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The impact of the Third Reich and the Holocaust on members of the German nobility : a phenomenological study / by Alexander von Pachelbel

Publication | Library Call Number: HT653.G4 P33 2009

This research study is a qualitative, psychological investigation exploring the impact of the Holocaust and the Third Reich on members of German aristocratic families using Creswell’s (1998) phenomenological research methodology. For this study, 12 participants from three generations of the German nobility were selected through a cascading sampling procedure and were visited in their homes in Germany for face-to-face German-language interviews. This research study attempts to explore how members of the German nobility have come to terms with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and how they have integrated this past into their lives.The study reveals that giving voice to the German nobility paradoxically begins with an investigation of rupture and silence. As interviews with respondents from every generation show, a continuous effort has been made by this group to recuperate lost narratives, and various strategies have been used to repair their narrative, including dialogue, self-examination, historical erasures, and even simple denial. When questioned, subjects tend to focus on their own sense of victimhood and powerlessness rather than on their sense of responsibility or complicity. To move beyond their own sense of victimhood, the nobility as a whole seeks empathy and acknowledgment of their disempowerment and loss. Without this recognition, they will not be able to develop a capacity to feel empathy for others. We can see throughout the study that subjects cannot be made to feel responsible by outside pressure. Those respondents who are capable of reconciliation simultaneously create dialogue, not only with the victims of the Holocaust but also with their own pasts. They recognize their complicity with the genocide, but empathize with their own actions rather than justifying them.Ultimately, the study reveals that those who are seen as evil from outside do not see themselves as evil; at most they recognize a narrative rupture and perceive the dissociation that results. Their ability to accept responsibility is tied to their ability to feel integrated rather than ostracized by the world community, thereby recuperating their role in a larger narrative.

Format
Book
Author/Creator
Pachelbel, Alexander von.
Published
2009
Includes bibliographical references (p. 246-251)
Language
English
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Record last modified: 2018-05-18 16:20:00
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/bib209227