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The Sins of the FathersGermany, Memory, Method$
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Jeffrey K. Olick

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226386492

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226386522.001.0001

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Bonn Is Not Weimar

Bonn Is Not Weimar

(p.113) Chapter 4 Bonn Is Not Weimar
The Sins of the Fathers

Jeffrey K. Olick

University of Chicago Press

In this chapter, Olick describes the creation of West Germany and the Basic Law, as well as related debates over how to avoid recreating the problems of the Weimar Republic. He investigates and compares the strategies of the first leaders of West Germany – Adenauer and Heuss. According to Olick, Heuss’s politics were characterized by a focus on measure, rationality, and balance, with an awareness of past mistakes but no particular association with them; whereas Adenauer underscored the necessity of Western integration, security, and anti-Prussianism. The chapter explores Adenauer’s rejection of collective guilt and his treatment of the past, which emphasized the differences between the Nazi and Weimar governments as compared to the new Bonn democracy. Olick analyses Adenauer’s rhetoric and discusses the problems of reintegrating expellees, civil servants, and military personnel back into German society after the fall of the National Socialist regime.

Keywords:   collective guilt, West Germany, Konrad Adenauer, Basic Law, Theodor Heuss

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