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Democracy, Nazi Trials, and Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945-1950

Democracy, Nazi Trials, and Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945-1950

Publisher Cambridge University Press
Year 24/09/2020
Pages 230
Version hardback
Readership level College/higher education
ISBN 9780521871297
Categories European history, Second World War, War crimes
$136.00 (with VAT)
500.00 PLN / €111.50 / £95.79
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Book description

Post-war Germany has been seen as a model of 'transitional justice' in action, where the prosecution of Nazis, most prominently in the Nuremberg Trials, helped promote a transition to democracy. However, this view forgets that Nazis were also prosecuted in what became East Germany, and the story in West Germany is more complicated than has been assumed. Revising received understanding of how transitional justice works, Devin O. Pendas examines Nazi trials between 1945 and 1950 to challenge assumptions about the political outcomes of prosecuting mass atrocities. In East Germany, where there were more trials and stricter sentences, and where they grasped a broad German complicity in Nazi crimes, the trials also helped to consolidate the emerging Stalinist dictatorship by legitimating a new police state. Meanwhile, opponents of Nazi prosecutions in West Germany embraced the language of fairness and due process, which helped de-radicalise the West German judiciary and promote democracy.

Democracy, Nazi Trials, and Transitional Justice in Germany, 1945-1950

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction: The Promise and Perils of Transitional Justice; 1. Allied justice and its discontents; 2. Allied policy towards German courts; 3. Debating crimes against humanity in the West; 4. Debating democracy in the East; 5. The trials that did not happen; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index.

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