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The expression memoirs ( plural tantum ; from French mémoire "written presentation, memorandum" from Latin memoria "memory") denotes memorabilia or records of events that they have personally experienced.

In contrast to the autobiography , the memoir writer puts his social role at the center of the presentation (e.g. politicians and other officials). If the autobiography (also) describes the career of the not yet socially established person, memoirs assume the established identity of an individual who is aware of his or her social role. The memoir writer puts the story of his becoming behind that of the representation of his time and his work in it .

Due to their subjective character, memoirs should only be used with caution as a source. Since they are mostly written down a long time after the events presented, errors or at least unconscious deviations from reality are easily possible. There are also deliberate misrepresentations by the author to justify their own actions or to exonerate misconduct. A well-known example from more recent times are the memoirs of Albert Speer , in which the latter stated that he did not know anything about the Holocaust , although other sources show that he was well informed about at least essential aspects.

In German, memoirs are mostly referred to as memories . Often they are also written with the help of a professional author or a ghostwriter .


  • Bernd Neumann: Identity and role constraints. On the theory of autobiography. (= Athenaeum Paperbacks , Volume 3.) Athenaeum Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1970.

Web links

Wiktionary: Memoirs  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Memoirs  - Quotes