The tale of the ‘two Germanies’
Twentieth-century Germany in the debates of Anglo-American international lawyers and transitional justice experts
in Prussians, Nazis and Peaceniks
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Since the 1990s transitional justice scholars have taken the case of contemporary German history as a universal model for dealing with perpetrators and victims of state-sponsored violence. This chapter, in contrast, calls into question that there has been only one, definitive image of Germany. It adopts a historical perspective to show that transatlantic twentieth-century debates about transitional justice and human rights entailed a dualistic image of ‘two Germanies’: one peaceful and civilised, the other militaristic and expansionist. The chapter delineates these debates in a longue durée perspective and analyses their underlying political, ideological, and historical assumptions. Punitive international legalism is deeply coloured by a dichotomous view of twentieth-century German history, and this view influenced the human rights regime that was set up immediately after the end of the Cold War.

Prussians, Nazis and Peaceniks

Changing images of Germany in International Relations

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