Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 September 2020
With the founding of the two German states in 1949, the period of political transition in postwar Germany came to an end. Nazi trials, however, continued in both West and East Germany. The Epilogue examines how policy toward Nazi prosecutions changed with independence in both the Federal Republic and German Democratic Republic. West Germany pursued a policy of rehabilitation for most former Nazis, coupled with the further prosecution of small numbers of ‘intolerable” Nazi atrocities. This was part of a strategy of “democratization via integration.” Meanwhile, East German continued a more robust prosecution program, even if the number of trials was still substantially smaller than during the occupation period. The epilogue also recapitulates the argument of the book. Worse trials in the West helped inadvertently to democratize the emerging Federal Republic of Germany, while better trials in the East contributed to the consolidation of a new, Stalinist dictatorship. Transitional justice in Germany thus produced counter-intuitive results at odds with the prevailing wisdom among scholars and activists.