To Forget It All and Begin Anew: Reconciliation in Occupied Germany, 1944-1954

To Forget It All and Begin Anew: Reconciliation in Occupied Germany, 1944-1954

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By Steven M. Schroeder
German and European Studies
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2013
World Rights
256 Pages
ISBN 9781442613997
Published Apr 2013
Online discount: 15%
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ISBN 9781442645752
Published Apr 2013
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ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442663558
Published Jun 2013
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Germany’s transition from Nazism to peaceful, if at times reluctant, integration into the western and Soviet spheres during the decade immediately following the Second World War is one of the most remarkable events of the twentieth century. Shattered relations between Germans and their wartime enemies and victims had rendered prospects for peaceful relations between these groups unimaginable, or a dream belonging to the distant future. However, numerous grassroots initiatives found varying degrees of success in fostering reconciliation.

Drawing on underutilized archival materials, To Forget It All and Begin Anew reveals a nuanced mosaic of like-minded people – from Germany and other countries, and from a wide variety of backgrounds and motives – who worked against considerable odds to make right the wrongs of the Nazi era. While acknowledging the enormous obstacles and challenges to reconciliatory work in postwar Germany, Steven M. Schroeder highlights the tangible and lasting achievements of this work, which marked the first steps toward new modes of peaceful engagement and cooperation in Germany and Europe.

Steven M. Schroeder is a faculty member in the History Department at the University of the Fraser Valley.



1 The German People and Allied Demands: Pressures and Initiatives toward Reconciliation, 1944-1946

2 German Church and Political Groups

3 Steps toward Christian-Jewish Reconciliation

4 Broadening of International Contacts and Reconciliation Work

5 The Politics of Reconciliation in the Two Germanies, 1949-1954



To Forget It All and Begin Anew provides a very well written and highly readable treatment of how a range of individuals and institutions, domestic and international, dealt with the problem of postwar reconciliation. Steven M. Schroeder’s attention to how gestures could feed both reconciliation and victimization demonstrates the ambiguities of a subject too often treated categorically. His examination of agency among grassroots activists and lower-echelon institutional representatives is also significant.’

Noel D. Cary, Department of History, College of the Holy Cross

‘Exploring a fascinating and relevant topic that has not yet been investigated in-depth, To Forget It All and Begin Anew reminds us just how far contemporary Germany has travelled on the road to reconciliation. Based on research in an impressive number of libraries, private holdings, and archives, this book presents a treasure trove of sources that amplify the voices of Germans and their victims. It makes a significant contribution to scholarship on twentieth-century German and European history.’

Maria D. Mitchell, Department of History, Franklin & Marshall College

‘Steven M. Schroeder’s wonderfully concise and lucid book takes on the increasingly important issue of reconciliation. His innovative study shifts the focus to hitherto neglected postwar organizations, providing a necessary counterpoint to works concentrating exclusively on the churches. Particularly noteworthy and praiseworthy are his comparisons between the Western and Soviet zones of occupation.’

Mark Edward Ruff, Department of History, Saint Louis University

‘Schroeder’s research successfully introduces into the historiography the work of a number of hitherto neglected post-war institutions based on thorough archival digging, which in itself is an important contribution to the social, political and intellectual history of the period.’

Camilo Erlichman, Reviews in History, 19 June 2014

‘Both researchers and students will find this book useful as a means of looking beyond the Cold War dynamic and state leaders to understand how prominent individuals, not always for the most altruistic reasons, sought to make Germans respectable again on the world stage after the horrors of Nazism.’

Andrew Demshuk, American Historical Review vol 119:02:2014