Shlomo Avineri is a professor of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His books include The Social and Political Thought of Marx and, most recently, a study of Moses Hess entitled Prophet of Communism and Zionism.
Imagine the following: some time in the autumn of 1945, a journalist arrives in defeated Germany. He is neither American nor British, nor does he have German or Jewish ancestry. He is objective, sensitive and imaginative. He writes well, his ear is open to the nuances of human suffering, he can see through the manipulations of power. He is not going to write the history of World War Two, its ramifications or antecedents. Nor is his story going to be a systematic study of American (or British, or for that matter, Soviet) occupation of what was the Third Reich. He is interested in the human story, in the wounded sensibilities of occupier and occupied, of victor and vanquished. He finds a country devastated by Allied saturation bombing, its cities razed to the ground, most of its urban population homeless, hungry and cold. Millions of civilians, many of them women and children, wander aimlessly across the land, their only crime that of being German. Many have been expelled from their ancestral land in the east by Soviet, Polish and Czech authorities.
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