Undoing the Myth of Childhood Innocence in Gisela Eisner's Fliegeralarm.

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Date: Spring 2021
From: German Politics and Society(Vol. 39, Issue 1)
Publisher: Berghahn Books, Inc.
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 8,112 words
Lexile Measure: 1750L

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Abstract :

This article examines Gisela Eisner's 1989 novel Fliegeralarm in light of Helmut Kohl's politics of "normalization" and the Kriegskinder victimology that has recently gained traction. Fliegeralarm presents children as Hitler's willing executioners and categorically refutes the notion of "liberation" (from fascism) as justification for normalizing German national identity. The text questions the entire edifice upon which West and now united Germany's official memory culture is built. I argue that Eisner not only contests the concept of "historical innocence" but fundamentally refutes the possibility of an innocent historical subject position. Fliegeralarm provocatively casts remembering and childhood innocence as calculated performances that mirror the generational complicity of those born into a legacy of perpetration. It offers a prescient intervention in post-Wende discourses and rethinks childhood innocence along the lines of historical implication, that is, in dialectical tension with knowledge and denial, marked by the traffic between knowing and not knowing. Keywords: childhood innocence, implicated subject, Kriegskinder, normalization, performances of innocence, Wende politics

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A670225522