Martin Broszat, Saul Friedländer and the historicisation of the Third Reich
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In 1987, Martin Broszat (1926-1989) and Saul Friedländer (born 1932) debated the concept of “historicisation” in an exchange of letters. These letters were first published in the German premier journal Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Quarterly for Contemporary History) and were eventually reproduced in other publications and translated into English. Today, the exchange between Broszat and Friedländer is viewed as one of the classic controversies in the historiography of the Third Reich and the Holocaust and is occasionally referred to as the “historicisation debate.” This thesis offers a historiographical analysis of the works of both Martin Broszat and Saul Friedländer. The central aim of this thesis is to identify, contextualise and examine the major themes of the historicisation debate. The first chapter provides an introduction to, and a close reading of, the letter exchange and further identifies the three major themes that structure the following three chapters: identity; history, memory and narrative construction; and the centrality of the Holocaust in the Nazi past. Each of these three chapters is divided into two sections: the first half is devoted to Broszat, the second half to Friedländer. The conclusion offers a comparison between their historiographical positions.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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