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Antisemitism in Postwar Germany

Author(s): Marion Kaplan


Source: New German Critique, No. 58 (Winter, 1993), pp. 97-108
Published by: New German Critique
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inPostwarGermany
Antisemitism

MarionKaplan

oftheYellowBadge: Antisemitism
Frank Stem, The Whitewashing and
trans. William Templer, Oxford
in PostwarGermany,
Philosemitism
and New York: Pergamon, 1992.

Accordingto recentsurveys,most GermansfeelthatGermanyhas


acknowledgeditsguiltand responsibility fortheeventsofthepast,has
paid its debts, and has proved its democratic characterin the years
since 1945. It is timeto drawa line (SchluJSstrich)betweenthemselves
and thatpast.'As a newlyunifiedcountryand a Europeanleader,Ger-
manyhas to "normalize"itshistory. Consequently, theJewishchapter
of thathistory- whileagonizingto past,present,and ftuture genera-
tionsofJews- may be just anotherchapterto manyGermans.
Thatthisattitudeis reallyneithernewnorparticularly unusualis the
subjectof The Whitewashing oftheYellow Badge:Antisemitism andPhilosemi-
tismin Postwar Germany. This book addressesa neglected- and cur-
rentlyresurfacing - themein Germany'spostwarhistory: did postwar
Germanstrulyacceptthe historical, and
political, moral "challenge"
representedbytheircomplicity in theThirdReich?FrankSternmas-
terfullyexplorestheJewish-German relationshipand itspolitical,psy-
chological,social, cultural,and institutional ambiguitiesin the early
postwaryears.The book underlinesthe willftul ignorance,contempt,
and pride as well as the guilt,shame, and opportunismwithwhich
GermansapproachedtheirNazi past and theJewsin theirmidst.In

1. "Judenund Deutsche,"Spiegel
SpezialFeb. 1992.

97

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98 in Postwar
Antisemitism Germany

anger,and deep mistrust


addition,the book looks at the frustration,
withwhichtheJewsapproachedGermans.To complicateand complete
thetriangle,Sternanalyzestheoccupationforces, theAmeri-
particularly
cans,who came withtheirown agendas,not to mentionprejudices.
Sterndoes not shrinkfromdifficult questionsor painfulanswersin
his astuteand scholarlyanalysisof Germanpoliticsand historical
con-
sciousness.Moreover,he carefullydepicts each particularcontext,
whetherit be thewar'send,theoccupation,thefloodofGermanrefu-
gees pouringin fromthe East, the growingCold War,the Marshall
Plan,or theBerlinblockade,to name onlya fewofthemajorscenarios
in whichGermansconstructed and deconstructed theirown histories.
Sterndescribesthewar's end as the Germansperceivedit: "terror
fromtheskies[as]a response toterror
againsttheJews"(6).Itwas"the
Jewish war" even to manyanti-Nazis in
(10), whichGermans, having
lostthiswaragainst the"Bolshevik-JewishConspiracy," fearedretalia-
tionbyJews. Yetthesamepeoplewhofearedretribution fromJewsoft-
tendeniedthattheyhadknownthereasonfortheirfears- thegeno-
cideagainsttheJews.Although thefactsofgenocidewereavailableto
whomever sought them out,Sternasksa differentand better
question:
"Who reallywas preparedor wishedto believethefactsthatwere
emerging?" (5). Moreover,bytheendofthewarabouta half-million
Jewish slavelaborers werebeingworkedtodeathintheheartofjuden-
reinGermany. Theselaborers forKrupp,Daimler-Benz, and
Siemens,
so on couldoftenbe seenbyGermans in citieslikeEssen:

Alltheclothing
they hadwasa ragged
dress madeofburlap.They
worewoodenshoeson their barefeet..... theJewishwomen
wouldcometowork inthewinter badweather
during intheirwet
with
rags, only a around
blanket their
shoulders;itwasalsosoak-
ingwet.(29)
Thus,theGermans'guiltaboutwhattheysawand heard,andtheir
dreadofcommensurate punishment inperspective:
causeda twist the
bombings weresuddenlyseenas theresult
ofJewish poweragainstre-
Germans.
struggling
spectable, One worker,a decent,"neveranti-Jew-
toldaJewish
ish"type, forced "thoseareyourfriends
laborer, up there!"
TheJewish manquicklyresponded,"Well.I invite
didn't them" (36).
duringtheperiodimmediately
Sternalso looksat theJewishsituation
"alienationfromall the others"(36-37),
afterliberation:the survivors'

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MarionKaplan 99

theirrage at the Germansunderwhom theyhad workedwho, now,


"didn'tknow,"and theirrealization(forthemostpart)that"therewas
no return.... Our eyeswould neverbe able againto meet" (51). He
describesthewaysin whichtheJewishcommunity contradic-
saw itself;
torily,as a "community in transit," community liquidation,"and
"a in
evena community embarking on a "new beginning."Furthermore, he
notesthesplitbetweenthe15,000GermanJewswhowereable to estab-
lish themselvessomewhatquicklyand the more than 230,000 DPs,
mostlyofeasternEuropeanoriginand stillin camps,who weresubject
to renewedand virulentanti-Semitism fromtheverybeginningof the
-
new regime and not onlyfromthe Germans,but also fromsome
Americansas well.AlthoughStempointsoutthata "largenumberof...
GIs ... choseto preferthecompanyofwell-bred... nice,neatand tidy
Germans... to thecompanyofwhatappearedto themas down-and-
out, filthyand depressingDPs," he is gentlewith the Americans,
choosingnot to stressthe racismand anti-Semitism rampantin the
Americanranks.He does, however,highlight the opinionsof General
Patton,whowrotehiswifein Augustof 1945that"theGermansare the
only decent people leftin Europe" (77). He grumbledthat others
thoughtthat"theDP is a humanbeing,whichhe is not,and thisapplies
particularly toJews,who are lowerthananimals"(81-82).
The occupierswerecaughtbetweentheGermans,theJews,and their
own prejudicesand expectations. The first fewweekssaw theoccupiers
insistingthatthe Germansviewthe camps theyhad created.Although
mostGermanciviliansdeniedanyknowledgeof campslocatedin their
own backyards, all seemedto agreethat"somethinghad to be done for
theJews"(59). Politenessregarding theJewscharacterized theirpublic
stance.Such politeness,however,did not extendso faras to inconve-
niencemost of those Germanswho now lived in houses takenfrom
Jews.The fewreturningJews foundtheirhomesoccupied,theirperson-
al possessionstaken,and no one interested in returningtheirpropertyto
them.Liberated, and
starved, sickly, in thespringof 1945 mostJews had
notevenreceivedanyextraassistancebeyondadditionalfoodrations-
an issue thatthe destituteGermanssingledout forcriticism- and
would notreceiveanyuntilthefall.Theylackedblanketsand clothing,
and some childrencould notattendschoolbecausetheyhad no shoes.
Bymid-1946,themainJewishorganization wrotean "Open Letter"to
the Lnder governmentsasking:

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100 Antisemitism
in PostwarGermany

Whogivesyoutheright totolerate
a situation
inwhichtheNazis
lookdownfromthewindowsofour housesand we muststand
aside?... Do notletthebitter
thoughtariseinourhearts:
thatyou
wouldhavepreferred thatwe too had beendestroyed.
(96)

In 1947,a Jewishnewspaperexpresseddismaythat"32 monthsafter


thecollapseofHitler... Germansare stillderiving fromAryani-
profits
zed businesses"(144).Nor did themunicipalgovernments hastento re-
turnthe property stolenfromtheJewishcommunities (thehomesfor
theaged, kindergartens, schools,community and
centers, synagogues),
althoughtheprovinceofWestphaliasetaside one millionReichsmarks
forthe surviving relativesof the SS. Even Germanswho spoke of the
injusticesdone toJewsdid notencouragethemto return- too manyof
theirfellowcitizenshad becomecomfortable withJewishpossessions.
This kindof stalling,along witha refusalto takepersonalresponsi-
bilityforthedispossessionofand genocideagainsttheJews,becamea
hallmarkoftheperiod.The firstnewspapersto appear dwelledon the
"tornand tattered"footsoldiersreturning fromthe front,eeriepre-
cursorsof Andreas Hiligruber'scontributionto the Historikerstreit.2
Anothertopicwas the camps - not primarily the ones thatcome to
mindwhenAmericanreaderssee theword,butratherthePOW camps
in England,France,theUnitedStates,and theUSSR. "Those who suf-
teredwereGermans"(91). Evenwhenanti-Semitism was mentioned,it
was stillseen as aJewishproblem,to be solvedeitherbyemigration or
by completeassimilation,ratherthan as a Germanproblem,one of
racismand persecutionbythe majority.
This is not to say thatno voices were raisedto examine German
guilt.Amongthose soul searchersKarlJaspersstandsout, as always.
As earlyas thewintersemesterof 1945-46,he askedwhetherGermans
were not becomingself-righteous, derivinglegitimacy tromtheirsut-
tering.He recognizedthatmost people could only appreciatetheir
own distressbut stillcriticizedan "aggressivesilence"regardingGer-
man unwillingness to reflect.Sterngoes further, arguingthatwhatis
important is not really "who knew" (duringtheNazi era or duringthe
Nurembergtrials)but "whatwas done withthispsychologically, emo-
tionally,and how itfunctioned to shape... behavior"(103). How was
memorytormed?AmongJewsand Germansthereare contradictory,
2. Zweierlei
Untergang:Die Zerschlagung
desDeutschen
Reiches
unddas Endedeseuropdiisc-
henJudentums
(Berlin:Siedler,1986).

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Marion
Kaplan 101

even antagonistic memories:3fortheformer,thehorrorsof thegeno-


cide; forthelatter,theloss ofthewarand an attemptto repressthewar
crimes.4The OMGUS5 surveysdocumentsome of the attitudesand
psychologicaldefensesof the Germanpopulationin the late 1940s.
Earlyon (untilAugust 1946), between42 and 55 percentof the re-
spondentswere stillconvincedthat National Socialism had been a
good idea,poorlyimplemented.Bytheend of 1946 OMGUS found61
percentof the Germansdeeplyimbued withracistteeling.(Twenty
percent,however,scoredlow in prejudice,yeteven of theseonly22
percentthoughtJewsshould stayin Germany.)Curiously,OMGUS
foundwomento be more anti-Semitic thanmen. Sterndoes not com-
menton this,6butitmightbe becausethosewho attendedchurchwere
moreanti-Semitic thanthosewho did not (and womenwentto church
morethanmen)and,possibly,becauseGermany wasa country ofwom-
en (runbymen)upon whomintenseburdenshad beenplaced.' Unwill-
ing to blame themselves, theirfathers,and theirhusbands,theymay
have focusedon theJewishvictimsas thecause of theirproblems.
Stemdocumentsthetransition between1945and 1947froma "polite
tone"toward Jews to a viewofthem as unpopular.He notesthatleading
in
figures politics, the church,and education,as well as the occupiers,
were reluctant to combatanti-Semitism. The firstgroupfearedlosing
popularity;the occupiersfeareda new rise in nationalismand anti-
occupationteelings.AlongwiththeemergingCold War,whichcontin-
ued to hamperthe occupiers'abilityto deal withNazis, thiswas the
background forthewell-known fiascoof "denazification."
Denazification originallymeant theattemptto eliminateNazis from
public lifeand to reeducate theGermanpopulationin "liberaldemo-
cracy."Beforelong,however,denazification metamorphosedinto"a
3. FrankStem,"Antagonistic Memories:The Post-WarSurvivaland Alienationof
Jewsand Germans,"Memory and Totalitarianism, Yearbook
vol. 1 of International ofOral
andLifeStories
History (Oxford:OxfordUP, 1992).
4. The crimesagainsttheJewsare nottheonlywarcrimesthatpopularculturehas
attempted to repress.The entirehistoryoftheWehrmacht inWorldWarII is stilltreated
in popularimageryas one in whichthearmyfoughta "normal"war,ratherthanone
inwhichthearmyjoined in monstrouscrimesagainstcivilianpopulationsas wellas in
the genocide.See "Hitlersehrenhafte Komplizen,"Die Zeit5 Feb. 1993: 16.
5. Officeof U.S. MilitaryGovernment, Germany.
in 1950,a Frankfurt
6. Interestingly, InstituteforSocial Researchsurveyfoundthat
housewiveswereless anti-Semitic and more"pro-Jewish" thanall othergroups(259).
7. RobertG. Moeller,Protecting Women
Motherhood: andtheFamily inthePolitics
ofPostwar
WestGermany (Berkeley:U of CaliforniaP, 1993).

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102 Antisemitism
in Postwar
Germany

livelybusinessin theremovalofcharacterstains,"focusingon exone-


ratingformerNazis by means of thefamousPersilscheine (147).8
Denazification seemed to denazitynot Germany,buttheNazis, ac-
cordingtoJohnHerz, a memberof theformerOSS. Whathad been
intendedas a politicaloffensive became,in commonparlance,a way
of"cleansing"oneselfofa distasteful past,as in "'Mr. X was denazified
yesterday'- he can now takeup his formerprofessionagain" (132,
quotingJohnHertz).The Alliedmilitary at firsthandledthesituation
or
clumsily half-heartedly. Patton actuallyheld a pressconferencein
September 1945 in which he declared thatthe MilitaryGovernment
could achieve better if
results employedformerNazis. AfterMarch
it
1946,theAmericans(and thentheBritishand theFrench)stoodbyaf-
ter theyhanded denazificationto the Landergovernments. By that
time,theGermanshad becometoo autonomous,and theAlliestoo in-
terestedin rapidlyrehabilitating Germanyforthe Cold War.
This rehabilitation extended,of course,to the universities, where
backin 1933onlyone professor (KarlBarth)out ofabout6,000profes-
sors,associates,and post-doctoral assistants had refusedto swearalle-
to
giance Hitler. Yet the of
self-perception university leaders- or, at
least,what they said in public - was that they had remained imper-
viousto Hider.Sinceacademiahad been a well-known bastionofanti-
Semiticprejudicesdatingwellbackintothenineteenth century, ittook
a sleightof hand to portrayit as an unpoliticalivorytower,whichit
had neverbeen. This was achievedbyan academiathat,accordingto
therectorof HeidelburgUniversity, "accused none,and exonerate[d]
all,wherever justified"(171). "Leading Nazis fromacademiclifewere
denazifiedwithoutanyproblems"(170), butthoseofJewishoriginor
marriedtoJewswerediscriminated against.Moreover,manyindividu-
als proceededto removeincriminating data frompersonalfilesand
librariesand to "constructtheir individuallegends, 'denazifying'
themselves in a verypersonalmanner"(181). "In thatspringofdefeat,
a
many portrait ofHidervanishedfromtheliving-room wall,to make
roomfora pictureof Goetheor a bellowingstagagainsta mountain
landscape,dependingon the milieu" (181). It followsthatanti-Nazi
emigresor scholarswereneverinvitedto fillpositions.Also,thestudent
bodywas heavilyinfluencedby its Wehrmacht experienceand was still
imbued withnationalism,militarism, and authoritarianism. Students

8. Persilis a brand of detergent,


Scheinis a certificate.

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MarionKaplan 103

wereloatheto hearof"Germanguilt,"expressing forex-


dissatisfaction,
ample, even when Niembiler spoke of the millions of murdered Jews.
These eventsand behaviorsreflect notonlyupon thelimitsofAllied
authority (althoughGermanywas stillan occupied country)but also
on thelimitsof a democraticrevolutionimposedfromabove and the
limitsof rehabilitation.
Even thosewhomtheAmericanscalled "mild
democratsand non-nazis"did notconsiderdenazification ofuniversi-
tyfacultiesan absolute necessity.Sternunderlinesthe factthatthe
reestablisheddepartments of historyomitteda studyof the relation-
ship between Germans and Jews- "one of the major omissionsby
scholarship after1945." As a result,prejudicescould remainintact
and futuregenerationswould findonlya fewlines about the perse-
cutionofJewsin theirtextbooks.Sterngoes on to emphasizethatthe
racism emanatingfromsuch documentsas the 1981 "Heidelberg
Manifesto,"in whicha groupofscholarsdemandedthe"returnofall
foreigners"in Germanyto theirnativelands, should not be simply
dismissedas "extremist"but seen as a resultof the continuitiesin
personneland philosophyfromthe Nazi era, particularly in thefield
of physicalanthropology (185-89).
Othereducated eliteswere also treatedmildly.In 1949 about 43
percentof the Bavarianstategovernment, including83 percentof its
district consistedofindividualswho had been affiliated
attorneys, with
the Nazi party.Nazi doctors,too, receivedpermissionto resume
practice,and Americansnoted thatformerNazis had leading posts
withinthe medical establishmentin Bavaria, where they denied
treatment to Jewsand anti-fascists(175). It is no surprise,then,that
Hans JoachimSewering,a recentpresidentof the Germanmedical
association[Bundesirztekammer] whose nominationto head theWorld
MedicalAssociationwas thwartedbycriesofoutragefromin and out-
side of Germany,had been a memberof the SS.9
Sternapproachesan analysisoftheattitudesof blue-and white-col-
lar workersfroma "historyof mentalities"perspective.His material
consistsof interviewsconducted by Germansocial scientistsin the
early1980s in the Ruhrarea.'0 Whatis most interesting here is that

9. Nor is ita surprisethattheGermanmedicalestablishment dosed ranksaround


Sewering, sincethreeofthefourpostwarpresidents oftheGermanmedicalassociation
were membersof the SS or SA. KarstenVilmar,currentpresident,chargedthatthe
WorldJewishCongresswas responsibleforSewering'sdefeat,and Seweringhimself
blamed "worldJewry."Ironically,theWorldMedicalAssociationwas setup in 1947
in reactionto Nazi medicalatrocities."Op Ed," NewYorkTimes6 Feb 1993.

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104 Antisemitism
in PostwarGermany

respondentsrecalledverysmall details about Jewishclassmatesor


neighbors,but thenrememberedonlythatthey"just disappeared."
The impressionis leftthatJewswithdrewfroma neutralsocial envi-
ronment,not one in whichtheyhad suffered extremeformsof isola-
tionand deprivation. The pogromof 1938 (Kristallnacht) and theexist-
ence ofconcentration camps were recalled because themedia focused
on themafter1945. Yet evenwhenpeople rememberedthepogrom
fromtheirownexperience,theyfocusedon brokenshop windowsand
destroyed stores,noton theJewishshopkeepers, neighbors, coworkers,
or acquaintancestheymay have had. (In 1951 a HICOG" survey
showed that66 percentof Germanshad some Jewishacquaintances
until1939.)The same personwho recalledaJewishshopkeeperdid not
recallwhathappenedtothatperson,butoffered theinformation thatthe
storewaslaterin non-Jewish hands.WhiletheaverageGermanstruggled
forsurvival duringthewar,theJewsvanished to theEast,wherethey,ap-
parently, also had to strugglefor survival.
What also appears in these interviews is a philo-Semiticattitude,
whichemergedduringthe earlypostwaryears.This philo-Semitism,
whichSternplaces on a spectrumbetween"qualifiedlyanti-Semitic"
and "not anti-Semitic" coexistedwitha rejectionofcollective
attitudes,
or
guilt responsibility. Philo-Semitism - pro-Jewish attitudestoward
Jews based on old stereotypes, victimimagery,and romanticized
notions,includingtheirculturalcontributions or theirbusinessprow-
ess - livedcomfortably withanti-Semitism butwas thepreferred pub-
lic attitudetowardstheJews.Philo-Semitism was centralto the early
evolvingpoliticalcultureof postwarGermany.Beginningin 1945,
GermansrealizedthattheirattitudetowardJewswould playa crucial
rolein Germany'sfuturewithintheworldcommunity. Consequently,
philo-Semitism was politicallyinstrumentalized. In 1949, U.S. High
Commissioner JohnMcCloyaddressedthereestablished Jewishcom-
munitiesin Germany.He stressedthatGermany'srelationto theJews
would be a "real touchstone"of the new democracy.Hence, philo-
Semitismhelpedintegrate thenewcountryintotheWestand servedas
themorallegitimator ofthenewdemocracy.Sternseesitas a surrogate
forfundamentaldomesticand attitudinal changeswithina German
10. These oral historieswere the basis for the project"Lebensgeschichteund
Sozialkulturim Ruhrgebiet1930 bis 1960" [LifeHistoryand Social Culturein the
Ruhr,1930 to 1960],organizedby Lutz Niethammer.
11. U.S. High Commisionin Germanysurvey.

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MarionKaplan 105

agenda that all too easily suppressed the memory of genocide in the
face of issues seen as more pressing.
This philo-Semitic stance was particularlyevident in the churches,
the same churches whose own admissions of guilt - of not having
prayed withgreaterfaith- did not mention theJews. Only in 1950 at
the synod of the Protestantchurch was a formal declaration of guilt
made "for the outrages committed by members of our people against
the Jews" (308). Yet German leaders, with Allied concurrence (since
the Americans had positive experiences with the National Council of
Christiansand Jews),shiftedthe struggleagainst anti-Semitisminto the
domain of organized religion, rather than where it belonged, Stern
argues, in the sociopolitical, juridical, and governmental arenas that
had been crucial in orderingthe relationshipbetweenJewishand other
Germans. There, in the Societies for Christian-JewishCooperation,
among well-meaning people, the political struggle could be safely
buried. "If collectiveshame, guiltor responsibilityhad to be dealt with,
then at least this should not be carriedout at the centerof politicalcul-
ture, but ratherin a realm far removed" (326).
Sternalso insiststhatthese groups were philo-Semiticwheneverthey
propagated an exaggeratedtimelessimage of "theJew" eitheras culture
bearer or as victim.Manes Sperber expressed this in a letterhe wrote
to a Christian associate:

Yourphilosemitism depressesme,degradesme likea compliment


thatis based on an absurdmisunderstanding.... You overestima-
te us Jewsin a dangerousfashionand insiston lovingour entire
people. I don't requestthis,I do notwishforus - or any other
people - to be loved in thisway.(331)

When Germans imagined Jews eitheras good business people or as


the sufferinggrandchildren of Heinrich Heine, such Jews were still
strangersand outsiders. Stern's strong reservationsnotwithstanding,
he concludes thatthe Societies were non-anti-Semiticwhen theycom-
batted traditionaland new prejudices and helped anchor democratic
values in the population.
Over four years of anti-Semiticand philo-Semitic stereotypeslaid
the foundationfor the new Federal Republic. In his firstmajor speech
Adenauer reproduced the same lack of concern aboutJewishtopics,the
omissions in public discourse, that had preceded him. His statement

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106 in PostwarGermany
Antisemitism

focusedon POWs, refugees"who have died bythemillions,"and the


deporteesfromthe East: "the suffering of relatives"as Sternputs it
(342). Three lineswere includedabout contemporary anti-Semitism,
and not a word about thegenocide.This may explainwhyGermans
and Jewsmisunderstoodeach otherso deeplyin thesubsequentdis-
cussionsaboutrestitution: Jewswerelookingformoral,legal,political,
and ethicalas wellas economicrestitution; Germansweregrudgingly
willingto consider(limited)economiccompensation.Thus, theword
"restitution,"like"camp" or "denazification"tookon a new,and in
thiscase, narrowermeaning.'2Moreover,whenAdenauerfinally voi-
ced his moralviewsin an interview witha Jewishweekly,theywere
based on Christiantoleranceratherthanon democraticvalues.(And
Sternquicklyremindsthereaderofthe- one could add "age-old"-
problemof positingChristianity as a basis forthe relationshipwith
Jews.) Like many of his colleagues,Adenauerseemed to be looking
overhis shoulderat otherwesterngovernments whenit came timeto
workout restitution and reparations agreements.It was notuntilSep-
tember1951thathe evenissueda statement ofintent,whichSternpla-
ces squarelyin thecontextof"therealpolitik offoreign-policy conside-
rations"(366). Adenauerdeclaredthat:

The Germanpeople,in itsoverwhelming abhorred


majority, the
againsttheJewsand did notparticipate
crimesperpetrated in
thesecrimes..... Yet unspeakablecrimeswerecommittedin the
nameoftheGerman whichobligeus tomoraland
people,crimes
restitution.
material

This statement"characterizedto an appreciabledegreethe official


WestGermangovernment positionon thequestionofJews... down
to the present,"some notable- and in thiscontext,courageous-
exceptions.
As a resultoftheseattitudes,
moneywas paid to victimsand to the
Stateof Israelwithoutthe kind of public educationthatwould have
been necessary:educationthatelucidatedthe myriadwaysin which
Jewswererobbed beforetheyweremurdered,whichpointedout how
theirbankaccountshad been blocked,theirbusinesses"Aryanized,"

12. The termVergangenheitsbewiltigung


(mastery ofthepast)is also in theprocessof
takingon new meaning.These days,it refersless to Nazi terrorand moreto thepast
45 yearsof East Germanhistory.FrankStem,"Jewsin theMinds of Germansin the
PostwarPeriod,"The1992 PaulLecture,Indiana U JewishStudiesProgram,1992.

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MarionKaplan 107

theirjewelryand silverware confiscated, theirpersonalitemssuch as


radios,cameras,bicycles,typewriters, theirhomes expro-
and, finally,
priated.'3 Instead, those opposed to reparationsused terms like
plunder,vengeance,and upstandingand decentbuyer,activating anti-
Semiticstereotypes in theirbattleto keep what theyhad taken.A
HICOG surveythat probed the restitutionissue discoveredthat
although66 percentof respondentsprofessedapprovalof restitution,
theirapprovalwas veryfeeble.In fact,when the same surveyasked
whichofthosewho suffered fromtheThirdReichshould be provided
for,Jewsrankedloweston a listthatincluded(fromhighestto lowest)
warwidows,people who suffered frombombingattacks,refugeesand
expellees,and relativesof people executedbecause of theJuly1944
plot against Hitler. Althoughleading social democrats,influential
religiousleaders,and the Council of Christiansand Jewsdemanded
thatAdenauercome forthwithrestitution, ultimately pressurefrom
Washington was decisive. But Stern sees these paymentsas detective:
"Instead of a process thatmightlead to social and culturalconse-
quences in respectto the fundamentalrehabilitation of Jews,there
werematerialpayments"(384) Restitution offseta moraldebtthatthe
Germanscould not pay.
Althoughtocusingon the earliestyears,Sterncommentson the
revivalof anti-Semitism in the 1970s and 1980s,notingthe regularity
withwhich surveyscontinueto show relatively high percentagesof
anti-Semitic attitudes.Furthermore, all thesymptomshe pointedto in
the earlyyears("youthfulpranksters"overturning gravestones, anti-
toreignerbiases, and the ways in which the government of the FRG
onlyreactedto racismwhen the foreignpressand toreignpressures
forcedit to) we see in variations,once again,today.
AlthoughRalph Giordanoapproachedthesesubjectsin ajournalis-
tic style in his Die zweiteSchuldodervon der Last, ein Deutscherzu sein
(1987), and bitsand pieces of the storyhave appeared in thevarious
scandals and exposes since 1968, the sheer comprehensiveness of
Stern'sbook and the depthof detailmake an overwhelming case for
understanding how all of thiscame about. One onlywantsto know
more. Any criticismsare in the fine-tuning: since he focuseson the
immediatepostwarera and theCDU ascendancy,thesocialdemocrats

13. See AvrahamBarkai,FromBoycott toAnnihilation:


TheEconomic ofGerman
Struggle
Jews,1933-1943,trans.WilliamTempler(Hanoverand London: UP of New England,
1989).

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108 in PostwarGermany
Antisemitism

showup onlysparingly. AlthoughSternnotessome courageousspeec-


hes deliveredfromtheirranks,readersmightwonderwhethertheir
followers, too, reflected
thegeneralselfishness of thetimes(theinter-
viewsfromthe 1980s do not help us here).Moreover,the American
role could have been treatedmorecritically. Once againanti-commu-
nism became "good" and anti-fascism questionableas the Cold War
took its toll on domesticchange in Germany.In addition,regional
variations,thoughmentioned,are not stressedenough, so thatthe
(presumed)diversity of anti-Semitic
and philo-Semiticbehaviorsdo
notemergeas clearlyas theymight.Finally,althoughJewishvoicescan
be heard,theyariseonlyoccasionally,suggesting theneed tora com-
prehensivehistory of theJewishcommunity Germanyafterthewar.
in
Butthis"wishllist"is minorcomparedwithwhatthisveryimportant
book does accomplish:indeed,it is essentialforunderstanding post-
war Germany.Its relentlessdocumentationof the firstyearsof the
fledgling republicforcesa reevaluationofthe successofWestGerma-
ny's democratization and providesa historicalfoundationforunder-
the
standing poweroftherightand theweaknessesofthesilentmajori-
ty in contemporary Germany.Not only did so manyget awaywith
murder,butalso most"forgot"all about it,came out withtheirpreju-
dices slightlyaltered,but stillintact,and passed them on to future
generations.

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