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The Mark of CainGuilt and Denial in the Post-War Lives of Nazi Perpetrators$
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Katharina von Kellenbach

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199937455

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937455.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 August 2021

Guilt Confessions and Amnesty Campaigns

Guilt Confessions and Amnesty Campaigns

(p.33) 2 Guilt Confessions and Amnesty Campaigns
The Mark of Cain

Katharina von Kellenbach

Oxford University Press

Germany's guilt discussions began immediately after the military defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945. The Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) and the Roman Catholic Church shaped these conversations: they issued public guilt confessions and sent clergy into internment camps and military prisons to counsel Nazi functionaries on trial before Allied military courts. The churches’ position on guilt was contradictory and ambivalent: church representatives affirmed a German solidarity of guilt but rejected collective guilt; they denounced the depravity of the previous Nazi regime but promised rapid reconciliation and quick reintegration to anyone willing to return to the Christian faith; they preached the Christian gospel of forgiveness and campaigned against the Allied prosecution of high-ranking Nazi officials as victors’ justice. The Christian paradigm of guilt confessions and forgiveness validated the politics of Hour Zero, which closed the past and condoned impunity for actions committed before the Schlussstrich, or line of closure.

Keywords:   stuttgart declaration of guilt, internment camp ministry, nuremberg trials, amnesty campaigns, secret ekd memorandum on war crimes trials

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