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Our Ancestors The Germans (Nos ancetres les Germains)

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Original Language: French | 250 pp. | August 2012

Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Icelandic, and English (USA & Canada) Rights.

Depending on the publisher and the quality of the translation, translations from the French can be funded by the Centre national du livre in Paris.

HISTORY

Our ancestors the Germans. Archaeologists in Nazi service

Put to work by the Nazis, archaeology supplied scientific legitimacy to racial purification and the Germanification carried out by the Third Reich.

It was an embarrassing secret that weighed heavily on post-war European archaeology. It was impossible to recognise that, while Nazi planners were reorganising Europe through exterminations and displacing whole populations to people a new Europe dominated by a “Greater Germany”, archaeologists were rewriting the history of a European continent; mastered since the origin of man by the conquests of a “superior German race”.

During the Second World War 86% of German archaeologists were members of the Nazi party. Their mission was to show that Germans had been present in Europe, including the most improbably regions, since antiquity, thus marrying the twin desires of recovering land lost after the Treaty of Versailles and the conquest of new territory.

This “new German archaeology” found a willing generation of enthusiastic researchers who continued their careers post-1945 and trained subsequent generations until the 1980s. This continuity contributed to what amounted to an omerta surrounding the Nazi past of Germany’s archaeologists. With the death of the last survivors from the Nazi period, new research into the archaeological projects of the National Socialists has been able to develop. Recent studies have revealed the extent archaeology served Nazi ideology. This research also has underlined the inhibiting effect this legacy has had on European archaeology. Above all it reminds us the responsibility archaeologists and specialists on history have when the past is used as a weapon, first to exclude and then make disappear the truth.