This symposium is held in conjunction with the first U.S. showing of the exhibition "The German Army and Genocide: Crimes Against Prisoners of War, Jews and Other Civilians in the East 1939 - 1944" at the Cooper Union, December 2, 1999 - February 5, 2000.
In 1945 at the end of World War II, shortly after the German Army's unconditional surrender, the Nuremberg trials clearly established that officers and members of the Army (the Wehrmacht) participated directly in the racial and genocidal terror that had characterized the Nazi project for a new world order. In spite of this, the defeated Germans began to construct a myth that became a central tenet of postwar West German society. That myth was designed to distance the German Army from Hitler, the Nazi regime, and from the atrocities they perpetrated against Jews, other civilians, and prisoners of war. For the past fifty years, this myth has continued to promote the idea that the regular army had fought a "normal" war and was innocent of the genocide and mass murders carried out by the SS and the Gestapo.
This exhibition, created by the Hamburg Institute for Social Research,
challenges the myth of the German Army's innocence. Graphic photographic evidence documents the Army's participation in atrocities in Eastern Europe. Harrowing photographs taken by German soldiers depict massacres, hangings, and torture. Official documents direct military units to exterminate Jewish communities. Private letters from soldiers to their families include eyewitness - and often boastful - accounts of war crimes. Military directives prove close collaboration between the SS and the regular army throughout the war. The exhibition will be on view at Cooper Union from December 2, 1999 - February 5, 2000.
A symposium organized by scholars from New York University, The New School University, Columbia University, Princeton University, Rutgers University and The Cooper Union will complement the exhibit. Researchers from Europe, Israel and the United States will join the discussions.
The symposium will be held at the New School University from December 4-6. Keynote speaker and historian Saul Friedlander will open the conference on Thursday evening December 4. Please see our website for information on the symposium program and details of the exhibition.
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