To Condemn and to Understand in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume XIX

Christian Meier

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To Condemn and to Understand: A Turning Point in German Historical Remembrance

The crimes against the Jews between 1933 and 1945 are at the center of the problematic attitude of the Germans. The German government dared to assume the right to exterminate another nation, which had even expressed its respect and love for the country — an act without parallel. The Federal Republic of Germany accepted responsibility and paid reparations in order to regain a respected place among the nations. Now, forty years later, ought Germany not to put an end to “self-accusations”? However, no attempt must be made to deny or suppress what had happened. Germany owes it to its victims to keep alive the memories of the crimes. Most of the population voluntarily turned a blind eye to the happenings. The vast majority — train drivers, soldiers, musicians — just continued their usual work without thinking of the consequences to the Jews. What would today’s generation have done in similar circumstances? One should understand the difficulties of one’s parents and grandparents and not necessarily condemn them, yet remain conscious of the country’s responsibility.

Products specifications
ISSN 0084-3296
Year 1988
Catalog No. 198805
Format Electronic article in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume XIX, pp. 93-105, Edited by Aharon Weiss
Publisher Yad Vashem