The structure and the mechanisms of shaping national historical consciousness in contemporary Russia and Germany (based on analysis of school textbooks of history and schoolchildrens survey)
Department of Cultural Affairs Russian State University of Sociology Moscow, Russia
In the framework of the Immanuel Kant German Academic Exchanges Service programme and The Development of Scientific Potential of Higher School in 2006-2008 (N188.8.131.52.16231) Russian federal programme I have conducted in 2008 the comparative analysis national historical consciousness in Germany and Russia based on the analysis of school textbooks of history and the small-scale survey of schoolchildren from these countries.
The school system of historical education and textbooks of history are major sources of shaping historical consciousness, both a vehicle and a means of shaping collective historical memory.
The traditions of historical school education in Russia and Germany show different approaches to the understanding of general and national history.
In Germany the study of common history is proposed (including world, national, regional and European dimensions). In the didactic tradition of Germany the notion of recollection culture (Erinnerungskultur) has been rooted. These peculiarities allow developing inclusiveness of historical memory (A. Assmans term) which is an important condition of coexistence in the global world. In Russia, on the contrary, world, national and regional histories are studied as separate disciplines.
Historical consciousness of German schoolchildren is more unified and structured and historical consciousness of Russian schoolchildren is more amorphous, but the interest to national history in young Russians is much higher than in Germans.
In the consciousness of German schoolchildren the idea of "the golden age" of national history - an historical period with special positive potential, which, however, has not been used (the time of Weimar Republic) - is expressed rather clearly. One can see several central ideas around which historical consciousness is organized (e.g. the idea of collective guilt).
Everyday consciousness in Germany shows both the higher level of historical participation and the higher level of mythologicality. The role of the textbook as a source of shaping historical consciousness is more expressed in Germany than in Russia.
The German experience in creating a negotiated civil version of the past can be useful for the Russian society where the practice of civil "processing of the past" has, for different reasons, an episodic character.