Cover Osteuropa 4-6/2005

In Osteuropa 4-6/2005

From silence to remembrance
The Shoah and World War II in the political consciousness of the FRG

Helmut König

Deutsche Fassung


The Federal Republic of Germany rests on a political-moral foundation constructed out of its disassociation of itself from the Nazi regime and preparedness to take responsibility for the crimes of that regime. However, what seems self-evident today certainly did not come into existence in the period when the West German state was being founded. For twenty years, West German society said nothing about these crimes and sought to exculpate the perpetrators. It perceived itself exclusively as the victim of the war, and asked no questions about the causes of that war. Only in the mid-1960s did the genocide perpetrated against the European Jews and, eventually, the crimes of the Wehrmacht gradually start to become part of public consciousness. It was this development that made it possible for Germany to take the place it occupies today as an equal partner within Europe, and makes it legitimate to remember the German victims of the war as well.

(Osteuropa 4-6/2005, pp. 33–44)