Masterpiece or Holokitsch? The Zone of Interest, directed by Jonathan Glazer, never brings its viewers over the wall to Auschwitz. “It’s a horror film that keeps it horrors rigorously hidden from view.”  (Los Angeles Times, 12/14/23; The New Yorker, 12/14/23; The Washington Post, 1/16/24; The New Statesman, 1/26/24)

Some Holocaust memorials are rethinking their exhibitions in the era of the selfie: “A redesign at the Zekelman Holocaust Center near Detroit provides less opportunity to pose in front of Nazi images as it attempts to refocus attention on the victims, not the perpetrators.”  (The New York Times, 1/26/24)

Masha Gessen “walked from the haunting video of Kibbutz Be’eri to the clanking iron faces” of the artist Menashe Kadishman’s installation “Fallen Leaves” in Berlin’s Jewish Museum, and, Gessen writes, “I thought of the thousands of residents of Gaza killed in retaliation for the lives of Jews killed by Hamas. Then I thought that, if I were to state this publicly in Germany, I might get in trouble.”  (The New Yorker, 12/9/23; The Washington Post, 12/14/23; Literary Hub, 12/15/23; The New Statesman, 12/18/23)

The German Historical Museum in Berlin is honoring the 86-year-old singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann with a special exhibition, now through January 14, 2024.  (The New York Times, 7/7/23; The Guardian, 7/10/23)

“The erosion of democratic norms can be fatal, even its effects are delayed.” Two new books (1923 and Germany 1923) examine a crisis-filled year in the brief but tumultuous history of the Weimar Republic.  (Times Literary Supplement, 7/21/23; Financial Times, 9/20/23)

It’s unclear how the debates about museums and restitution will progress—but in the meantime, the Pergamon Museum is closing for a 14-year renovation.  (The New York Times, 10/18/23; The Economist, 10/26/23)

“At a time when Germany is contributing military hardware worth billions of euros to Ukraine so the latter can protect itself from invading Russian forces, the Berlin-Karlshorst Museum’s management structure is—to put it mildly—awkward.”  (The New York Times, 6/26/23)

The authors in February 1933: The Winter of Literature (by Uwe Wittstock, translated by Daniel Bowles) “are all too human, blameless in their initial assumption that violence, lies, and hate cannot sustain a regime, and helpless when it turns out they can.” (The New York Review, 11/2/23)

“The art of music,” writes Jeremy Eichler, “possesses a unique and often underappreciated power to burn through history’s cold storage.” Time’s Echo: The Second World War, the Holocaust, and the Music of Remembrance reflects on the work of Schoenberg, Strauss, Britten, and Shostakovich as musical memorials.  (The New York Times, 9/2/23; Financial Times, 9/5/23; Here & Now, 10/13/23; Literary Review, 11/2023)

A hospital in Erlangen is the only surviving building in Germany where patients with mental illness were systematically murdered in the Nazi era. It is now slated for demolition, over the protests of those who seek to preserve it as a site of remembrance.  (The Spectator, 4/23/23)

In Germany today, more than 4,000 public monuments commemorate the victory of the Soviet Union in World War II. Their ongoing protection is driven by “a mixture of bureaucratic drift, aversion to change and a rock-solid commitment to honoring the victims of Nazi aggression that trumps any shifts in global affairs.”  (The New York Times, 4/28/23)

“To reexamine the connections among the Third Reich, the genocide of the Herero and Nama, and other colonial crimes is to throw a more critical light on a broader arc of German history, including the Wilhelmine period. It means understanding that colonialism had long-term consequences not only for the colonized but also for the colonizers.”  (The New York Review, 3/9/23)

Rafaël Newman considers the tumultuous lifespan of painter Max Liebermann (1847–1935) and an intriguing new exhibit at the Deutsches Historisches Museum, “Roads Not Taken,” on key caesuras in German history between 1989 and 1848.  (3 Quarks Daily, 1/30/23)

What does it mean for a society to master its past, and what is the role of individual citizens? Despite the existence of an extensive archive for the files of the East German secret police, a recent study shows that “the majority of people on whom the Stasi kept files have not opened them.”  (The Guardian, 11/28/22)