The Second World War was filled with many terrible crimes, such as genocide, forced migration and labour, human-made famine, forced sterilizations, and dispossession, that occurred on an unprecedented scale. Authenticity and Victimhood after the Second World War examines victim groups constructed in the twentieth century in the aftermath of these experiences. The collection explores the concept of authenticity through an examination of victims’ histories and the construction of victimhood in Europe and East Asia. Chapters consider how notions of historical authenticity influence the self-identification and public recognition of a given social group, the tensions arising from individual and group experiences of victimhood, and the resulting, sometimes divergent, interpretation of historical events.
Drawing from case studies on topics including the Holocaust, the siege of Leningrad, American air raids on Japan, and forced migrations from Eastern Europe, Authenticity and Victimhood after the Second World War demonstrates the trend towards a victim-centred collective memory as well as the interplay of memory politics and public commemorative culture.
About the authors
Randall Hansen is a Professor of Politics and holds a Research Chair at the University of Toronto. He is the author or editor of five books, including a bestselling narrative history of the Allied bombing of Germany during the Second World War, Fire and Fury.
Achim Saupe is the director of the Leibniz Research Alliance for Historical Authenticity at the Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF).
Andreas Wirsching is the director of the Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ).
Daqing Yang is an associate professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University.