“Nobody wants to have been a Nazi”
What is the Post-history of the "Third Reich" and When Does it End?
“You will not find any Nazis at all, nobody wants to be a Nazi, you have to look for them first." With his prophecy, Hellmuth Baron von Rauschenplat greeted Allied soldiers farewell in the naval port of Dover in March 1945, from where they would leave to become part of the Occupation Administration in Germany. The noble anti-fascist and later remigrant proved to be right: Even in their first encounters with the Allies, the vast majority of Germans tried to separate themselves from Hitler and the past regime, and even before the founding of the two German states these politics of distancing had become routine in East and West, albeit in different ways. The lecture attempts to develop the post-history of National Socialism starting from the two German ways of transforming the former Volksgenossen of the “Third Reich” into the people of the respective new political orders.
Norbert Frei teaches Contemporary History at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität in Jena and is currently Gerda Henkel Visiting Professor at Stanford University.