When looking at history, it is the memory that holds the most impact. It gives insight to a specific event in time that has impacted so many people, yet memories of various events can vary from person to person. Sollors discusses the “Fragebogen” questionnaire that asked people to recollect their role during the Holocause whereas Smith provides an anecdote to explain how the cooperation of between Germans and Jews has created a nationwide memory of the consequences post-WWII.
It’s interesting how the questionnaire appeared as a part of the denazification campaign by the Allies during the second half of the 1940s. It was a way to identify people who affiliated themselves with the Nazi Party and prohibited any sort of Nazi activity or benefits. The “Fragebogen” was important in the process of denazification, but even if they were completed under the oath of honesty, it would have been extremely difficult for the Allies to ensure that people told the truth. In that respect, the Germans who felt too ashamed and guilty for their actions could have easily lied about their experiences and associations.
The story of Hugo Spiegel shows how it takes a collective from both sides to come together and find some kind of reconciliation. Smith emphasizes that a country cannot face up to its past alone which is why Germans needed help from Jews in order to work towards a more inclusive and accepting environment. Even though his own daughter was killed in a concentration camp, Spiegel was still able to work with Germans in order and that just shows how the Jews who did return to their hometowns were willing to work with people who may have antagonized them just to create a better life in Germany.
W. Sollors, “Everybody Gets Fragebogened Sooner or Later’: The Denazification Questionnaire as Cultural Text.” German Life & Letters. Vol 71, Issue 2 (2018): 139-153
Helmut Walser Smith, “It Takes a Village to Create a Nation’s Memory” Zocalo Public Sphere https://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2021/01/11/post-war-germany-jewishreturn-memory-national-reckoning/ideas/essay/