Bachelor of Arts
Renee Christine Romano
Germany, WW II, Justice, East German, West Germany, Trials, Post-unification, Waldheim Trials
With this thesis, I intend to formulate an argument about the evolution of a historical justice culture in Germany, both after the Second World War and post-unification. As a means of examining historical memory in post-war Germany, historians and scholars have turned their attention to the East and West German legal trials which were held in response to the crimes committed by the Nazi state. For the purpose of this thesis, my analysis will be structured around the examination of the 1950 Waldheim Trials and their lasting legacy in both post and preunification Germany.
The Waldheim Trials were foundational in the establishment of the East German historical memory and redress movements, and have since become a symbol for the state’s approach to historical justice. While the trials themselves have the power to illuminate the intricacies and dynamics of a very specific political environment and moment in history, their legacy and evolving symbolic significance in both divided and unified Germany can also shed light on the two varying approaches towards historical redress and memory employed by the post war Germanies. As part of this legacy, I will also be examining the post-unification 1992 trial of the Waldheim judges and what this says about the ways in which the Waldheim Trials were remembered and understood in Germany after reunification. This thesis aims to examine three distinct dimensions of this discussion, namely the Waldheim trial proceedings themselves and what they say about East German political priorities and denazification attempts, their legacies and evolving symbolic significance in East and West Germany, and the 1992 trials and their significance as a tangible manifestation of German historical memory during the politically dynamic reunification era.
Purvis, Emily Dorothea, "Justice on Trial: German Unification and the 1992 Leipzig Trial" (2020). Honors Papers. 706.