Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice

ISBN : 9780198811237

Mary Fulbrook
528 ページ
153 x 234 mm

Winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2019​

  • Written by Mary Fulbrook, one of the world's most respected scholars on the Holocaust
  • Investigates the long-term legacy of Nazi violence among perpetrators as well as victims
  • Uses memory studies and oral histories to uncover buried personal and cultural memories

A single word—"Auschwitz"—is often used to encapsulate the totality of persecution and suffering involved in what we call the Holocaust. 
Yet a focus on a single concentration camp - however horrific, however massively catastrophic its scale - leaves an incomplete story, a truncated history. It cannot fully communicate the myriad ways in which individuals became tangled up on the side of the perpetrators, and obscures the diversity of experiences among a wide range of victims as they struggled and died, or managed, against all odds, to survive. In the process, we also miss the continuing legacy of Nazi persecution across generations, and across continents. 
Mary Fulbrook's encompassing book expands our understanding, exploring the lives of individuals across a full spectrum of suffering and guilt, each one capturing one small part of the greater story. Reckonings seeks to explore the disjuncture between official myths about dealing with the past, on the one hand, and the extent to which the vast majority of Nazi perpetrators evaded justice, on the other. 
The Holocaust is not mere history, and the memorial landscape barely hints at the maelstrom of reverberations of the Nazi era at a personal level. Reckonings illuminates the stories of those who remained outside the media spotlight, situating their experiences in changing wider contexts, as both persecutors and persecuted sought to account for the past, forge new lives, and make sense of unprecedented suffering.


1: Introduction: The significance of the Nazi past

Part I. Chasms: Perpetrators and victims as communities of experience
2: The explosion of state-sponsored violence
3: Microcosms of violence: Toil and terror
4: Endpoints: The machinery of extermination
5: Defining experiences
6: Silence and communication
7: Crossing thresholds

Part II. Confrontations: Perpetrators and victims in German courtrooms
8: Stages of justice
9: Redefining perpetrators: From Euthanasia to the Holocaust
10: Major concentration camp trials
11: The diffraction of guilt
12: Late, too late

Part III. Connections: Constructing links between present and past
13: Hearing the voices of victims
14: Making sense of the past, living for the present
15: Discomfort zones
16: The sins of the fathers
17: The long shadows of persecution
18: Oblivion and memorialisation

19: A resonant past


Mary Fulbrook, Dean of the Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences, University College London
Mary Fulbrook is Professor of German History at University College London and the author of the Fraenkel Prize-winning A Small Town near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust.

Winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2019
Shortlisted for the 2019 Cundill History Prize

"This volume deserves prizes ... It is a sense of deep injustice, as well as horror, that will overcome readers of Reckonings: its main theme is how the overwhelming majority of those involved in the murder of an estimated six million men, women and children were either never brought to justice or were dealt with so leniently that it amounted to an insult to the victims." - Dominic Lawson, The Daily Mail

"The great strength of this book comes not from its revelations, but from the impact of the massive amount of information that [Fulbrook] has marshalled and the compelling way in which she has woven it together ... Mary Fulbrook has given that imbalance and failure to do justice the recognition it so well deserves. She had done so in an impressive and, if one can say so about such a depressing and distressing story, elegant fashion." - Deborah Lipstadt, Times Literary Supplement

"This masterly book challenges the ways, seven decades after the end of the war, that Europeans remember and commemorate a crime that still lies beyond understanding." - Christopher Hale, History Today

"Extraordinarily well-researched, filled with heartbreaking, heroic and harrowing life stories, Reckonings is comprehensive, cogent and compelling. Fulbrook's book is a must-read for anyone interested in the realities - and the legacies - of the Nazi Past." - Glenn C. Altschuler, The Jerusalem Post

"Well-written and impeccably researched, Mary Fulbrook's account of Nazi crime and punishment is a work of substance." - Pauline Paucker, Camden New Journal

"This is an important book for those readers interested in the Holocaust or genocides more generally, and, its many pages of extensive research offer information and insights to readers with varying degrees of knowledge of the Nazi extermination programme and the prosecution of its perpetrators in the post-war period." - Paul Bookbinder, European History Quarterly