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Judging the Past in Unified Germany

  • Date Published: June 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521802086


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About the Authors
  • In recent years, no modern democracy has taken more aggressive steps to come to terms with a legacy of dictatorship than has the Federal Republic of Germany with the crimes and injustices of Communist East Germany. In this 2001 book, A. James McAdams provides a comprehensive and engaging examination of the four most prominent instances of this policy: criminal trials for the killings at the Berlin Wall; the disqualification of administrative personnel for secret-police ties; parliamentary truth-telling commissions; and private property restitution. On the basis of extensive interviews in Bonn and Berlin over the 1990s, McAdams gives new insight into the difficulties German politicians, judges, bureaucrats, and public officials faced sitting in judgment on the affairs of another state. He argues provocatively that the success of their policies must be measured in terms of the way they used East German history to justify their actions.

    • The complex politics and processes of German reunification
    • Retrospective justice, truth-telling, and reconciliation in new democracies
    • Politics and justice, and the interpretation of the past
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'A clear and well-argued study.' Publishers Weekly

    'Well-written with tight analysis, this book should benefit graduate students and scholars of contemporary German affairs.' Choice

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2001
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521802086
    • length: 274 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Introduction on Judging the East German Past:
    1. Interpreting East Germany's history
    2. Four types of retrospective justice
    Part II. Criminal Justice: Prosecuting GDR Officials:
    3. Competing arguments for justice
    4. Seeking justice within the law
    5. A 'trial of the century'
    6. Judicial architects of German unity
    7. The risks of going too far
    8. An ambiguous message about culpability
    Part III. Disqualifying Justice: Searching for Stasi Collaborators:
    9. Contending views on the Stasi's reach
    10. Level one: distilling truth from the files
    11. Level two: screening for Stasi activity
    12. Level three: appealing dismissals before the courts
    13. The competing messages of screening
    Part IV. Moral Justice: Assessing the Complete Record of Dictatorship:
    14. Finding fault with the churches
    15. A different stand on the Deutschlandpolitik
    16. Mixed emotions about the silent majority
    17. Revisiting East Germany's difficult past
    18. A better commission?
    Part V. Corrective Justice: Returning Private Property:
    19. The narrow choices behind the property settlement
    20. The challenge of implementing the property statute
    21. The legitimacy of Jewish claims …
    22. … But the irreversibility of Soviet expropriations
    23. Vying responses to GDR-era injustice
    24. The ambiguities of drawing the line: an enduring burden of multiple pasts
    Part VI. Conclusion: A Manageable Past?:
    25. The FRG's constrained options
    26. Judging the past in the right way
    27. GDR wrongdoing in perspective
    28. Contending venues of justice.

  • Author

    A. James McAdams, University of Notre Dame, Indiana

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