The representation of violence

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Jonathan Littell’s novel The Kindly Ones depicts many scenes of graphic violence

Choices in dictatorships

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In Imre Kertész’s novel Fiasco, Köves describes his experience of being called up to do military duty under the Hungarian regime of János Kádár (1956-1988). He was asked to sign a piece of paper committing him to become a prison guard in the central military prison. Despite not wishing to assume this role, he signed.

Conformity and Hypocrisy

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Elisabeth Langgässer (1899-1950) was a writer. The story ‘Start of the Season’ was published in 1947 in her collection of short stories, The Torso.

Post-war justifications

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Hans Baumgartner, one of the former shooters involved in mass killings in Libau between July and December 1941, was interrogated by the Stasi in the GDR 1969-1970. He was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death.

Knowledge about atrocities

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Daniel Lerner, Chief editor of the Allied Psychological Warfare Division, reported after travelling through occupied Germany in the first two weeks of April 1945

Innocent Bystanders?

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US Marine Corps Reserve Captain P. Dickson interrogated German civilians in the Rhineland in March 1945

Facilitating ‘Aryanisation’

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Report of an interrogation by Saul Padover and Lewis Gittler, Psychological Warfare Division, 12th Army Group US Army, with Arthur Koenig, 19 November 1944

Bystanders to deportations

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Extracts from the Diary of Berlin journalist, Ruth Andreas-Friedrich

‘Justifications’ for killing

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Letters sent to his wife by Walter Mattner

Kristallnacht: The difficulty of interpreting contemporary sources

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Reports for the Social Democratic Party in Exile (Sopade)

Conformity and compromise

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A young woman’s experiences of life in 1930s Germany

The Wehrpass and the active use of children in Germany’s war

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Objects & Images

Every soldier of the German Armed Forces, the Wehrmacht was given a Wehrpass, a military passport, upon joining its ranks. It showed your service record, the places where you had fought, the medals you were awarded, and the promotions you received. What it meant to be a soldier, however, changed completely throughout the war. When […]

Marching in step

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In early 1943, by official decree, 16 and 17-year-old Hitler Youth boys were ordered to serve as auxiliaries in the Luftwaffe, the German air force, where they were tooperate anti-aircraft guns. Known from then on as Flak­helfer (anti-aircraft assistants), they were incorporated in the military command structure, but since they still had to wear Hitler […]

The Poesie-album and the direct efforts to shape the minds of youngsters

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Objects & Images

A Poesie­­-album is a little album used by children – mostly girls – to collect inspirational messages, small poems, and verses from friends and family. It was popularised in Germany in the nineteenth century, although the use of these little albums also spread abroad. Being allowed to write in such an album was a sign […]

The Jubelfahne and the limits of the People’s Community

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The Nazis put much time and effort in creating a so-called ‘People’s Community’, a Volksgemeinschaft. To most ordinary Germans this notion was a positive one, as it represented a break with the socio-political divisiveness that had marked the prior years of the Weimar Republic. Yet, few people subscribed to the idea of a Volksgemeinschaft of […]