Other Germans: Exceptions and Rules in the Memory of Rescuing Jews in Postwar Germany

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The rising German interest in rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust has been accompanied by an emphasis on their exceptionality among the wartime German population. Seen as aberrations, rescuers are used to present a simplified generalization of the German majority's wartime conduct by defining what it was not. This article argues that this view, as well as the common claim that rescue and rescuers of Jews were forgotten in the postwar Germanys, are based on a certain interpretative model concerning the relationship between exception and rule. I trace the different uses of this model and show that from 1945 to the present, many Jewish and non-Jewish Germans employed variously defined exceptions to trace and determine one's preferred image of the majority - as an object of desire or critique. The article presents the different conceptualizations and idealizations of rescue and their functions in imagining a collective self in commemorative and historiographical portrayals of past and current German societies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-409
Number of pages20
JournalCentral European History
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History


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