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‘Reckonings:

Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice’

Mary Fulbrook

Oxford University Press

A single word – ‘Auschwitz’ – is often used to symbolise the Holocaust. Yet this focus on a single concentration camp – however horrific, however catastrophic its scale – leaves an incomplete story. It cannot fully convey the myriad ways in which individuals became tangled up on the side of the perpetrators, and obscures the diversity of experiences among a wide range of victims as they struggled and died, or managed, against all odds, to survive. It also misses the continuing legacies of Nazi persecution over generations, and across continents.
‘Reckonings’ expands our understanding, exploring the lives of individuals across a full spectrum of suffering and guilt, each one capturing a small part of the greater story. It exposes the disjuncture between official myths about dealing with the past, and the extent to which the vast majority of Nazi perpetrators in fact evaded justice.

The Holocaust is not mere history, and the memorial landscape barely hints at the maelstrom of reverberations at a personal level. ‘Reckonings’ illuminates the stories of those who remained outside the media spotlight, situating their experiences in changing wider contexts, as both persecutors and persecuted sought to account for the past, forge new lives, and make sense of unprecedented suffering.

About the author

Mary Fulbrook is Professor of German History at UCL.

2019

Shortlist
  • Quoting many moving accounts from victims of the extreme cruelty perpetrated by the Nazis, Fulbrook moves through the generations to trace the legacy of Nazi persecution in postwar Germany. A masterly work which explores the shifting boundaries and structures of memory.

Wolfson History Prize judges