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Jonathan Kaplan

Junior Fellow (10/2018–06/2019)


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the German Democratic Republic and the National Socialist Past


KAPLANThis project deals with different perspectives on the post-war confrontation with the National Socialist past in the East German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. First, I analyse biographies of former members of the National Socialist Party and of other Nazi organisations who after 1945 developed a diplomatic career in the GDR. I then turn to the story of East German Jewish diplomats and politicians and portray their significant role in designing GDR foreign policy. The political attitude of these Jewish diplomats towards Israel, Zionism, and the Jewish world had a central place in their diplomatic activities. An example of confronting historical issues in actual foreign policies will be given by concentrating on the GDR’s international campaigns against former Nazi criminals in the Federal Republic. These efforts were followed by publishing incriminating material on former Nazis and by reaching out to and co-operating with international Jewish organisations. The confrontation of “the first Socialist state of workers and farmers on German soil” with its own past, despite its initial denial of this past, paints a fascinating picture of post-war German society that affects Germany to this very day.


Jonathan Kaplan is a PhD candidate in History at the Free University of Berlin. He holds a BA in Political Science and History and an MA in History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His MA thesis was entitled ‘The German Question’ in the East-German Historiography, 1945–1961. Culture, Territory and Enemies. From 2009 to 2012, he was a fellow at the Richard Koebner Minerva Center for German History.

May 2024
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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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