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Download Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past epub

by Joel Golb,Fritz Stern,Norbert Frei

Of all the aspects of recovery in postwar Germany perhaps none was as critical or as complicated as the matter of dealing with Nazi criminals, and, more broadly, with the Nazi past. While on the international stage German officials spoke with contrition of their nation's burden of guilt, at home questions of responsibility and retribution were not so clear. In this masterful examination of Germany under Adenauer, Norbert Frei shows that, beginning in 1949, the West German government dramatically reversed the denazification policies of the immediate postwar period and initiated a new "Vergangenheitspolitik," or "policy for the past," which has had enormous consequences reaching into the present. Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past chronicles how amnesty laws for Nazi officials were passed unanimously and civil servants who had been dismissed in 1945 were reinstated liberally―and how a massive popular outcry led to the release of war criminals who had been condemned by the Allies. These measures and movements represented more than just the rehabilitation of particular individuals. Frei argues that the amnesty process delegitimized the previous political expurgation administered by the Allies and, on a deeper level, served to satisfy the collective psychic needs of a society longing for a clean break with the unparalleled political and moral catastrophe it had undergone in the 1940s. Thus the era of Adenauer devolved into a scandal-ridden period of reintegration at any cost. Frei's work brilliantly and chillingly explores how the collective will of the German people, expressed through mass allegiance to new consensus-oriented democratic parties, cast off responsibility for the horrors of the war and Holocaust, effectively silencing engagement with the enormities of the Nazi past.
Download Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past epub
ISBN: 0231118821
ISBN13: 978-0231118828
Category: History
Subcategory: World
Author: Joel Golb,Fritz Stern,Norbert Frei
Language: English
Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1St Edition edition (June 15, 2002)
Pages: 365 pages
ePUB size: 1879 kb
FB2 size: 1830 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 739
Other Formats: rtf txt azw lrf

Frei's book was very illuminating and insightful to me as I try to come to a better understanding of Germany's postwar experience. HIs ability to manage and think carefully about the tremendous complexities and contradictions that characterize Germany's attempt to break with its National Socialist past was important for me--an avid, diligent, but non-specialist reader of 20th century German history and culture--to see in action. Now that we know much more about the extent to which so many Germans knew about at least some of the Nazi atrocities, it's more tempting than ever to make easy judgments about how Germans did and did not adequately take responsibility for their past at the moment they reassumed sovereignty over their own nation. And, indeed, Frei's story ultimately does hold Germany accountable for its actions and omissions, but at the same time, he also teaches me how many questions I need to ask before I even think about judging the past. For that matter, Frei has very nicely modeled the kind of history that every nation needs to write about what it means to own up to the past that has for good and for ill shaped who we are.

My only complaint is that Frei is not always well served by his English translator. While I appreciate the desire to reproduce the sophistication and precision of Frei's German, the translation in both sentence structure and diction is often needlessly dense and difficult.
sunrise bird
The book itself is well researched and makes a compelling argument. The main problem, however, is that the translation is abysmally poor. It makes the book nearly inaccessible at times. I found myself rereading whole pages and not having the foggiest clue what the author (translator) meant. There are other books that serve the purpose of exploring this topic in the Adenauer Era. Herf, "Divided Memory" is very good, although he covers other ground and doesn't go into the depth that Frei does on the latter's particular topic. Unless you need to know Frei's topic in detail, I would steer clear of this book. It's a shame the editors at Columbia University Press don't take their jobs seriously.

If you read German, you'd be better off reading the original work, "Vergangenheitspolitik: Die Anfänge der Bundesrepublik und die NS-Vergangenheit."