Current Controversies and Developments in US and Germany and their Importance for History Education
75 Years of Transatlantic Ties: Speech of Hope, Amerikahaus & DAZ Stuttgart
Location: DAZ/digital via Zoom Admission: Free Language: English Registration: Please register via firstname.lastname@example.org
In both Germany and the United States, history has once again become a hot political topic. In January 2021, the Trump administration published the 1776 Report, which provided a set of guidelines for teaching a conservative and overtly nationalist history in American classrooms. This project was an attempt to counter what the Trump administration saw as an onslaught of left-wing propaganda exemplified by the New York Times’ 1619 Project and recent controversies over Confederate Statues and police racism. In Germany, debates about the country’s colonial past have erupted due to the Humboldt Forum and international academic criticism of what one scholar has dubbed the „German Catechism.“
Using the historical figure James F. Byrnes as a starting point, this talk will focus on the debates surrounding Confederate Monuments and Berlin’s Humboldt Forum to explore these issues and provide teachers with concrete examples of how both German and American cities and institutions have responded—or ignored their difficult histories. This talk will outline both the historical origins of these controversies and discuss recent developments in order to provide educators with an overview of current issues within the fields of public history and historical memory. It will also touch on a brief history of Holocaust remembrance in Germany and why Americans have found it important—or even worth emulating. Lastly, it will include personal reflections on historical memory in both countries and suggestions for dealing with these topics in the classroom
Nicholas K. Johnson is the Deputy Head of the Center for German-American Educational History at the University of Münster. He holds an MA in Public History from Indiana University-Indianapolis (2016) and a BA in History and German from Indiana University (2012). His academic interests include film history, urban history, historical memory, and public history. His dissertation explores the history of how and why American and German filmmakers have depicted the Wannsee Conference in film and television.