A few weeks after the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany
in May 1949, American High Commissioner John McCloy addressed
an assembly of representatives from the West German Jewish community.
In a much-discussed speech, he emphasized the central
importance of public recollection of the crimes of the Third Reich for
the political culture of the young republic. In particular, said McCloy,
the relationship of West Germany towards the Jews would be “one of
the real touchstones and the test of Germany’s progress toward the
light. The moment that Germany has forgotten the Buchenwalds and
Auschwitzes, that was the point at which everyone could begin to
despair of any progress in Germany.”
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