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How successfully by the mid-1950's, had the policy of denazification, as agreed at the Potsdam
Conference, been carried out in Germany? (45)
To what extent was the Nazi legacy eradicated in Germany in the years 1945-1946?
Implementation of denazification
Agreement at Potsdam Conference in 1945 to put leading Nazi officials on trial as war criminals.
Allied powers had different aims to restore Germany Control Council unable to agree a Joint
policy to re-develop Germany as one nation. Resulted in different political and social systems.
Leading Nazi members put on trial at the 1946 Nuremberg trials.
The Nuremberg Trials were closely associated to the Third Reich and the Nazi rallies.
The Nuremberg Trials initiated the process of denazification in the west.
Trials also took place for members of Nazi organisations. Including SS, SD, Gestapo, SA, General
Staff and High Command.
Some Nazi officials escaped trial, committing suicide. Hitler, Himmler and Goebels.
Some Nazis were sent to imprisonment as a result of the trials.
Due to the allied occupation there was resentment from the German population who regarded
themselves as victims. Not perpetrators.
People were not prepared, in most cases, to show affiliation to Nazism.
It would have been difficult to convict as evidence may have been lost or destroyed.
Many Germans felt it was `victors' justice that allied forces had escaped their crimes such as the
Dresden Bombings. Similarly the Massacre of civilians by Stalin.
Implementing denazification on a wider scale would have been difficult.
Denazification would certainly been costly and time consuming. Trying to remove 12 years of Nazi
Would have been difficult to analyse the long term success of denazification.
Allies did not recognise that soldiers were acting to their duties under a policy of conscription.
Germans felt that trial convictions were unfair.
Soldiers were kept in internment in both East and West and released without charge after an
extended period of time.
Some Nazis were able to escape the process of denazification.
Some Nazis re-secured key job positions.
Denazification in the Western Zone
West viewed Nazism as a result of decisions and choices made by individuals even so far as a
Initial policy of non-fraternisation dropped after recognition of the need for the involvement of
Policy of segregation resented by Germans.
Segregation a punishing policy. Not clear if they were punishing or rehabilitating Germany.
Denazification was chaotic and inefficient.
Denazification was time consuming and costly.
Policies emphasised re-education in democratic values.
Internment of those associated to Nazism in the west similarly to the Soviet Zone.
Difficult to establish support based on keeping jobs and careers and those who were genuinely
Those shown to have more than nominal support for Nazism were removed from public office.
However this was interpreted differently in the four zones.
The western zone required questionnaires to be completed and individuals were assigned to one of
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Those dismissed from jobs could appeal to an arbitration tribunal to present a testimony of good
Those who did not have an active role in the Nazi regime collected Persil certificates.
Tribunals could not cope with cases.
The process of denazification wound down in the 1950's.
There became more concern in the rebuilding of West Germany.
1946 Law for Liberation from National Socialism established new tribunals staffed by Germans.
However easiest cases were addressed first.…read more
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In 1947 Russians offered an amnesty to all those prepared to help further socialist society.
Irrelevant of individuals' pasts.
1948-1949 restrictions on former on the activities and rights of former Nazis removed.
1952 Full citizenship rights given to Nazis who were not deemed war criminals.
In the soviet zone an intense re-education programme took place, this promoted socialism.…read more