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Germans and War Brutality: The Erosion of Ethics by Ordinary People during World War II

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After the First World War, citizens, soldiers, and political figures alike thought they had witnessed the archetype of human sadism and war brutality. Yet, less than twenty years later, World War II immediately countered this notion. World War II was

After the First World War, citizens, soldiers, and political figures alike thought they had witnessed the archetype of human sadism and war brutality. Yet, less than twenty years later, World War II immediately countered this notion. World War II was a transnational conflict that epitomized total war, which directly engaged civilians in the conflict like never before. Typically when we discuss Germany’s involvement in the war, we have visions of Hitler and his high-up officials personally crafting the Holocaust that killed 6 million Jews via firing squads, ghettoes, and gas chambers. The post-war landscape furthered this notion through the Nuremberg trials, which sentenced the most evil of the war’s perpetrators on the international stage, and the denazification process by the allied countries, which worked to reteach a “brainwashed” generation of Germans. However, rarely was the role of ordinary soldiers and the people at home a part of the dialogue of German complicity. Through the phases of post-war memorialization, people began to question the roles of themselves, and eventually their ancestors, in various ways. Of course, there are immense differences between the architect of the Final Solution and a Wehrmacht soldier who was drafted into the war; my goal is not to place these people on a ladder of guilt, but to widen the dialogue on the complex role ordinary Germans held during the war.
I will begin by establishing complicity among Wehrmacht soldiers, and then among ordinary people, contrasting beneficiaries and participants in popularized crime with bystanders. I will also argue that as women suffered uniquely during World War II, they also exercised unique complicity. Next, I will take these findings and discuss the memorialization of complicity in order to understand how individuals, the public, and the state framed their respective roles in the war; in order to accomplish this I will first discuss individual remembrance by examining individual interviews and familial interviews in order to gain an understanding of how people perceive their role in the war and also how individual stories can change as generations pass. These interviews include people who were both beneficiaries and bystanders. Then, I will discuss collective remembrance by examining the controversy over public monuments. Ultimately, I will argue that ordinary Germans all held significant levels of complicity that need to be assessed in order to understand the Nazi war effort and political system; additionally, how complicity is remembered greatly and profoundly affects memorialization and our future.

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2019-05

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ARMAGEDDON REVISITED: SOVIET FILM AND MEMORY OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR

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The Soviet Union suffered immensely as a result of World War II. When the dust settled and Soviet citizens began to rebuild their lives, the memory of the social, economic, and human costs of the war still remained. The Soviet

The Soviet Union suffered immensely as a result of World War II. When the dust settled and Soviet citizens began to rebuild their lives, the memory of the social, economic, and human costs of the war still remained. The Soviet state sought to frame the conflict in a way that provided meaning to the chaos that so drastically shaped the lives of its citizens. Film was one such way. Film, heavily censored until the Gorbachev period, provided the state with an easily malleable and distributable means of sharing official history and official memory. However, as time went on, film began to blur the lines between official memory and real history, providing opportunities for directors to create stories that challenged the regime's official war mythology. This project examines seven Soviet war films (The Fall of Berlin (1949), The Cranes are Flying (1957), Ballad of a Soldier (1959), Ivan's Childhood (1962), Liberation (1970-1971), The Ascent (1977), and Come and See (1985)) in the context of the regimes under which they were released. I examine the themes present within these films, comparing and contrasting them across multiple generations of Soviet post-war memory.

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2014-05

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ARMAGEDDON REVISITED: SOVIET FILM AND MEMORY OF THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR

Description

The Soviet Union suffered immensely as a result of World War II. When the dust settled and Soviet citizens began to rebuild their lives, the memory of the social, economic, and human costs of the war still remained. The Soviet

The Soviet Union suffered immensely as a result of World War II. When the dust settled and Soviet citizens began to rebuild their lives, the memory of the social, economic, and human costs of the war still remained. The Soviet state sought to frame the conflict in a way that provided meaning to the chaos that so drastically shaped the lives of its citizens. Film was one such way. Film, heavily censored until the Gorbachev period, provided the state with an easily malleable and distributable means of sharing official history and official memory. However, as time went on, film began to blur the lines between official memory and real history, providing opportunities for directors to create stories that challenged the regime's official war mythology. This project examines seven Soviet war films (The Fall of Berlin (1949), The Cranes are Flying (1957), Ballad of a Soldier (1959), Ivan's Childhood (1962), Liberation (1970-1971), The Ascent (1977), and Come and See (1985)) in the context of the regimes under which they were released. I examine the themes present within these films, comparing and contrasting them across multiple generations of Soviet post-war memory.

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Date Created
2014-05

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French Jewish Emigration, the United States, and the Second World War

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At odds with the Axis powers in the Second World War, the American government
began the task of dealing with an influx of Europeans seeking refugee status stateside, even before the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. American

At odds with the Axis powers in the Second World War, the American government
began the task of dealing with an influx of Europeans seeking refugee status stateside, even before the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. American interest in the global situation, nevertheless, did not officially begin after the initial attack on the 7th of December. Before that date, the United States government had to address refugees seeking asylum from European countries. Often studied, German emigration to the United States at times took center stage in terms of the refugee situation after the Nazi regime enacted anti- Semitic legislation in Germany and its occupied nations, prior to the American declaration of war. France, however, had a crisis of its own after the Germans invaded in the summer of 1940, and the fall of France led to a large portion of France occupied by Germany and the formation of a new government in the non-occupied zone, the Vichy regime.
France had an extensive history of Jewish culture and citizenship culture prior to 1940, and xenophobia, especially common after the 1941 National Revolution in France, led to a “France for the French” mentality championed by Marshal Philippe Pétain, Chief of State of Vichy France. The need for the French Jewish population to seek emigration became a reality in the face of the collaborationist Vichy government and anti-Semitic statutes enacted in 1940 and 1941. French anti-Semitic policies and practices led many Jews to seek asylum in the United States, though American policy was divided between a small segment of government officials, politicians, individuals, and Jewish relief groups who wanted to aid European Jews, and a more powerful nativist faction, led by Breckenridge Long which did not support immigration. President Roosevelt, and the American government, fully aware of the situation of French Jews, did little concrete to aid their asylum in the United States.

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Date Created
2014-05