A Kind of Indemnification: The Tendencies toward Apologia in German Research on Current History
Can a memorial monument make a distinction between the victims of the Nazi regime and the perpetrators? The Cologne historian Andreas Hillgruber tries to justify the German bid for power in Europe as an attempt to preserve the East German countries as a bulwark against Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. He glosses over the “end of European Jewry.” Michael Stürmer hypothesizes that even without the rise of Hitler anti-Jewish measures would have been enforced during the 1930s. However, Hitler, alone, was responsible for the Final Solution. Most of the German population, including many university educated individuals, was aware of the annihilation of Jews. Nolte is criticized for equating Marxism with Nazism and claiming that the SS personnel in the death camps were also victims. After 1945 a new generation of young historians pointed a finger at complicity between previous historiographers and the Nazi regime. The ideology of reconstructing Germany as the European center, espoused by German historians such as Stürmer and Hillgruber, destroys the only reliable base of German ties with the West.