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Additional info for German Rocketeers in the Heart of Dixie: Making Sense of the Nazi Past during the Civil Rights Era
The oral histories and archival material I collected reveal which stories about the Germans, their past in Germany, their move to Huntsville, and their impact on the town have been repeated—and by whom. They disclose how these stories connect the presence of the German families with local history and social dynamics within the community. S. government’s decision to offer them citizenship and prestigious employment opportunities—in the complex context of a multicultural post-cold-war-era America.
For example, the conversations with ﬁrst-generation German interviewees before and after the interview were often held in German, and one of the German interviewees even expressed her delight about my German-language skills. During the interviews, however, all of which but one were conducted in English, several of the interviewees would explain German culture to me, presumably forgetting my German upbringing. S. 33 Assuming that collective interpretive patterns for a nation’s or a region’s past exist, knowledge of these patterns is therefore important not only for the postinterview analysis but, as Welzer and colleagues point out, also during the interview.
The Jewish community was fairly small in the 1950s and 1960s, so I only found a few who remembered the arrival of the Germans and their ﬁrst years of integrating into the community. As I was wrapping up the interviewing phase, I still received suggestions for other people to interview. I decided not to pursue all of these suggestions since I had already collected a sizable number that provided me with a wide range of perspectives. The age of the current and former residents of Huntsville I interviewed ranged between forty-ﬁve and ninety-three at the time of the interview.