Memorials as discursive spheres: Holocaust and Second World War iconography in public commemoration of extremist-right violence


In recent decades, the experience of non-governmental politically motivated violence became a central element of global memory culture. Motivated by several shocking attacks at the beginning of the new millennium, this commemorative culture evolved in a memory ecology, which was significantly shaped by the prosperity of global Holocaust memory. Therefore, public commemoration of politically motivated violence intersects different discursive elements, leading to multidirectional forms of memory. Based on interdisciplinary theoretical approaches, this article examines public memorials commemorating two notable cases of neo-Nazi xenophobic attacks in Germany as discursive spheres referring to the confrontation with the country’s unique past and its impact on Germany’s contemporary self-image challenged by right-wing extremism. We argue that various commemorative actors in the field adopted and appropriated Second World War and Holocaust-related iconography and terminology to shape these memory sites as instruments linking current Germany to the period of National Socialism.