Homecomings: Returning POWs and the Legacies of Defeat in Postwar Germany

TitleHomecomings: Returning POWs and the Legacies of Defeat in Postwar Germany
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsBiess, Frank
Number of Pages367
PublisherPrinceton University Press
CityPrinceton, NJ
Abstract

This book focuses on one of the most visible and important consequences of total defeat in postwar Germany: the return to East and West Germany of the two million German soldiers and POWs. Historian Frank Biess traces the origins of the postwar period to the last years of the war, when ordinary Germans began to face the prospect of impending defeat. He then demonstrates parallel East and West German efforts to overcome the German loss by transforming returning POWs into ideal post-totalitarian or antifascist citizens. By exploring returnees' troubled adjustment to the more private spheres of the workplace and the family, the book stresses the limitations of these East and West German attempts to move beyond the war. Based on a wide array of primary and secondary sources, Homecomings combines the political history of reconstruction with the social history of returnees and the cultural history of war memories and gender identities. It unearths important structural and functional similarities between German postwar societies, which remained infused with the aftereffects of unprecedented violence, loss, and mass death long after the war was over.

(UNC Chapel Hill)

Short TitleHomecomings
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