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Guilt and Accountability in the Postwar Courtroom

The Holocaust in Czortków and Buczacz, East Galicia, as Seen in West German Legal Discourse

Omer Bartov

Keywords: Buczacz; Czortkow; Galicia; Holocaust; Nuremberg; postwar Nazi trials; Third Reich; World War II

This article examines the way in which West German courts confronted the case of low-level, former Nazi perpetrators who conducted mass killings of Jews in isolated towns in Eastern Europe. Using the example of the towns of Czortków and Buczacz in eastern Galicia, the article argues that such trials, conducted in the late 1950s and 1960s, sought both to recreate the historical reality of genocide on the local level, where killers and victims often knew each other by name, and to identify a type of perpetrator who differed essentially from "ordinary" Germans, even as he was himself invariably defined as a "victim of the circumstances of that time."

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