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Author: Dariusz Matelski
Year of publication: 2016
Source: Show
Pages: 29-60
DOI Address: http://dx.doi.org/10.15804/ksm201602
PDF: ksm/21/ksm201602.pdf

After World War Two, German historiography focused its attention on a few aspects:

1) the resistance movement in Nazi Germany; 2) losses that Germans suffered from the Allies in the years 1943-45 (air raids, contributions, plunder, rapes and robbing);

3) the occupation and 45-year long division of Germany. Only if the events were shown in this way, could Germans play the role of the victims instead of initiators of the war.

The end of every decade after the fall of the Third Reich brought a discussion on the year 1945. A question was asked: Was it the end of German statehood or was it rather the beginning of a new stage on the way to a democratic state of free German countries?

At the same time, East German historians argued with West German ones on the continuity of the German Reich after 1945. From 1951, it was the German Federal Republic that identified itself with the German Reich.

Since the reunion of both German countries, the historiography of the new, joint German state has tried to show that the Third Reich was not rooted in German tra ditions, but was – as Ernst Nolte claimed – a „false link in the history of Germany”, and that the feeling of defeatism prevailed among Germans in 1945. It was social democrats and communists that were first to shake off that feeling. The contemporary German Federal Republic, does not feel responsible for the Third Reich, even though it is its legal heir.

Summing up the positions of German historiography (in the years 1949-1990 of two German states – the German Federal Republic and the German Democratic Republic), I believe that the escape from the Eastern Front, expelling Germans, unconditional surrender, and hardships of the post-war period were the direct result of the war started in 1939 by the German nation led by Adolf Hitler. The sooner Germans universally accept it, the more respected European nation they will become. They must also recognise the fact that after 700 years, history came full circle – both Polish and German peoples have returned to their roots – the times when their predecessors came as settlers and conquerors…

 

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