Synopses & Reviews
The central question for both the victors and the vanquished of World War II was just how widely the stain of guilt would spread over Germany. Political leaders and intellectuals on both
sides of the conflict debated whether support for National Socialism tainted Germanyand#8217;s entire population and thus discredited the nationand#8217;s history and culture. The tremendous challenge that Allied officials and German thinkers faced as the war closed, then, was how to limn a postwar German identity that accounted for National Socialism without irrevocably damning the idea and character of Germany as a whole. and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; In the House of the Hangman chronicles this delicate process, exploring key debates about the Nazi past and German future during the latter years of World War II and in its aftermath. What did British and American leaders think had given rise to National Socialism, and how did these beliefs shape their intentions for occupation? What rhetorical and symbolic tools did Germans develop for handling the insidious legacies of Nazism? Considering these and other questions, Jeffrey K. Olick explores the processes of accommodation and rejection that Allied plans for a new German state inspired among the German intelligentsia. He also examines heated struggles over the value of Germanyand#8217;s institutional and political heritage. Along the way, he demonstrates how the moral and political vocabulary for coming to terms with National Socialism in Germany has been of enduring significanceand#8212;as a crucible not only of German identity but also of contemporary thinking about memory and social justice more generally. and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; Given the current war in Iraq, the issues contested during Germanyand#8217;s abjection and reinventionand#8212;how to treat a defeated enemy, how to place episodes within wider historical trajectories, how to distinguish varieties of victimhoodand#8212;are as urgent today as they were sixty years ago, and In the House of the Hangman offers readers an invaluable historical perspective on these critical questions.
"A highly effective, syncretic account of the engagement with Nazism and its legacy in the early postwar period."
"This is a book that deserves a very wide readership, both for the subtlety of Olick's interpretations of key texts and for the verve of his own argumentation."
and#8220;Sixty years after the war, Jeffrey K. Olick revisits German self-understanding regarding the profound questions of who bears responsibility for wrongdoings of the past. This deft interdisciplinary exploration illuminates the moral, legal, and political discourses of the time to offer a revelatory, nuanced, and fresh account of the critical process of reconstruction of memory in shaping national culture. Olick makes an important contribution as well to the growing fields of collective memory, transitional, and post-conflict justice, offering a sober and timely message about the potential and limits of imposing democratic transition.and#8221;
and#8220;Jeffrey K. Olick knows that national identities emerge from the way a people makes sense ofand#8212;which is to say constructsand#8212;a shared memory of the past.and#160;He has become a reigning master of that intellectual terrain, as this important study of German political culture in the years following World War II attests brilliantly.and#8221;
and#160;and#8220;In the House of the Hangman
is a moral drama that shows how postwar German officials tried to defend the dignity of the state and its citizens against the stigma of National Socialism and the Holocaust during the aftermath of World War II. This is a brilliant book that radically rejects reductive statements about the construction of memory and the invention of the past by recognizing the complexity of the relations between history and human experience.and#8221;
"A welcome and timely intervention by a prominent sociologist of collective memory."
"This very learned study has much to offer for both the specialist as well as for readers who are new to the wide-ranging literature on German memory. It also should be essential reading for everybody who is interested in the role of memory in democratic regime transitions."
"Olick's impressive synthesis brings together an in-depth discussion of Anglo-American political and intellectual approaches to Nazi Germany . . .and#160; with an equally thorough . . . study of German elite responses to Allied policies and charges of guilt. . . . It is a tribute to the important accomplishments of this fine study that it raises questions that lead beyond its boundaries."
"This book will intrigue historians of 'collective memory' and will provide a number of valuable case studies as texts for students on methodology courses."
"[The book] offers a helpful synthesis of the postwar intellectual climate and should be of particular use to students unfamiliar with these highly charged debates."
About the Author
Jeffrey K. Olick is professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
Chapter 1. Introduction
Part I. The Victors
Chapter 2. Defining Defeat
Chapter 3. Culture and Character
Chapter 4. Woe to the Vanquished?
Chapter 5. Indictment
Chapter 6. Nurembergs of the Common Man?
Part II. The Vanquished
Chapter 7. Other Germanies?
Chapter 8. The Meanings of German History
Chapter 9. The Psychology of Guilt
Chapter 10. The New Political Theology
Chapter 11. The Politics of the Past?
Chapter 12. The Philosophy of Guilt
Chapter 13. The Recalcitrance of Shame
Chapter 14. Conclusion