(University of Portsmouth)

“Nazi Noir”

My current project aims to investigate what I term ‚Nazi Noir‘. This will be a critical assessment of detective novels dealing not only with the Nazi Past but, more particularly, with the respective protagonists‘ engagement with the past. There are, broadly speaking, two current trends in detective writing about the Third Reich und the Nazi Past: there are straightforward historical novels, written ’now‘ but set in the past and dealing with ‚real‘ historical persons. More interesting, however, are those novels with a contemporary setting that investigate historical crimes going back to the Nazi period or the Holocaust. In those cases, the detective has to turn historian to actively examine the past that led to the contemporaneous crimes but, in many cases, the detective likewise has to examine his/her own involvement in the Nazi regime. Those novels challenge traditional notions of history writing and actively interrogate questions of perpetration, personal and collective guilt, and how to successfully and meaningfully deal with the past.