Three Years Since Hanau: How Inclusive is Germany’s Contemporary Remembrance Culture?

First TraCe Policy Brief by Sabine Mannitz, Lea Deborah Scheu and Isabelle Stephanblome

Wandgemälde mit den Opfern des Attentats von Hanau, Foto: Lea Deborah Scheu, Frankfurt, 19.02.2022

The Regional Research Center Trans­formations of Political Violence (TraCe) published its first TraCe Policy Brief titled “Three Years Since Hanau: How Inclusive is Germany's Contem­porary Remem­brance Culture?”. The authors, Sabine Mannitz, Lea Deborah Scheu and Isabelle Stephanblome from PRIF, critically examine German remem­brance culture and reflect first initiatives to make it more inclusive.

As Germany's culture of remem­brance primarily focuses on the Nazi past, the collective respon­sibility is preeminent to ‘never again’ allow dehumanizing violence to resurface. The past 30 years, however, have seen several racist attacks committed by right-wing extremists or terrorist groups such as the xeno­phobic riots in Hoyers­werda and Rostock-Lichten­hagen, deadly attacks in Munich, Kassel, Halle and Hanau or the murders by the NSU terrorist group. How are these acts of violence dealt with in the country's collective memory?

Despite the relatives of victims engaging in remem­brance work, lively social media debates on the experiences of belonging and post­migrant identity or endeavors by civil society and academia, the authors criticize that the broader societal culture of remem­brance does not yet reflect these continuities of violence. They examine the struggle of the “Initative 19. Februar”, an organization remem­bering the victims of the right-wing terrorist attack in Hanau 2020, for a central memorial to be built and argue that the represen­tation of the Hanau attack “will be significant for the creation of an inclusive remembrance culture beyond the city itself”.

Pointing to the emerging debate on inclusive remem­brance, the authors propose to strengthen and institutio­nalize these efforts and stress the importance of “inter­weaving this process with the existing culture of remem­brance.”

Download (pdf): Mannitz, Sabine/Scheu, Lea Deborah/Stephanblome, Isabelle (2023): Three Years Since Hanau: How Inclusive is Germany's Contemporary Remembrance Culture?, TraCe Policy Brief 1/2023, 21.3.2023.