Ghosts and Miracles: The Volkswagen as Imperial Debris in Postwar West Germany

Natalie Scholz
2020 Comparative Studies in Society and History  
AbstractStarting with the author's own experience of ghostliness in the archive, the article explores the political meaning of the postwar Volkswagen in West Germany as embodiment of the country's "economic miracle." The investigation follows the uncanny in texts and images about the Volkswagen between 1945 and 1960 and argues that the car carried with it a "public secret" as a "debris" from the Nazi empire that silently transcended the 1945 divide. This reading of the Volkswagen as well as the
more » ... agen as well as the methodological path toward it highlight a phenomenon that postcolonial scholars have described as "haunting": a confusion about the relationship between past and present that also bears on those who study the past. Taking this analysis as an encouragement to revisit the powerful myths and "miracles" of postwar consumer cultures in the West from a new angle, the article calls for historical genealogies of these myths that conceive of the postwar West as a—not yet—postcolonial space and that cross the 1945 threshold.
doi:10.1017/s0010417520000158 fatcat:rcgif5645fe4lhlznwv574u4ue