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Recasting West German Elites
Higher Civil Servants, Business Leaders, and Physicians in Hesse between Nazism and Democracy, 1945-1955
Michael R. Hayse
288 pages, 6 charts, 8 tables, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-57181-271-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (November 2003)
eISBN 978-1-78920-416-2 eBook
The rapid shift of German elite groups' political loyalties away from Nazism and toward support of the fledgling democracy of the Federal Republic, in spite of the continuity of personnel and professional structures, has surprised many scholars of postwar Germany. The key, Hayse argues, lies in the peculiar and paradoxical legacy of these groups' evasive selective memory, by which they cast themselves as victims of the Third Reich rather than its erstwhile supporters. The avoidance of responsibility for the crimes and excesses of the Third Reich created a need to demonstrate democratic behavior in the post-war public sphere. Ultimately, this self-imposed pressure, while based on a falsified, selective group memory of the recent past, was more important in the long term than the Allies' stringent social change policies.
Michael R. Hayse is Associate Professor of History at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He specializes in 20th century German history, Russian and East European history, and Holocaust/genocide studies.
Subject: History: 20th Century to Present
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