oa South African Journal of Cultural History - Historical identity and regional consciousness in Germany : the growing emphasis on history as exemplified by major exhibitions since the 1970s

Volume 5, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1011-3053



Due to the dramatic pace of technical progress and social changes there is a crisis of culture and identity in Western Europe. In addition to this, in Germany there has always been the question as to what German national identity really is. Until 1871, Germany continued to be broken up into many smaller states. As a consequence, the German culture is pluralistic, with strong regional characteristics. After the catastrophe of National Socialism, indifference towards history has been evident in Germany. Since the mid-nineteen seventies, some of the 'Bundeslander' (states) of the federal Republic have tried to strengthen the awareness of the past. They staged special exhibitions confined to issues of regional history with the objective of heightening the respective states, sense of identity. The article describes the Staufer Exhibition 1971, the Wittelsbacher Exhibition 1980 and the Prussia Exhibition 1981. It concludes that these exhibitions have not only succeeded in creating a kind of regional consciousness in different parts of Germany, but also a growing interest in German history as a whole.

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