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Legacies of Dachau
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  • 84 b/w illus. 1 map
  • Page extent: 662 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 1.15 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 940.53/174336
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: D805.G3 M353 2001
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Dachau (Concentration camp)
    • Memorials--Germany--Dachau
    • World War, 1939-1945--Psychological aspects
    • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Dachau
    • Holocaust memorials--Germany--Dachau

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521552042 | ISBN-10: 0521552044)

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published March 2001

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

$102.00 (G)

Dachau was the first among Nazi camps, and it served as a model for the others. Situated in West Germany after World War II, it was the one former concentration camp most subject to the push and pull of the many groups wishing to eradicate, ignore, preserve and present it. Thus its postwar history is an illuminating case study of the contested process by which past events are propagated into the present, both as part of the historical record, and within the collectively shared memories of different social groups. How has Dachau been used--and abused--to serve the present? What effects have those uses had on the contemporary world? Drawing on a wide array of sources, from government documents and published histories to newspaper reports and interviews with visitors, Legacies of Dachau offers answers to these questions. It is one of the first books to develop an overarching interpretation of West German history since 1945. Harold Marcuse examines the myth of victimization, ignorance, and resistance and offers a model with which the cultural trajectories of other post-genocidal societies can be compared. With its exacting research, attention to nuance, and cogent argumentation, Legacies of Dachau raises the bar for future studies of the complex relationship between history and memory. Harold Marcuse is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he teaches modern German history. The grandson of German emigré philosopher Herbert Marcuse, Harold Marcuse returned to Germany in 1977 to rediscover family roots. After several years, he became interested in West Germany's relationship to its Nazi past. In 1985, shortly before Ronald Reagan and Helmut Kohl visited Bitburg, he organized and coproduced an exhibition "Stones of Contention" about monuments and memorials commemorating the Nazi era. That exhibition, which marks the beginning of Marcuse's involvement in German memory debates, toured nearly thirty German cities, including Dachau. This is his first book.


Dachau: past, present, future; Part I. Dachau 1890–1945: A Town, A Camp, A Symbol of Genocide: 1. Dachau: a town and a camp; 2. Dachau: a symbol of genocide; Part II. Dachau 1945–55: Three Myths and Three Inversions: 3. 'Good' Nazis; 4. 'Bad' inmates; 5. 'Clean' camps; Part III. Dachau 1955–70: Groups and Their Memories: 6. The first representations of Dachau, 1945–52; 7. Rising public interest, 1955–65; 8. Catholics celebrate at Dachau; 9. The survivors negotiate a memorial site; 10. Jews represent the Holocaust at Dachau; 11. Protestants make amends at Dachau; 12. The 1968 generation: new legacies of old myths; Part IV. Dachau 1970–2000: New Age Cohorts Challenge Mythic Legacies: 13. Redefining the three myths and ending ignorance: the 1970s; 14. The 1980s: relinquishing victimisation; 15. The 1990s: resistance vs. education.

Prize Winner

2002 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award Winner

Winner of the Hans Rosenberg Book Prize 2001


"Four hundred pages of text, 160 pages of endnotes, and 88 well-chosen, carefully explained illustrations compose the definitive history of Dachau... Clearly and sensitively written, the book is accessible to a broad audience. It belongs in every library." Choice

"Legacies of Dachau is an important addition to the bibliography of the manner in which Germans have chosen to remember and commemorate the Nazi past. And for those interested in or involved with public history, Marcuse's book is a 'must-read' as it shows the problems and paradoxes that shape the stewardship of any historically significant site...[This book] analyzes one of the most important of these public places, and his insights are therefore important for our understanding of the shape of the current public domain." The Public Historian

"A new and important book that sheds light on the means by which the Nazis eliminated dissent in Germany." Jewish Post & Opinion, Indianapolis, IN

"This massive study is a crucial and definitive account of one important aspect of the Holocaust." Booklist

"Marcuse's book is meticulously documented. It is clearly the result of painstaking careful research, as demonstrated by its more than a hundred and thirty pages of footnotes. And yet, it is more than just a work of academic scholarship. It is a cry from the heart that Dachau remain--in the consciousness of Germany and in that of all humanity--not just as a memorial, but as a warning of how thin the veneer of human sanity can be and how fragile goodness is." South Florida Jewish Journal

"What is most striking about Marcuse's complex analysis is his innovative look at history through a culture's act of memorialization." Publishers Weekly

"This is a very learned book, but a book likely to be appreciated primarily by the very informed and the very patient." The New Republic

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