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Abstract

With the National Socialists coming to power in Germany in 1933, ending the Weimar Republic, many artists and intellectuals were forced to leave Germany. One of the most influential of these German émigrés was Thomas Mann. While many of these émigrés lost their status and fell into oblivion in exile, Thomas Mann, because of his worldwide acclaim, came to be seen as a symbol for German culture in opposition to Nazi Germany and began a lecture series for the Library of Congress. In one of these lectures, “Germany and the Germans,” Mann discusses the extent and the origins of German collective guilt. While most of his contemporaries attempted to distance themselves from Nazi Germany and reconstruct the Weimar Republic in exile, Mann reminded the world that all Germans are and will always be connected to Germany through a common history. At the same time, Hannah Arendt, another prominent German émigré living in the United States, synchronously analyzed in “Organized Guilt” the mechanisms of German collective guilt through an in-depth analysis of the German “Spießer.” Both theories of collective guilt encompassed all Germans and could have played a significant role in Germany after 1945.

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