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35.3 - Integration or Exclusion

Mixed Issue
HSR Vol. 35 (2011) No. 3: Focus: Integration or Exclusion

Dietmar Remy & Axel Salheiser (Eds.): Integration or Exclusion: Former National Socialists in the GDR

Not only West Germany saw the social rehabilitation of former members of the NSDAP after 1945, nominal Nazis also got their chance in the GDR. Due to the omnipresent state myth of anti-fascism, disclosed brown shadows of the past could put careers at risk anytime, but submissive loyalty to the young socialist state and its leadership could balance the scales. Honest autobiographical information was demanded from all cadres – and the fallacies of a misled Third Reich youth (or needed members of the old intelligentsia) were likely to be forgiven in order to appeal to their gratitude. However, simply keeping silent turned out even more successful a strategy in many cases: the general exculpation of the populace and the anti-fascist propaganda made serious checks and Stasi investigations inopportune for the Communist regime.

This focus of Historical Social Research addresses the ambiguous relation of integration and exclusion of former National Socialists in East Germany and the discourse of exculpation. Besides case studies on a variety of institutions and statistical analyses of their personnel, three general questions are discussed: What was state party SED’s actual strategy regarding former members of the NSDAP and NS perpetrators and to what extend did this strategy change over time? How many former National Socialists could embark on socialist cadre careers in the GDR? And how many of them could get away with lies about their past?