Modern Germany and the Lasting Legacy of the Holocaust

Claudia Dunlea
Jewish Culture & History / History

Course Description

Germany’s modern history has been exceptionally turbulent: Germans helped plunge Europe into World War I, launched World War II, and perpetrated the Holocaust. These unprecedented crimes indelibly marked Germany with a heavy legacy of guilt and responsibility. One result of Germany’s total defeat in 1945 was its division into two separate and mutually antagonistic states: West Germany, a NATO member, developed into one of the strongest economies in the world, while East Germany, part of the Warsaw Pact, became one of the most repressive regimes in Europe. Following the unexpected collapse of East Germany in 1989, Germany rushed toward unification, a complicated process that was completed within a year. Today a reunited Germany ranks among the leaders of the European Union. Given this turbulent history, and WWII having ended over 70 years ago – is the Holocaust still a topic in Germany today? This lecture intends to outline how Germany has tried to deal with its past – the so called “Vergangenheitsbewältigung” - and how relevant the legacy and guilt of the Holocaust still are. It will also touch upon the alarming rise of Anti-Semitism in Europe, with a special focus on Germany, since nowhere in Europe has the postwar imperative to fight anti-Semitism been more complete and more intertwined with national redemption.

About the Instructor

  • Claudia Dunlea, PhD, is a Senior Instructor of History at Florida Atlantic University (FAU). She received her doctorate in European Integration History from the University of Hamburg, Germany, in 2003. Dunlea is the author of a book that investigates the origins of a supranational European foreign policy in the 1950s. Her recent research on the diplomatic relations of the European Union was published in two international publications. Having been born and raised in post-WW2 Germany, Dunlea developed a deep personal interest in the 12 dark years of her country’s history. Among other topics, she is teaching courses on WW2, aspects of the Holocaust, and modern Germany’s attempt to deal with its Nazi past.