Personal involvement of Germans in WWII was externalised: historian

“The Germans caused and conducted the war, not my grandfather, but someone else’s, you understand”. This was the gist of a conversation with Professor Stephan Lehnstaedt of Touro College, Berlin on the subject of Germans and their view of history.

Click here to watch the full interview.

Professor Lehnstaedt was one of the contributors to a historical conference organised by the Museum of Polish History, to mark the end of the second world war in Europe “The Burden of Victory”.

Personal involvement has been externalised, the professor argued, with the blame shifted largely to Adolf Hitler, the SS and the Nazi clique. The war has been reduced to its essence, the Holocaust.

How do you quantify suffering? How do you put a monetary amount on the experiences of the victims? Professor Lehnstaedt explained how the formula was reached and how there was a difference between the state claims and the individual ones. With Poland and recently Greece resurrecting claims against Germany, albeit not formalised, how would German public opinion react and would this be a help or hindrance to bilateral relations?

The Germans identify with their victims, the Professor argued. The war has indeed produced many twists of irony.