In recent years, no modern democracy has taken more aggressive steps to come to terms with a legacy of dictatorship than has the Federal Republic of Germany with the crimes and injustices of Communist East Germany. In this 2001 book, A. James McAdams provides a comprehensive and engaging examination of the four most prominent instances of this policy: criminal trials for the killings at the Berlin Wall; the disqualification of administrative personnel for secret-police ties; parliamentary truth-telling commissions; and private property restitution. On the basis of extensive interviews in Bonn and Berlin over the 1990s, McAdams gives new insight into the difficulties German politicians, judges, bureaucrats, and public officials faced sitting in judgment on the affairs of another state. He argues provocatively that the success of their policies must be measured in terms of the way they used East German history to justify their actions.
Preface; Glossary; Note; Part I. Introduction on Judging the East German Past: 1. Interpreting East Germany's history; 2. Four types of retrospective justice; Part II. Criminal Justice: Prosecuting GDR Officials: 3. Competing arguments for justice; 4. Seeking justice within the law; 5. A 'trial of the century'; 6. Judicial architects of German unity; 7. The risks of going too far; 8. An ambiguous message about culpability; Part III. Disqualifying Justice: Searching for Stasi Collaborators: 9. Contending views on the Stasi's reach; 10. Level one: distilling truth from the files; 11. Level two: screening for Stasi activity; 12. Level three: appealing dismissals before the courts; 13. The competing messages of screening; Part IV. Moral Justice: Assessing the Complete Record of Dictatorship: 14. Finding fault with the churches; 15. A different stand on the Deutschlandpolitik; 16. Mixed emotions about the silent majority; 17. Revisiting East Germany's difficult past; 18. A better commission?; Part V. Corrective Justice: Returning Private Property: 19. The narrow choices behind the property settlement; 20. The challenge of implementing the property statute; 21. The legitimacy of Jewish claims ...; 22. ... But the irreversibility of Soviet expropriations; 23. Vying responses to GDR-era injustice; 24. The ambiguities of drawing the line: an enduring burden of multiple pasts; Part VI. Conclusion: A Manageable Past?: 25. The FRG's constrained options; 26. Judging the past in the right way; 27. GDR wrongdoing in perspective; 28. Contending venues of justice.