A German Generation An Experiential History of the Twentieth Century Thomas A. Kohut

Publication date:
25 Jan 2012
Yale University Press
352 pages: 235 x 156 x 29mm
1 b-w illus.
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Germans of the generation born just before the outbreak of World War I lived through a tumultuous and dramatic century. This book tells the story of their lives and, in so doing, offers a new history of twentieth-century Germany, as experienced and made by ordinary human beings.

On the basis of sixty-two oral-history interviews, this book shows how this generation was shaped psychologically by a series of historically engendered losses over the course of the century. In response, this generation turned to the collective to repair the losses it had suffered, most fatefully to the community of the “Volk” during the Third Reich, a racial collective to which this generation was passionately committed and which was at the heart of National Socialism and its popular appeal.

Thomas A. Kohut is the Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III Professor of History at Williams College and author of Wilhelm II and the Germans: A Study in Leadership. He lives in Williamstown, MA.

"A provocative, poignant, and at times painful meditation on what Thomas Kohut calls ''the grace'' of historical experience, in which Germany's war-torn twentieth-century generation looks remarkably like, but also differs substantially from the ''greatest generation'' in the United States. A German Generation reveals the staggering losses of German history, but also the abiding desire for community and belonging, the allure of the Third Reich, and the misplacement of guilt and introspection after 1945. A remarkable portrait of a generation in the century of genocide."—Peter Fritzsche, author of Life and Death in the Third Reich