Collecting on Moral Debts: Reparations for the Holocaust and Pořajmos
In the early 1980s, Sebba (1980) explored the victimological and criminological dimensions of German Holocaust reparations, utilizing a broad definition of victimization similar to Mendelsohn's (1976) earlier framing of this notion, which included victims of genocide and mass violence. Since this time, scant attention has been paid to the victimology of state crime, and even less to the victimological implications of genocide and mass violence. This is unfortunate since critical victimological lessons can be drawn from the study of the victims of genocide and mass violence. In this article, we focus on the post–World War II monetary reparations, or “compensation,” demands made against the West German state by Jewish and “Gypsy” survivors of Nazi state-sponsored violence. Through a comparative analysis of these two cases, we seek to illustrate the organizational, social, and discursive conditions that either enabled or obstructed victim mobilization and, in so doing, to develop critical tools for better understanding “victim movements” and the trauma narratives they construct.
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