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Who is a Nazi victim? Constructing Victimhood through Post-War Reparations in France, Germany and Switzerland

a CEES public lecture by Regula Ludi, a Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

My presentation today deals with the question of how post-war victim reparations have transformed the fact of someone’s victimization into normative ideas of victimhood and how they have contributed to a particular understanding of Nazi persecution. I use the term “constructing victimhood” to characterize this relation. This expression might sound awkward in the context of Nazi persecution. Terms like construction or production, when used to describe social, cultural and political phenomena, tend to convey the impression that something is invented or even fabricated, therefore not a given reality. It is of course not my intention to leave this impression or question the nature of Nazi persecution. But instead, I use the term in the attempt of capturing developments and phenomena of the immediate post-war era.

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