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Genocide on TrialWar Crimes Trials and the Formation of Holocaust History and Memory$
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Donald Bloxham

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208723.001.0001

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The Failure of the Trial Medium: Charting the Breadth of Nazi Criminality

The Failure of the Trial Medium: Charting the Breadth of Nazi Criminality

Chapter:
(p.129) Chapter Four The Failure of the Trial Medium: Charting the Breadth of Nazi Criminality
Source:
Genocide on Trial
Author(s):

Donald Bloxham (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208723.003.0005

This chapter shows why the trials did not alter pre-existing conceptions of German criminality. It argues that trials were conceptually flawed as didactic tools, and that their shortcomings were magnified by the political discourses of the post-war years. The analysis focuses particularly on the trials, and debates around those trials, of regular German soldiers. With the passage of time after the end of the war, such debates accommodated and were accommodated by broader international discourses about Germany's position vis-à-vis the USSR, the ‘west’ versus the ‘east’, civilization versus barbarism and the Christian order versus totalitarianism. They contributed eventually to significant distortions in each country of the nature of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, and more generally to sweeping diminishments of the breadth of German guilt, as the supposed innocence of the German soldier was transposed to the whole of the German population.

Keywords:   post-war years, German guilt, German soldiers, German criminality

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