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Interwar, War, Postwar: Was there a Zero Hour in 1945?

Abstract and Keywords

When World War II ended in Europe, many assumed that the sheer level of destruction, hatred, and fear unleashed by the conflict would produce a Europe even worse than the one they recalled from the 1930s. Only in Germany was the moment captured linguistically, in the concept of Stunde Null, hour zero, for the German population almost certainly expected the worst from the catastrophic defeat of Adolf Hitler's Reich. The Cold War and racial realities of Europe between 1945 and 1949 contributed to the idea that the two German states created in 1949, the Federal Republic in the West and the Democratic Republic in the East, were new experiments in democratic politics quite distinct from the legacy of a united Germany since 1871. Much of the historical literature on European economic recovery has focused on West German revival. The gulf between the years of recession, poor trade, state restrictions, and planning for war in the 1930s, and the booming consumer and construction sectors in the 1950s, made it evident that something changed dramatically in 1945.

Keywords: World War II, hour zero, Germany, 1945, Europe, Cold War, politics, economic recovery

‘Personal liberty, presumably, will be gone from Continental Europe for at least a generation; for obviously the existing chaos cannot be controlled except by an iron tyranny … ’

Aldous Huxley, 7 May 19451

When the Second World War ended in Europe—there were still a little over three months of bitter fighting left in the war against Japan—there were many like Aldous Huxley who assumed that the sheer level of destruction, hatred, and fear unleashed by the conflict would produce a Europe even worse than the one they recalled from the 1930s. Only in Germany was the moment captured linguistically in the concept of Stunde Null, hour zero, for the German population almost certainly expected the worst from the catastrophic defeat of Hitler's Reich.2 They knew there was no going back to the interwar years. Observers then and since were struck by the capacity of ordinary Germans to live in 1945 and its immediate aftermath as if in a permanent present, an obsession with what Richard Bessel has described as the ‘day-to-day struggle for existence’, the here and now.3

It is not difficult to understand the response in Germany to the reality of defeat in 1945. It clearly brought down a curtain on a particular period in Germany's history that (p. 61) could be dated back to the nationalist and imperial aspirations prior to 1914. As soon as the war ended, sometimes sooner, Germans who had been enthusiasts for the Third Reich tried to distance themselves from association with it or to escape altogether from its historical clutches. Not all of them were as unfortunate as the character in Günter Grass's The Tin Drum, who tried to swallow his Party badge and chokes to death, but the metaphor was an apt one.

In Germany in 1945 the past melted away almost overnight. In Berchtesgaden a young girl observed her mother remove a wax relief portrait of Hitler from the wall in early May 1945, place it in a pot over the stove and watch it dissolve, leaving no trace of the disgraced leader.4 The victorious Allies also wanted to eradicate the memory and the physical presence of the Third Reich, but much of the German population practised a self-imposed censorship of their recent past. There was a widespread recognition that there was no going back to the old Germany. A captured German admiral, bugged by his captors, was overheard explaining this reality to his fellow-prisoners:

I can’t help thinking that once the enemy is on German soil the whole German tradition—the marching up and down, the rolling of drums—will be a thing of the past. No more parades, no more shouting—it's difficult to imagine a Germany like that. We were so used to the old Germany.5

This was also Hitler's anxiety shortly before his suicide, when he told his deputy, Martin Bormann, that he could not contemplate living through the ‘transition period’ following Germany's defeat.6

When the Allies arrived in Germany, they were uncertain about what might be the reaction of the population. Plans were prepared against a possible insurgency, and hundreds of thousands of Germans who had been in the National Socialist Party or one of its ancillary associations, including the League of German Girls and the Women's Association, were put in camps and prisons. In the Soviet zone of occupation, 122,671 passed through Special Camp No. 1 for fascist prisoners, of whom 42,889 died in captivity. In the American zone in south-central Germany the Counter-Intelligence Corps had arrested 117,500 people by the end of 1945; the British interned 100,000, the French 21,500.7 It was the intention of the Allies, confirmed in the founding meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco in May 1945, to hold trials of those defined as major war criminals so that the wider international community (and those Germans still ignorant of them) would be able to see the nature of the Third Reich's crimes and to understand that a new age of international justice had dawned in 1945.

(p. 62) There were evident ambiguities in this endeavour to create a new basis for penalizing war and political violence. Problems were raised by the presence of the Soviet Union as one of the prosecuting powers, also responsible for aggressive war and crimes against humanity, but these were not confronted by the Western powers. Bombing of civilians was not finally included in the indictment drawn up by the International Military Tribunal and confirmed in August 1945, since this had been a central feature of Western strategy and could not now be admitted to have been a crime. The trials were intended to go far beyond the twenty-one major criminals who sat in the dock in the Nuremberg court house on 20 November 1945. At Nuremberg there were twelve trials in all, involving 184 senior military, bureaucratic, industrial, and medical personnel.8 In total the American occupation authorities tried 1600 people in 489 trials. In addition, there were a great many trials conducted by the German judicial authorities, reaching a total of 24,000 hearings in the British zone alone. Most of these were designed to confirm the defendants as active members of the National Socialist movement and subsequently to remove them from office and withdraw their voting rights. The overwhelming bulk of the 3.66 million German citizens who were subjected to ‘de-Nazification’ procedures were not prosecuted. But the whole process of reviewing, prosecuting, and punishing those deemed responsible for the regime's crimes was designed to place a distance between the pre-1945 world of racial violence and political oppression, and a new post-1945 world of democratic decency.9

For the German population the most visible line drawn under their past was the massive destruction of the urban environment through more than four years of Allied bombing. The obliteration of around one-half of the city area in Germany (and the widespread and random destruction meted out to many smaller towns and villages) helped to underpin the metaphorical sense of social and political reconstruction with an enforced physical programme of rebuilding. Indeed, it was the most obvious way in which the German people could help to create a new social environment for themselves and to focus on the future rather than the past. The Nuremberg city council was so successful at doing this that no objections were sustained against the decision to use stones from the demolished Jewish synagogue to build a monument to the city's bomb victims.10

The harrowing conditions of life imposed on millions of German city dwellers in the years after the end of the war meant that for many of them moving forwards was the only option. The physical loss of possessions, homes, and social networks made the search for the immediate past fruitless and the reconstruction of a different life unavoidable. In the decade after 1945 the initial term ‘rebuilding’ [Wiederaufbau] came to be replaced by the (p. 63) concept of ‘new construction’ [Neubau], as a more authentic reflection of the process involved. More than two-thirds of the urban built environment in Germany was constructed after 1948.11

Political circumstances also accentuated the sense of a new beginning. The divisions that opened up between the Allied victors in the three years after 1945 created circumstances that made it impossible to restore a single unitary German state, even one shorn of its acquisitions after 1933 and reduced in size by the allocation of Prussian territory to the reconstituted state of Poland. The Western zones of occupation were needed as a bulwark against the further advance of Soviet communism; the Soviet zone was needed by the Soviet Union as a model of a ‘progressive’ Germany, linked with the other peoples’ democracies in Eastern Europe in a defensive rampart against Western capitalism.

The remodelling of the political geography of Germany and Germans was completed with the forced expulsion of millions of ethnic Germans from Central and Eastern Europe during 1945–8. Around 13 million arrived in the zones of occupation, the overwhelming majority in the Western zones. This was a substantial fraction of the German population. Like the bombed populations, they had in many cases lost everything and had to begin from scratch. The Germany they entered was very different from the German Fatherland that had welcomed back German settlers in the war years to satisfy Himmler's fantasies of the racial reconstruction of the continent.

The Cold War and racial realities of Europe between 1945 and 1949 contributed to the idea that the two German states created in 1949, the Federal Republic in the West and the Democratic Republic in the East, were new experiments in democratic politics quite distinct from the legacy of a united Germany since 1871. There were, of course, evident continuities between the old Germany and the two new states, but it was difficult not to view the state-building in 1949 as a fresh trajectory and to see 1945 as a very real break with the German past. Historians have generally colluded with that view.12 Very few books focus on German issues that cross the war period. Even Daniel Goldhagen, whose polemical book, Hitler's Willing Executioners, published in 1996, posited the idea that Germans had all been affected by a culturally embedded desire to eliminate the Jews that could be traced back centuries, argued that after 1945 German anti-Semitism evaporated in a wave of psychological reconstruction. This perception of a caesura in Germany's most damaging historical trend perhaps helps to explain the decision in 1997 to award Goldhagen the triennial ‘Democracy Prize’ of the Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik.

(p. 64) Elsewhere in Europe also there was a powerful expectation that 1945 heralded a new age. The English peace campaigner Ruth Fry published privately a small pamphlet at the end of the year titled 1945: Annus Mirabilis. She began by quoting the British poet Owen Seaman: ‘To live in these great times and have your part/In Freedom's crowning hour/ … I saw the powers of darkness put to flight/I saw the Morning break.’ Fry called on her readers to see 1945 as a tabula rasa: ‘Everything is smashed. We invoke a blank sheet of paper.’13 It was possible, she continued, with an unfortunate choice of language, to build a ‘brave new world’.

In Britain there had been active popular campaigns since the outbreak of war in 1939 for a postwar world in which a really effective international order could be constructed, and a world free from poverty and unemployment, unlike the world after 1918. The President of the League of Nations Union, Lord Robert Cecil, who had played an important role in drafting the covenant of the League in 1918, began in October 1939 drawing up proposals for a new world order to replace the one now defunct. The National Peace Council (NPC), the umbrella organization for all Britain's anti-war organizations, set up an emergency sub-committee on ‘Peace Aims’ even earlier, on 11 September 1939.14 In March 1940 the NPC chairman, Cyril Joad, wrote to the American Under-Secretary of State, Sumner Welles, asking him to help in creating an enduring peace by negotiation, including Hitler's Germany. This was to be a peace, Joad continued, ‘on the basis of a common justice and security for all nations’.15 Progressive opinion in Britain spent the whole war period campaigning for some form of world government which would result, in the words of one petition, ‘in a rising standard of life and potential happiness for all peoples’.16 Victory in 1945 was hailed as the moment of opportunity to realize a progressive and democratic utopia. This teleology was later captured by historians. Both Angus Calder's People's War 1939–1945 and Paul Addison's The Road to 1945 are chronicles of a grand historical morality tale.

The arrival of peace in 1945 made it possible for the rest of Europe to share in the German sense of ‘Hour Zero’ as a point of irreversible departure. There was self-evidently a widespread desire for a changed and more stable Europe from the one that had plunged into economic crisis and war in the 1930s, and the decade following 1945 was a period of economic revival, political stabilization, and greater international collaboration, a reality reflected in much of the later historical writing on the long economic boom and the emergence of détente, both of which seemed rooted in the postwar experience. Moreover, for tens of millions of Europeans the war had abruptly intervened in their private world, usually for the worse, often dramatically, which placed a premium not necessarily on replacing what was lost but on constructing a new and more secure (p. 65) basis on which the private sphere might flourish. They wanted to see 1945 as a clear break and invested those hopes in their memory of the war's end. ‘In peacetime,’ wrote Ulrich Simon, a German–Jewish exile in Britain in 1945, ‘individual destinies, released from the grip of wartime duties, assert their claims … Suddenly, we were all in a hurry to find a better life.’17

Much of the contemporary European history written since 1945 has focused on this divide as one that was historically meaningful. When Walter Laqueur wrote The Rebirth of Europe in 1970 his first two chapters were titled ‘The New Political Map’ and the ‘New Balance of Power’. He concluded that far from collapsing under the accumulated shocks of decades of war and civil war ‘Europe has shown a new vigour that has astonished friend and foe alike’.18 Most textbook series on Europe also take 1945 as the break point. There appeared to be a chronological unity to the thirty years of war, revolution, and civil war from 1914 to 1945. The First World War and the Second World War were bookends to the interwar years of crisis. ‘The Twenties were postwar, the Thirties were pre-war’, wrote the poet Hubert Nicholson in his memoirs in 1941.19

Just as many Europeans turned their backs on memories of the 1930s, of ideological confrontation, economic crisis, state violence, and terror, so historians shared that rejection of a darker age. The prevailing sense in the 1930s of impending crisis, particularly of the inevitability of war, cast a deep shadow over years in which other advances in science, technology, economic management, and education promised a brighter future. The widespread perception of Europe in the age of war as decadent or politically diseased meant that little effort was devoted to constructing clear lines of historical continuity. For national histories where the recent past was enmeshed with political crisis and violence, there were obvious advantages in promoting historical narratives that recovered different values. This was true even for the Soviet Union, a victor in 1945. As Amir Weiner has argued, the Second World War became the foundation myth for the Soviet system and 1945 a clear break with the confused past of revolution, collectivization, and the terror. Although Soviet public history still invoked the revolution, the break in 1945 was nevertheless perceived by many Soviet people as a necessary closure with the past.20

There were three main strands to the contemporary history (and political analysis) that emphasized the discontinuities in Europe's post-1945 experience. The first was the dramatic shift in the economic fortunes of Europe, the second the apparent arrival of greater political stability on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and the third was the emergence of the cold war as a permanent reminder of the new political geography of Europe. (p. 66) Little of this process of stabilization was immediately evident in 1945, but the historical writing that emerged between the 1960s and the 1980s embraced the process in teleological terms, as if stabilization were directly caused by the outcome in 1945. The processes of stabilization were not, of course, accidental. They relied heavily on the capacity of Europe to recover the trajectory of sustained economic growth evident before 1914. It was understood at the time that perhaps the principal key to creating a new Europe was to embrace a different economic system from the ones that had been practised in pre-war Europe.

Much of the European left had before 1939 looked to the Soviet Union as an example of economic planning and social justice, though not necessarily as a practical model. Radical nationalists had looked to some form of ‘New Order’ economy based on a combination of autarkic trading blocs, colonial exploitation, and the substitution of what one German banker called in 1939 the principle of ‘collective well-being’ for the old economic egoism.21 Conservative opinion had continued to favour old-fashioned free-market capitalism even though little case could any longer be made in the 1930s for unrestrained and unsupervised business activity. None of these prescriptions won much favour in Western and Central Europe after 1945; in eastern Europe the Soviet model was imposed piecemeal but willy-nilly. The British economist G. D. H. Cole summarized the failed options facing Europe from the pre-war world:

A return to the old, laissez-faire type of capitalism is simply out of the question. A restoration of the pre-1939 type of capitalism, based on restrictive monopolies each claiming the support of its own State for a policy of economic nationalism, will mean general impoverishment, and will be destroyed by unemployment. A quasi-Fascist capitalism, resting on a nationalistic basis and using the State as an instrument for keeping the poor in order and maintaining economic activity by State-subsidised public works, will lead either to renewed war or to collapse under an unbearable burden of debt and popular unrest.22

For Cole and other socialists, the answer after 1945 was to introduce a higher degree of international collaboration, economic planning, state ownership, and welfare to ensure that the depression years would not be repeated. Even liberals like John Maynard Keynes, who was no friend to ideas of state ownership and direction, recognized that after 1945 some kind of new order was unavoidable and necessary.23

Much of the historical literature on European economic recovery has focused on West German revival. The gulf between the years of recession, poor trade, state restrictions, and planning for war in the 1930s and the booming consumer and construction sectors in the 1950s made it evident that something changed dramatically in 1945. The explanations for this success are well known. West Germany embraced a balance between state (p. 67) economic steering and neoliberal economic individualism, and then exploited the changed international economic climate of collaborative trade agreements and open commerce to embark on a remarkable and sustained export boom.24 Volker Berghahn has argued that German industrialists after 1945 came to recognize that the established pre-war practices of cartel-building, price control, and market-share agreements were a barrier to re-entering the world market. Under pressure from the United States, something he calls the ‘Americanisation of West German industry’ took place, which helped to make German business more aware of the advantages of open competition and the disadvantages of a narrow conception of corporate defence.25 The model of a mixed economy, with the state steering policy in collaboration with key interest groups, was extended to all of western Europe after 1945, whatever the political complexion. State ownership was introduced for key services or for vulnerable sectors, but the economic success story of Europe up to the 1970s was based essentially on a compromise between the socialist vision in 1945 and the neoliberal aspirations of the political centre and right.

This was a process often assumed to apply only to the non-communist half of Europe, yet the economic record of the Eastern bloc also shows a sustained boom after 1945. The imposition of the Stalinist model of economic development produced a very different kind of society from the West, but it also helped to overcome much of the endemic poverty and the broad inequalities that characterized much of eastern Europe before 1939 (not including the massive economic damage resulting from a war of scorched earth across much of the border region of the Soviet Union). Even allowing for socialist exaggeration, and recognizing the environmental costs and the surviving economic inequalities in communist society, the entire Soviet-dominated region experienced a wave of industrial growth, better welfare facilities, health reform, and the possibility of social mobility. In East Germany agriculture was collectivized and industry taken over into ‘people's ownership’ (over 92 per cent of East Germans worked for state enterprises by 1973); the social structure changed sharply, the large agricultural labour force declined from 30 per cent in 1949 to 12.8 per cent in 1970, while the industrial workforce increased from 27 per cent to 36.8 per cent, and the tertiary sector from 12 per cent to 17 per cent.26 The reorganization of the economies of the Soviet bloc failed to provide the consumer opportunities that emerged in the West, but the gap between the two halves of Europe was not as wide in the first decades after 1945 as it was to become by the 1960s. The social wage in the Soviet system, even if it often amounted to poor services and inadequate (p. 68) welfare, did constitute a net addition for all households that had been almost entirely absent for the poorer fractions of the population before the Second World War.

The second strand in the story of Europe since 1945 has been the evidence of growing political stabilization. This was either created through voluntary collaboration between differing social classes and interest groups or imposed under the terms of the Soviet social model. Stabilization is of course a relative term. Europe in the generation after 1945 was divided between states ruled by dictatorships and states that were parliamentary democracies as it had been in the interwar years. There were insurgencies in Northern Ireland, the Basque region in Spain, and more distant insurgencies in the surviving colonial empires. The Soviet bloc practised widespread state terror and maintained concentration camps and political prisons for many years.

Nevertheless the exclusion or marginalization of political forces likely to create the instabilities of the pre-war era helped to create conditions for a relative stability. In West Germany, for example, both the Communist Party (KPD) and a number of fringe ultra-nationalist groups were banned under the terms of a constitution designed to give no platform to any organization which threatened its survival. In East Germany the bourgeois parties were either wound up or forced to join the ‘Socialist Unity Party’; the prevailing political culture of anti-fascism ensured that there would be no revival of the nationalist milieu. In Italy and France, communism survived as a mass movement but participated in parliamentary politics and avoided revolutionary rhetoric. In Britain the election of the first majority Labour government in July 1945 helped to transcend the legacy of the 1930s and create a cross-party realignment in favour of a mixed economy and a social welfare state. In Western Europe political balance rested on the ability of the political elite to incorporate the major business and labour interest groups in the pursuit of economic expansion, which was rightly seen as the key to a stable politics and opened the way to more generous welfare and educational reforms.

The relative stabilization of European politics also rested on the third strand of the postwar historical experience, the absence of a major war. This outcome was not entirely predictable, but by the 1950s and the age of nuclear confrontation and mutual deterrence, a major conflict in Europe generated by European territorial ambitions and national rivalries, which had created the conditions for two world wars, was unthinkable. The shift in mentalities has seldom been given the historical attention it deserves, but 1945 was a critical turning point in the view Europeans took of their power position and international interests.27 After 1945 the Soviet Union and the United States, with some hesitation on both sides, came to dominate the world order and to play a major part in shaping the political development of eastern and western Europe. The effect of the cold war was paradoxically a growing source of stability. The Soviet bloc united around the common defence of the peoples’ democracies against the threat of international capitalism and imperialism; the West, first through NATO, then through growing economic and political collaboration sealed in the European Economic Community in 1957 and (p. 69) the later European Union, understood that it had a common interest in avoiding conflict and containing or deterring the Soviet bloc. This did not mean that crisis was avoided, but it did make a major war unlikely and diverted national communities from expressing national interest in terms of chauvinistic antagonism or the desire for territorial aggrandizement or border revision.

The most remarkable break with the pre-1945 world was almost certainly the end of hundreds of years of European imperialism. The remaining colonial empires collapsed in the generation after 1945. The French wars for Vietnam and Algeria were the last throw of traditional imperialism and both failed. The unravelling of Europe's empires was accelerated by the hostility of both the United States and the Soviet Union. The Suez Crisis in 1956 was the point at which traditional imperial interests were finally discredited. European states lacked the means to sustain long wars in defence of empire, and also lacked widespread enthusiasm at home for doing so. More significant perhaps, as the recent historiography has illustrated, the final colonial conflicts were messy, violent, and involved harsh levels of European reprisal.28 These echoes of the German or Italian ‘dirty wars’ of the 1930s and 1940s were unsustainable by liberal democracies. The territorial and cultural perception of ‘empire’ was fatally wounded in 1945 as a result of the efforts of Germany, Italy, and Japan to construct new imperial orders during the war.

The Cold War also had the effect of diverting historical attention and popular memory from the crises of the war and pre-war years. In the West the deteriorating relations with the Soviet Union merely substituted one dictator for another. The American president, Harry Truman, said in May 1947: ‘There isn’t any difference in totalitarian states … Nazi, Communist or Fascist … they are all alike.’29 The concern with ‘totalitarianism’ differed from the attitude to dictatorship in the 1930s, when clear distinctions were usually made between Hitler and Stalin. It emerged from the growing awareness in the West of the apparently common character of the German and Soviet models of repression. Hannah Arendt, herself a refugee from pre-war Germany, famously analysed the components of totalitarianism in 1951. The effect was to help bridge the gap between the dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin by seeing them as varieties of a generic new authoritarianism.30 The intellectual current in the West focused on the new science of ‘Sovietology’ to try to understand the nature of the new enemy. Fear of the Soviet Union replaced the fear of Hitler and the terms of the ideological war shifted. The effect was to focus the concerns of contemporary history and political science on the present danger and to gloss over the historical realities of the pre-1945 conflict, which had ended in a victory that made possible a new age and buried the menace of ‘fascism’.

(p. 70) One result of this refocusing of threat was to avoid a serious evaluation of what had shaped the crisis leading to war and genocide and what the real circumstances, moral and physical, had been in the European area where both had been recently experienced. The amnesia expressed in German unwillingness to live any longer with their recent past in the years after the refounding of German states in 1949 was also reflected in a broader, non-German, desire not to confront the history of the 1930s and the war by reconstructing an honest narrative of the experience. For the historian this was also a problem of sources. Archives in Soviet bloc countries were largely closed to outside researchers as well as to the domestic historical establishment. Sources from Germany were scattered until the restitution treaties saw the slow return in the 1970s of originals from Britain and the United States. Other sources were generally closed until the 1970s or even later. As a result there was little serious European historical writing on the Holocaust until the 1980s. Gerald Fleming's Hitler and the Final Solution, published in 1985, was one of the first books to exploit archive resources other than those made available as a result of the postwar trials. Even more surprising, there was no serious history of the German concentration camps until the 1990s, and no academic research on the Soviet GULag system until the archives became partially opened in the late 1980s.31

This situation changed sharply in the late 1980s and the 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Some archives had been opened before that, but after 1990 a flood of new research was made possible on the wartime period or on the Soviet Union in the 1930s and the Stalinist terror. The greater availability of research sources was not, however, the only explanation. The impact in Germany after unification in 1990 of a younger generation of historians willing to discuss the Holocaust in more than abstract terms, or to research the role of the armed forces and other elite groups, demonstrated a greater openness in dealing with the past. The ‘Crimes of the Wehrmacht Exhibition’, which opened in Hamburg on 5 March 1995, aroused strong views both for and against the proposition that ordinary German soldiers had engaged in atrocity alongside the SS, but it helped to set an agenda in which the blank historical spaces before 1945 could now be filled in.32

This was followed by extensive research on the survival and re-employment of former office holders in the Third Reich, which exposed the extent to which much of Germany's elite in the first decades of the two new states had been implicated in the criminal activities of the dictatorship.33 This was partly a generational response. It is possible to argue (p. 71) that Germans who grew up with the Federal Republic in the 1950s and 1960s did not want to focus on the crimes of the dictatorship and those who perpetrated them, but instead wanted to claim a real ‘new beginning’ in 1949. The following generation, more secure with German democracy, wanted a more honest reckoning with the past. Yet this does not explain the wider cultural response in Europe to the new history, which also provoked a difficult and contested exploration of what many non-Germans did during the war as collaborators or perpetrators of atrocity. This culture, captured in the title of another of Daniel Goldhagen's books, A Moral Reckoning (this time on the failures of the Catholic Church to obstruct the genocide of the Jews), created new imperatives to represent the year 1945 not as a new beginning but as a reference point designed deliberately to obscure the grimmer realities before it.34

The ambiguity at the heart of 1945 (or ‘Hour Zero’) as a moment of closure and a new point of departure was evident at the time. There were uncertainties among British celebrations of 1945. George Orwell's 1984, already worked out in the author's mind early in the war though only published in 1949, reflected his fear that victory would not end the growing march of state power, mind-numbing propaganda and endless wars.35 In late 1945 Orwell wrote to his fellow author, Arthur Koestler, suggesting that since a third world war was likely in the near future, a campaign for ‘psychological disarmament’ should be launched to abate the hatreds and suspicions that gave rise to war. Koestler agreed and set out plans for a League for the Rights of Man to try to combat what he saw as a growing ‘contempt for democratic traditions’ in the Western states. His efforts to recruit the philosopher Bertrand Russell foundered on the latter's belief that atomic war might occur in two or three years’ time, making any gestures for peace apparently pointless.36

Fear of atomic destruction also coloured the approach of the historian Arnold Toynbee, who shared little of the optimism of the left in Britain that victory would usher in a revived civilization. He thought atomic power brought civilization closer to the edge of destruction than ever before. His gloomy prognoses made him perhaps the natural choice when the Royal Institute for International Affairs in London, where he had been research director before the war, looked for a keynote speaker for a conference on ‘The Passing of Europe’ or ‘The Passing of the Hegemony of the White Race’ in early 1946.37 The eventual emergence in Britain of a democratic and progressive consensus masked the extent to which confidence in victory was tinged with fear of disaster.

(p. 72) This ambiguity was much more marked in states which had suffered the full effects of occupation and destruction. In Italy the end of the war was in itself fraught with contradiction: for the Italian state, war had ended on 8 September 1943 with unconditional surrender to the Allies, but war had continued regardless on Italian territory because of the German occupation that followed Italian capitulation. Moreover, the founding in late 1943 of the Italian Social Republic (generally known as the Salò Republic, after the town on Lake Garda) meant that some Italians continued to fight at Germany's side as an Axis ally. Allied victory in Italy on 2 May 1945 had Italians on both sides, as co-belligerents with the United Nations and as Axis co-belligerents. The Italian public was temporarily caught, as Guido Crainz has put it, between ‘hope and fear’, between ‘a heavy past and a very uncertain future.’38

There existed the same desire to try to eradicate the past that could be found in Germany, and the Allies encouraged a moral reckoning with those who had actively supported Italian Fascism both before and after 1943. But the work of the Allies had to be different in Italy, since the Italian state was formally an ally. An Allied Commission collaborated with the Italian authorities in purging the Italian state bureaucracy of fascists. Extraordinary courts were established (Corti straordinarie di Assise) to assess the degree of culpability. Some 23,213 state officials were investigated, 1879 were dismissed, and 671 compulsorily retired.39 Leading fascists were arrested but far fewer were put on trial than in Germany. The Allied Commission wound up its activities on 31 March 1946 while the trial of the major war criminals was still going on at Nuremberg. Only in the last decades have historians begun to explore what this meant for postwar Italy, where bitter divisions have always existed between the legacy of the Resistance and of the fascist state. A neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano was founded in December 1946 and thirty years later former fascists and neo-fascists had penetrated into many areas of Italian public life. By 1971, for example, around 95 per cent of Italy's senior civil servants had begun their careers before 1943 under the Mussolini dictatorship. The result was what Claudio Pavone has called ‘the continuity of the state’.40

In France the ambiguity of victory was also shaped by wartime political realities. The Vichy regime established under Marshal Philippe Pétain in June 1940 was hailed by some of the population as an opportunity for a new beginning, and allegiance was seen as a test of patriotism. The Free French under Charles de Gaulle laid claim to be the true inheritors of the French state in 1940, but until French forces re-entered France in the summer of 1944 it was a claim that existed only on paper. French sympathies were not entirely with the conquering Allies; when de Gaulle entered Notre Dame Cathedral the day after the liberation of Paris he was fired at by a French sniper. The divided nature of liberated French society was expressed in a wave of violence directed at French fascists (p. 73) and collaborators with Vichy, many of whom had seen themselves only months before as true French patriots. In the summer of 1944 thousands of collaborators, perhaps as many as 15,000, were executed in informal acts of political revenge, the épuration sauvage.41 The judicial authorities then intervened and out of 350,000 people investigated for collaboration, a further 1502 were executed.

Many major political figures who had sat in national and department bodies, or had been appointed to state offices under Vichy were barred from election or office, but thousands of other local councillors and municipal officials were allowed to remain.42 This experience of liberation and victory has provoked decades of argument among historians about the nature of collaboration and resistance, and has continued to divide French opinion. The reaction to the trial during 1997–8 of the former secretary-general of the Gironde prefecture, Maurice Papon, accused of deporting Jews from Bordeaux, highlighted the difficulty in integrating Vichy into any consensual narrative of the recent French past. French opinion was divided over whether the case should have been brought at all, whether he was simply doing his job or was a real Holocaust perpetrator, or whether or not Vichy collaborators should have been brought back, as in Papon's case, into mainstream French politics. But not until the late 1960s and early 1970s had the real extent of Vichy cooperation with the German New Order been exposed, and not fully until the scholarship of the past dozen years.43 France too suffered from the German problem of Vergangenheitsbewältigung [overcoming the past] with its own ‘crise de l’histoire’. Passing back through the 1945 two-way door remains a painful exercise.

One of the most sensitive areas in the story of pre-1945 France was official French treatment of the victims of the Spanish Civil War, 226,000 of whom fled to France during 1939 as victory for Franco's forces was finally secured. They were housed in rough camps until many returned to Spain. The approximately 25,000 who remained in September 1939 were placed in enclosures that closely resembled the concentration camps. These camps—with guards, barbed wire, dirty ill-kept barracks, endemic disease, and debilitating labour—were filled up not only with the Spanish refugees and former Republican soldiers, but with thousands of aliens, many of them Jewish, who had taken refuge in France from political and racial persecution.44 Among them was the journalist Arthur Koestler, who recalled in The Scum of the Earth, his wartime account of the camp he was sent to at Le Vernet, that the prisoners, many of whom died, suffered neglect, (p. 74) poor food, minimal medical care, and freezing temperatures with little protection. He thought Le Vernet ‘the zero-point of infamy’, though still a few degrees above Dachau.45 In total, seven concentration camps were established for Spanish refugees in 1939 and a further 87 for alleged ‘enemy aliens’.

Later, under Vichy, camps were also created for the internment or deportation of Jews living in France. The details of this camp system, like the camps and penal colonies established in Mussolini's Italy, have been the subject of serious scholarship only in the past twenty years, and remain a contested narrative.46 The same is true of the terror imposed by the Franco regime after victory in the Civil War in March 1939 on all those opponents unfortunate enough to remain in Spain. As Dolores Silvestre has pointed out, a silence persisted about the repression even after the end of the Franco dictatorship.47 The violent suppression of the anarchist, socialist, and liberal opposition, which resulted in 240,916 political prisoners by the end of 1940, and an estimated death toll of 50,000, went on across the whole period of the war, while the guerrilla warfare waged by anarchist groups concealed in the Pyrenees and other remote areas was not finally ended until the early 1950s, involving the death of around 5000 fighters and the torture and imprisonment of their families.48 In this contest between the Spanish security forces and the residue of republican resistance, the year 1945 had little significance. Spain followed its own chronology, the harsh nationalist dictatorship disappearing only in 1975, when it at last became possible to reintegrate Spain into the mainstream of democratic and economically successful Western Europe.

The problem was also evident in the Soviet Union and the Eastern European bloc where the anti-fascist and anti-imperialist discourse made it possible to gloss over what was actually happening in Eastern Europe in 1945 and its immediate aftermath. For example the ‘notes’ of Daniil Kraminov, a Soviet war correspondent in 1945 when the war ended, published as late as 1985, were used to present the standard Soviet discourse on the end of the war and the collapse of the wartime alliance. He recalled meeting wealthy, well-dressed British and American officers in northern Germany after Hitler's suicide on 30 April 1945, ‘who could not tell a self-propelled gun from a tank’ and who were principally interested in taking over German industrial shares and re-establishing lines of capitalist communication:

‘How come you are here?’ thundered one of the newly created army majors from the large millionaire family of the du Ponts [to Kraminov] … ‘What are you doing here among the Allies—the British and the Americans?’ ‘We too are your allies,’ one of us (p. 75) reminded him. ‘You apparently didn’t know or have forgotten about it.’ ‘All alliances are temporary,’ the young du Pont cut him short. ‘And this alliance will soon come to an end.’49

Kraminov echoed the standard Soviet line that Soviet goodwill and Soviet good behaviour in 1945 were spurned by the return of reactionary and imperialist politics on the other side ‘that undermined the anti-fascist coalition’ and later ‘launched the cold war’.50 This is a line of argument that has not finally died out even after the collapse of the Soviet order.

It is now well known that Stalin would have taken much more in 1945 if he thought he could have got it. ‘We toyed with the idea of reaching Paris’, he told the French communist leader Maurice Thorez in 1947.51 Soviet reactions were understandably opportunistic, not ideological. But the long period in which the standard Soviet story saw 1945 as a moment of decent communist triumph masked some very harsh realities, from the mass rape of German and Central European women by the Red Army (which was until recently almost entirely ignored even in Western historiography) to the savage counter-insurgency wars waged along the Soviet borderlands from 1944 until the late 1940s. While the Red Army was completing the rout of what was left of German forces in 1945, Soviet security men and military units were fighting pacification wars against armed resistance movements in the Baltic States, in eastern Poland, in the Ukraine, and Slovakia. These were areas that did not want to be under Soviet rule and the nationalist movements, themselves often divided, fought a desperate rearguard action against the new occupiers.

Almost nothing has been known of these conflicts until the archives became more readily available; the first major book on the Soviet pacification campaign was produced only in 2010, Alexander Statiev's Soviet Counterinsurgency. Using extensive new primary material, Statiev shows that between 1944 and 1946 some 132,900 ‘anti-Soviet’ elements were killed in the borderland areas and 194,433 arrested.52 Since 1990 more has been known of the fate of returning Soviet prisoners-of-war for whom 1945 was not a new beginning but a return to the 1930s habits of suspicion and irrational punishment. In the areas brought under the direct control of Soviet armed forces and security services, hundreds of thousands were rounded up and deported to camps in the Soviet Union. The real history of the Soviet victory in 1945 is one of savage reimposition of authority, thousands of deaths, mass deportation, and dispossession.

Through the thin membrane of 1945 there have been many other harsh truths that the former communist bloc has had to confront. Some of these involve complicity in the violence meted out to political groups and ethnic enemies in 1945 and the years (p. 76) immediately following; some involve collaboration with the ambitions of Hitler's Germany, including participation in the Holocaust. The reaction to the book published in 2001 by the American scholar Jan Gross, which exposed the participation of a group of ethnic Poles in July 1941 in killing the Jewish inhabitants of Jedwabne, was predictably mixed.53 The hostility aroused in Romania once the history of the wartime killing of Jews in Transnistria and southern Ukraine was firmly established was equally marked. In both cases the knowledge of participation in wartime atrocity involves difficult questions of memory and identity. For states keen to shed the residue of fifty years of communist domination, it was important to find a ‘usable’ history from the period beforehand, but at the same time it has been difficult to incorporate what often amounted to complicity in the crimes of the dictatorships. In Ukraine this has led to the paradox that Stepan Bandera, leader of the Ukrainian National Army in the war, fighting against Germans, Poles, and Russians, and hostile to the Jews, can be seen by some Ukrainians as a national hero in the pantheon of a post-communist state, despite his earlier reputation as a ruthless bandit.

All of these problems, throughout all of Europe, show the extent to which ‘1945’ became a convenient alibi for a history that did not fit the idea of a new beginning, an end to violence and a stable and moral politics. The awkward questions raised by historians and journalists about that reality challenge a distorted or partisan view of the past whose survival is still sustained in current political and social discourses.

Beside the rediscovery of the complex reality of 1945 there are other obvious continuities that traverse the end of the war. For economic historians, historians of consumption, or cultural historians the divide does not mean a great deal. The narratives of material and cultural life, though affected by the temporary interruption of war, can be traced backwards and forwards without difficulty. Among the recent economic history of Germany has been an attempt to assess what the economy of the Third Reich contributed to the postwar economic boom.54 This is to reverse the traditional narrative quite sharply, but there are evident links, not least in the survival of firms and individuals. The classic example is the career of the banker Hermann Abs who worked for Deutsche Bank during the Third Reich and participated in acquiring foreign shareholdings under the New Order. He was reinstated after the war and became one of West Germany's most respected and successful financiers.55

But there were many more individuals in German industry and commerce who spanned the dictatorship and contributed to the German economic revival. The most startling example of business continuity is the Volkswagen firm, first set up under the (p. 77) National Socialist Labour Front in 1938 following Hitler's insistent demand for a small, cheap family car, constructed during 1939–40 in Wolfsburg and then used as the site for the revival of the German car industry from 1947. By 1960 the firm had sold one million vehicles and exported cars in large numbers to British and American consumers who knew little or nothing about its political origins.56 The legacy from pre-1945 was not in any sense a straightforward one, but it proved possible to sustain continuity and by adapting swiftly to changed external conditions.

There are also evident continuities with the Cold War. The difficulty of incorporating the Soviet Union into the prevailing international order after 1945 was nothing new. Something like a ‘Cold War’ also existed in the interwar years after the end of Western intervention in the Russian Civil War. Fears about Soviet ambitions and the spread of communism dominated considerations about managing the international order in Western capitals. The Soviet Union was invited to join the League of Nations in 1934 but survived only five years before being expelled for the war with Finland in 1939–40. When Hitler penned the strategic memorandum that formed the basis of the Second Four Year Plan launched in October 1936, his prime concern was the growing size of the Red Army and the threat that Bolshevism posed to European civilization.57 There were those in the West who thought that it was better to turn Hitler against the Soviet Union as a shield against the spread of communism. It will be difficult for historians to claim Hitler as the first cold warrior, but the conflict with the Soviet Union, real or imagined, lasted the whole life of the dictatorship and was only sharpened, not caused, by Soviet success in 1945.

For historians, 1945 has become a permeable dividing line. In its own terms the history of that victory and its immediate aftermath is full of ambiguity and paradox. 1945 was neither a clean end nor a clean beginning. The historical weight it bears reflects more on the way in which the break was perceived and exploited at the time, as an opportunity to found a socialist Europe, or to build a better economy or to end the age of national and imperial rivalry. The year 1945 was filled with meaning by contemporaries and those meanings helped to shape collective memories and popular myths about what the break seemed to symbolize. A better case might be made today for 1917/18 as the real dividing line of the twentieth century, for the upheavals the Great War generated really shaped what was to happen over the following eighty years, including the blood-soaked decade between 1939 and 1949.

Even if 1945 retains its textbook neatness, it is perhaps time now for historians to write the history of ‘Europe 1939–1949’. It is during the 1940s as a whole that the great majority of the continent's violent twentieth-century deaths occurred; the violence abated in 1945, but certainly did not end. The social, political, and ideological conflicts of pre-1945 survived into the years following the peace and make 1945 for the historian a messy, (p. 78) contradictory, and unsatisfactory point at which to start or finish stages of European history. The rediscovery of progress in the 1950s was not an automatic consequence of the deadly decade that preceded it, but it brought the massive violence to an end and won back some of that lost trajectory of 1914.

Further Reading

Diefendorf, Jeffrey, In the Wake of War: The Reconstruction of German Cities after World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).Find this resource:

    Domenico, Roy P., Italian Fascists on Trial, 1943–1948 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991).Find this resource:

      Frei, Norbert, Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002).Find this resource:

        Golsan, Richard J., Vichy's Afterlife: History and Counterhistory in Postwar France (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2000).Find this resource:

          Gregor, Neil, Haunted City: Nuremberg and the Nazi Past (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008).Find this resource:

            Herf, Jeffrey, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).Find this resource:

              Knapp, Andrew (ed.), The Uncertain Foundation: France at the Liberation, 1944–47 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).Find this resource:

                Leffler, Melvyn P. and David S. Painter (eds), Origins of the Cold War: An International History (London: Routledge, 1995).Find this resource:

                  Sanchez, Antonio C., Fear and Progress: Ordinary Lives in Franco's Spain 1939–1975 (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010).Find this resource:

                    Statiev, Alexander, The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).Find this resource:

                      Weiner, Amir, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001).Find this resource:

                        Wiesen, S. Jonathan, West German Industry and the Challenge of the Nazi Past, 1945–1955 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001).Find this resource:

                          Zubok, Vladislav and Constantine Pleshakov, Inside the Kremlin's Cold War: From Stalin to Khrushchev (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996).Find this resource:


                            (1) Grover Smith (ed.), Letters of Aldous Huxley (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969), 520, letter from Huxley to Hermann Broch, 7 May 1945.

                            (2) The term Stunde Null is often rendered as ‘zero hour’ but this English form has another meaning and does not sufficiently convey the idea, implicit in the term ‘hour zero’, that this was a point caught precisely between two moments: a past that had disappeared and a future that was as yet unshaped.

                            (3) Richard Bessel, Germany 1945: From War to Peace (London: HarperCollins, 2009), 6.

                            (4) Irmgard Hunt, On Hitler's Mountain: My Nazi Childhood (London: Atlantic Books, 2005), 236.

                            (5) Library of Congress, Washington DC, Eaker papers, I/30, intelligence sector Mediterranean Allied Air Forces, ‘What is the German Saying?’ [n.d. but late 1944], conversation of a German Rear-Admiral captured at Toulon, 28 August 1944.

                            (6) François Genoud (ed.), The Testament of Adolf Hitler: The Hitler-Bormann Documents (London: Cassell, 1961), 104, entry for 2 April 1945.

                            (7) Achim Kilian, Einzuweisen zur völligen Isolierung NKWD-Speziallager Mühlberg/Elbe 1945–1948 (Leipzig: Forum, 1993), 7; Bessel, Germany 1945, 186–7.

                            (8) On the trials, see Donald Bloxham, Genocide on Trial: War Crimes Trials and the Formation of Holocaust History and Memory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

                            (9) Norbert Frei, Adenauer's Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 9, 38–9; see too Konrad Jarausch, After Hitler: Recivilizing Germans, 1945–1995 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 46–55.

                            (10) Neil Gregor, Haunted City: Nuremberg and the Nazi Past (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008), 175–7.

                            (11) Jeffrey Diefendorf, In the Wake of War: The Reconstruction of German Cities after World War II (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), xvii–xviii; Hartwig Beseler and Niels Gutschow (eds), Kriegsschicksale Deutscher Architektur: Verluste-Schäden-Wiederaufbau, 2 vols (Neumünster: Karl Wachlotz, 1988), I, xxxvii.

                            (12) See for example Mary Fulbrook, The People's State: East German Society from Hitler to Honeker (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008); Klaus Larres and Panikos Panayi (eds), The Federal Republic of Germany since 1949 (London: Longman, 1996); Jan Palmowski, Inventing a Socialist Nation: Heimat and the Politics of Everyday Life in the GDR, 1945–90 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

                            (13) A. Ruth Fry, 1945: Annus Mirabilis (privately printed, 1945), 2, 5.

                            (14) London School of Economics (LSE) archive, NPC papers, 2/5, minutes of special meeting of the Executive Committee, 11 September 1939.

                            (15) LSE archive, NPC 2/5, letter from Joad to Welles, 13 March 1940.

                            (16) Liverpool University special collections, Jones papers, D48/7 (i), Petition ‘A First Step towards World Government’.

                            (17) Ulrich Simon, Sitting in Judgement 1913–1963 (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 1978), 89.

                            (18) Walter Laqueur, The Rebirth of Europe: A History of the Years since the Fall of Hitler (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970), 10, 14, 403.

                            (19) Hubert Nicholson Half My Days and Nights (London: William Heinemann, 1941), 100.

                            (20) Amir Weiner, ‘The Making of a Dominant Myth: The Second World War and the Construction of Political Identities within the Soviet Polity’, Russian Review 55 (1996), 638–60.

                            (21) Bank of England archive, OV34, vol. 9, conversation with Dr Emil Puhl in Basle, 12 June 1939.

                            (22) G.d.h. Cole, Europe, Russia and the Future (London: Victor Gollancz, 1941), 53–4.

                            (23) The National Archive, T160/995, memorandum by Keynes ‘Proposals to counter the German “New Order”’, 1 December 1940: ‘What we will offer,’ wrote Keynes, ‘is the same as what Dr Funk [German Economics Minister] offers, except that we shall do it better and more honestly.’

                            (24) The best account of the process is Anthony Nicholls, Freedom with Responsibility: The Social Market Economy in Germany 1918–1963 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994). See too James Van Hook, Rebuilding Germany: The Creation of the Social Market Economy 1945–1957 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Rebecca Boehling, A Question of Priorities: Democratic Reform and Economic Recovery in Postwar Germany (Oxford: Berghahn Books, 1996).

                            (25) Volker Berghahn, The Americanisation of West German Industry, 1945–1973 (Leamington Spa: Berg, 1986).

                            (26) Statistics from Fulbrook, The People's State, 34–5.

                            (27) David Reynolds ‘The European Dimension of the Cold War’, in Melvyn P. Leffler and David S. Painter (eds), Origins of the Cold War: An International History (London: Routledge, 1995), 126–38.

                            (28) See for example David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005).

                            (29) John L. Gaddis, The Long Peace: Inquiries into the History of the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 36.

                            (30) Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism (London: Allen & Unwin, 1958). See the recent critical analysis in Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick (eds), Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

                            (31) Gerald Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1985). On the opening of GULag archives, Edward Bacon, Stalin's Forced Labour System in the Light of the Archives (London: Macmillan, 1994). On the concentration camps, Wolfgang Sofsky, The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1999); Karin Orth Das System der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager: Eine politische Organisationsgeschichte (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1999).

                            (32) Hans-Günther Thiele (ed.), Die Wehrmachtsausstellung: Dokumentation einer Kontroverse (Bremen: Temmen, 1997).

                            (33) Frei, Adenauer's Germany, esp. chs 34. See too the discussion on continuities and confrontations in Jeffrey Herf, Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).

                            (34) Daniel J. Goldhagen, A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair (New York: Vintage Books, 2002).

                            (35) University College, London, Orwell Archive, B/1, literary notebooks 1939/40, 36–7, ‘The Last Man in Europe’ synopsis.

                            (36) George Orwell, Smothered under Journalism: 1946, ed. Peter Davison (London: Secker &Warburg, 1998), 7–8; University of Edinburgh, Koestler Archive, MS 2345/2, Orwell to Koestler, enclosing draft of a petition, p. 1; draft proposal by Koestler for League for the Rights of Man, p. 1.

                            (37) Bodleian Library, Oxford, Toynbee papers, Box 39, Margaret Cleeve (RIIA) to Toynbee, 12 December 1945.

                            (38) Guido Crainz, L’Ombra della Guerra. Il 1945, l’Italia (Rome: Donzelli, 2007), 9.

                            (39) Roy P. Domenico, Italian Fascists on Trial, 1943–1948 (Chapel Hill, NC: North Carolina University Press, 1991), 267–8.

                            (40) Ibid., 224; Claudio Pavone, Alle origini della repubblica: scritti su fascismo, antifascismo e continuità dello Stato (Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 1995), 140–3.

                            (41) Philippe Bourdrel, L’ épuration sauvage, 1944–1945 (Paris: Perrin, 2002), 535–9, 558; Jean-Paul Cointet, Expier Vichy: L’ épuration en France 1943–1958 (Paris: Perrin, 2008), 87–124. There is no final agreed figure on the number of those summarily executed, but most authors now favour a figure between 10,000 and 15,000.

                            (42) Olivier Wieviorka, ‘Replacement or Renewal? The French Political Elite at the Liberation’, in Andrew F. Knapp (ed.), The Uncertain Foundation: France at the Liberation, 1944–47 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007), 76–8; Andrew F. Knapp, ‘France's “Long” Liberation, 1944–47’, in ibid., 7–8.

                            (43) Richard J. Golsan, Vichy's Afterlife: History and Counterhistory in Postwar France (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), 2–3, 11–12.

                            (44) Details on French camps from Anne Grynberg, Les camps de la honte: les internés juifs des camps français 1939–1944 (Paris: Éditions la Découverte, 1991), 8–9, 40–52.

                            (45) Arthur Koestler, The Scum of the Earth (London: Jonathan Cape, 1941), 103.

                            (46) On Italy see Carlo S. Capogreco, I campi del duce: L’internamento civile nell’Italia fascista [1940–1943] (Turin: Einaudi, 2004).

                            (47) Dolores Silvestre, Clandestinos: El Maquis contra el franquismo 1934–1975 (Barcelona: Plaza Janés, 2002), 11.

                            (48) David Baird, Between Two Fires: Guerrilla War in the Spanish Sierras (Málaga: Maroma Press, 2008), 91–2; Antonio C. Sánchez, Fear and Progress: Ordinary Lives in Franco's Spain 1939–1975 (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 30–1.

                            (49) Daniil Kraminov, The Spring of 1945: Notes by a Soviet War Correspondent (Moscow: Novosti Press, 1985), 75–6.

                            (50) Ibid., 118.

                            (51) Cited in John L. Gaddis, The Cold War (London: Allen Lane, 2005), 14.

                            (52) Calculated from Alexander Statiev, The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 110.

                            (53) Jan Gross, Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland 1941 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001). For the debate, see Anthony Polonsky and Joanna Michlic (eds), The Neighbours Respond: The Controversy over the Jedwabne Massacre in Poland (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004), particularly Bogdan Musiał, ‘The Pogrom in Jedwabne: Critical Remarks about Jan T. Gross's Neighbors’, 304–43.

                            (54) S. Jonathan Wiesen, West German Industry and the Challenge of the Nazi Past, 1945–1955 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2001).

                            (55) Lothar Gall, Der Bankier: Hermann Josef Abs. Eine Biographie (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2004).

                            (56) Walter H. Nelson, Small Wonder: The Amazing Story of the Volkswagen (London: Hutchinson, 1967), 218–26.

                            (57) On Hitler's obsession with Bolshevism, see Lorna Waddington, Hitler's Crusade: Bolshevism and the Myth of the International Jewish Conspiracy (London: I. B. Tauris, 2008).