Shutting out horrors

March 7, 2003

In his review of the late W. G. Sebald's On the Natural History of Destruction ( THES , February 28), André Engel speculates that Sebald might have been astonished by the amount of German media attention devoted "in the past year or two" to the second world war allied bombing of German cities. But public remembering of the bombing began in the Federal Republic some years before Sebald wrote about Germany's inability to recall or discuss the destruction.

In 1983 and 1987, Hamburg-based Norddeutscher Rundfunk broadcast a grimly frank television documentary on Operation Gomorrah, the bombing raid that reduced Hamburg to ashes in 1943. The programme included the recollections of Germans who experienced the raid and whose memories had not dimmed.

David Head
Department of international business
University of Plymouth Business School

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