Dedication to an Influential Generation of Germanists: The Transfer of Knowledge from Germans to Jews in American German Studies

in German Politics and Society
Author: Jeffrey M. Peck
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In the 1960s and 1970s on both sides of the Atlantic, the American involvement in Vietnam and the demand for political and social change in response to these policies translated into activism on university campuses. Berkeley and Berlin became synonymous with protest; Mario Savio and Rudi Dutschke became the heroes of these student movements. However, this first postwar generation of German students at this time also was entangled in an additional personal and political crisis prompted by the war, namely their parents' and grandparents' past, the infamous Vergangenheitsbewältigung of the Third Reich. These children—born in the thirties and early forties (most in the war years themselves)—faced an older generation who not only instigated a world war but also participated, either implicitly or explicitly, in the persecution and extermination of six million Jews and other so-called undesirables. It was a harsh and painful time for these young people and their elders, the latter who were attacked for their complicity and the former who were accused of hubris.

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