Constructing Victimhood in Divided Germany: The Case of the Association of the Victims of Stalinism (1950-1989)

David Clarke

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78 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

Taking the Vereinigung der Opfer des Stalinismus (Association of the Victims of Stalinism, or VOS) as a case study, this article argues that civil society organisations which claim to represent the interests of victims of historical injustice must seek to construct and propagate notions of the political and social relevance of victimhood, in such a way that it both offers a coherent point of identification for individual victims and speaks to the concerns of the political system on which victims they for compensation and recognition. By examining the discourse of officials of this organisation over time, it is possible to demonstrate the extent to which victims’ representatives must adapt their conception of victimhood in order to respond to changing circumstances. The article also points to the challenges these organisations face in remaining relevant in new political contexts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)422-436
Number of pages15
JournalMemory Studies
Volume11
Issue number4
Early online date13 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • civil society
  • democratic transition
  • Cold War
  • victims
  • Germany

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