The Peculiarities of Overcoming the Painful Nazi and Socialist Past in Contemporary Germany

  • Post Category:Issue XX

Аndriy Kudriachenko
Doctor of History, Professor, Merited Figure of Science and Technology of Ukraine


Abstract. The article analyses the components of overcoming the national socialist past of Germany and the totalitarian legacy of the socialist era, identifies four historical periods, displays the fundamental difference and common features in the approaches of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic to the study of the national socialist past, and outlines a system of measures for the formation of political culture in reunified Germany. Various components of the policy of clear distancing from the Hitler regime and integration of former Nazis into new public institutions as a way to establish modern democratic foundations of Germany’s development are considered. The article emphasizes the importance of the generational change and critical public study of the painful past and an important role of the establishment of a new political culture. The growing public interest and intensive public discussions in united Germany related to the formation of historical memory are pointed out. The importance and significance of studying the GDR’s past and overcoming differences between citizens of the Eastern and Western parts of reunified Germany are emphasized. The article also outlines new approaches and visions of self-identification of a state, society and citizens based on the so-called constitutional patriotism.
The author emphasizes that the German society has established the idea that any positive historical myths cannot become a basis for the genuine development of a country and that an antidote to the repetition of the terrible pages of history is not relegating them to oblivion but immortal memory thereof. Such an approach included an appropriate set of sociopolitical and economic measures ranging from property restitution and lustration to the payment of monetary compensation to victims of the regime and creation of memorial complexes. The author hopes that overcoming the burdensome Nazi and totalitarian past will continue to serve as a powerful guarantee of the democratic progress of modern Germany.
Keywords: FRG, GDR, historical memory, World War II, national tragedy, historical heritage.

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