The surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945 marked the end of an epoch during which anti-Semitism escalated into genocide. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, Nazi racist ideology was discredited morally and politically, and the Allied occupation forces prohibited its dissemination in public. However, there was no overnight transformation of individual anti-Semitic attitudes among the public at large. Most surveys conducted since 1946 have confirmed the persistence of massive anti-Semitism in Germany both in the democratic West and the communist East. Based on all empirical survey data available up to now, this volume offers a thorough comparative analysis of anti-Semitism in Germany, and in particular its resurgence with the rise of right-wing extremism since unification.
Anti-Semitism in Germany reflects a historically unique opportunity to compare the attitudes of two population groups that shared a common history up to 1945 and then lived under differing political conditions until 1989. The authors find distinct generational patterns in the survival and development of anti-Semitic attitudes. In the Federal Republic hostility towards Jews was more manifest among those who had been socialized to it under the Weimar Republic and Third Reich but less prevalent in subsequent generations. In contrast the authors show younger East Germans as more susceptible to anti-Semitism. The economic and cultural crises of reunification underwrote the strident anti-Zionism of the former communist regime. The authors also explore the anti-Semitic component of the recent wave of xenophobic violence and the disturbing rise of neo-Nazi political activity.
This volume is especially noteworthy in its examination of a "secondary" anti-Semitism closely tied to the issue of coming to terms with the Nazi past. The motives behind persisting anti-Semitism can no longer be attributed to ethnic conflict, but go to the core discrepancy between wanting to forget and being reminded. The authors consider this phenomenon within the framework of current German political culture. In its comprehensiveness and methodological sophistication, Anti-Semitism in Germany is a major contribution to the literature on modern anti-Semitism and ethnic prejudice. It will be read by historians, political scientists, sociologists, and Jewish studies specialists.