A single word-"Auschwitz"-is often used to encapsulate the totality of persecution and suffering involved in what we call the Holocaust.
Yet a focus on a single concentration camp - however horrific, however massively catastrophic its scale - leaves an incomplete story, a truncated history. It cannot fully communicate the myriad ways in which individuals became tangled up on the side of the perpetrators, and obscures the diversity of experiences among a wide range of victims as they struggled and died, or managed, against all odds, to survive. In the process, we also miss the continuing legacy of Nazi persecution across
generations, and across continents.
Mary Fulbrook's encompassing book expands our understanding, exploring the lives of individuals across a full spectrum of suffering and guilt, each one capturing one small part of the greater story. Reckonings seeks to explore the disjuncture between official myths about dealing with the past, on the one hand, and the extent to which the vast majority of Nazi perpetrators evaded justice, on the other.
The Holocaust is not mere history, and the memorial landscape barely hints at the maelstrom of reverberations of the Nazi era at a personal level. Reckonings illuminates the stories of those who remained outside the media spotlight, situating their experiences in changing wider contexts, as both persecutors and persecuted sought to account for the past, forge new lives, and make sense of unprecedented suffering.
Mary Fulbrook is Professor of German History at University College London and the author of the Fraenkel Prize-winning A Small Town near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust.
1: Introduction: The significance of the Nazi pastPart I. Chasms: Perpetrators and victims as communities of experience 2: The explosion of state-sponsored violence 3: Microcosms of violence: Toil and terror 4: Endpoints: The machinery of extermination 5: Defining experiences 6: Silence and communication 7: Crossing thresholdsPart II. Confrontations: Perpetrators and victims in German courtrooms 8: Stages of justice 9: Redefining perpetrators: From Euthanasia to the Holocaust 10: Major concentration camp trials 11: The diffraction of guilt 12: Late, too latePart III. Connections: Constructing links between present and past 13: Hearing the voices of victims 14: Making sense of the past, living for the present 15: Discomfort zones 16: The sins of the fathers 17: The long shadows of persecution 18: Oblivion and memorialisationConclusions 19: A resonant past