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Since the beginning of the new Federal Republic of Germany, foreigners have evaluated much of the political and social cultures of Germany in accordance with their interpretations of the Nazi past. The former German Democratic Republic's identification with the antifascist resistance against the Nazi regime permitted much of the social and political responsibility for the crimes of the Third Reich to be avoided. This official position played an important role in shaping the perception of the Nazi past. Survey data gathered in the former East Germany in 1995 and 2000 reveal a complex pattern of acceptance and denial of this historical past. There was a significant shift in the attribution of responsibility for the Holocaust, but no change in the perceptions of grandparents' involvement in it. Results are interpreted with reference to social identity theory, which provides a framework for the understanding of national identity, collective self-esteem and collective memory.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2005.33.2.133

Publication date: January 1, 2005

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