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Germany's Foreign Relations and the Nazi Past


On 7 November 1968, the political activist Beate Klarsfeld entered the stage of a CDU party convention in Berlin, slapped the West German chancellor Kurt-Georg Kiesinger in the face and cried ‘Nazi, Nazi’. During the Third Reich, Kiesinger had worked in one of the propaganda departments of the Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office). The history of the German foreign office received additional attention in 1968 due to the fact that the then vice-chancellor and foreign secretary of the Grand Coalition, Willy Brandt, was a former resistance fighter, who had been stripped of his citizenship by the Auswärtiges Amt in 1938. Despite numerous scandals about the post-war careers of former Nazi diplomats in the 1950s and 60s, the Auswärtiges Amt escaped closer scrutiny until 2005, when the then foreign secretary Joschka Fischer set up a historical inquiry commission. In his memoirs, Fischer has argued that his decision was influenced by the events of 1968.

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Michael Mayer , Staaten als Täter: Miniterialbürokratie und ‘Judenpolitik’ in NS-Deutschland und Vichy-Frankreich (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2010)

José Brunner , Norbert Frei and Constantin Goschler , eds, Die Praxis der Wiedergutmachung: Geschichte, Erfahrung und Wirkung in Deutschland und Israel (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2009)

Bill Niven and Chloe E. M. Paver , eds, Memorialization in Germany since 1945 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010)

Kay Schiller and Christopher Young , The 1972 Munich Olympics and the Making of Modern Germany (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010)

Philipp Gassert , Tim Geiger and Hermann Wentker , eds, Zweiter Kalter Krieg und Friedensbewegung: Der NATO-Doppelbeschluss in deutsch-deutscher und internationaler Perspektive (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2011)

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Contemporary European History
  • ISSN: 0960-7773
  • EISSN: 1469-2171
  • URL: /core/journals/contemporary-european-history
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