German Identity, the Holocaust and the Year 2000

  • Albert H. Friedlander


Although the Holocaust ended more than fifty years ago, its impact continues to be an enduring trauma in the 21st century. Most of the survivors have passed away, but the second and third generations continue to carry this dark inheritance within their lives. Historians have reflected upon the destruction visited upon the European landscape, and we have come to see that even in America significant changes have taken place within that community. Germany continues to be a puzzle. Immediately after the war, the prevailing attitude saw all Germans as evil, and the occupying forces were forbidden to fraternize. Yet it is not in the nature of soldiers to remain distant from the people around them, and that wall disappeared far quicker than the ‘Wall’ built by the Communists to separate East and West Germany. Later, distinctions began to be made between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Germans, partially through the ‘denazification’ courts and later by the general public. Once business ties were re-established the attitude towards the Germans began to change. Eventually, wealthy German tourists were accepted, even though sly jokes about them continued. But Germany itself had to undergo dramatic changes, which continue to be played out in a country which now holds a commanding position in the European Community.


Jewish Community Jewish Life German Identity Memorial Service German Public 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Albert H. Friedlander

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