This article summarizes the results of the work of a commission of the German Trade Union Confederation, Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB), on the memory cultures of social democracy and trade unionism in Germany and highlights its recommendations on how to strengthen the public memory of the achievements of trade unionism in German society. It argues that the contemporary memory cultures are highly deficient and in need of a major boost in order to make trade unionism fit for the struggles of the twenty-first century. Memory will be a crucial resource for trade unions, as it gives them a “practical past” with which to operate in the presence with a view to strengthening and protecting workers’ rights in the future.

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