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In Hitler's Shadow by noted historian Richard J. Evans, is a study of recent attempts by some West German historians to free the German conscience from guilt about its Nazi past. These new revisionists argue that Germans have no more to be ashamed of than other peoples: Auschwitz, they say, does not stand alone in history; it was merely one of a number of similar crimes, from Stalin's purges to the mass murders committed by Pol Pot. The German army was not trying to impose a genocidal dictatorship; it was fighting to prevent a Communist takeover of Europe. These theses are advanced not by fanatics or extremists, but by senior West German politicians and internationally respected historians. In Hitler's Shadow examines the debate, placing it within the context of West German politics, and tries to reach a balanced and reasoned conclusion. The new revisionism does not, Evans argues, succeed in making its case, and many of the neoconservative theses bear a disturbing resemblance to arguments first put forward by the Nazis themselves. The survival and strengthening of democracy in West Germany, Evans argues, require an honest and open confrontation with the Nazi past.
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One hundred years after the birth of Hitler, the misdeeds of the Third Reich are still a heavy burden for contemporary Germans to bear. Recently, several influential German historians have tried to free the German conscience from guilt about the Nazi past. This scholarly analysis carefully dissects these revisionist writings. Some of the revisionist ideas--that Auschwitz was not unique in history and that the German army was only honorably defending the state against the Bolshevik hordes--are firmly rejected by Evans, an English historian. All nations must face up to their past, he writes, and the Germans are no exception. An important, well-documented study.
- Ian Wallace, Food Research Centre Lib., St. Hyacinthe, Quebec
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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