It was a startling disappearing act, one for the ages. Right at the moment when Hitler killed himself in his bunker on April 30, 1945, Germany was magically transformed from a genocidal Reich to a place where there were barely any Nazis to be found.
“No one was a Nazi,” the journalist Martha Gellhorn wrote about the end of World War II in Europe, mordantly recalling how all the Germans she met insisted they had hidden a Communist or were secretly half-Jewish. The photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White heard the phrase “We didn’t know!” with such “monotonous frequency” that it sounded “like a kind of national chant for Germany.”
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