All the protest movements of 1968 shared a common concern with legitimacy. When legitimacy cannot be based on transcendental arguments, it is commonly derived from interpretations of historical events. In 1968, two major historical experiences, Nazism and the Holocaust, were wielded as symbolic weapons. Both contributed to, and were shaped by, the events of this watershed year.
This chapter will discuss the role
of Holocaust consciousness in 1968 in West Germany and compare
it with two other countries, Israel and the United States. West
Germany was the only successor state identified with the crimes
of the Third Reich; its rebellious youth demanded a clear accounting
for the past. Israel, whose legitimacy derived in part from its
identification with the victims of the Holocaust, was suddenly
transformed into a conqueror after the 1967 Six-Day war. And
the United States was the state that had liberated Europe in 1944-45,
but in the Vietnam War suddenly found itself accused of Nazi-like
atrocities. Only in West Germany did rising awareness of the Holocaust
help to precipitate the conflicts of 1968; that recovery of knowledge
began in the late 1950s.
1. West German Background
By the mid 1950s, the horrors of the Third Reich were almost completely excluded from public discussion in West Germany. Within the next ten years, however, the situation was transformed. Several important incidents coincided with the adolescence of the generation of 1968.
The first was the "Anne Frank wave," which began with the republication of her diary in 1955. Within five years, 700,000 copies were sold, making it the best-selling paperback in West German history. By February 1960 a theater adaptation had been performed 2,150 times for 1.75 million viewers, and the 1959 film version had already been seen by almost 4.5 million people. In 1958, a collection of testimonies relating Anne's deportation to Auschwitz and her death from typhus at Bergen-Belsen also became a best seller and was adapted as a radio play which reached a huge audience.
In 1957, Alain Renais' short, stark documentary Night and Fog brought scenes from the concentration camps back to the movie houses of West Germany. Discussed on television and used for instructional purposes in schools, Night and Fog presented the first graphic depiction of the workings of the camps and of the techniques of mass murder used by the Nazis since the end of the first Nuremberg Trial in 1946.
An event of longer-term significance occurred in 1958 with the establishment of the Ludwigsburg Central Office for the Pursuit of National Socialist Crimes of Violence, a national clearing house dedicated to bringing Nazi perpetrators to justice. The first major trial in 1958-59, in which two exceptionally sadistic SS sergeants were convicted of 67 and 46 individual murders and numerous counts of manslaughter, was made into a film and distributed to school suppliers in some parts of Germany.
A fourth episode linked the Holocaust even more directly with West Germany's present. Between Christmas 1959 and the end of January 1960, a wave of anti-Semitic vandalism, partially supported by East German agitators, tarnished Bonn's carefully established distancing from the Nazi past. The vandalism prompted official investigations of history textbooks and curricula, the publication of new textbooks, and increased pedagogical attention to the process of "mastering the past" (Bewältigung der Vergangenheit).
In addition to formal history instruction and the recollections of their parents, young West Germans learned about the Nazi period from the mass media, which now included television. In the 1950s, magazines such as Stern and Quick had found praiseworthy elements in some Nazi leaders, had downplayed Nazi atrocities, and discredited attempts to draw lessons from the past, but that changed dramatically by about 1960.
At that time there also emerged an accusatory literature by Germans too young to have been complicit in the Nazi regime. These included Christian Geissler's Sins of the Fathers (1960) and Gudrun Temple's Germany: An Indictment of My People (1963). Hermann Eich, although a member of the generation that had supported the Nazi regime, shifted his sympathies to the young. He admitted, "It is no use quoting the Allied bombing of Dresden [to them]. Dresden is the end of a chain whose links we ourselves forged."
The trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem in 1961 had an electrifying impact on West Germany. The Israeli prosecutor, in order to avert the danger of exonerating the tens of thousands of cogs in the machine of mass extermination by pinpointing responsibility on the chief architect of the Holocaust, focused his case on Eichmann's role in the huge, complicated Nazi state system, thereby turning the trial into what one historian called a powerful "lesson in contemporary history."
During the next five years, the
public sphere in West Germany became increasingly absorbed with
the past. The Central Prosecutor's Office initiated four major
trials of members of execution squads, including the sensational
Frankfurt trial of Auschwitz personnel from December 1963 to August
1965. In the years that followed, the German intellectual world
produced a series of important works examining the links between
West Germany's past, present, and future. Of particular importance
for the emerging protest generation was the discussion of fascism
sparked by Ernst Nolte's historical study of the phenomenon in
France, Italy and Germany. The discussion unfolded primarily on
the pages of Das Argument, a Berlin journal devoted to
issues of concern to the 1968 generation.
In its last years, the Adenauer government became increasingly sensitive to charges of continuity with the past. Revelations about officials' ties with the Nazis, once brushed aside as East German subversion, now elicited formal responses and explanations. The so-called Spiegel affair of 1962, in which the government applied measures reminiscent of Nazi censorship against the popular news magazine and its journalists, led to the resignation of Minister of Defense Franz-Josef Strauss and the hastened retirement of Adenauer himself.
Other institutions were also placed on the defensive. Rolf Hochhuth's play The Deputy (1963) charged the papacy with inaction in the face of detailed knowledge about the extermination of the Jews of Europe. Several West German universities offered public lectures on the role of the academy during the Nazi era; the lectures were promptly criticized for their apologetic tendencies and unconscious linguistic links to National Socialist diction.
The formation of the Grand Coalition government in 1966 caused a blossoming of activism at the political extremes. On the far right, the neo-Nazi party NPD gained substantial votes in the state elections between 1966 and 1968, while on the far left the Extraparliamentary Opposition (Ausserparlamentarische Opposition, APO) was formed. The intensification of U.S. involvement in Vietnam contributed to the radicalization of Germany's youth. By 1966, the Socialist German Student League (SDS) protested its own government's complicity with slogans such as "Murder by poison gas!" and "genocide." The term genocide (Völkermord) had been firmly linked to the Holocaust in the 1965 parliamentary debate about extending the statute of limitations for mass murder committed during the Nazi era. Already in 1966 young radicals were applying the epithet to southeast Asia: the slogan "Vietnam is the Auschwitz of America" appeared on the walls of Dachau.
A slightly older, intermediate generation,
born in the 1920s and 30s, viewed left-wing radicalism as an echo
of the right-wing violence that had brought Hitler to power. Its
mass-media spokesman, press magnate Axel Springer, called the
radicals "gangs of thugs" and decried their "SA
methods." Stuart Hilwig's chapter in this collection offers
many examples of the use of Nazi-era images in the escalating
student battle between Springer and the student protesters. After
the demonstrations against the visit of the Shah of Iran in 1967,
the student government of Berlin's Free University received a
host of threatening letters drenched in Nazi invectives: "Starting
now my colleagues and relatives are prepared with dog whips and
night sticks," and "Vermin should be doused with gasoline
and set on fire. Death to the red student plague!"
2. 1968 in West Germany
During three major incidents in 1968, West Germany was forced to confront the Nazi past. In May, after more than ten years of discussion, parliament prepared to adopt the so-called Emergency Laws. The Grand Coalition now had sufficient votes to pass laws which would establish an important prerequisite to West Germany's full autonomy, ending the Western Allies' right to intervene in emergency situations. At a huge protest march on the eve of the passage of the Emergency Laws, opponents recalled the emergency laws of the 1920s that had been used to undermine democracy during the Weimar Republic and which had eased Hitler's path to power.
A few months later a group of protesters appeared at Dachau where survivors had organized an elaborate ceremony to celebrate the completion of a permanent memorial site. Many of the foreign survivors of Dachau had made careers as military men in NATO countries, and they gave the ceremony a decidedly military flavor with marches and music by honorary formations of the Belgian, French and US armies. Not only the military aura of the occasion raised the ire of young Germans, who felt the anti-imperialist lesson of Nazi aggression was being ignored. They also objected to the participation of NATO forces, which were supporting the military junta in the Greek Civil War, and especially to the presence of West Berlin mayor Klaus Schütz. Schütz, who as head of the Parliamentary Council represented the West German president at Dachau, had ordered the police riot in 1967 in which the Berlin student Benno Ohnesorg was killed. More recently, in April 1968, he had ordered the brutal dispersal of mass demonstrations after an attempt was made on student leader Rudi Dutschke's life. During Schütz's keynote speech about 40 young demonstrators unfurled banners and chanted slogans such as: "Today pogrom and propaganda, tomorrow the Final Solution, Herr Schütz;" "They commemorate today and exterminate tomorrow;" "We fight against fascism, NATO, and imperialism;" and "Dachau greets Hitler's successors."
Although the protesters identified themselves with the anti-Nazi resistance, the primarily francophone Dachau survivors did not understand their slogans. When someone called out "C'est les fascistes!" a physical struggle ensued between old anti-fascists and young radicals. One protester described his experience that day:
Five cops grabbed my Vietnam flag, but I didn't let go.... When we went past the VIP bleachers an old antifascist jumped down and punched me in the face. I lost my flag. A half hour later the old man came running up to me, hugged me, stroked my cheek again and again, and repeated, probably about ten times, 'Pardon, mon camarade.'
Although the older generation of survivors found the protest out of place, they harbored no sympathies for the West German political establishment.
The third climactic event took place in Berlin on November 7, 1968, coincidentally the eve of the thirtieth anniversary of Kristallnacht. On the last day of the CDU Party Congress, Beate Klarsfeld walked up to Chancellor Kurt Kiesinger, called him a "Nazi," and slapped him. She was immediately arrested. The twenty-nine-year-old wife of the French Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld, who had long condemned Kiesinger's past as a top-ranked propaganda official in the Nazi Foreign Office, read a prepared statement expressing the "rage" of German youth over the leadership roles of former Nazis.
How widespread was the awareness of the Nazi past among young activists in 1968? Anecdotal evidence suggests that it was substantial. Miriam Hansen (b. 1949), whose parents had given her a copy of Anne Frank's diary in the early 1960s and who had followed the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial very closely before enrolling at Frankfurt University in 1967, later recalled that "a whole generation stood accused." Detlef Hoffmann (b. 1940), who had seen Night and Fog and heard the Anne Frank radio documentary in the 1950s, and who followed Holocaust-events closely, identified strongly with the protest movement.
However, this consciousness of the Holocaust does not necessarily imply that these historical events had deep emotional roots in all members of the 1968 generation. Prior to the summer of 1968, the use of analogies was rooted more in political instrumentalism than in a detailed knowledge of these events. Several studies conducted in the second half of the 1960s confirm this finding. For example, a study in 1965 characterized the attitudes of young people who evinced interest in the Nazi era as "cool, rational, upstanding ... and without historical imagination." Another study, prompted by the political violence following the Easter 1968 assassination attempt on Rudi Dutschke, found that students recited their knowledge of the National Socialist period by rote, as if it were ancient history, and that they described "the horrors of the concentration camps ... in a disconcertingly sober and detached way." Even after the climactic events of 1968, change was slow in coming. For instance, when a 1964 study of historical consciousness among young Germans was republished in 1970, its authors wrote:
Although the younger generation's
political sensibilities and readiness to become politically involved
have remarkably expanded, its ahistorical relationship to the
past has not changed.
Since 1967, some influential members of the "intermediate" generation, those born in the late 1920s and early 1930s who had been schooled by Nazism but not active in it, had been trying to steer the protest movement towards a more moderate course. Generally sympathetic to the political concerns of the young protesters, they rejected their radical methods and attempted to find a following among the moderates. Many of them were among the 120 West German intellectuals who signed a February 1968 public appeal to demonstrators and police to respect legality.
A few prominent individuals were openly critical of student radicalism. The social philosopher Jürgen Habermas, an early protagonist of the politicization of students, coined the term "left-wing fascism" (Linksfaschismus) to characterize the violent tactics of the most radical protesters. The political scientist Richard Löwenthal openly linked the youthful protesters with Nazi ideology as the "unconscious continuation of some of the intellectual currents which helped to make those [Nazi] horrors possible." The historian Hans-Joachim Winker, an astute critic of romanticized images of the Third Reich, also reproached the APO in 1968 for its overblown attacks on the Bonn government.
It is, of course, difficult to gauge the effects of such rebukes on West German youth. Anecdotes such as the following suggest that even with the passage of time some radicals did not gain a deeper, self-critical understanding of the implications of the Nazi past for the present. In the 1980s a high-school student recalled:
We once had a history teacher. Long
beard, ski sweater, jeans -- the works. Boy, did he carry on about
everything. For hours, he'd talk about the Jews, the Communists,
the Gypsies, the Russians -- victims, nothing but victims. ...
Once, someone asked him in class: 'Tell us, where was the madness? Why did all those people shout hurrah and Heil? ... There must have been something to it.' He just looked stupid, our dear teacher. He called the boy who'd asked the question a neo-Nazi, asked him whether he had no respect for the victims, and so on. ... Then he let loose. He screamed at us. Gone was that left-wing softy of the sixties. All hell broke loose. At last we had broken through the façade of this all-understanding, all-knowing, all explaining puppet.
However, a preponderance of evidence suggests that many members of the 1960s generation did indeed develop a more self-reflective, less instrumental understanding of the causes of the Holocaust in the wake of 1968. The Jusos, the official youth organization of the Social Democratic Party, for instance, steered a course between the middle generation's general defense of the establishment and the APO's use of violent tactics.
Two subsequent events at Dachau illustrate the transformation of Holocaust awareness among the politically active youth. In January 1969 the satirical magazine Pardon staged a symbolic reopening of the Dachau concentration camp to draw attention to the parallels between a proposed new "protective custody" law and its Nazi-era predecessor. In contrast to the September 1968 incident, Dachau survivors were informed beforehand and were present to lend their support.
In the fall of 1969 the annual commemorative ceremony for young people in Dachau was given a radically different format. Instead of speeches, three parallel working groups were organized to discuss three topics: "The goals and tactics of non-violent resistance"; "The roots of Nationalism Socialism and right-wing extremism today;" and "Democracy and industrial society." Led by experts such as Gerhard Schoenberner, these workshops offered serious historical discussion instead of superficial historical analogies.
Afterwards, a large proportion of the radicals of 1968 entered the mainstream through what was called "the long march through the institutions." For example, as high school teachers they took their classes to concentration camp memorial sites in unprecedented numbers. By the early 1970s, the Jusos began working within the Social Democratic Party to create a more informed awareness of the Nazi past. In March 1970, the Dachau chapter of the Jusos developed an elaborate program of local research, seminars, films, and in-depth discussions which prefigured the development of Holocaust consciousness in West Germany during the next two decades.
With the end of the Grand Coalition and the accession of Willy Brandt to the chancellorship in 1969, the new relationship to the past of the younger generation was reflected at the highest level of politics. When Brandt, a political exile between 1933 and 1945, kneeled before the Warsaw ghetto monument in December 1970, he expressed a distance from, and remorse for, the Nazi past which would have been unthinkable just a few years earlier. His Ostpolitik, bringing rapprochement with some of the Third Reich's victims, was another outcome of the new consciousness forged by the late 1960s.
The instrumental use of the Holocaust
did not entirely disappear from West Germany. In the 1970s a
small minority of extremist radicals who continued the violent
tactics of the 1960s became staunch supporters of the Palestinians.
And during the Gulf War of 1991, a few veterans of the 1960s
revived schematic Holocaust imagery to issue anti-Israeli pronouncements.
Nonetheless, 1968 marks a watershed in the broader public awareness
of the event.
As in West Germany, the subject of the Nazi extermination of the Jews was almost absent from Israeli public discourse until the 1950s. Holocaust survivors, whose horrendous experiences were difficult to comprehend by a militantly pioneering society, bore the stigma of not having resisted. Israel's public recollections of the Nazi era focused on ghetto uprisings and not on the mass degradation and extermination. According to Tom Segev, the Holocaust served mainly as a political bargaining tool to obtain reparation payments from West Germany and to strengthen Israel's position in the international community.
As in West Germany, the uneven process of social recovery of memory began in the late 1950s. Adenauer's meeting with Prime Minister David Ben Gurion in New York on March 14, 1960 paved the way for economic and military cooperation and for the establishment of full diplomatic relations in May 1965. The protests that accompanied the arrival of the new West German ambassador gave witness to the persistence of Nazi stereotypes. In Israeli perceptions, West Germany remained a disconcerting amalgam of the old and the new.
For Israel, as for West Germany, the Eichmann trial marked a turning point in the collective process of recovering knowledge of the Holocaust. In contrast to West Germany, the politicization of the Holocaust was sparked neither by domestic unrest nor by debates over foreign policy, but by an external threat in the spring of 1967. While West Germans produced analogies with the political chaos of the Weimar years, in Israel the primary comparison was between Hitler and Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
In May 1967, Nasser ousted the United Nations force that was patrolling the Gaza strip and placed an embargo on goods passing through the Red Sea bound for Israel. Using a vocabulary reminiscent of Hitler, he promised to "exterminate" Jewish capitalists and create a "Greater Arabian Empire." On the eve of the Six-Day War Israelis were terrified. As a soldier recalled:
People believed we would be exterminated if we lost the war. We got this idea--or inherited it--from the concentration camps. It's a concrete idea for anyone who has grown up in Israel, even if he personally didn't experience Hitler's persecution ...
Another soldier who two days before the war had visited the Israeli museum commemorating the ghetto fighters, recalled: "I felt that our war began there, in the crematoriums, in the camps, in the ghettos, and in the forests."
These associations with the Holocaust undermined the government's attempt to steer a less confrontational course with Israel's Arab neighbors. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, the main proponent of a moderate course, was compared to Neville Chamberlain; before the outbreak of war, Israelis satirized his efforts by joking that umbrellas were sold out in Tel Aviv.
After Israel's spectacular victory in the Six-Day war, some soldiers drew on the Holocaust to express their discomfort in the role of a military occupier:
If I had any clear awareness of the World War years and the fate of European Jewry it was once when I was going up the Jericho road and the refugees were going down it. I identified directly with them. When I saw parents dragging their children along by the hand, I actually almost saw myself being dragged along by my own father ... It wasn't so noticeable in times of action, but just at those moments when we felt the suffering of others, of the Arabs, against whom we fought.
Public support for Israel was especially pronounced in West Germany and the United States. After press warnings that Israel was under a "threat of extermination," thousands of West Germans demonstrated in support of Israel, made generous donations to aid-Israel societies, and volunteered to undertake reconstruction work after the war. In Der Spiegel, the one-eyed Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan was compared to the anti-Nazi resistance fighter Claus von Stauffenburg, who had also worn an eyepatch.
In the United States there was a similar outpouring of moral and material support. Only on the left, which linked US intervention in Vietnam with Israel's lightning victory and conquests, was the reaction split. One of the few critics of Israeli policy, the Polish-Jewish Marxist Isaac Deutscher, argued that the legacy of the Holocaust in no way justified Israeli belligerence towards the Arabs, and that the consequences might be similar to those of Germany's extreme nationalism in the 1930s. This critique, disconcertingly close to Arab and Soviet claims that Zionism was a racist ideology, did not attract a large following in the West.
Israel's new role as an occupying power initiated a brief process of introspection about the role of the Holocaust in Israeli politics, but such reflections were neither widespread nor long lasting. The terrorist murders of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and the Arab surprise attack on Israel in October 1973 rekindled the powerful imagery of annihilation. The hardliner Menachem Begin, a Holocaust survivor who had joined Eshkol's cabinet in 1967, first spearheaded and then, as prime minister after 1977, presided over the public use of the Holocaust as a legitimizing factor in Israeli politics.
Begin's victory, ending three decades
of Labor control and producing the first peace treaty with a major
Arab state, stirred a new debate over Israel's relationship with
the European past. In the wake of the shock of 1973, the divisive
war in Lebanon, and the prolonged Intifada, large numbers of Israeli
youth, joined by some members of the middle and older generations,
not only challenged the automatic connection between Hitler and
Arab leaders but also began questioning their own behavior towards
the Arab people. A serious revision of the causes and results
of the Six-Day war began with the end of the Cold War. Israel's
debate over the past and the present continues to this day.
4. The United States
In the twentieth century the United States departed from its traditional isolationism to play the role of the model for other nations, as the "honest broker" in World War I, liberator in World War II, and vanguard of freedom and democracy in the Cold War. In the 1960s this self-image, which underlay the United States' massive involvement in Vietnam, provided the components for a major public debate about America's own past.
At the beginning of that decade most young Americans perceived no connection between their elders and the period of the Holocaust. What had occurred in Europe during World War II was firmly and comfortingly linked to specifically German traits, whether as described in William Shirer's best-seller, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (1960), or analyzed in Hans Kohn's treatise on The Mind of Germany: The Education of a Nation (1960). In addition to Anne Frank's Diary with its sequel and Elie Wiesel's memoir Night (1960), Americans first started to learn the grim details of the Holocaust through the Eichmann trial. Raul Hilberg's massive study of The Destruction of the European Jews (1961), although not widely read at the time, set a new standard for scholarly research on the Holocaust.
At first the escalation of U.S. military activities in Vietnam in 1965 was accompanied by an outpouring of public support. The Johnson administration inverted the analogy of British appeasement in the 1930s to justify its policy of supporting a beleaguered ally in southeast Asia as part of America's Cold War commitment to freedom.
At the same time, America's own record in World War II came into question. Gar Alperovitz's Atomic Diplomacy: Hiroshima and Potsdam (1965) argued that the use of atomic weapons against Japan had been an unnecessary slaughter of human life. In 1968, Arthur Morse, Sheldon Spear, and David Wyman published works chronicling America's apathy and inactivity during the time of the Holocaust.
By the mid 1960s, a more positive image of West Germany was beginning to emerge in the United States. Moreover, the dissemination of the experiments of the psychologist Stanley Milgram, which underscored a general human ability to inflict harm on others, diminished the sense of a specifically German responsibility, as well as of the complete innocence of others for the Holocaust.
Nevertheless, the predominance of America's self-perception as the unsullied hero of World War II persisted. That, however, changed drastically in January 1968 after North Vietnamese forces launched the massive Tet offensive, especially after photographs of the shooting of a suspected Vietcong infiltrator brought the war's brutality home to millions of Americans. As two journalists later wrote, "By early 1968 ... [favorable] comparisons with the war against the Nazis disappeared altogether from American television."
Another event, perpetrated by U.S. troops in the wake of the Tet Offensive, turned the Holocaust analogy completely around: the March 1968 massacre of hundreds of defenseless civilians in the South Vietnamese village of My Lai. A helicopter reconnaissance pilot who rescued some of the civilians recalled the massacre in terms of "what the Nazis had done in the last war--marching people to a ditch and blowing them away." The French magazine Express editorialized in late November: "The Americans have learned that they have become the equals of the French in Indochina, Madagascar, and Algeria, and of the Germans at Oradour."
The Six-Day War had already revived Holocaust images in the United States. Historian Edward Linenthal considers the Six-Day War "by far the most important event in the resurrection of Holocaust imagery in American life." One year later, the first two textbooks designed for college courses on the Holocaust--the term itself was applied to the Nazi genocide for the first time--were published. Soon there was a proliferation of Holocaust studies, workshops, monuments, and museums as well as serious historical and philosophical analyses of the subject.
In 1968, the American antiwar movement,
like its West German counterpart, employed extensive Holocaust
imagery to challenge the morality and legitimacy of its government's
Cold War policies. The instrumental use of this analogy startled
and angered the middle and older generations. The German-Jewish
émigré scholar Peter Gay chided the "under
20s [for their] casual use of the name Auschwitz [and] ... of
the ominous word "genocide."
In 1968, there were heated disputes between the protest movements and ruling elites over continuities with the past. Two historical analogies, Nazism and the Holocaust, were repeatedly applied to the moral and political debates that year in West Germany, Israel, and the United States.
We can discern three different generations interacting within the public spheres of three robust democracies. The youngest generation, whose consciousness was formed in the 1950s during the aftermath of a vicariously experienced World War, viewed the establishment as rigid and repressive. The eldest group, born before the mid-1920s and holding political views shaped by experiences during the 1920s, 30s and 40s, supported rigid structures within the system and held reactionary values. The intermediate group, born roughly in the late 1920s, defended the system but recognized a need for evolutionary change.
In West Germany, all three groups used historical rhetoric to gain ground in the public sphere with epithets such as "genocide," "fascism," and "stormtroopers," while the mass media generally supported the forces of order. In the United States, the elders deployed standard Cold-War stereotypes such as "commies" and "fags," the youthful protesters responded with "Nazis" and "pigs," while the media propagated the invectives of both sides. In Israel, where a younger protest generation had not yet emerged, the division ran between hawkish promoters of war against a reincarnated Hitler and dovish advocates of accommodation with its Arab neighbors. Afterward, new and disquieting parallels were raised by members of all generations, from youthful soldiers to Holocaust survivors, between Israeli and Nazi conquerors.
In all three countries, however,
1968 represented a moment of transformation. As the Cold War
reignited that year in Asia and Europe and began moving in a new
direction, there was an effusion of political rhetoric based on
historical analogy. Even if that rhetoric remained detached from
the emerging body of serious scholarship seeking to broaden and
deepen our understanding of the horrors of the Hitler era, internationally
a public awareness of the history of the Holocaust returned in
1968 and has not abated to this day.