Germans found a new challenge in the years following World War II. From the
wreckage of their society, the culpability of their leaders and the shame of
national socialism, they had to construct a "usable past." This "imagined
community" was largely defined by the degree of suffering Germans felt they
had experienced. Victimization was one of its key ingredients. Yet the mix
was more complex and more volatile than grievance over past hardship. Robert
Moeller, professor of history at the University of California at Irvine,
describes the elements of that reconstructed past and how they influence the
is a production of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for
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