We were pleased to broadcast live audio and video streaming of the Tack Faculty Lecture on October 27, 2016.
Question & Answer Period
Viewers were invited to submit questions during the lecture using the #wmTackLecture hashtag on Twitter, or in the comments of the Facebook Live stream. Answers to questions that did not get asked during the Q&A are listed below.
Q: What influence did the period of East/West split have on dealing with the memory of the War? Were there notable differences between detective fiction in the former East and detective fiction in the former West?
A: East and West Germany shared the same problem: how to deal with the memory of the past and German guilt. They took similar but different paths. Both blamed a handful of Nazis who led the German people astray. Without being too long-winded, West Germany, after periods of trying to duck or relitivize the past, chose to face the crimes of the past as directly and honestly as possible, yet without really implicating the majority of Germans, at least until fairly recent times. In East Germany, all the fault, all the guilt was on the capitalists and fascists, and their heirs in West Germany: the communists/socialists defined themselves as the first opponents of the Nazis, and their first victims. As such, they couldn't be held responsible for what their enemies did. There were very notable differences between detective fiction in E. and W. Germany. Under socialism, crime should not, in principle, exist (this is the theory). If there was still some residual crime, then it had to be the fault of recalcitrant capitalist elements in society, or else asocial people who had placed themselves outside of the collective for whatever reason. So, in a nutshell, detective fiction became a kind of political lesson, showing the efforts of the police to protect socialism. The fun thing is that, within this framework and under the heavy censorship which existed in East Germany, some writers still managed to write good stories.
A: When I write as an academic, I always have to document everything: my footnotes are often as long as my text. Some nights, I dream of being able to just write, even make everything up. So yes, I have thought about it, but I doubt I would be good at it. And if I ever do write any fiction, it will probably have to be under a pseudonym.