Studies in Contemporary Germany: Politics, Society and Culture: Study Trips


Troubled Landscapes: Exploring Traces of Violence in German History and Culture

A Study Trip to Munich and Nuremberg

Dr. Tobias Ebbrecht-Hartmann

Throughout the course of history the city of Munich as well as other parts of the Federal State of Bavaria were fundamentally shaped by political turmoil, revolts and the outbreak of political violence. The 20th century as a “century of violence” in particular still affects ongoing political and cultural life in Germany. The memory of political turmoil, ideological collisions and terrorist attacks left significant traces in the landscapes of German cities. Besides Berlin the Bavarian capital Munich might be one of the most shattered metropolises in contemporary Germany. Events such as the “Bavarian Soviet Republic” in 1919, Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, Munich’s characterization as “Capital of the Nazi Movement” during the 1930s and 1940s, postwar terrorist attacks such as the hostage crisis during the Olympic Games in 1972 and the bomb attack on the Oktoberfest in 1980 and two murders of the National Socialist Underground in 2001 and 2005 create a fabric of ‘resonating violence’. Munich’s neighboring Franconian metropolis Nuremberg was similarly shaped by the experience of political violence. Once, during the 1930s, the city hosted huge Nazi party conferences. Today the former convention center, fragmented ‘brutality in stone’ (Alexander Kluge), hosts a museum. After the war Nuremberg was place of several trials against Nazi perpetrators. In 1973 the radical left wing terrorist group “Revolutionary Cells” targeted the ITT Corporation, in 1979 a member of the Red Army Faction was arrested in Nuremberg. Between 2000 and 2009 the NSU committed three brutal murder and several bomb attacks in the city.

The study excursion will explore different cultural, historical and geographical traces of this troubling history. Therefore we will visit various places of memory in the Bavarian capital Munich and Franconia's metropolis Nuremberg. The tour will include remarkable memorials, monuments and museums, including historical exhibitions and famous art collections, and is based on presentations prepared by the student participants. It attempts to encounter the troubled history of Munich and Nuremberg and to introduce a multitude of partly conflicting memories within German history and political culture.

For preparation the course “German Social History in the 20th Century” (fall semester) is recommended. Parallel to the study excursion students are required to attend the course “Terrorism and Political Violence in German Public Memory and Visual Culture” (spring semester).