German Veterans of the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle for Recognition in West Germany
This paper challenges the recognition paradigm through a historical case study that shows recognition struggles to be ideologically embedded and their success subordinated to, and thus contingent upon, the political priorities of recognition-granting authorities. To this end, the paper explores how Cold War ideological considerations shaped the ways in which the West German state processed recognition claims made upon it by two distinct groups of German veterans of the Spanish Civil War: German antifascists who fought as non-state actors in defense of the Spanish Republic and other Germans who fought in support of the Nationalist rebels at the behest of the National Socialist regime. Showing that the West German state’s ostensible commitment to recognition of historical injustice in connection with the National Socialist past was subordinated to the aim of self-legitimation in the Cold War present, the paper calls for a broader sociopolitical contextualization of recognition struggles.
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