ic lin­guis­tic and artis­tic modes of express­ing may not be clear to all stu­dents, pos­si­bly lead­ing to mis­un­der­stand­ings, but pos­si­bly also to iden­ti­fy­ing alter­na­tive read­ings which are worth con­sid­er­ing.

II.
Anoth­er aspect is cru­cial: In (post-)modern, diverse and het­ero­ge­neous soci­eties (at least), it will not suf­fice that each indi­vid­ual is able to think about the past and its rep­re­sen­ta­tions in the pub­lic sphere, to con­sid­er the mes­sages and to relate to them indi­vid­u­al­ly. The com­mon task of orga­niz­ing a peace­ful and demo­c­ra­t­ic life togeth­er with­in soci­ety as well as in respect to for­eign rela­tions requires that the indi­vid­ual mem­bers of soci­ety do not only sport their own his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness – pos­si­bly dif­fer­ent from that of their neigh­bours, they will have to be able to relate to these oth­er per­cep­tions, con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tions, inter­pre­ta­tions and eval­u­a­tions of past and his­to­ry and to the appeals they hold for them. In plur­al soci­eties it is not enough to just know his­to­ry your­self and to be able to think his­tor­i­cal­ly – its is para­mount to have at least some insight into the his­tor­i­cal think­ing of oth­ers and to be able to com­mu­ni­cate about it. This also refers to mon­u­ments. What is need­ed is not only knowl­edge and insight about some pos­si­ble dif­fer­ent inter­pre­ta­tions (as e.g. exem­pli­fied by clas­si­cal or rep­re­sen­ta­tive ones tak­en from lit­er­a­ture), but also an insight into the actu­al (ongo­ing, pos­si­bly still unsure, blurred, unfin­ished) inter­pre­ta­tions of oth­ers in one’s one rel­e­vant con­texts. Learn­ing about his­to­ry in inclu­sive soci­eties, there­fore, be they diverse with regard to cul­tur­al, social or oth­er dif­fer­en­ti­a­tions, requires a dimen­sion of mutu­al­i­ty, of learn­ing not only about his­to­ry and the past, but also about the oth­er mem­bers of soci­ety and their rela­tions to it, the mean­ings it holds for them, their ques­tions, their hypothe­ses, etc.4

III.
On the back­drop of all these con­sid­er­a­tions, the fol­low­ing guide­line there­fore does not ven­ture to help stu­dents to per­ceive the “true” “mean­ing” of a mon­u­ment, but rather to fos­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion about what is per­ceived as its “mes­sage” and mean­ing by pos­si­bly dif­fer­ent peo­ple. Some of these per­cep­tions will be affirmed by being shared among sev­er­al and pos­si­bly quite dif­fer­ent users, while oth­ers might be dif­fer­ent. This, how­ev­er, does not nec­es­sar­i­ly ren­der them wrong or non­sen­si­cal (which, they might be, how­ev­er). Com­par­ing dif­fer­ent answers might both sharp­en the individual’s per­cep­tion and broad­en it to per­ceive rel­e­vance and mean­ings of memo­ri­als to peo­ple with dif­fer­ent back­ground, inter­est, cul­ture, inter­est, and so on. These forms of rel­e­vance might (often will) dif­fer from that intend­ed by those who erect­ed the mon­u­ment. What does that mean? Is a mon­u­ment dys­func­tion­al if peo­ple feel addressed by it in a way dif­fer­ing from that orig­i­nal­ly intend­ed? Or does it keep rel­e­vance but change sig­nif­i­cance?
These ques­tions do not replace but com­ple­ment oth­er approach­es to analysing mon­u­ments. It might be sen­si­ble, though, to not apply them after more direct approach­es, but to use them as a start, result­ing in more spe­cif­ic (and pos­si­bly also more) of ques­tions to explore.
The ques­tions can be used in dif­fer­ent ways. It will be rather tedious to just answer them one by one – espe­cial­ly includ­ing all bul­let points. The lat­ter are rather meant as sug­ges­tions for for­mu­lat­ing an answer to the main ques­tions above them.
To work indi­vid­u­al­ly is pos­si­ble, but because of the con­cept explained above, it might be more fruit­ful to apply a “Think-Pair-Share” ‑sys­tem and first work inde­pen­dent­ly, then com­pare sug­ges­tions in small groups in a way which does not only look for com­mon solu­tions, but also explores and eval­u­ates dif­fer­ences, and then share both insights and remain­ing or new­ly arisen ques­tions with the whole group.

Task:
I. Respond to the ques­tions 1–6, using the bul­let points below as direc­tions and sug­ges­tions. Try e.g. to com­plete the giv­en sen­tences, but for­mu­late your own answer to the main ques­tions. If you are unsure or have addi­tion­al ideas, for­mu­late your ques­tions (instead)!
II. Com­pare your nots with your partner(s). Don’t stan­dard­ize them! Instead: For­mu­late (a) a new ver­sion of those aspects which were sim­i­lar and (b) on your dif­fer­ences! In what way did/do you dif­fer? Make a sug­ges­tion why that might be! Keep your orig­i­nal notes! They will be valu­able in fur­ther dis­cus­sions!
III. Report on your find­ings from II to your class! Com­pare with insights and ques­tions of oth­er groups!

=======================

  1. Com­mu­nica­tive Explic­it­ness:
    In how far does the mon­u­ment (seem to) …
    • … present or sug­gest a spe­cif­ic per­son or group in a speak­er posi­tion? (e.g. “We, <…> erect­ed this mon­u­ment”?)
    • … address a spe­cif­ic person/group or sug­gests to be direct­ed towards a spe­cif­ic group? (“You, <…>…” / “to <…>”)5
    • … address a third-par­ty as some kind of wit­ness as to the fact of remem­ber­ing?6
    • … refer to some third par­ty as involved in the past which is nar­rat­ed? (e.g. “what they have done to us”)
  2. Nar­ra­tive Explic­it­ness:
    In how far does the mon­u­ment (seem to) …
    • … pre­sup­pose that the recipient/addressee has suf­fi­cient knowl­edge about the con­text referred to?
    • … explic­it­ly con­struct a spe­cif­ic con­text (explic­it­ly tell a sto­ry),
    • … rely on a cer­tain amount of com­mon knowl­edge of speak­er and addressee?7
    • …intro­duce actors, con­texts and events?
    • ?
  3. Transitive/Intransitive com­mu­ni­ca­tion:
    In how far does the mon­u­ment (seem to) …
    • … embrace the recipient/addressee as a mem­ber of the same group (“we”) as the (pur­port­ed) speak­er?
    • … address the recipient/addressee as a mem­ber of a dif­fer­ent group (“you”) as the (pur­port­ed) speak­er?
  4. . “Mono-” or “Het­erogloss” com­mu­ni­ca­tion:
    In how far does the mon­u­ment (seem to) …
    • … embrace the recipient/addressee as undoubt­ed­ly hav­ing the same perspective/sharing the eval­u­a­tion (“monogloss”)? e.g. by being implic­it about it,
    • … address the recipient/addressee as not nec­es­sar­i­ly shar­ing the same per­spec­tive and eval­u­a­tion (“het­erogloss”)? e.g. by being explic­it in state­ment, eval­u­a­tion, etc.
  5. Com­mu­nica­tive Intent:
    What is the rela­tion of authors’/addressee(s)/third-party’s role in the (proto-)narrated sto­ry?, e.g.
    • Gener­ic
      1. “<…> want(s) <…> to <know/remember/acknowledge/accept/judge> as <…>”
    • Spe­cif­ic:
      • “’We’ <…> want ‘you’ <…> (and oth­ers) to know what ‘we’ <…> have achieved!” (as e.g. in “Stranger, tell the Spar­tans …”)
      • “’We’ <…>want ‘us’ <…> to not for­get what ‘we’ <…> have achieved!” (as e.g. in Mon­u­ments to Uni­fi­ca­tion)
      • “’We’ <…> want ‘us’ <…> to not for­get what ‘we’ <…> have caused!” (as e.g. in Ger­man Con­cen­tra­tion Camp Memo­ri­als)
      • “’We’ <…> want ‘you’ <…> to know that ‘we’ <…> sub­mit our­selves to not forgetting/remembering!”
      • “’We’ <…> want ‘us’ <…> to not for­get what ‘they’ <…> have done to ‘us’ <…>!”
      • “’’We’ <…> want ‘you’ <…> to know that ‘we’ <…> acknowl­edge what ‘you’ <…> have done to ‘us’ <…>!”
    • In how far does one (or sev­er­al) of the fol­low­ing forms describe the com­mu­nica­tive inten­tion of the mon­u­ment?
      • to inform, e.g. if it intro­duces and details the past inci­dents, con­texts etc.;
      • to con­firm, e.g. if it almost tac­it­ly – with­out giv­ing details – refers to a past con­text which both author and addressee share knowl­edge about; intend­ing to secure acknowl­edge­ment of fac­tu­al­i­ty;
      • to com­mem­o­rate, e.g. if it almost tac­it­ly – with­out giv­ing details – refers to a past con­text which both author and addressee share knowl­edge about, intend­ing to express a cer­tain eval­u­a­tion;
      • to mourn, e.g. if it refers to a past con­text which both author and addressee share knowl­edge about, intend­ing to express a feel­ing of loss of someone/something val­ued);
      • to remind, e.g. if it refers to a past con­text which both author and addressee should share knowl­edge about, intend­ing to
        • pre­vent for­get­ting;
        • secure a cer­tain eval­u­a­tion which is sup­posed to have been shared before?
        • appeal, e.g. if it asks (invites?/requests?/summons?) the recipient/addressee to feel/identify/act in a cer­tain way, e.g. by
          • refer­ring to (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for some­thing, admon­ish­ing the addressee to eval­u­ate this/these per­sons in a cer­tain way, but not to fol­low her/his exam­ple, either
          • hero­iz­ing: pre­sent­ing (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for a spe­cial achieve­ment and there­fore to be revered;
          • giv­ing thanks: pre­sent­ing (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for a spe­cial achieve­ment and express­ing grat­i­tude;
          • con­demn­ing: pre­sent­ing (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for a spe­cial achieve­ment and there­fore to be con­demned;
          • to present exam­ples / role mod­els, e.g. if it by presents (a) person(s) as respon­si­ble for some­thing and address­es the recipient/addressee as pos­si­bly being in a sim­i­lar posi­tion and hav­ing sim­i­lar capac­i­ties, urg­ing her/him either
            • to fol­low the exam­ple (e.g. of tak­ing action, of resist­ing);
            • to not fol­low the exam­ple (e.g. of going along …);
          • to express grat­i­tude, e.g. if it presents the addressee and/or his group as respon­si­ble for some­thing good, express­ing grat­i­tude;
          • to accuse, e.g. if it presents the addressee and/or his group as respon­si­ble for some­thing bad, express­ing con­tempt;
    • oth­er (spec­i­fy) …
      ======
      Ref­er­ences
      • “Gemüt­szu­s­tand eines total besiegten Volkes”. Höcke-Rede im Wort­laut. Nach dem Tran­skript von Kon­stan­tin Nowot­ny (2017). In Der Tagesspiegel, 1/19/2017. Avail­able online at https://www.tagesspiegel.de/politik/hoecke-rede-im-wortlaut-gemuetszustand-eines-total-besiegten-volkes/19273518-all.html, checked on 3/14/2019.
      • Kör­ber, Andreas (2014): His­tor­i­cal Think­ing and His­tor­i­cal Com­pe­ten­cies as Didac­tic Core Con­cepts. In Helle Bjerg, Andreas Kör­ber, Clau­dia Lenz, Oliv­er von Wrochem (Eds.): Teach­ing his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ries in an inter­cul­tur­al per­spec­tive. Con­cepts and meth­ods : expe­ri­ences and results from the TeacMem project. 1st ed. Berlin: Metropol Ver­lag (Rei­he Neuengam­mer Kol­lo­qui­en, Bd. 4), pp. 69–96.
      • Kör­ber, Andreas (2015): His­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness, his­tor­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies – and beyond? Some con­cep­tu­al devel­op­ment with­in Ger­man his­to­ry didac­tics. Avail­able online at http://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2015/10811/pdf/Koerber_2015_Development_German_History_Didactics.pdf.
      • Kör­ber, Andreas (2019; in print): Inklu­sive Geschicht­skul­tur — Bes­tim­mungs­fak­toren und Ansprüche. In Sebas­t­ian Barsch, Bet­ti­na Deg­n­er, Christoph Küh­berg­er, Mar­tin Lücke (Eds.): Hand­buch Diver­sität im Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. Zugänge ein­er inklu­siv­en Geschichts­di­dak­tik. Frank­furt am Main: Wochen­schau Ver­lag, pp. 250–258.
      • Kör­ber, Andreas (2019; unpubl.): Geschicht­sler­nen in der Migra­tions­ge­sellschaft. Sich in und durch Kon­tro­ver­sen zeitlich ori­en­tieren ler­nen. deut­lich über­ar­beit­eter Vor­trag; unpub­liziert. Geschicht­en in Bewe­gung“. Uni­ver­sität Pader­born. Pader­born, 6/14/2019.
      • Kör­ber, Andreas; Schreiber, Wal­traud; Schön­er, Alexan­der (Eds.) (2007): Kom­pe­ten­zen his­torischen Denkens. Ein Struk­tur­mod­ell als Beitrag zur Kom­pe­ten­zori­en­tierung in der Geschichts­di­dak­tik. Neuried: Ars Una Ver­lags-Gesellschaft (Kom­pe­ten­zen, 2).
      • Lévesque, Stéphane (2018): Remov­ing the “Past”. Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry. In Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly 2018 (29). DOI: 10.1515/phw-2018–12570.
      • Rüsen, Jörn; Fröh­lich, Klaus; Horstköt­ter, Hubert; Schmidt, Hans Gün­ther (1991): Unter­suchun­gen zum Geschichts­be­wußt­sein von Abi­turi­en­ten im Ruhrge­bi­et. Empirische Befunde ein­er quan­ti­ta­tiv­en Pilot­studie. In Bodo von Bor­ries (Ed.): Geschichts­be­wusst­sein empirisch. Pfaf­fen­weil­er: Cen­tau­rus (Geschichts­di­dak­tik : […], Stu­di­en, Mate­ri­alien, [N.F.], Bd. 7), pp. 221–344.
      • Zio­gas, Ioan­nis (2014): Sparse Spar­tan Verse. Fill­ing Gaps in the Ther­mopy­lae Epi­gram. In Ramus 43 (2), pp. 115–133. DOI: 10.1017/rmu.2014.10.
  1. Cf. Rüsen et al. 1991, 230f. Cf. also my com­ment on Lévesque 2018, ibid. []
  2. Cf. Lévesque 2018. []
  3. That this dan­ger is far from being hypo­thet­i­cal can be seen in the light of a speech by the right-wing (AFD)-politician Björn Höcke in Dres­den on 18 Jan­u­ary 2017, where he called for a “U‑turn” in Ger­man mem­o­ry cul­ture, giv­ing up the pol­i­tics of “Ver­gan­gen­heits­be­wäl­ti­gung”. In the same speech, he reproached to the Berlin Memo­r­i­al to the Mur­dered Jews of Europe (the “Holo­caust-Memo­r­i­al”) as a “mon­u­ment of shame”, which of course it is, but in a dif­fer­ent sense: What Höcke meant is a “shame­ful” mon­u­ment, but for the cur­rent Ger­man memo­r­i­al cul­ture he attacked, to address one’s own (in group’s) “crime and shame” is noth­ing shame­ful, but a neces­si­ty. Cf. the doc­u­men­ta­tion of the speech in “Gemüt­szu­s­tand eines total besiegten Volkes” 2017 (as of 28.8.2019). Any sense of pride, how­ev­er, based on the devel­op­ment of this “crit­i­cal” and even “neg­a­tive” mem­o­ry cul­ture would be at least prob­lem­at­ic – it would under­mine the mind-set. The ques­tion remains of how to address this as an achieve­ment with­out resort­ing to con­cepts of “pride”. []
  4. Cf. on the con­cept of inclu­sive his­to­ry cul­ture: Kör­ber 2019; i. Dr.. Kör­ber 2019. []
  5. As e.g. in a Ham­burg mon­u­ment com­mem­o­rat­ing the town’s dead of WW1: “Vierzig Tausend Söhne der Stadt ließen ihr Leben für Euch” (“Forty Thou­sand Sons of [our] Town Gave Their Lives for You”). []
  6. As e.g. in the verse of Simonides of Ceos (556–468 BCE) on the Spar­tan defend­ers at the Ther­mopy­lae, which Herodotus (VII, 228) reports to have been erect­ed on the spot: “Oh stranger, tell the Lacedae­mo­ni­ans that we lie here, obe­di­ent to their words.” (transl. by Ioan­nis Zio­gas). The orig­i­nal did not sur­vive, but in 1955 a mod­ern plate was erect­ed bear­ing the Greek text again. For this and dif­fer­ent trans­la­tions of the inscrip­tion see the Eng­lish Wikipedia-arti­cle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Thermopylae#Epitaph_of_Simonides (as of 27/8/2019). For a dis­cus­sion of the word­ing see Zio­gas 2014. []
  7. A mon­u­ment in Oslo, on the premis­es of Åker­shus Slot, near the Nor­we­gian muse­um of resis­tance against Ger­man Occu­pa­tion in WW2 (the Muse­um), e.g. states „de kjem­pet de falt – de gav oss alt“ (lit­er­al­ly: „They fought, they fell – they gave us every­thing“), or rather: „they gave (sac­ri­ficed) every­thing for us.“ Even though the mon­u­ment depicts tools and devices which can be used in resis­tance oper­a­tions, the mon­u­ment clear­ly requires knowl­edge of the whole con­text of Nor­we­gian resis­tance. Kör­ber 2014, p. 87. []

Analyzing Monuments using crosstabulations of Historical Thinking Competencies and Types of Narrating

Kör­ber, Andreas (2018): “Ana­lyz­ing Mon­u­ments using crosstab­u­la­tions of His­tor­i­cal Think­ing Com­pe­ten­cies and Types of Nar­rat­ing.” In: His­torisch Denken Ler­nen. Arbeits­bere­ich Geschichts­di­dak­tik der Uni­ver­sität Ham­burg. 16.10.2018.

The fol­low­ing is a fol­low-up in the dis­cus­sion on Stéphane Lévesques mod­el of his­tor­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies as pre­sent­ed in Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly, a few days ago, titled “Remov­ing the ‘Past’: Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry“1 and my first extend­ed com­ment on this pub­lished here on this blog.

A crosstab­u­la­tion of com­pe­ten­cies and patterns/logic of sense­mak­ing like Stéphane Lévesque sug­gest­ed2 is indeed use­ful for “read­ing” indi­vid­ual mon­u­ments and mak­ing sense of their “mes­sage”, also. Stéphane’s fill­ing of the table is a bit abstra­cht, gen­er­al for this, so the fol­low­ing would in part be my own under­stand­ing.

It also is based on Rüsen’s notion that while the dif­fer­ent pat­terns were devel­oped sequen­tial­ly over time, to “old­er” ones are not lost, but still avail­able and indeed vis­i­ble in mod­ern day think­ing, in fact most of the time in com­bi­na­tions. What char­ac­ter­izes mod­ern-time his­tor­i­cal think­ing, then, is the pres­ence and dom­i­nance of “genet­ic” think­ing, while pre-mod­ern thought would not have this type at its dis­pos­al at all. But then, our exam­ples here are all “mod­ern”, so that it may be a ques­tion of dom­i­nance and rel­a­tive weight.

Take a mon­u­ment for a civ­il war gen­er­al:

  • A spec­ta­tor today may read it as a reminder to the ori­gin of the cur­rent state of affairs, pos­si­bly the “los­ing of the cause” (e.g. both the hon­oured gen­er­al and the spec­ta­tor being southen­ers) or to the lib­er­a­tion of the slaves (both northen­ers). In both cas­es, the mon­u­ment would be seen as point­ing to an ori­gin of what is seen as valid today (the very def­i­n­i­tion of Rüsen’s “tra­di­tion­al” type). This might explain why peo­ple adher­ing to the north­ern nar­ra­tive would oppose to south­ern mon­u­ments, and vice ver­sa, not believe­ing their sto­ry in the first place — and maybe fear­ing that keep­ing the mon­u­ments would sig­ni­fy that their ver­sion was to be seen as valid.
  • In an exem­plar­ic mode, how­ev­er, both may accept the “oth­er side’s” mon­u­ments, because what they point at would not be seen as the ori­gin of affairs, but rather a gen­er­al rule, e.g. hon­our­ing peo­ple “brave­ly fight­ing for their respec­tive (!) cause”. The log­ic would be that each soci­ety would hon­or “their heroes”, who do not so much stand for the spe­cif­ic cause but for a gen­er­al rule. What hap­pens on the ground in Get­tys­burg, e.g., is some­thing along this line: “Tra­di­tion­al” com­mem­o­rat­ing attracts most peo­ple going there, but an exem­plary “cov­er-nar­ra­tive” allows for com­mon remem­brance.

Con­sid­er an exam­ple from Ham­burg, where I work 3: On our “Rathaus­markt”, there is a mon­u­ment, hon­our­ing Hamburg’s dead from WW1. When it was erect­ed in 1932, it looked as it does today. The inscrip­tion on one side reads “four­ty thou­sand sons of town left their lives for you” (in Ger­man: “Vierzig Tausend Söhne der Stadt ließen ihr Leben für Euch”) and a relief of a woman (moth­er) and child (daugh­ter) appar­ent­ly com­fort­ing each oth­er in mourn­ing (and there­fore rem­i­nis­cent of a pietà) by Ernst Bar­lach on the oth­er side.

Ernst Barlach: Relief (1931; Re-construction) auf dem Mahnmal auf dem Hamburger Rathausmarkt. Foto von Wikimedia Commons (gemeinfrei): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Hamburg_Mahnmal_01_KMJ-adj.jpg
Ernst Bar­lach: Relief (Pietà; 1931; Re-con­struc­tion) auf dem Mah­n­mal auf dem Ham­burg­er Rathaus­markt. Foto von Wiki­me­dia Com­mons (geme­in­frei): https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/Hamburg_Mahnmal_01_KMJ-adj.jpg

In 1938, the relief was exchanged for an eagle fly­ing up.4 

Hans-Mar­tin Ruwoldt (1938): Adler auf dem Ham­burg­er Ehren­mal am Rathaus­markt. Foto von https://www.denk-mal-gegen-krieg.de/kriegerdenkmaeler/hamburg-lo-os/

Did the form of com­mem­o­ra­tion, the valu­ing of the 40000 Ham­bur­gians, change? I do think so.

Already the addi­tion of “for you” as a con­ces­sion to the right par­ties changes a more tra­di­tion­al mes­sage into a more exem­plary one, which is made promi­nent by the exchange of the relief: It is even more pos­si­ble, because what are two dif­fer­ent con­cepts and terms in Eng­lish lan­guage, share a com­mon word in Ger­man: “Opfer”:

Despite the active voice of the inscrip­tion and in spite of the (added) “for you”, the moth­er and daugth­er-relief marks the dead sol­diers rather as vic­tims of a greater con­text of war, to be mourned, their rather “trag­ic” deaths and loss as the ori­gin or our com­mon grief, and there­fore seems to incor­po­rate ele­ments of a new kind of mon­u­ments, devel­oped in WW1, which do no longer pro­vide, but rather ques­tion the mean­ing of the deaths.5 The eagle (or “phoenix” as the sculp­tor Hans Mar­tin Ruwoldt was com­mis­sioned), how­ev­er, erad­i­cat­ed this (thin on not exclu­sive) lay­er of ques­tion­s­ing, and ren­ders the 40.000 exem­plar­ic “sac­ri­fices” — heroes to be emu­lat­ed, cel­e­brat­ed.6.
In 1948, the lost Bar­lach-relief, was restored, alas not by Bar­lach him­self, who had died mean­while.

I do have a hard time con­struct­ing a genet­ic under­stand­ing of such a mon­u­ment, maybe because a mod­ern, genet­ic way of think­ing needs to have been informed by the “crit­i­cal” mode of at least part­ly de-legit­imiz­ing the ori­en­tat­ing pow­er of tra­di­tion­al and exem­plar­ic think­ing.

Maybe this is the back­ground for mod­ern mon­u­ments being quite dif­fer­ent, either often non-fig­u­ra­tive — as Peter Eisenman’s Memo­r­i­al to the Mur­dered Jews in Berlin, or many works by Jochen Gerz7 — or tak­ing on forms of counter-memo­ri­al­iza­tion8, thus set­ting in motion a kind of change, not just re-present-ing a past, but encour­ag­ing or even enforc­ing crit­i­cal reflec­tion on it.

It is eas­i­er for the Ham­burg mon­u­ment: Genet­ic think­ing would ques­tion whether not only this hero­ify­ing way of com­mem­o­rat­ing heroes (even if not indi­vid­ual), but also the con­crete form of pub­lic acknowl­edg­ing of trag­ic loss can be time­ly, after we expe­ri­enced anoth­er war and an inhu­man dic­ta­tor­ship and geno­cide which was not least based on feel­ings insti­gat­ed by such com­mem­o­rat­ing.9

But there is some­thing more to reflect­ing about nar­ra­tives — and espe­cial­ly on how to relate to them. As I wrote above, Memo­ri­als are nar­ra­tives. Rüsen calls them “nar­ra­tive abbre­vi­a­tions”, point­ing to them stand­ing for a spe­cif­ic nar­ra­tive, i.e. a spe­cif­ic rela­tion between a past (under mem­o­ry), the present (of the authors and erec­tors of the mon­u­ment as well as the intend­ed pub­lic), and with regard to a spe­cif­ic future, con­struct­ed only part­ly in ver­bal nar­ra­tive form, but also with non-ver­bal and sequen­tial­ly nar­ra­tive ele­ments (even though in some cas­es it is only the ver­bal inscrip­tions which real­ly hint to any his­tor­i­cal mean­ing).

Memo­ri­als are more than only pro­to-nar­ra­tives. Their (often) promi­nent (albeit also often over­looked) posi­tion­ing, their (proto-)narrative struc­ture and their own qual­i­ty for last­ing a long time (cf. “mon­u­men­tum exe­gi aere peren­nius), they do not only con­sti­tute a nar­ra­tive rela­tion from one tem­po­ral and social posi­tion towrds the past and the future, but also are meant to pro­long the sense they make and to impose it on lat­er gen­er­a­tions. Mon­u­ments are about oblig­at­ing their audi­ence, the spec­ta­tors with a cer­tain nar­ra­tive and inter­pre­ta­tion. That qual­i­fies them as parts of what we call “pol­i­tics of his­to­ry”, not only of com­mem­o­ra­tion, and what makes them polit­i­cal.

It there­fore is para­mount to read mon­u­ments as nar­ra­tives, and not only in the de-con­struc­tive sense of “what did those erec­tors make of that past back then”, but also in the re-conc­truc­tive sense of “in how far or how does this nar­ra­tive fit into my/our rela­tion to that past). In oth­er words: Stand­ing before a mon­u­ment and think­ing about mon­u­ments, we all need to (and in fact do) think in a com­bi­na­tion of under­stand­ing the oth­ers’ and delib­er­at­ing our own nar­ra­tive mean­ing-mak­ing.
There­fore we need to read them as nar­ra­tives first, and become com­pe­tent for it.

Mon­u­ments often take on the form of address­ing peo­ple. Some­times — as in the Ham­burg case above — they address the spec­ta­tor, remind­ing them of some kind of oblig­a­tion to com­mem­o­rate.10 But who is talk­ing to whom? If the sen­ate of Ham­burg talkes to that to the Ham­burg cit­i­zens of 1930–1932, can/will we accept that (a) the Ham­burg Sen­ate of today still admon­ish­es us like that, and b) that we Ham­burg cit­i­zens of today are still addressed in the same way?

In oth­er cas­es, (inscrip­tions in) memo­ri­als might explic­it­ly address the com­mem­o­rat­ed them­selves, as e.g. in the con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ment in Yanceyville, N.C., whose plaque reads “To the Sons of Caswell Coun­ty who served in the War of 1861–1865 in answer to the Call of their Coun­ty”, and con­tin­ues in a “We-Voice”, signed by the Caswell Chap­ter of the Unit­ed Daugh­ters of the Con­fed­er­a­cy”. So far so con­ven­tion­al. This might be rather unprob­lem­at­ic, since speak­er-posi­tion and addressees are clear­ly marked. One might leave the mon­u­ment even if one dis­agreed, not hav­ing to align with its nar­ra­tive. Only if the pres­ence of such com­mem­o­rat­ing in itself is inac­cept­able, action is imme­di­ate­ly called for.

But there are oth­er mon­u­ments which seem to talk from a neu­tral posi­tion, which in fact is that of the erec­tors, but by not being qual­i­fied, includes the spec­ta­tor into the speak­er posi­tion. The exam­ple I have ready at hand, is not from the US and not about war heroes, but again from Ham­burg, this time from Neuengamme con­cen­tra­tion camp memo­r­i­al. In 1965, an “inter­na­tion­al mon­u­ment” stele11 was erect­ed there, togeth­er with a whole series of coun­try-spe­cif­ic memo­r­i­al plates. The inscrip­tion on the mon­u­ment reads “Your suf­fer­ing, your fight­ing and your death shall not be in vain” (my trans­la­tion).
This now clear­ly is inter­est­ing in at least two respects: (1) it ascribes not only suf­fer­ing and death, but also fight­ing to those com­mem­o­rat­ed and there­by pos­si­bly does not refer to those inmates who nev­er had a chance or did not “fight”, who were pure vic­tims, and (2) it speaks from a neu­tral voice which is not marked in time and social, polit­i­cal or event-relat­ed posi­tion. Who­ev­er mourns at that place pos­si­bly silent­ly co-signs the state­ment.

International Monument (1965) at Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial (partial photo; (c) 2006 Andreas Körber)
Inter­na­tion­al Mon­u­ment (1965) at Neuengamme Con­cen­tra­tion Camp Memo­r­i­al (par­tial pho­to; © 2006 Andreas Kör­ber)

Con­sid­er an equal hon­our­ing of con­fed­er­ate gen­er­als in, say NC: “Your fight­ing shall not have been in vain.” I would spark much more con­tro­ver­sy and con­cers — and right­ly so.

Still anoth­er exam­ple, the first Ham­burg mon­u­ment for the vic­tims of Nation­al Social­ism (from late 1945) on the Cen­tral Ceme­try in Ham­burg-Ohls­dorf, has an inscrip­tion “Injus­tice brought Us Death — Liv­ing: Rec­og­nize your Oblig­a­tion”.

Erstes Hamburger Mahnmal für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus von 11/1945 in Hamburg Ohlsdorf. Foto von NordNordWest/Wikipedia. Lizenz: CC-BY-SA 3.0; (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/legalcode); Original: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mahnmal_Opfer_der_NS-Verfolgung_Ohlsdorf.jpg
Erstes Ham­burg­er Mah­n­mal für die Opfer des Nation­al­sozial­is­mus von 11/1945 in Ham­burg Ohls­dorf. Foto von NordNordWest/Wikipedia. Lizenz: CC-BY-SA 3.0; (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/legalcode); Orig­i­nal: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mahnmal_Opfer_der_NS-Verfolgung_Ohlsdorf.jpg

 

Erstes Hamburger Mahnmal für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus von 11/1945 in Hamburg Ohlsdorf; Detail. Zustand 25.3.2010; Foto (c) Andreas Körber
Erstes Ham­burg­er Mah­n­mal für die Opfer des Nation­al­sozial­is­mus von 11/1945 in Ham­burg Ohls­dorf; Detail. Zus­tand 25.3.2010; Foto © Andreas Kör­ber

 

Again, for ana­lyz­ing and under­stand­ing, we need to rec­og­nize. The speak­er posi­tion here, is clear­ly (metaphor­i­call) held by the vic­tims to be com­mem­o­rat­ed. But whom do they speak to? Lit­er­al­ly, it is the “liv­ing”. In a very broad under­stand­ing, the monument/memorial there­fore address­es all humans, quite in a way what Rüsen has addressed as the high­est lev­el of nor­ma­tive plau­si­bil­i­ty: broad­en­ing the per­spec­tive to the lev­el of human­i­ty.
This is not very prob­lem­at­ic, since the inscrip­tion does talk of “duty”, not of “guilt”, it does not con­flate the addressees with those who inflict­ed the injus­tice upon the vic­tims. But it could have done. In 1945, the mes­sage would be clear­ly not mere­ly uni­ver­sal­ly human­is­tic, but at least also address­ing the Ger­mans as the soci­ety of the per­pe­tra­tors. It does not con­demn, but calls for rec­og­niz­ing the “duty” and respon­si­bil­i­ty for com­mem­o­rat­ing and non-repeat­ing as well as over­com­ing the struc­tures of NS injus­tice, hint­ing at respon­si­bil­i­ty for not pre­vent­ing them or even par­tic­i­pat­ing in them in the first place.

And today? In how far is the mes­sage the same for today’s soci­ety in Ger­many? The peo­ple liv­ing in Ger­many today do — apart from very few excep­tions — no per­son­al guilt or respon­si­bil­i­ty for what hap­pened. In how far can or should they see them­selvers addressed?

Again, there is no ques­tion as to the very gen­er­al, human­i­ty-relat­ed address. This encom­pass­es any audi­ence. But would that mean that there is no dif­fer­ence between any vis­i­tor to the memo­r­i­al and Ger­mans? Has the Nazi injus­tice (and sim­i­lar­ly the Holo­caust) become a mat­ter of gen­er­al, uni­ver­sal his­to­ry only? Is there no spe­cial belong­ing to and mes­sage for Ger­man his­to­ry? All these ques­tions can and need be addressed — and espe­cial­ly so, since a con­sid­er­able part of Ger­man soci­ety con­sists not only of peo­ple bornd and raised (long) after the “Third Reich”, but also of many who immi­grat­ed from oth­er coun­tries, soci­eties and cul­tures mean­while. Are they sim­ply count­ed into the per­pe­tra­tors’ soci­ety? (no, I think), but are they (to feeld) addressed, too (yes!), and in the same way — to be reflect­ed!

In order to make up our minds on mon­u­ments we have “inher­it­ed” not only in polit­i­cal terms, we need to reflect their spe­cif­ic nar­ra­tive mes­sage in a spec­trum of time-rela­tions. And we need to dif­fer­en­ti­ate our ter­mi­nol­o­gy and enable our stu­dents to mas­ter a set of con­cepts relat­ed. We need, e.g., to dis­tin­guish hon­or­ing com­mem­o­ra­tion from remind­ing and admon­ish­ing. In Ger­many we have (not easliy) devel­oped the notion of “Mah­n­mal”, admon­ish­ing, to be dis­tin­guished from a mere “Denkmal”. But even this dis­tinc­tion is insuf­fi­cient. A Mah­n­mal (in fact the lit­er­al trans­la­tion to “mon­u­ment”, from Latin “admonere”) may admon­ish to remem­ber our own suf­fer­ing inflict­ed on us by our­selves, some trag­ic or by oth­ers, but also may admon­ish to not for­get what we inflict­ed on oth­ers. This is the spe­cif­ic form “neg­a­tive mem­o­ry” of Ger­man memo­r­i­al cul­ture.

There­fore, there’s a lot more to be reflect­ed in com­mem­o­rat­ing:

  • Who “talks”? who authors the nar­ra­tive — and is what capac­i­ty (e.g. in lieuf of “the peo­ple”, of a cer­tain group, …)?
  • whom does the mon­u­ment explic­i­ty address?
  • what is the rela­tion of explic­it addressees and fac­tu­al spec­ta­tors?
  • in how far is the mes­sage the same for us today as it was envi­sioned back then — and pos­si­bly real­ized? is it the same for all of us?
  • what kind of mes­sage is per­ceived?

(cf. Kör­ber 2014)

 

Ref­er­ences:

  • Has­berg, Wolf­gang (2012): Ana­lytis­che Wege zu besserem Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. His­torisches Denken im Hand­lungszusam­men­hang Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. In: Mey­er-Hamme, Johannes / Thüne­mann, Hol­ger / Züls­dorf-Ker­st­ing, Meik (Hrsg.): Was heißt guter Geschicht­sun­ter­richt? Per­spek­tiv­en im Ver­gle­ich. Schwalbach/Ts. / Wochen­schau, S. 137–160, p. 140.
  • Klin­gel, Ker­stin (2006): Eichenkranz und Dor­nenkro­ne. Kriegerdenkmäler in Ham­burg. Ham­burg: Lan­deszen­trale für Poli­tis­che Bil­dung.
  • Kör­ber, Andreas (2014): De-Con­struct­ing Mem­o­ry Cul­ture. In: Teach­ing his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ries in an inter­cul­tur­al per­spec­tive. Con­cepts and meth­ods : expe­ri­ences and results from the TeacMem project. Hrsg. von Helle Bjerg, Andreas Kör­ber, Clau­dia Lenz u. Oliv­er von Wrochem. Berlin 2014, 145–151.
  • Kör­ber, Andreas (2016): Sinnbil­dungstypen als Graduierun­gen? Ver­such ein­er Klärung am Beispiel der His­torischen Fragekom­pe­tenz. In: Kat­ja Lehmann, Michael Wern­er und Ste­fanie Zabold (Hg.): His­torisches Denken jet­zt und in Zukun­ft. Wege zu einem the­o­retisch fundierten und evi­denzbasierten Umgang mit Geschichte. Festschrift für Wal­traud Schreiber zum 60. Geburt­stag. Berlin, Mün­ster: Lit Ver­lag (Geschichts­di­dak­tik in Ver­gan­gen­heit und Gegen­wart, 10), S. 27–41.
  • Rüsen, Jörn (2017): Evi­dence and Mean­ing. A The­o­ry of His­tor­i­cal Stud­ies. Unter Mitar­beit von Diane Kerns und Katie Digan. New York, NY: Berghahn Books Incor­po­rat­ed (Mak­ing Sense of His­to­ry Ser, v.28).
  1.   Lévesque, Stéphane: Remov­ing the “Past”: Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry. In: Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly 6 (2018) 29, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2018–12570. There also is a Ger­man and a French ver­sion. []
  2. Anoth­er such crosstab­u­la­tion has been sug­gest­ed (in Ger­man) by Wolf­gang Has­berg (Ana­lytis­che Wege zu besserem Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. His­torisches Denken im Hand­lungszusam­men­hang Geschicht­sun­ter­richt. In: Mey­er-Hamme, Johannes / Thüne­mann, Hol­ger / Züls­dorf-Ker­st­ing, Meik (Hrsg.): Was heißt guter Geschicht­sun­ter­richt? Per­spek­tiv­en im Ver­gle­ich. Schwalbach/Ts. / Wochen­schau, S. 137–160, p. 140). For my cri­tique see Kör­ber 2016 (in Ger­man). I also pro­vid­ed a table, includ­ing the dif­fer­ent niveaus, but restrict­ed to “Fragekom­pe­tenz” (sim­i­lar to Stéphane’s “inquiry com­pe­tence”). []
  3. I used this also in a twit­ter-dis­cus­sion with Kim Wag­n­er (@KimAtiWagner) recent­ly. []
  4. For more pic­tures and infor­ma­tion see also https://www.denk-mal-gegen-krieg.de/kriegerdenkmaeler/hamburg-lo-os/. []
  5. On this type of mon­u­ments cf. Kosel­leck, Rein­hart (1994): Ein­leitung. In: Rein­hart Kosel­leck und Michael Jeis­mann (Hg.): Der poli­tis­che Totenkult. Kriegerdenkmäler in der Mod­erne. München: Fink (Bild und Text), S. 9–20, here p. 18f. []
  6. Ker­stin Klin­gel tells a some­what dif­fer­ent sto­ry, accord­ing to which the mourn­ing-relief was to be replaced by “war sym­bols” but all sktech­es hand­ed in by artists (includ­ing a wrath with swords by Ruwoldt) were reject­ed, so that he was com­mis­sioned to cre­ate an eagle, which he did, but in a way which far more resem­bled a dove than an eagle; cf. Klin­gel 2006, p. 71). In how far this might already have invoked con­no­ta­tions of peace rather that war, is ques­tion­able, though, giv­en that the dove as the uni­ver­sial sym­bol for peace was cre­at­ed by Picas­so only after World­War II []
  7. Cf. e.g. his “Invis­i­ble Mon­u­ment” in Sar­brück­en: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platz_des_Unsichtbaren_Mahnmals. []
  8. Cf. a.o. Wijsen­beek, Dinah: Denkmal und Gegen­denkmal. Über den kri­tis­chen Umgang mit der Ver­gan­gen­heit auf dem Gebi­et der bilden­den Kun­st. München 2010. []
  9.  There’s a lot more to be reflect­ed in com­mem­o­rat­ing: Who talks to whom, here? What do they say and expect? Who is the “you”? Is it ” us” — still today? And if so: in how far is the mes­sage the same for all of us, those with Ham­burg ances­tors of the time, and those with­out, maybe immi­grants? In how far can this aspect define our atti­tude? Can we force all recent immi­grants into our own “nation­al” nar­ra­tive (and even more so when it is not WW1, but Holo­caust relat­ed)? But then, how can we not? (cf. also Kör­ber 2014, and see below. []
  10.  My moth­er used to explain the Ger­man word “Denkmal”, lit­er­al­ly refer­rring to a “mark(er)” for ini­ti­at­ing think­ing, as an imper­a­tive: “Denk mal!”, refer­ring to the oth­er mean­ing of the word “mal” as “for once”, result­ing in “do think for once!” []
  11.  Cf. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/15/Neuengamme_memorial.jpg/800px-Neuengamme_memorial.jpg, (pho­to by Hao Liu in the pub­lic domain) []

A new competency-model on monuments using Rüsen’s four types by Stéphane Levesque — and a comment

Kör­ber, Andreas (2018): “A new com­pe­ten­cy-mod­el on mon­u­ments using Rüsen’s four types by Stéphane Levesque — and a com­ment.” In: His­torisch denken ler­nen (14.10.2018):

In a recent con­tri­bu­tion to Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly, titled “Remov­ing the ‘Past’: Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry“1Stéphane Lévesque from Ottawa, Cana­da, pre­sent­ed a new mod­el for mon­u­ment-relat­ed com­pe­ten­cies of his­tor­i­cal think­ing, using Jörn Rüsen’s types of his­tor­i­cal nar­rat­ing.

The graph­ic ver­sion of the mod­el con­sists of four “com­pe­tences”, visu­al­ized as small­er cog­wheels arranged around and inter­act­ing with a cen­tral cog­wheel titled with “his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness”. For each of the four com­pe­ten­cies, a short, mon­u­ment-relat­ed def­i­n­i­tion is giv­en.

Prompt­ed by a com­men­tary by Gabriel Reich of Vir­ginia Com­mon­wealth Uni­ver­si­ty, who also works exten­sive­ly on mon­u­ments in mem­o­ry cul­ture, Stéphane Lévesque added a (more gen­er­al) table ver­sion (a Span­ish trans­la­tion by Eliz­a­beth Mon­tanares Var­gas has been pre­sent­ed on face­book, mean­while) in an answer­ing com­ment, fur­ther detail­ing the com­pe­ten­cies in his mod­el.2.

As much as I appre­ci­ate this new mod­el of com­pe­ten­cies in gen­er­al, I have also added a few com­ments to it (and to one point of Gabriel Reich’s com­ment, which is not in focus, here). The space pro­vid­ed by Pub­lic his­to­ry week­ly for com­ment­ing is lim­it­ed and graphs are (at least not eas­i­ly) allowed. I there­fore use this my own blog for repeat­ing my com­ment to Lévesque’s mod­el, and to detail it a bit fur­ther.

First of all, I strong­ly sup­port the ini­tia­tive to analyse mon­u­ments as an expres­sion of and fac­tor for his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness. Indeed, we need both a) to analyse them as experts by using our reper­toire of his­to­ri­o­graph­ic meth­ods and con­cepts in order to stim­u­late and sup­port informed pub­lic dis­cus­sion about whether a par­tic­u­lar mon­u­ment is still desir­able (or at least accept­able) or whether it needs to be changed (and how) or even removed, and b) to devel­op people’s com­pe­tences to address these issues them­selves, i.e. to reflect on the nature, mean­ing and mes­sage of a mon­u­ment both at the time of its con­struc­tion and today (e.g. through preser­va­tion, main­te­nance, alter­ation, com­ment­ing or removal).

For this rea­son, I great­ly appre­ci­ate Stéphane’s pro­pos­al for a com­pe­ten­cy mod­el, espe­cial­ly the table ver­sion from the com­men­tary above. This does not mean that I ful­ly sup­port the con­crete mod­el, but it has enriched the debate. Three com­ments on this:

(1) I doubt that com­pe­tence as such can be “tra­di­tion­al”, “exem­plary”, “genet­ic”, “crit­i­cal” or “genet­ic”. These pat­terns, both as I under­stand Rüsen and for myself, char­ac­ter­ize the log­ic of nar­ra­tives. I would there­fore rather read the table as “the com­pe­tence to query in the tra­di­tion­al mode” … “the com­pe­tence to nar­rate in crit­i­cal mode” etc.

(2) This again rais­es the ques­tion of whether the four pat­terns actu­al­ly con­sti­tute a dis­tinc­tion of com­pe­tence niveaus. While I agree that the genet­ic mode of nar­rat­ing his­to­ry is the his­tor­i­cal­ly most recent, com­plex and suit­able for explain­ing changes, I doubt – this time against Rüsen (cf. Kör­ber 2016) – that the typol­o­gy can describe com­pe­tence lev­els.
The com­pe­tence pro­gres­sion would need to be defined trans­ver­sal­ly: From (a) a basic lev­el of non-dis­tinc­tive (and thus uncon­scious­ly con­fus­ing) forms and pat­terns, via (b) the abil­i­ty to per­form all these forms of oper­a­tions in the var­i­ous pat­terns of Stéphane’s table (which would this describe a ful­ly devel­oped inter­me­di­ate lev­el), to © an elab­o­rat­ed lev­el of (addi­tion­al) abil­i­ty to think about the nature of these disc­tions, etc.

For this, the mod­el is very use­ful, full of ideas. It can help to think about what it takes to describe mon­u­ments nei­ther as “the past” nor as “sim­ply old”, but to iden­ti­fy and “read” them as nar­ra­tives (or nar­ra­tive abbre­vi­a­tions) from a cer­tain time, whose cur­rent treat­ment adds new nar­ra­tive lay­ers to them, so that their exis­tence (or absence), form, and treat­ment of them can always be seen and eval­u­at­ed as con­tem­po­rary state­ments about the respec­tive past. To rec­og­nize this and to deal with it in a social­ly respon­si­ble way requires these com­pe­tences.

As far as Gabriel Reich’s com­men­tary is con­cerned, I only ask whether his char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of an atti­tude to the con­fed­er­a­tion mon­u­ments can real­ly be addressed with Rüsen as “exem­plary”, since this mode is not con­cerned with the main­te­nance and sup­port of a con­ven­tion­al iden­ti­ty, but with the deriva­tion of a supertem­po­ral rule. I would refer to the exam­ple as “tra­di­tion­al”. An “exem­plary” atti­tude towards reten­tion would be more like­ly to be: “At all times, mon­u­ments of one’s own heroes have helped the losers of war to hold on to their cause. Then that must be pos­si­ble for us too.” Or some­thing along that line.

So far the com­ment already pub­lished in Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly.

That said, I might add, that I don’t mean that the “genet­ic” way of sense­mak­ing is not in some way supe­ri­or to the oth­ers, and more apt for his­tor­i­cal mean­ing-mak­ing, espe­cial­ly in its inte­gra­tion of a notion of direct­ed change over time. My scep­ti­cism focus­es on the idea that today’s people’s (“onto­ge­net­ic”) com­pe­ten­cies of his­tor­i­cal think­ing pro­gress­es along the same line as the cul­tur­al (“phy­lo­ge­net­ic”) devel­opo­ment of Rüsen’s pat­terns of sense­mak­ing through­out the his­to­ry of his­to­ri­og­ra­phy. Today’s youth simul­ta­ne­ous­ly encounter man­i­fes­ta­tions of his­tor­i­cal think­ing using all three (rather than four)3 pat­terns of sense­mak­ing. While there is a kind of “devel­op­ment” of pow­er of his­tor­i­cal mean­ing-mak­ing and expla­na­tion from tra­di­tion­al via exem­plar­ic to genet­ic, I doubt that peo­ple and stu­dents have to move from the for­mer to the lat­ter — or do so.

My own idea of devel­op­ment of com­pe­ten­cies of his­tor­i­cal think­ing can rather be visu­al­ized as fol­lows (adopt­ing Lévesque’s table):

Three niveaus/levels of competencies (schematic), following the FUER-model (cf. Körber 2015). The graph uses the table-version of Stéphane Lévesque's competence-model for historical thinking on monuments (https://public-history-weekly.degruyter.com/6-2018-29/removing-past-official-memory/; courtesy of Stéphane Lévesque by e-mail Oct 15th, 2018). A.K. 2018
Three niveaus/levels of com­pe­ten­cies (schemat­ic), fol­low­ing the FUER-mod­el (cf. Kör­ber et al. 2007; Kör­ber 2015)4. The graph uses the table-ver­sion of Stéphane Lévesque’s com­pe­tence-mod­el for his­tor­i­cal think­ing on mon­u­ments (https://public-history-weekly.degruyter.com/6–2018-29/removing-past-official-memory/; cour­tesy of Stéphane Lévesque by e‑mail Oct 15th, 2018). A.K. 2018

 

  1. A “basic” niveau (and pos­si­bly ear­ly stage) would be defined by the inabil­i­ty of dis­tin­guish­ing dif­fer­ent modes of his­tor­i­cal nar­rat­ing in gen­er­al and refer­ring to mon­u­ments in this spe­cif­ic case. (Young) peo­ple on this niveau (at this stage) will relate to them. They will ask ques­tions (and thus exer­cise their “inquiry com­pe­tence”), think (“his­tor­i­cal think­ing com­pe­tence”), ori­en­tate them­selves (“ori­en­ta­tion com­pe­tence”), and nar­rate (“nar­ra­tive com­pe­tence”). But this basic niveau will not be defined by being “tra­di­tion­al”, but by an unin­formed mix­ing (pos­si­bly only half-under­stood) forms of all three pat­terns. This per­for­mance will be both insta­ble and incon­sis­tent. Half-baked tra­di­tion­al ques­tions will stand next to unre­flect­ed exem­plary state­ments, and so on. In the graph above, this is sym­bol­ized by the blurred table below.
  2. The abil­i­ty to apply the dif­fer­ent pat­terns in a some­what clar­i­fied way, to dis­tin­guish them and select one, to iden­ti­fy incon­sis­ten­cies in their mix­ing, etc., then marks the inter­me­di­ary niveau, and pos­si­ble a major stage in the devel­op­ment of these com­pe­ten­cies. On this niveau, at this stage, peo­ple will be able to dis­cuss about the mes­sage a mon­u­ment express­es and the mean­ing it has for us today, but they might dis­agree and even quar­rel because they apply dif­fer­ent pat­terns of mean­ing-mak­ing.
    In a way, Lévesque’s table describes this inter­me­di­ate niveau, the dif­fer­ent forms of his­tor­i­cal inquir­ing, think­ing, ori­en­tat­ing, and nar­rat­ing can take, depend­ing from the gen­er­al pat­tern of sense­mak­ing. The table (the mid­dle one in the graph above) clear­ly points at some­thing, I have also tried to express in my Ger­man arti­cle chal­leng­ing Rüsen’s own idea of the dif­fer­ent pat­terns form­ing dif­fer­ent nivueaus of com­pe­ten­cies5: Each of the dif­fer­ent oper­a­tions (inquir­ing, nar­rat­ing, ori­en­tat­ing) will take on a spe­cif­ic stance of nar­rat­ing. It is a dif­fer­ence whether I ask for a tra­di­tion or for a rule to be derived from past exam­ples, or about a pat­terns of change across time. These ques­tions are informed by more gen­er­al stances and under­stand­ings of his­to­ry (maybe cod­ed in Lévesque’s cen­tral cog­wheel of “his­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness”) and will gen­er­ate dif­fer­ent forms of ori­en­ta­tion and nar­rat­ing. This does not mean that the ini­tial stance deter­mines the out­come of the sto­ry, ren­der­ing his­tor­i­cal think­ing a mat­ter of self-affir­ma­tion — not at all. A per­son inquir­ing in tra­di­tion­al will look for an ori­gin for some­thing valid and might — via his­tor­i­cal think­ing and research — learn of a quite dif­fer­ent ori­gin. The mode of mean­ing-mak­ing will still be tra­di­tion­al, but the con­crete his­to­ry will have changed. But peo­ple might also be forced to change their pat­tern in the process, e.g. learn­ing of the lim­its of exem­plary think­ing when gain­ing insight into fun­da­men­tal change, and thus “progress” in a way from exem­plary to genet­ic sense­mak­ing.
  3. The high­est niveau, how­ev­er, will be reached not by final­ly arriv­ing at the genet­ic forms of think­ing and the respec­tive com­pe­ten­cies, but by com­ple­ment­ing the abil­i­ty to rec­og­nize, dis­tin­guish and apply the dif­fer­ent for­ma with a trans­gress­ing abil­i­ty to reflect on the nature, val­ue and lim­its of this (and oth­er) typolo­gies them­selves. Only on this niveau (at this stage) are peo­ple ful­ly at com­mand of their his­tor­i­cal reflec­tion. They can address the lim­its soci­etal­ly accept­ed con­cepts and ter­mi­nol­o­gy pose and sug­gest new or amend­ed ones, etc. In the graph above, this is sym­bol­ized by the addi­tion­al focus to the rubrics of Lévesque’s table, marked by the blue rings.
  1.   Lévesque, Stéphane: Remov­ing the “Past”: Debates Over Offi­cial Sites of Mem­o­ry. In: Pub­lic His­to­ry Week­ly 6 (2018) 29, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2018–12570. There also is a Ger­man and a French ver­sion. []
  2. The table can be found under the same address as the orig­i­nal con­tri­bu­tion, down the page []
  3. Rüsen’s “crit­i­cal” type of nar­rat­ing does not real­ly fit into the typol­o­gy, pre­sent­ing not a new log­ic of inter­con­nect­ing tem­po­ral infor­ma­tion, but mere­ly de-elgitimiz­ing oth­ers. In 1988 already, Bodo von Bor­ries com­ment­ed on this and pre­sent­ed a graph­i­cal con­cept of the inter­re­la­tion of the dif­fer­ent types, in which a “crit­i­cal” type was placed between both the tra­di­tion­al and the exem­plary and the lat­ter and the genet­ic, thus assign­ing it the func­tion of a cat­a­lyst of devel­op­ment (Bor­ries, Bodo von (1988): Geschicht­sler­nen und Geschichts­be­wusst­sein. Empirische Erkun­dun­gen zu Erwerb und Gebrauch von His­to­rie. 1. Aufl. Stuttgart: Klett, p. 61; cf.  Kör­ber, Andreas (2015): His­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness, his­tor­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies – and beyond? Some con­cep­tu­al devel­op­ment with­in Ger­man his­to­ry didac­tics. Online ver­füg­bar unter http://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2015/10811/pdf/Koerber_2015_Development_German_History_Didactics.pdf, p. 14f.). In the new ver­sion of his “His­torik”, Rüsen presents a sim­i­lar ver­sion. Cf. Rüsen, Jörn (2013): His­torik. The­o­rie der Geschichtswis­senschaft. Köln: Böh­lau, p. 260. Eng­lish: Rüsen, Jörn (2017): Evi­dence and Mean­ing. A The­o­ry of His­tor­i­cal Stud­ies. Unter Mitar­beit von Diane Kerns und Katie Digan. New York, NY: Berghahn Books Incor­po­rat­ed (Mak­ing Sense of His­to­ry Ser, v.28), p. 198. []
  4.  Schreiber, Wal­traud; Kör­ber, Andreas; Bor­ries, Bodo von; Kram­mer, Rein­hard; Leut­ner-Ramme, Sibyl­la; Mebus, Sylvia et al. (2007): His­torisches Denken. Ein Kom­pe­tenz-Struk­tur­mod­ell (Basis­beitrag). In: Andreas Kör­ber, Wal­traud Schreiber und Alexan­der Schön­er (Hg.): Kom­pe­ten­zen his­torischen Denkens. Ein Struk­tur­mod­ell als Beitrag zur Kom­pe­ten­zori­en­tierung in der Geschichts­di­dak­tik. Neuried: Ars Una Ver­lags-Gesellschaft (Kom­pe­ten­zen, 2), S. 17–53; Kör­ber, Andreas (2012): Graduierung his­torisch­er Kom­pe­ten­zen. In: Michele Bar­ri­cel­li und Mar­tin Lücke (Hg.): Hand­buch Prax­is des Geschicht­sun­ter­richts. His­torisches Ler­nen in der Schule, Bd. 1. Schwalbach/Ts.: Wochen­schau Ver­lag (Wochen­schau Geschichte), S. 236–254.; Kör­ber, Andreas (2015): His­tor­i­cal con­scious­ness, his­tor­i­cal com­pe­ten­cies – and beyond? Some con­cep­tu­al devel­op­ment with­in Ger­man his­to­ry didac­tics. Online ver­füg­bar unter http://www.pedocs.de/volltexte/2015/10811/pdf/Koerber_2015_Development_German_History_Didactics.pdf, pp. 39ff []
  5.  Kör­ber, Andreas (2016): Sinnbil­dungstypen als Graduierun­gen? Ver­such ein­er Klärung am Beispiel der His­torischen Fragekom­pe­tenz. In: Kat­ja Lehmann, Michael Wern­er und Ste­fanie Zabold (Hg.): His­torisches Denken jet­zt und in Zukun­ft. Wege zu einem the­o­retisch fundierten und evi­denzbasierten Umgang mit Geschichte. Festschrift für Wal­traud Schreiber zum 60. Geburt­stag. Berlin, Mün­ster: Lit Ver­lag (Geschichts­di­dak­tik in Ver­gan­gen­heit und Gegen­wart, 10), S. 27–41. []