Reconstructing the past and attributing the responsibility for the Holocaust

Emma Dresler-Hawke1
1Massey University, New Zealand
Cite this article:  Dresler-Hawke, E. (2005). Reconstructing the past and attributing the responsibility for the Holocaust. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 33(2), 133-148.

Volume 33 Issue 2 | e1385 | Published: March 2005 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2005.33.2.133

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Since the beginning of the new Federal Republic of Germany, foreigners have evaluated much of the political and social cultures of Germany in accordance with their interpretations of the Nazi past. The former German Democratic Republic’s identification with the antifascist resistance against the Nazi regime permitted much of the social and political responsibility for the crimes of the Third Reich to be avoided. This official position played an important role in shaping the perception of the Nazi past. Survey data gathered in the former East Germany in 1995 and 2000 reveal a complex pattern of acceptance and denial of this historical past. There was a significant shift in the attribution of responsibility for the Holocaust, but no change in the perceptions of grandparents’ involvement in it. Results are interpreted with reference to social identity theory, which provides a framework for the understanding of national identity, collective self-esteem, and collective memory.

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