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Ger Hist. 2011;29(3):365-79.

War, suffering and modern German history.

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  • 1University of Toronto.


This introduction proceeds in five steps. First, it briefly considers the etymology of the term "suffering," as well as the way in which scholars from different disciplines have approached it conceptually and empirically. Second, drawing on the contributions to this issue, it raises general themes emerging from the study of the Thirty Years, Franco-Prussian and First World Wars, with particular attention to gender, the disabled, and Jewish-German veterans. Finally, it considers the most politically contested field of German suffering - the Second World War - and reflects on how that suffering can be narrated and understood without running into the intellectual dead ends of either self-pity or collective guilt.

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