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Histories of the Aftermath

Histories of the Aftermath: The Legacies of the Second World War in Europe

Frank Biess
Robert G. Moeller
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 326
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  • Book Info
    Histories of the Aftermath
    Book Description:

    In 1945, Europeans confronted a legacy of mass destruction and death: millions of families had lost their homes and livelihoods; millions of men in uniform had lost their lives; and millions more had been displaced by the war's destruction, and the genocidal policies of the Nazi regime. From a range of methodological historical perspectives-military, cultural, and social, to film and gender and sexuality studies-this volume explores how Europeans came to terms with these multiple pasts. With a focus on distinctive national experiences in both Eastern and Western Europe, it illuminates how postwar stabilization coexisted with persistent insecurities, injuries, and trauma.

    eISBN: 978-1-84545-998-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION Histories of the Aftermath
    (pp. 1-10)
    Frank Biess

    The history of the European “postwar” isen vogue, as is signaled by a series of conferences, edited volumes, and monographs that have addressed the legacies and aftereffects of the Second World War on the European continent.¹ Tony Judt’s massive synthesisPostwaroffers a culmination point of a historiography that has emphasized the “long shadow of World War Two” that “lay heavy across postwar Europe.”² The new research on the postwar reflects an important shift in historiographical perspective: it no longer treats the post-1945 period primarily as the incubation period of a new Cold War order that was shaped by...

  5. I. Defining the Postwar

    • CHAPTER 1 The Persistence of ʺthe Postwarʺ: Germany and Poland
      (pp. 13-29)
      Norman M. Naimark

      This essay begins with an exploration of the definition of “the postwar,” a historical concept recently brought to our attention by Tony Judt’s justifiably celebrated study of Europe since the end of the Second World War.¹ Then the essay turns to case studies of Germany and Poland with two purposes in mind. First, each of the cases reflects in discrete ways the persistence of the postwar in the new Europe. Second, these cases highlight the linkages between the histories of two European countries deeply affected by the war and their parallel problems of historicizing the past. In this way I...

    • CHAPTER 2 Feelings in the Aftermath: Toward a History of Postwar Emotions
      (pp. 30-48)
      Frank Biess

      This chapter proposes an alternative and hitherto neglected conceptual framework for studying the aftereffects of the Second World War in Europe: the history of emotions.¹ The essay outlines the conceptual possibilities that are inherent in applying the history of emotions to the study of the postwar. It engages a multidisciplinary research on “emotions,” and it seeks to elaborate the potential significance of some of its key aspects for a history of the aftermath.² Lest my analysis remains too abstract, I illustrate my more theoretical points with examples relating primarily to the emotions of “hope,” “fear,” and “resentment.” Because these emotions...

    • CHAPTER 3 In the Aftermath of Camps
      (pp. 49-64)
      Samuel Moyn

      In Tony Judt’sPostwar, the history of the public memory of Nazi crime is not one topic among others. It is extruded from the various narratives of the mammoth book to provide their unifying epilogue, in an almost idealist gesture: the story of the long transit of postwar Europeans from brutality to civility and from ethnonational destruction to cosmopolitan inclusion—the book’s main concern—is not really complete until and unless a parallel history is narrated explaining how Europeans fitfully gained consciousness of that very transformation.¹ The aftermath is not over and done until it is recognizedasan aftermath....

  6. II. Public and Private Memories

    • CHAPTER 4 Nothing Is Forgotten: Individual Memory and the Myth of the Great Patriotic War
      (pp. 67-82)
      Lisa A. Kirschenbaum

      Soviet director Elem Klimov’s 1985 filmCome and See(Idi i smotri), a generally unsparing account of World War II atrocities in Belarus, includes a lighthearted scene of forest partisans posing for a group portrait. The photographer curses and cajoles as he struggles to get the ragtag crew—too old, too young, too drunk—into their places in front of the brigade’s armored vehicle. As the partisans line up for the camera, the surging strains of the wartime anthem “Holy War” (Sviashchennaia voina) eventually drown out the jokes and insults. The very act of photographing—of commemorating—seems poised to...

    • CHAPTER 5 Neither Erased nor Remembered: Soviet ʺWomen Combatantsʺ and Cultural Strategies of Forgetting in Soviet Russia, 1940s–1980s
      (pp. 83-101)
      Anna Krylova

      In early 1944, Colonel Podzhidaev, commander of the 907thinfantry regiment, signed a petition to posthumously award Valeriia Gnarovskaia, a female infantry private and medical orderly, with the highest Soviet title of military distinction, “Hero of the Soviet Union.” As the petition traveled up the military ladder from the regiment to division, army, and front headquarters, it acquired the signatures of male generals of different rankings. Along with Podzhidaev, the names of the division commander, the army commander, the army political department head, and, finally, the signature of the commander of the Third Ukrainian Front, General Malinovskii, were featured on...

    • CHAPTER 6 Generations as Narrative Communities: Some Private Sources of Public Memory in Postwar Germany
      (pp. 102-120)
      Dorothee Wierling

      The following essay focuses on several interrelated questions: whether, to what extent, and in what form private narratives about the past told by different generations in the two postwar German states correspond to public and official narratives, or rather, become incorporated into them. “The past” here refers to National Socialism, the Second World War, and the Shoah, and Germany represents a unique case within Europe in several respects. Not only is it the nation responsible for the war itself and the atrocities linked to it; it also offers historians a unique opportunity to study how different versions of history develop...

  7. III. Mass-Mediating War:: How Movies Shaped Memories

    • CHAPTER 7 ʺWhen Will the Real Day Come?ʺ War Films and Soviet Postwar Culture
      (pp. 123-138)
      Denise J. Youngblood

      Cinema was enthroned as the “most important” of the Soviet arts from the state’s inception until its very end. As I have argued in previous work, war films were exceptionally important in the history of Soviet cinema because of the pivotal role wars played in buttressing the ideological authority of the Soviet state.¹ There were wars to glorify, like the Russian Civil War and the Second World War; wars to vilify and then ignore, like the First World War; and wars to forget, like the invasion of Poland in 1939, the Winter War with Finland, and Afghanistan.

      But no war,...

    • CHAPTER 8 Winning the Peace at the Movies: Suffering, Loss, and Redemption in Postwar German Cinema
      (pp. 139-155)
      Robert G. Moeller

      In the late 1940s and 1950s, the past that preoccupied most Germans was not one in which millions of German soldiers stormed uninvited into Western Europe and participated in a racist war in Eastern Europe, and in which hundreds of thousands of Germans were responsible for the murder of nearly six million European Jews. Rather, the past about which Germans talked most was that of their own loss and suffering, a history of the aftermath in which Germany had been laid waste by Allied bombs and a protracted war on the ground, millions of German soldiers and civilians were dead,...

    • CHAPTER 9 Italian Cinema and the Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy
      (pp. 156-172)
      Ruth Ben-Ghiat

      In November 1945, the editors of the reviewSocietàreflected that the war has recently ended, and at times none of us can remember what his life was likebefore. None of us recognizes his past. It seems incomprehensible to us. Even the Renaissance or the nineteenth century seems closer to us than the sad years of yesterday … Our life today is dominated by a sense of stupor and by an instinctive search for a direction. We are simply disarmed by the facts.¹

      In the months and years following the end of the Second World War, a similar sense...

  8. IV. The Reconstruction of Citizenship

    • CHAPTER 10 War Orphans and Postfascist Families: Kinship and Belonging after 1945
      (pp. 175-195)
      Heide Fehrenbach

      This essay explores the extent to which social policy and ideologies concerning children and the family after 1945 were not merely postwar but alsopostfascistin character. I propose this more fine-grained analytical category to investigate whether and how the specific content and experiences of Nazi violence that targeted civilian populations and destroyed families in occupied Europe affected conceptions of family and kinship after 1945. Were European efforts to remake these bonds after 1945 conditioned by the specific ideological nature of their destruction? What, in other words, was the legacy of the racist and eugenic policies that achieved such radical...

    • CHAPTER 11 Manners, Morality, and Civilization: Reflections on Postwar German Etiquette Books
      (pp. 196-214)
      Paul Betts

      Recent years have witnessed renewed interest in chronicling the difficult history of the years immediately following the Second World War. But whereas the emphasis was once largely confined to questions of political reconstruction and macro-level social change in the aftermath of war and political upheaval, new scholarship has tended to revisit the period with different questions in mind. Of central concern to many historians these days is less how Europeans found their way into war, but rather how they got themselves out of it.¹ With this approach have come new social and cultural histories of postwar life more attuned to...

    • CHAPTER 12 ʺWe Are Building a Common Homeʺ: The Moral Economy of Citizenship in Postwar Poland
      (pp. 215-230)
      Katherine Lebow

      The Second World War unleashed terror and suffering throughout Europe on a tragic scale, and yet Joseph Schumpeter’s idea of “creative destruction—destruction, that is, as a necessary precondition for innovation—made instinctive sense to many who experienced this catastrophe.¹ As Czesław Miłosz reflected during the Polish army’s chaotic retreat in September 1939, for instance, the sudden collapse of the Polish state felt like a “breakthrough” that stripped away the “lies, illusions, [and] subterfuges” upon which society had been built:

      Something else was the mixture of fury and relief I felt when I realized that nothing was left of the...

    • CHAPTER 13 From the ʺNew Jerusalemʺ to the ʺDeclineʺ of the ʺNew Elizabethan Ageʺ: National Identity and Citizenship in Britain, 1945–56
      (pp. 231-248)
      Sonya O. Rose

      The Second World War was a major catalyst in the breakup of the British Empire. It also spurred the empire to come “home” as people from the colonies and former colonies migrated to the metropole in its aftermath. On the narrowly domestic front the war was critical in generating what became known as the “postwar settlement,” in the form of the welfare state that instantiated new rights for Britons. Much of the historiography of Britain in the 1940s and 1950s is made up of works concerned either exclusively or primarily with domestic politics or the “postwar settlement,” and of those...

  9. V. In the Shadow of the Bomb:: Military Cultures

    • CHAPTER 14 The Great Tradition and the Fates of Annihilation: West German Military Culture in the Aftermath of the Second World War
      (pp. 251-268)
      Klaus Naumann

      Those who study West German military culture in the postwar period are familiar with theStaatsbürger in Uniform, the “citizen in uniform,” the symbol of the Bundeswehr’s new beginnings, its foundations in parliamentary democracy, and the new ideal of a soldier integrated into society. In short, the “citizen in uniform” symbolized the decision to leave behind the country’s military past. But as soon as we direct our attention to the realities of the practices and policies of the military profession, this new image is obscured by an ominous shadow. The German armed forces’ professional legacy, as well as the self-conception...

    • CHAPTER 15 The Soviet Military Culture and the Legacy of the Second World War
      (pp. 269-286)
      Mikhail Tsypkin

      The legacy of the Second World War is arguably the most enduring and important artifact of the Soviet epoch in Russian history. Rebranded by Stalin as the Great Patriotic War after the German attack against the USSR (perhaps to make the Soviet public forget that until 22 June 1941 the Soviet government blamed the Second World War on the warmongering of the Anglo-French imperialists), this conflict that took more than 20 million lives in the USSR was successfully used by Stalin and his successors to legitimize their regime. In the apt phrase of Martin Malia, “[b]efore the war the regime’s...

  10. CHAPTER 16 1945–1955: The Age of Total War
    (pp. 287-296)
    Pieter Lagrou

    The plea of defense attorney Hartmann, a member of the Hamburg Bar Association, delivered before the Military Appeals Court of Brussels in August 1950 during the trial of thirteen members of the Geheime Feldpolizei Unit 530, which was stationed in Brussels from May 1940 until August 1944, and more particularly of his client Walter Brodmeier, is strikingly contemporary. In a trial where more than 240 victims of torture made public depositions and where the identification of the suspects was beyond doubt, he adroitly diverts attention to the Allied policy of aerial bombing, to the Korean War that had just broken...

  11. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 297-302)
  12. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 303-306)
  13. Index
    (pp. 307-321)