• 'They died for Germany': Jewish soldiers, the German Army and conservative debates about the Nazi past in the 1960s

      Grady, Tim; University of Chester (SAGE, 2009)
      There has been an increasing recognition in recent historical writing that the late 1950s and early 1960s marked a significant shift in West German society's relationship to the Nazi past. Yet the older more conservative generation that dominated West Germany's politics of confronting the past in the immediate post-war years are largely absent from these narratives. Focusing on the actions of the Federal Republic's staunchly conservative Defence Minister, Franz Josef Strauß, this article argues that even the conservative establishment played a significant role in West Germany's evolving memory culture. In the early 1960s, Strauß promoted the republication of a book of German-Jewish soldiers' war letters from the First World War. The collection enabled him to portray a different side of West Germany at a time when attention had focused back onto the crimes of the Nazi era. Despite this opportunism, the article contends that Strauß's support for the new book encouraged other conservative institutions to engage more fully with the recent past.