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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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The Reliable Nation

The Reliable Nation

(p.203) Chapter 8 The Reliable Nation
The Sins of the Fathers

Jeffrey K. Olick

University of Chicago Press

This chapter summarizes German attitudes during the early post-war years. According to Olick, early leaders of the Federal Republic portrayed the Nazi years as a bounded historical period that had to be viewed as an aberration in German national history. Their attitude toward past crimes was defensive, exculpatory, and repressive. They recognized a specific debt to Jews and to Israel, though only occasionally referring directly to the Holocaust. They sought to absolve this debt with a major symbolic and material gesture, and demonstrated the difference between the old Germany and the new Germany by adopting a philo-Semitic posture. Olick argues that German leaders focused on proving West German reliability and loyalty during these years.

Keywords:   World War II, Nazism, historical memory, collective memory, The Holocaust, WWII

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