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War Crimes

In response to:

From Hirohito to Heimat from the October 26, 1989 issue

To the Editors:

I’m surprised Ian Buruma, in “From Hirohito to Heimat” [NYR, October 26] should read my book In Hitler’s Shadow as expressing a “desire for the Soviet empire in central Europe to stay forever frozen, lest ethnic and nationalist tension break out all over again.” What I actually wrote, in a qualified defense of the 1945 peace settlement, was that most of the causes of the ethnic and nationalist tensions, above all between the Germans and others in East-Central Europe, had been removed by the population transfers that followed the war, indefensible though these were in the brutal way they were carried out. In addition, the domination of West and East Germany by the respective superpowers curbed what nationalist fervor there might have remained. The argument was about history, not about the future; and although I argue for the boundary changes of 1945 to be respected, it’s not legitimate to read my book as arguing that the Soviets should stay in occupation of the GDR, Czechoslovakia and other neighbouring countries in perpetuity. It doesn’t, and they shouldn’t.

Richard J. Evans
Department of History
Birkbeck College
University of London
London, England

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