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What has Germany made of its Nazi past? A significant new look at the legacy of the Nazi regime, this book exposes the workings of past beliefs and political interests on how--and how differently--the two Germanys have recalled the crimes of Nazism, from the anti-Nazi emigration of the 1930s through the establishment of a day of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism in 1996. Why, Jeffrey Herf asks, would German politicians raise the specter of the Holocaust at all, in view of the considerable depth and breadth of support its authors and their agenda had found in Nazi Germany? Why did the public memory of Nazi anti-Jewish persecution and the Holocaust emerge, if selectively, in West Germany, yet was repressed and marginalized in "anti-fascist" East Germany? And how do the politics of left and right come into play in this divided memory? The answers reveal the surprising relationship between how the crimes of Nazism were publicly recalled and how East and West Germany separately evolved a Communist dictatorship and a liberal democracy. This book, for the first time, points to the impact of the Cold War confrontation in both West and East Germany on the public memory of anti-Jewish persecution and the Holocaust. Konrad Adenauer, Theodor Heuss, Kurt Schumacher, Willy Brandt, Richard von Weizsacker, and Helmut Kohl in the West and Walter Ulbricht, Wilhelm Pieck, Otto Grotewohl, Paul Merker, and Erich Honnecker in the East are among the many national figures whose private and public papers and statements Herf examines. His work makes the German memory of Nazism--suppressed on the one hand and selective on the other, from Nuremberg to Bitburg--comprehensible within the historical context of the ideologies and experiences of pre-1945 German and European history as well as within the international context of shifting alliances from World War II to the Cold War. Drawing on West German and recently opened East German archives, this book is a significant contribution to the history of belief that shaped public memory of Germany's recent past.
Jeffrey Herf, a leading scholar in the field, offers the most extensive examination to date of Nazi propaganda activities targeting Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East during World War II and the Holocaust. He draws extensively on previously unused and little-known archival resources, including the shocking transcriptions of the "Axis Broadcasts in Arabic" radio programs, which convey a strongly anti-Semitic message. Herf explores the intellectual, political, and cultural context in which German and European radical anti-Semitism was found to resonate with similar views rooted in a selective appropriation of the traditions of Islam. Pro-Nazi Arab exiles in wartime Berlin, including Haj el-Husseini and Rashid el-Kilani, collaborated with the Nazis in constructing their Middle East propaganda campaign. By integrating the political and military history of the war in the Middle East with the intellectual and cultural dimensions of the propagandistic diffusion of Nazi ideology, Herf offers the most thorough examination to date of this important chapter in the history of World War II. Importantly, he also shows how the anti-Semitism promoted by the Nazi propaganda effort contributed to the anti-Semitism exhibited by adherents of radical forms of Islam in the Middle East today.
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