A significant new look at the legacy of the Nazi regime, this book exposes the workings of past beliefs and political interests in how - and how differently - the two Germanys have recalled the crimes of Nazism, from the anti-Nazi emigration of the 1930s through the establishment of a day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism in ...
A significant new look at the legacy of the Nazi regime, this book exposes the workings of past beliefs and political interests in how - and how differently - the two Germanys have recalled the crimes of Nazism, from the anti-Nazi emigration of the 1930s through the establishment of a day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism in 1996. Why, Jeffrey Herf asks, would German politicians raise the specter of crimes at all, in view of the considerable depth and breadth of support the Nazis held during their reign? Why did the public memory of Nazi anti-Jewish persecution and the Holocaust emerge, if selectively, in West Germany, yet was repressed and marginalized in "anti-fascist" East Germany? And how do the politics of left and right come into play in this divided memory? The answers reveal the surprising relationship between how the crimes of Nazism were publicly recalled and how East and West Germany separately evolved a Communist dictatorship and a liberal democracy. This book, for the first time, points to the impact of the Cold War confrontation in both West and East Germany on the public memory of anti-Jewish persecution and the Holocaust.
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Publishers Weekly, 1997-09-08 West and East Germans remember the Nazi past in divergent ways that reflect the ideological differences between socialism and communism. In this deep and valuable study, Ohio University historian Herf demonstrates how these two responses to the Nazi past permeated the entire history of the divided Germany. After 1945, only socialists and communists could point to an unbroken history of opposition to the Hitler regime and to their own persecution by the Nazis. West German leaders, especially the socialists, perceived this as giving them a kind of solidarity with the Jews. But even West German conservatives adopted this stance. Konrad Adenauer, the first chancellor of West Germany, rehabilitated German conservatism by ridding it of its anti-Western elements and by recognizing that Judaism is a major part of the Western tradition. The fact that this position was espoused by a conservative leader helped create the West German consensus on the Nazi past that saw reparations to the victims as a duty. East German Marxists associated Jewish with bourgeois capitalism, though, and opposition to anti-Semitism never became an important part of German communist ideology. The defeat of Germany by the Soviet Union and its allies also seemed to validate the theory that Nazism was merely a tool of reactionary capitalism. For East Germany, then, the important point was not the Holocaust, but the defeat of fascism. It's a complicated topic, but Herf does a fine job of treating it clearly without sacrificing either depth or nuance. (Oct.)
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