„Every witness is a false witness”: NS-Vergangenheit in literarischen Darstellungen
Der Blick von Übersee aus ermöglicht es Giblett in ihrer Analyse, neutral auf die widerstreitenden Erinnerungsperspektiven zu blicken, denen sie in den Debatten und der Literatur nach der Wiedervereinigung begegnet. Die unterschiedlichen Positionen und Umgangsweisen mit der NS-Vergangenheit ergründet sie anhand von vier Romanen und stellt dabei folgende Fragen:
When German fiction authors wrote about their country’s Nazi past during the 20 years of hotly debated “memory contests” following 1990, which “version” of the past did they choose to write? One in which Germans are portrayed as perpetrators? Or one which places the emphasis on Germans as victims?
In this book, I seek to answer this question by conducting a detailed textual analysis of four novels published in the period 1990–2010 as a key to understanding German literary approaches to the Nazi past during this crucial period in the formation of Germany’s post-unification identity: Bernhard Schlink’s Der Vorleser, Unscharfe Bilder by Ulla Hahn, Himmelskörper by Tanja Dückers, and Flughunde by Marcel Beyer. All four of these novels approach the Nazi past by incorporating discussions of postmemory and historiography which mark them out as examples of historiographic metafiction.
Historiographic metafiction thematises critiques of historiography which suggest that there are many “versions” of the past and that the objective “truth” about the past cannot be known. In doing so, it has the potential to fundamentally disrupt the categories of perpetrator and victim by destabilising the basis on which we judge guilt and innocence.
Lesen Sie hier einen Auszug aus dem 5. Kapitel:
Every witness is a false witness: Looking through the eyes of a perpetrator in Marcel Beyer’s Flughunde
Flughunde was, like Der Vorleser, published in 1995. However, by contrast with not only Der Vorleser, but also Unscharfe Bilder and Himmelskörper, Flughunde is not told from the point of view of members of the second and third generations who attempt to uncover the truth about the past of family members or mentors. Rather, it is narrated from the perspective of the first generation who were directly involved in the Third Reich. The plot is set primarily in the last five years of the Nazi period and the novel is comprised chiefly of two intertwining, first person, present tense accounts narrated by the sound technician and researcher, Hermann Karnau, and by Helga Goebbels, the eldest child of Hitler’s propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels. The novel charts Karnau’s increasing involvement in the crimes of Nazism, culminating in his participation in experiments on human subjects as part of an SS medical team. It also tells the story of Karnau’s relationship with the Goebbels children and investigates the possibility of his involvement in their murder. In its use of first generation narrators and a Third Reich setting, Flughunde is significantly different from the majority of post-unification second and third generation writings about the Nazi past[.] […]
|Nachgefragt bei Prof. Dr. Wehdeking||04.08.2020|
|Prof. Dr. Wehdeking über „frische Bilder für die kulturelle Erinnerung“|
|In „Bildmomente der Erinnerung an 1989. Das Narrativ der Friedlichen Revolution in Post-DDR-Prosa, -Lyrik und -Film“ betrachtet Prof. Dr. Volker Wehdeking mediale Verarbeitungen der Wende, von kritischen Stimmen in der DDR über Mauerfall und Wiedervereinigung bis hin zu den Auswirkungen in die gesellschaftliche Gegenwart hinein. mehr …|
The Täterperspektive: the portrayal of KarnauThe reception of Flughunde has been far less controversial than that of Der Vorleser, even though both novels were published in the same year and both focus on main characters, Hanna and Karnau, who are Nazi perpetrators. Whereas the reception of Schlink’s work has been marked by controversy regarding the moral implications of its portrayal of Hanna, opinions on Beyer’s novel have instead concentrated on a discussion of the literary features of the text. […] Karnau is at no point depicted as a victim, which may account for the lower levels of debate about his portrayal among the novel’s readers.
Interestingly, the reception of Karnau as a perpetrator seems to contradict various statements by Beyer as to his aims in creating the character. According to Beyer, it was his intention to avoid creating Karnau in the image of the “evil” Nazi:
Instead, he intended to create a character who, on the one hand was involved in terrible crimes, but on the other “ein ganz normaler Mensch ist, wie ich ihm alltäglich auf der Straße begegnen kann oder wie ich auch einer sein könnte”. In these comments, Beyer puts forward an image of Karnau as an “ordinary German” who, though a perpetrator, is not a stereotypical Nazi monster, but rather someone just like the rest of us. Although Karnau’s direct participation in crimes against humanity sets him apart to a certain extent from “ordinary German” figures […], Beyer’s statements recall Schlink’s comments about his desire to portray Hanna as a human rather than a monster and suggest that Karnau could be interpreted in a similar way.
Während meiner Arbeit an dem Roman bin ich immer mehr von diesem Klischeebild des Bösen abgekommen. Es hat sich herausgestellt, dass ich dieses Böse gar nicht auf Anhieb erkennen kann. Es ist ja auch sehr beruhigend zu denken: Das Böse ist alles andere als ich selbst. Genau von dieser Selbstgefälligkeit bin ich immer mehr abgekommen.
In a number of interviews, Beyer has also stated that, in writing the novel Flughunde, he tried to avoid providing any ethical comment or judgment from his position as author with the benefit of hindsight of a later generation […]. Beyer’s statements suggest that, in order to tell the story from the Täterperspektive, he has attempted to introduce an openness and ambivalence to the novel which aims to immerse the reader in the Täterperspektive by avoiding the kind of judgments which adhere to the present perspective.
One technique Beyer deploys to achieve this is to leave the novel porous and open to a wide degree of interpretation by its readers. Flughunde requires a great deal of what Beyer has described as “Lesearbeit” on the part of the reader to grasp the novel’s plot.
Möchten Sie mehr zu den Effekten der Erzählweise von „Flughunde“ erfahren und auch die Besonderheiten der anderen drei untersuchten Texte kennenlernen? Hier geht es zu Kylie Gibletts Buch!
Kylie Giblett studied Law and German Studies at the University of Sydney. She spent 10 years as a commercial litigation lawyer before returning to the University of Sydney to complete her PhD in German Studies. She now tutors at the University of Sydney. Her current research focuses on jurisprudence in contemporary German literature.
Kylie Giblett studierte Jura und Germanistik an der Universität Sydney. Sie war 10 Jahre lang als Rechtsanwältin im Bereich der Prozessführung tätig, bevor sie an der Universität Sydney in Germanistik promovierte. Sie arbeitet jetzt an der Universität Sydney. Ihr aktueller Forschungsschwerpunkt ist die Jurisprudenz in der deutschen Gegenwartsliteratur.
Das eingangs wiedergegebene Zitat stammt von Norbert Frei, in DIE ZEIT vom 21. Okotber 2004.
FH = Marcel Beyer: Flughunde. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Verlag, 1996 .
Programmbereich: Germanistik und Komparatistik