Reluctant Accomplice is also the powerful story of the son, who for decades refused to come to grips with these letters because he abhorred his father's nationalist politics. Only now, late in his life, is he able to cope with their contents--and he is by no means alone. This book provides rare insight into the so-called children of the war, an entire generation of postwar Germans who grew up resenting their past, but who today must finally face the painful legacy of their parents' complicity in National Socialism.
Broken Lives is a gripping account of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of ordinary Germans who came of age under Hitler and whose lives were scarred and sometimes destroyed by what they saw and did.
Drawing on six dozen memoirs by the generation of Germans born in the 1920s, Konrad Jarausch chronicles the unforgettable stories of people who not only lived through the Third Reich, World War II, the Holocaust, and Cold War partition, but also participated in Germany's astonishing postwar recovery, reunification, and rehabilitation. Written decades after the events, these testimonies, many of them unpublished, look back on the mistakes of young people caught up in the Nazi movement. In many, early enthusiasm turns to deep disillusionment as the price of complicity with a brutal dictatorship--fighting at the front, aerial bombardment at home, murder in the concentration camps—becomes clear.
Bringing together the voices of men and women, perpetrators and victims, Broken Lives reveals the intimate human details of historical events and offers new insights about persistent questions. Why did so many Germans support Hitler through years of wartime sacrifice and Nazi inhumanity? How did they finally distance themselves from this racist dictatorship and come to embrace human rights? Jarausch argues that this generation's focus on its own suffering, often maligned by historians, ultimately led to a more critical understanding of national identity—one that helped transform Germany from a military aggressor into a pillar of European democracy.
The result is a powerful account of the everyday experiences and troubling memories of average Germans who journeyed into, through, and out of the abyss of a dark century.
Konrad Jarausch describes how the European nations emerged from the nineteenth century with high hopes for continued material progress and proud of their imperial command over the globe, only to become embroiled in the bloodshed of World War I, which brought an end to their optimism and gave rise to competing democratic, communist, and fascist ideologies. He shows how the 1920s witnessed renewed hope and a flourishing of modernist art and literature, but how the decade ended in economic collapse and gave rise to a second, more devastating world war and genocide on an unprecedented scale. Jarausch further explores how Western Europe surprisingly recovered due to American help and political integration. Finally, he examines how the Cold War pushed the divided continent to the brink of nuclear annihilation, and how the unforeseen triumph of liberal capitalism came to be threatened by Islamic fundamentalism, global economic crisis, and an uncertain future.
A gripping narrative, Out of Ashes explores the paradox of the European encounter with modernity in the twentieth century, shedding new light on why it led to cataclysm, inhumanity, and self-destruction, but also social justice, democracy, and peace.
With the friendly support of the Wilson Center.