Now that the debate over Dirk Moses’s essay, “The German Catechism,” appears to have crested, it is possible to take stock of its results. In this short commentary, I do not directly address Moses’s specific arguments in detail; plenty of insightful observers have already done so. Like many of them, I support some of Moses’s assertions and reject others. Instead, I reflect on some of the claims that have been made about the debate’s significance for contemporary Holocaust memory. In so doing, I have identified four areas where, from my perspective, commentators have displayed interpretive blind spots. I hope to rectify them by 1) placing the “German Catechism” debate into a larger historical context; 2) flagging issues of terminological confusion; 3) pointing out the existence of overly sweeping conclusions; and 4) restoring a more balanced perspective about Germany’s mnemonic achievements.
Gavriel Rosenfeld is Professor of History at Fairfield University and an editor at The Journal of Holocaust Research.His full bio is available on his personal webpage: https://www.gavrielrosenfeld.com/
A recording of the virtual roundtable event held on April 29, 2021, with the authors of the Journal of Holocaust Research’s special issue, Confronting Hatred: Antisemitism, Neo-Nazism, and Holocaust Studies Today (35:2)