West Germans and the Nazi Legacy
Routledge – 2012 – 190 pages
This book constitutes a new history of the complex memory cultures that persisted within post-war West Germany, examining the attitudes of ordinary people to the second wave of Nazi war crimes trials ushered in during the 1960s. It explores responses to the prospect of continuing investigations, the reception afforded to the defendants, and the sheer resonance that such proceedings could generate within a local community. Drawing upon case studies from across the Federal Republic, it bridges a gap between the current historiography and localised memory studies, and analyses of war crimes trials. Far from viewing the 1960s as an uncomplicated decade of change, this book emphasises the range of voices that were competing to make themselves heard during this period, whether they came from survivors’ groups, crusading journalists and students, or from former prisoners of war, veterans’ organisations and the war widowed. This diversity of opinion and experience enabled the persistence of silences, distortions and mythologies that could afford some level of distance to be imposed between the perpetrators of the Nazi genocide, and the ordinary West German population. The process of ‘coming to terms with the past’ was thus complicated and protracted.
@contents:Introduction 1. The Victors and the Vanquished 2. ‘The Murderers among Us’ 3. Recalling Resistance 4. Eichmann: A Nation on Trial? 5. One of Us 6. Draw a Line Conclusion Notes Bibliography Index
Caroline Sharples is currently University Teacher in Modern History at the University of Liverpool. She obtained her PhD from the University of Southampton in 2007 and has previously published various articles on the memory of the Kindertransport.