Chapter

Belsen for beginners: the holocaust in British heritage

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Abstract

The Second World War brought suffering and trauma to the people of Europe on an unprecedented scale. While Europeans were not strangers to the harsh realities of international conflict, World War II galvanised a new range of destructive forces that shook the continent to its intellectual, psychological and material foundations. The Lasting War explores World War II as a common European trauma, focusing on key trans-national developments in post-war Britain, France and Germany. Acknowledging the importance of all experience, The Lasting War invites the reader to reflect on the role that trauma and expectations play in our relation with others and ourselves, abandoning the traditional categories of victor, perpetrator and victim in favour of a broader humanistic reading of wartime Europe. Ultimately, this is a book which attempts to encourage a fresh reading of the post-war years, offering new insights into civilian war experience and identity in twentieth century Europe.

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