A Nation under Guilt

Two recent histories of Nazi Germany shore up the dyke against the rising flood of "Germany as victim" revisionism.

Issue: Fall 2004

Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich (New York: Penguin Press, 2004), 622 pp., $34.95.

Nikolaus Wachsmann, Hitler's Prisons: Legal Terror in Nazi Germany (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004), 538 pp., $45.

At the invitation of French president Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder joined the leaders of the Allied powers of World War II at this year's 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings. His presence, a subtle suggestion that Germans may also claim to have been liberated from Hitler's tyranny by the Allies, was a richly symbolic moment in Schröder's long campaign for his country to be treated as "a normal nation." This had been an important theme of his first successful election campaign in 1998, and the "normal nation" phrase was deployed to justify his bold decision to deploy German troops abroad (for the first time since 1945) in Kosovo-Metohija and Afghanistan.

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