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Home > Catalog > German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past
German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past


  • Page extent: 304 pages
  • Size: 234 x 156 mm
  • Weight: 0.6 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 943.087
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: DD256.5 .M569 2007
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Germany--History--1933-1945
    • Collective memory--Germany (West)
    • Intellectuals--Germany (West)--Attitudes
    • National socialism--Psychological aspects
    • National characteristics, German

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521864954)

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This book examines West German intellectual debates about the Nazi past by explaining why they were so relentlessly polarized. Germans argued about the viability of their very nationality: was it stigmatized, stained, or polluted by crimes of the Third Reich? Or was it really like any other nation? The book examines how German intellectuals either defended national traditions or condemned them and instead advocated alternative traditions. Although the book proceeds chronologically, it differs from other works, which are event-based narratives, by highlighting this underlying structure of identity and dispute.


1. Stigma and structure in German memory; 2. The languages of republicanism and West German political generations; 3. The Forty-Fivers: a generation between fascism and democracy; 4. The German German - the integrative republicanism of Wilhelm Hennis; 5. The non-German German - the redemptive republicanism of Jurgen Habermas; 6. Theory and practice: science, technology, and the republican university; 7. The crisis of the republic: 1960–7; 8. 1967 and its aftermath; 9. The structure of discourse in the 1980s and 1990s; 10. History, multiculturalism, and the non-German German; 11. German Germans and the old nation; 12. Political theology and the dissolution of the underlying structure.

Prize Winner

Winner of H-Soz-u-Kult's Best Contemporary Historical Study 2007


“remarkable synthesis of public debates on German history and identity.” -Tuska Benes, History: Review of New Books

“A. Dirk Moses provides an excellent analysis and review of the sometimes esoteric and often bitter disputes between different schools of thought in Germany about the Holocaust and German guilt.” -Arthur B. Gunlicks, Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“Moses does an outstanding job of referring debates and of dealing with aspects of intellectuals that are less known in traditional accounts.” -Robert C. Holub, German Politics and Society

“Moses’s greatest contribution in German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past is his analysis of why some intellectuals believed that the German population needed to be morally transformed after the war and why others did not.” -Noah B. Strote, Theory and Society

“All research on the intellectual history of the Federal Republic will find trustworthy orientation in this book.” -Jens Hacke, H-Soz-u-Kult

"Moses has provided a masterly synthesis of West German political thought, and a work of great intellectual power. In short: his book is the most important work in English on West German memory of Nazism to have appeared in recent years." -Bill Niven, German Quarterly Book Reviews

"German Intellectuals and the Nazi Past is a splendid and original interpretation that ought to be consulted by all historians interested in historical memory, national identity, and the discourse of public intellectuals." -William David Jones, Canadian Journal of History

"Moses's study of the influence and use of memory in the West German political realm, focusing on the role of the public intellectual, is superb." -Douglas C. Peifer, Contemporary European History

"Precisely because of the questions it raises, this is an agenda-setting book, with which any scholar of intellectuals, political culture and postwar Germany's reckoning with the past will have to contend. Moreover, it should interest those who study memory, identity and transitional justice more broadly." -Sean A. Forner, National Identities

"Moses has given historians of central Europe, if not the larger historical profession, much to mull over in their writing, research, and teaching on contemporary German history. No scholar will approach the topic of Vergangenheitsbewältigung again without first coming to terms with this book." -Jason Dawsey, H-German

'"This well-informed book by Moses rewrites the intellectual history of federal Germany from the second world war to the first years of the new millennium, concentrating on the development of German national consciousness as a means to recover an "underlying structure of German emotions" -Manfred Alexander Hinz, Ricerche di Storia Politica

"...the study makes a strong contribution to the scholarship surrounding this important topic." -Eric J. Klaus, German Studies Review

"A. Dirk Moses has written a passionate book: one that combines traditional intellectual history, memory discourse, an overwhelming concern with moral judgements, and some biblical analogies." -Kenneth Barkin, Journal of Modern History

"...meticulously researched, well-written account..." -Carole Fink, Journal of Cold War Studies

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