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Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice

Mary Fulbrook



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Oxford University Press
01 September 2020
A single word - Auschwitz - is often used to encapsulate the totality of persecution and suffering involved in what we call the Holocaust. Yet a focus on a single concentration camp - however horrific what happened there, however massively catastrophic its scale - leaves an incomplete story, a truncated history. It cannot fully communicate the myriad ways in which individuals became tangled up on the side of the perpetrators, and obscures the diversity of experiences among a wide range of victims as they struggled and died, or managed, against all odds, to survive. In the process, we also miss the continuing legacy of Nazi persecution across generations, and across continents.

Mary Fulbrook's encompassing book attempts to expand our understanding, exploring the lives of individuals across a full spectrum of suffering and guilt, each one capturing one small part of the greater story. At its heart, Reckonings seeks to expose the disjuncture between official myths about dealing with the past, on the one hand, and the extent to which the vast majority of Nazi perpetrators evaded justice, on the other. In the successor states to the Third Reich-East Germany, West Germany, and Austria - the attempts at justice varied widely in the years and decades after 1945. The Communist East German state pursued Nazi criminals and handed down severe sentences; West Germany, seeking to draw a line under the past, tended toward leniency and tolerance. Austria made nearly no reckoning at all until the 1980s, when news broke about UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim's past. Following the various periods of trials and testimonials after the war, the shifting attitudes toward both perpetrators and survivors, this major book weighs heavily down on the scales of justice.

The Holocaust is not mere history, and the memorial landscape covering it barely touches the surface; beneath it churns the maelstrom of reverberations of the Nazi era. Reckonings uses the stories of those who remained below the radar of public representations, outside the media spotlight, while also situating their experiences in the changing wider contexts and settings in which they sought to make sense of unprecedented suffering. Fulbrook uses the word reckoning in the widest possible sense, to evoke the consequences of violence on those directly involved, but also on those affected indirectly, and how its effects have expanded almost infinitely across place and time.
By:   Mary Fulbrook
Imprint:   Oxford University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 50mm
Weight:   898g
ISBN:   9780198811244
ISBN 10:   0198811241
Pages:   672
Publication Date:   01 September 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Mary Fulbrook is Professor of German History at University College London and the author of the Fraenkel Prize-winning A Small Town near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust.

Reviews for Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice

Well-written and impeccably researched, Mary Fulbrook's account of Nazi crime and punishment is a work of substance. * Pauline Paucker, Camden New Journal * Extraordinarily well-researched, filled with heartbreaking, heroic and harrowing life stories, Reckonings is comprehensive, cogent and compelling. Fulbrook's book is a must-read for anyone interested in the realities - and the legacies - of the Nazi Past. * Glenn C. Altschuler, The Jerusalem Post * This masterly book challenges the ways, seven decades after the end of the war, that Europeans remember and commemorate a crime that still lies beyond understanding. * Christopher Hale, History Today * The great strength of this book comes not from its revelations, but from the impact of the massive amount of information that [Fulbrook] has marshalled and the compelling way in which she has woven it together ... Mary Fulbrook has given that imbalance and failure to do justice the recognition it so well deserves. She had done so in an impressive and, if one can say so about such a depressing and distressing story, elegant fashion. * Deborah Lipstadt, Times Literary Supplement * This volume deserves prizes ... It is a sense of deep injustice, as well as horror, that will overcome readers of Reckonings: its main theme is how the overwhelming majority of those involved in the murder of an estimated six million men, women and children were either never brought to justice or were dealt with so leniently that it amounted to an insult to the victims. * Dominic Lawson, The Daily Mail *

  • Winner of Winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2019.

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