2004
Volume 123, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

Many historians believe that the aim of their work is to produce an objective and accurate reconstruction of the past, disposed of moral and political judgements. Analysing various scandals and controversies regarding the history and memory of World War II , Dutch colonialism and the Dutch involvement in Srebrenica, the authors aim to show that pleas to free historiography from the traditional patriotic moral schemes did not led to a supposed ‘scientific neutrality’. In contrary, we saw other values rise to predominance, stemming from the common sense idea that most people just try to survive and that life actually depends fully on fate. Within this ‘grey perspective’ any notion of social and moral responsibility is dissolved, while at the same time perpetrators and victims are implicitly equated. To escape the trap of a naive empiricism and to avoid traditional patriotic moralism as well as the ethical indifference of what has been called the ‘grey perspective’, the authors point to more sophisticated strategies to assess the (changing) attitudes, beliefs and acts of historical personae, departing from a multifocal perspective, just like Saul Friedlander did in his magnum opus on the Third Reich and the Jews.

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2010-09-01
2021-12-04
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  • Article Type: Research Article
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