It took a joint effort by the victors and the vanquished to bring about such a fundamental reorientation. In the aftermath of World War II, the Allies forced the defeated and divided Germans to demilitarize, denationalize, and decartelize, thereby setting them on a path towards physical recovery. During the 1960s and early 1970s, however, internal rethinking began to overshadow outside intervention as the Germans themselves began westernizing their political culture and democratizing their outlook. A younger generation also vocally protested the status quo. As a united Germany rose from the ruins of the Berlin Wall after 1989, the Germans attempted to complete their material and moral metamorphosis by repudiating communism, adopting a commitment to human rights, and dealing with contentious issues of immigration and citizenship. Viewed from the vantage point of the physical and moral devastation of 1945, this rebirth is a truly astounding success story, providing a unique look at a nation's recovery from dictatorship and its atonement for massive crimes.
Unlike other intellectual inquiries into German efforts to deal with the Nazi past, After Hitler primarily focuses on the practical lessons a disoriented people drew from their past misdeeds, and their struggle to create a new society with a sincere and deep commitment to human rights. After Hitler offers a comprehensive view of the breathtaking transformation of the Germans from the defeated Nazi accomplices and Holocaust perpetrators of 1945 to the civilized, democratic people of today's Germany.
Keywords: HISTORY / Europe / Germany HIS014000