The Second World War still receives wide attention in official commemorations and political discussions often focusing on national historical experiences of war. But collective memories of World War II are also strongly influenced by a multitude of popular renditions from both home and abroad. Films and novels, comic books, and websites constitute an important but underestimated source of widespread narratives and images of war, with various perspectives appealing to large and diverse audiences. The wide variety of transnational war representations makes it possible for participants in contemporary historical culture to make their own individual selections, resulting in a hybrid historical narrative which helps them to appropriate the past. Their relationship with history is, somewhat paradoxically, characterized both by commitment and distance, while the public authority of historians has become less obvious. The fact that the War is now a moral benchmark as well as a lighthearted topic of entertainment, combining fact and fiction, stresses the need for new research into popular culture in order to provide a more balanced picture of the contemporary social significance of the Second World War.
- World War II; appropriation of the past; participants in historical culture; popular culture; transnational memory