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Historische Zeitschrift

Editor-in-Chief: Müller, Jürgen / Treichel, Eckhardt

Ed. by Fahrmeir, Andreas / Leppin, Hartmut

6 Issues per year


CiteScore 2016: 0.12

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.129
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 0.245

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2196-680X
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Volume 289, Issue 2 (Oct 2009)

Issues

Nationales Stigma und persönliche Schuld. Die Debatte über Kollektivschuld in der Nachkriegszeit
National Stigma and Personal Guilt. The Debate about Collective Guilt after World War II.

Barbara Wolbring
Published Online: 2009-12-04 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/hzhz.2009.0043

Zusammenfassung

Statt die Kollektivschulddebatte der Nachkriegszeit als Abwehr eines nicht erhobenen Vorwurfes zu verurteilen, wird hier vorgeschlagen, im von den Zeitgenossen als Kollektivschuld bezeichneten Phänomen ein nationales Stigma zu sehen. Darunter wird der Ehr- und Ansehensverlust verstanden, der aus den von Deutschen begangenen Verbrechen resultierte. Der mythologisch-archaische Begriff Stigma liefert zugleich einen Schlüssel zur Analyse der Reaktion auf deutscher Seite. Beobachtet wurden Leugnen und Beschweigen als Versuche der Abwehr des Stigmas, das ja durch das Aussprechen und Sichtbarmachen der Verbrechen entsteht. Diesem archaischen Verhaltensmuster wird ein christlich-psychoanalytisches gegenübergestellt, das umgekehrt im Benennen und Bekennen der Schuld den ersten Schritt zur Heilung bzw. Erlösung durch Vergebung sieht.

Abstract

German guilt or collective guilt represented an essential element in the public debate of post-war Germany. This debate has commonly been described as an attempt by the German side to refute an allied reproach that allegedly had never been made. This article suggests however, that the phenomenon called “collective guilt” acquired a more fundamental significance insofar as it can be seen as a national stigma. The term stigma, as an archaic mythological concept, refers to the complete loss of honour and the ignominy being imposed on all Germans as a consequence of the publication of pictures from the Concentration camps showing the inconceivable extent of German war crimes. At the same time, the term stigma provides a key to spell out the German responses to the alleged collective guilt. Denying or keeping silence can be explained as a strategy to defy the stigma of being publicly exposed as a dehumanized and dishonoured nation. On the other hand, the various requests for the confession of guilt, which were voiced by German intellectuals, can be described as an alternative strategy to deal with the issue. Based on Christian or psycho-analytical concepts, the confession of guilt was put forward as the first step towards reconciliation and deliverance through forgiveness.

Keywords: Deutschland; Kriegsverbrechen; Holocaust; Kollektivschuld

About the article

Published Online: 2009-12-04

Published in Print: 2009-10-01


Citation Information: Historische Zeitschrift, ISSN (Print) 0018-2613, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1524/hzhz.2009.0043.

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[1]
A. DIRK MOSES
Modern Intellectual History, 2012, Volume 9, Number 03, Page 625

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